By Elizabeth Summa

During pregame warmups, the football team sprints to the end zone before their 5A sub-state game against Blue Valley Southwest Friday, Nov. 18.

Friday | Game Day

November 21, 2022

Friday is finally game day. In the morning from 6:40 a.m to 7:10 a.m, players start the day with their gameday Zero Hour lift period. Afterwards, they have a regular school day where they are expected to put just as much work into their education. For Applebee, success on the field starts off the field. 

“We really want to make sure they understand that if they’re doing their best in the classroom, doing their best outside of school in the community, the success on the football field will take care of itself,”Applebee said.

Nevertheless, there is no shortness of work put in to have success on the field. The dedication of the players on the field stood out even more to running back senior Sidney Lockhart after his injury.

We really want to make sure they understand that if they’re doing their best in the classroom,  the success on the football field will take care of itself

— head coach Joel Applebee

“Everyone’s dying out there on that field.” Lockhart said, “It’s really something to be grateful to have as a team.”   

Mill Valley’s football program stands out from other programs because of this committed mentality. The players and coaches don’t shy away from the hard work needed to achieve success. Resulting in a dedicated atmosphere that can be felt by Laughman before a game.

“Some people are getting locked in, some people are turning up, getting excited.” Laughman said. “But everyone’s just ready to go. It’s the best time of the week.” 

Athletes are given a brief deadtime between when school gets out until 3:50 p.m., where players get taped before the game to prevent turf scrapes that may result during gameplay. From 4:40 p.m. to 5:05 p.m., football athletes will have a “lights out” period, a focus period before the game to make sure everyone is in the right headspace. For Miller, this is an important step in the pre-game ritual to ensure the team can work as a unit. 

[We] get a chance to think about our brother next to us and what we’re going out there for and who we’re fighting for,

— Wide receiver senior Hayes Miller

“[We] get a chance to think about our brother next to us and what we’re going out there for and who we’re fighting for,” Miller said, “And we’re fighting with one another and know that we have to be the best we can be. So we can succeed as a family.”

Focusing on his side lunges, junior Bryant Wiltse completes a set during gameday Zero Hour Friday, Nov. 18. (By Luke Wood)

The pregame routine continues with a meeting in groups by their position to go over any last minute specific details and a subsequent reconvenement time for the team to come together for the traditional “Jag Walk.”

Walking from the weight room, down the main hall of the school and exiting out through the school’s west doors leading to the football field, the football team, bundled in layers upon layers, make their way to the locker room through a tunnel of cheering parents. 

Following warm ups, a team stretch and a static stretch period, the players file back into the locker room one last time to say a prayer as a team.

“That time spent in the locker room gives us a chance to think about our brother next to us and what we’re going out there for and who we’re fighting for,” Miller said. “We’re fighting alongside one another to know that we can be the best we can be and succeed as a family.”

Then 6:50 p.m. roll around, when it’s time for the team, lead by Applebee and flag carrier defensive back Mikey Bergeron, to walk up to the Jaguar tunnel and wait for their que to rush the field. By the time the National Anthem, school fight song and coin toss are complete, it’s game time at 7:00 p.m, the time where all the work throughout that week and the previous weeks, comes together. 

More details on the Jaguars’ 63-0 sub-state win over Blue Valley Southwest Friday, Nov. 18 can be read here.

For senior Kate Hendrix, who has been one of the football team’s managers since freshman year, game time means continuing to help the team in any way she is able to. 

Completing their Jag Walk, football players make their way to the field to suit up for the night’s sub-state game against Blue Valley Southwest. (By Elizabeth Summa)

“We are there to provide for them and help them do better throughout the week so that on game days,” Hendrix said,  “They can put their best foot forward and we’re just kind of there to back them up and support them throughout [games].”

One of the roles the managers have is to film both practices and games. In order to make sure the team can effectively utilize the film for review, they must make sure to get all the players in the play which requires precision whether they are using the drone or directly on the sidelines.

Overall, it takes many moving pieces to have such successful games on Friday nights that requires major effort from a lot of people. Not only from players and coaches, who are spending over 20 hours a week practicing and reviewing plays, but also from managers, athletic trainers and parents who are there to support the program throughout the season.

The Jaguars will face off in a 5A state rematch against Maize Saturday, Nov. 26.

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