Eighth grader Jaxon Bone scores a rushing touchdown during the varsity Knights game.” 0 47-0 win against Rock Springs Christian Academy on 9/2.
photo by Evelyn Lubben
As the varsity football team deals with the trials of having a smaller group than usual, four eighth graders have been called up to help throughout the season. Not only have they embraced the challenge of playing up, but they have also made individual and collaborative impacts on multiple games this season.
Due to their split commitment between the middle and high school teams, Jaxon Bone, Asa Goings, Thomas Walker and Will Langmack have spent time practicing with both.
“Our coach tells us that if we can practice with the varsity (team) and survive, we can play with middle schoolers pretty easily, so we practice mostly with varsity,” said quarterback Thomas Walker.
Thomas is just one of the three 8th graders to score through three varsity games this season, throwing a touchdown to middle school Wide Receiver Asa Goings.
“The varsity games are a lot faster. [They are] a lot more fun, more enjoyable, with more people,” said Goings. “Even the band music just makes it more exciting.”
Asa is an example of the type of young players the team is looking for, taking into account his early experience, commitment to the team and love of the sport.
“I really want to play football in college and have a great high school career,” Goings said when asked about his future goals.
Despite the obvious change in pressure, the middle schoolers continue to perform and contribute to a currently winning football team. The varsity team kicked off the season with two convincing wins, both of which featured one or more middle schoolers. Since then, the team has struggled at home, but the eighth graders have still seen the field. In addition to the improvement in game atmosphere, coaching has also changed for these athletes.
“[The coaches] have really helped me grow, become a better man and play better football,” said Goings. “I’ve learned a lot of different things at different positions, and they’ve really helped me in loving the Lord and becoming a better football player.”
“[The coaches] Definitely focused on us a lot more at certain positions,” said Bone, a now-established varsity running back. “They’ve pushed me to get stronger.”
Bone has become less of a 4th quarter player and more of a legitimate backup running back since performing well in every varsity game in which he has participated. Chants of “He’s in eighth grade” could be heard from the student section during the first home game of the season.
The numbers show that talent is present. But the middle schoolers desire more than simple success.
“I want to be the best that I can be,” said Thomas. “[I want to] strive and stay humble, but have the want-to to get better and continue to play the game.”