Aristotle said something along the lines of “one swallow does not a summer make.”
Coaches of various sports have turned it a bit to say one loss does not a season make, or one game, or one player.
For the Thunder Mountain High School Falcons football team, Tuesday’s 56-0 loss to the visiting Viewpoint (California) Patriots was far from a set back.
It was the biggest learning tool a mentally tough team could absorb.
“I was noticing at the end that we had as many as six freshmen and sophomores on the field at the same time,” Thunder Mountain coach Jeep Rice said. “And we were playing a difficult team. They had been to camps and played together for a few years. I was hoping our one game of experience would help neutralize some of their advantages, but boy it sure didn’t.”
Those TMHS freshman and sophomores will play five games in a week, counting last Saturday’s win over the Juneau-Douglas junior varsity and this coming Saturday’s contests against Ketchikan.
“They were a very good team and we had too many freshman and sophomores on the field,” Rice said of Viewpoint. “We told our players we were disappointed in the score but not disappointed in them. They did not give up at all.”
One example was sophomore lineman Mason Kullander who had to go head-to-head all night long with a 6-foot-three, 285-pound senior and a 6-foot-one 230-pound junior.
“He was exhausted and beat up,” Rice said. “But he did not quit, he did not give up. That is just a little vignette of the game, that was how are guys did.”
The TMHS youngsters have one of the state’s most talented athletes at their helm.
Senior quarterback/linebacker Ben Jahn has been instrumental in getting a squad of inexperienced players, which includes juniors with limited varsity experience, to keep their passions up for the game.
“He’s a good guy,” Rice said. “Not just a good athlete, but a good guy.”
One play sums up Jahn.
He threw a first half interception and then made the tackle: Jahn made the tackle 30 yards down field, not waiting for the runner to come to him.
“Not at the line of scrimmage where the guy runs back to him,” Rice said. “He actually went down and got him. I could use about 10 more of him.”
Jahn has morphed into a talented middle linebacker, possessing the speed and strength to clean up the inside as well as cleaning up side-to-side. Jahn had 17 solo tackles against Viewpoint.
Junior Lorenzo Malacas and senior Austin Thomas also brought maturity and toughness to the line.
Those three matched across the line and the scales from Viewpoint.
“You know, then we had a sophomore fullback who weighed 140 pounds,” Rice said. “That is not going to handle a 270-pounder when he goes through the line. We are very dependant on the contributions of our freshmen and they did better than expected, but they still don’t match up against seniors.”
TMHS coaches also praised efforts by sophomore Sam Bluett and freshman Forrest Bizzarro, among others. Freshman Riley Olson had an interception.
TMHS will have some juniors and seniors eligible for Saturday’s game against Ketchikan, players who had to work in the summer and have just made the required 10 practices. Junior linemen Rick Johnson and Tucker Reece will be playing and Virginia transfer William Martin will make his debut.
“We scheduled a tough team before school started,” Rice said. “All of us Southeast teams will be bigger, stronger and better by the end of the season just with the addition of personnel. Plus some of these freshmen and sophomores looked pretty good. We did fine.”
The Falcons will host Ketchikan at 7 p.m. on Saturday; junior varsity action begins at 4 p.m. The Viewpoint Patriots will play JDHS at 8 p.m. Friday at Adair Kennedy Field (JV 5 p.m.).
“One swallow does not a summer make, nor one fine day; similarly one day or brief time of happiness does not make a person entirely happy.”
Aristotle (384 BCE-322 BCE).