Senior Football Players Share Key Memories

These seniors played only half their careers in Trentini Stadium


Josh Rutland, Senior Reporter

This year’s football season just came to an end, and some of the senior football players reflected back on their experience in their last season of their high school career.

To the senior athletes, being a Cougar athlete has meant something different to all of them.

Lots of players emphasize this team’s family environment. Although Kentrell Simmons was only on varsity for one season, he had a lot to take away from it. 

“Being a Cougar athlete has meant being in a competitive family and to be willing to work hard everyday in practices and games,” Simmons said.

The football players each had something that they were proud of within the last season, making it a satisfying conclusion to their high school football career. 

“Probably becoming a team captain as a senior because the coach has picked me out of all the seniors to be a team captain,” Sam Shepard said. “It just feels like they have respect for me, it just feels good.” 

Twin brother Sid Shepard had a similar response, emphasizing how great it felt to be an important part of the team.

“Every practice we have you break down the practices and we have this chant. I got to do it one time and it just made me feel like a leader of the team and everyone was looking up to me. It just made me feel special,” Sid said.

Some of the senior players had a very good freshman year on the team. One of those players, Fuller Howard, had a very special first year.

“Freshman year we won a state championship, and it just stands out to me because we were a really good team,” Howard said.

Playing your rival school is always an interesting and competitive game. These rival games pulled out to be some of the most memorable games to these athletes.

“My favorite memory is beating heritage this year,” Edward Nethery said. “We were projected to lose; they were supposed to be a good team. We went out there and did our thing and pulled out the victory.”

“I think football is a team sport so it’s really only one type of accomplishment. It’s team accomplishments, and I think that our biggest and most important accomplishment was beating Heritage both years or making the playoffs both years,” Barret Williams said.

Some players are excited about their own personal performance during the season on the field.

“We always make it to the Eastern Championship, and in my solo career 67 yard touchdown my senior year in a playoff game. It made my dad happy, and that is what I was trying to accomplish,” Brandon Basnight said.

Some players note that some of their best experiences come from interacting with their teammates. 

“Building relationships with all my teammates that will carry throughout and after high school,” Mark Cesta said.

The football program makes memories that players will never forget. Even just traveling with the team makes an athlete’s list of favorite memories. 

“We went to Charlotte seven on seven and we played in the Panthers stadium,” Tre Stancil said.

Although some of the players are happy with the results of this year, such as beating Heritage, other players definitely feel like there is some unfinished business from their senior year.

“Just making it deeper [into playoffs] this year,” Wesley Gaines said.

Staying fit and competitive isn’t easy at the varsity level, so some players struggled with keeping it up.

“I took my junior year off, and I really regret that. I missed a year on varsity, and I lost all my motivation to keep working out, and I lost all my strength,” Zach Espoile said. 

Now that they are leaving their time in football behind, these senior athletes have some advice to the eager athletes who are wanting to play in the next season.

“Live football to the fullest because it goes by quick,” Chris Allens said. 

“Work hard and stay focused. Buy into the program and do what you need to do,” Dominic Williams said.

“Be on time, that’s one of the main things. Do the work all summer and listen to the coaches. If you listen to the coaches, you’re going to win,” Brian Levine said.

Some of the football players are the ones to know best what it means to work hard and to be dedicated. They hope that the upcoming players will hold these same virtues.

“Show up and work everyday and be respectful to your coaches and your teammates,” David Hagerman said.

Being an active athlete in high school is no small feat. The football players practiced hard to get where they are now. It’s as they say, hard work pays off.

“It has meant a lot to play for my town and my city and being able to go out with my friends and family and compete,” Myles Dickens said.

Additional Memories:

“Probably messing around in the locker room with my teammates and just laughing,” senior Max Hines said.

“Being a Cougar athlete meant a lot to me, it was a family, as a family away from home,” Kali Morre said.

“I wish we could have won that game [second round playoffs] this year,” Damen Davis said.

”Everything. Considering I came from Heritage and Heritage was selfish. Everybody was to themselves. Being a part of the Cougar family feels more like a team,” Steven Williams said.