Playing Up: Freshman on Varsity Football


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Freshman Max Bland carries the ball down the field.

The Argyle football program experienced a lot of growth this year moving to 5A. Their athletic department has continued to grow and new talent is constantly appearing. Few freshmen got the chance to play with varsity but they were there. How did they get to this level and what’s their story? 

Head Coach of the Argyle football program Todd Rodgers had a successful season with Argyle going all the way to the playoffs in their first year of 5A. He talks about the freshmen’s role on the team.

“Those kids were good enough players, as freshmen to be placed in a high-intensity environment, like varsity. We worked the freshmen, they lifted weights hard, they trained, you know they haven’t had any time off,” Rodgers said. 

The freshman exemplified what they did in practice and that led them to be on the field with the varsity athletes.

“We felt after several games at the beginning of the year that those kids showed promise and we wanted to put them in a varsity environment to give them as much experience as possible,” Rodgers said.

“Those kids are all fabulous athletes… They possess all of the qualities that determine whether a player can play at the varsity level at Argyle High School,” Rodgers said. 

The defensive coordinator at Argyle, Daniel Lundy has worked with these star freshmen all year.

“We have a lot of great freshman players coming up. They have worked hard to get where they are in and out of school, it’s as much as their mental preparations and physical,¨ Lundy said.

Lundy and many others can see the effort these athletes have put in this year, and the potential for these young athletes.

“The freshmen have improved this year,” Lundy said.

Mason Pierce, a coach at Argyle who mainly works with the tight end,  has seen these players grow throughout the season.

“They had a great year as freshmen,” Pierce said. “They really gelled well as a group and I think this is one of the most talented groups of athletes I have been around. They will have to live in the weight room and know they have big shoes to fill.”

Pierce explained what he thinks makes a freshman player ready for varsity.

“I think attitude and punctuation on top of being a good athlete plays a huge part in some of those younger guys getting moved up,” Pierce said. “Maturity also plays a big role, can they handle what’s being asked of them and do they know their role.”

All of these athletes experienced different challenges while on the field. Freshman Maguire Gasperson, who plays Wide Receiver, talked about taking on the challenge solo. 

“A unique challenge that I faced when I first got moved up to varsity was that I was the only freshman on varsity. So during practices and team dinners, I didn’t have any of my best friends to talk to,” Gasperson said.

This time helped him grow, however. 

“It has taught me to be patient and you really have to work hard to earn your position on the team,” Gasperson said. “Some advice I would give to incoming middle schoolers is that you need to show up every day all throughout the summer and the fall to the workouts to improve and be around the coaches.”

Watson Bell, a freshman running back has been playing football for the majority of his life.

“I think that it helped that I’ve been playing football for so long and I take time to workout on my own to better myself,” Bell said.

But, being in high school brought on new challenges that were not seen in middle school.

“I think the biggest challenge I face while playing on varsity is the difference in size compared to what I was used to before. I have learned that if you want to play, you need to outwork people,” Bell said. 

Freshman Chansyn Bowen, a defensive lineman, was able to move from B-team to varsity during his season.

“My biggest challenge I faced was when I had been put on the B-team for the whole time I was in middle school,” Bowen said. “It helped me to feel like I had to be better, and that I wanted to prove to the coach that I wasn’t a B-team player. So that drove me to work harder and become better.” 

Bowen faced his struggles, but also found new strengths.

“I have learned so much from being moved up,” Bowen said. “All the coaches have helped me so much and the upperclassmen helped me to learn quickly. The biggest skill that I learned from getting moved up would I think be learning to play the whole line.”

Jaxon Greene, a kicker, and receiver who got to practice with varsity had a perspective change.

“Although I didn’t get much playing time I faced a lot of challenges with strength and size differences between players and it was hard to get through,” Greene said.

Greene entailed his growing love for the sport and his excitement for the coming season.

“There have been many things I learned while being with varsity but the main skill I’ve learned is the importance of teamwork, care and love for your team. I’ve never been on a team that cared as much as that team from our seniors all the way to our freshmen.”

Maliek Bracy, a freshman safety commented on some of the things he worked on while with varsity to stand out.

“One thing I learned about being on varsity is to always give your best effort,” Bracy said. “One of the biggest challenges I have to face is going against guys bigger, faster, and stronger than me. What I do differently than the other people my age, I work harder and have a different mindset.”

Tyson O’neal who played on the offensive line had a good year but also dealt with some adversity.

I do think that there were some difficulties with being a younger player on the team,” O’Neal said. “But I eventually fit into the group and have made a lot of friends thankfully.” 

Through this O’Neal learned how to be mentally tougher.

“Being mentally tough enough to deal with failure and learning how to get back up, I’ve learned how to deal with adversity and how that no matter what challenges you face you have to try your hardest to go through them, but if you fail you can get back up and continue to become better,” said O’Neal. 

Freshman Nathaniel Bruce mainly plays safety.

“Before I got called up I was making sure that whatever I did whether in practice or in the game was not only I trying to have the most fun, I was trying to play hard. It wasn’t that I was doing much training outside of school, it was just that during practice and in the weight room I was really putting the work in. Once I was pulled up it became learn, learn, and learn. Studying the upperclassmen was how I grew mentally. It helped me when I did get my chances to play.” 

Bruce went through many trials this past season but in the end, he came out better. 

“While being a freshman and playing against sophomores to seniors puts a different perspective on the game. It makes you realize that for you to play at that level you have to try 3 times harder and it will still be a challenge but it’s a good challenge. It’s a good experience for me to learn at an earlier age.”

Max Bland, a tight-end for varsity, had a thrilling season and while some would think being a freshman on varsity might higher someone’s ego, Bland stayed humble. 

“On varsity, I just had to humble myself, and just know my place,” Bland said. “Like, I am a freshman and it’s already such a great thing that I am blessed to be on the varsity team.” 

Bland said he had many memorable moments this past season like getting a touchdown he thinks things can only go up from here.

“I feel like this is a trial year, and these three years I have left are just, gonna be amazing,” Bland said.  

Although Bland always remembered to put in the work he also remembered to enjoy these fleeting moments as an Argyle freshman playing football. 

“Enjoy the moment, enjoy the time that you have, and don’t let being tired or being comfortable stop you, just always strive to be better,” Bland said.