Thunder Mountain High School held its high school football awards banquet Wednesday night to celebrate the football team's inaugural season in the Southeast Conference and in Juneau.
The event honored coaches, players, cheerleaders and boosters for the work they did in creating a successful and supportive atmosphere for the new team. After the individual awards were handed out, the entire team was enshrined into the Thunder Mountain Hall of Fame as the first-ever Falcon football team.
Coach Bill Byouer said the celebration was a great way to recognize everyone's hard work.
"We started off looking rough, but by the end of the season we were a competitive team, which shows we will be competitive for the rest of the years to come," he said. "There's no holding us back, the community looks like they've accepted us and that it can take care of two teams."
While success did not happen overnight, Byouer said the ceremony epitomized exactly how everything came together.
"You see a community here, you see parents here, you see a booster club that is strong and that's getting the product out there letting everyone know, 'We're here,' and that we want to sustain our life here," he said. "I think we're way further along than anyone thought we would be right now."
Byouer said continued success will depend working year round.
"We've got to build off everything we've done this year; we can't just sit and relax," he said. "This whole thing was hard; from having nothing, to getting gear, to getting a concession stand - everything. We've got to continue to work hard to build on this season."
Cody Grussendorf, who won Offensive Player of the Year, said he enjoyed playing with his new teammates.
"This team is a really good group," he said. "t's just fun playing with these guys."
Thomas, the sophomore signal caller, said the first season went well, and the ceremony was a good note to end it on.
"We learned how to keep our heads up and play as a team, and we definitely got better as the season went on," he said. "We have really high expectations for next year, so we're hitting the weight room and getting ready."
Byouer said they have sent a petition requesting playoff eligibility to ASAA for as early as next year, and the players are hoping for that chance.
"We're keeping our fingers crossed about that," Thomas said. "I'd love to play for a state championship, or even be eligible to."
As for whether or not they'd be able to make the playoffs if given eligibility, Thomas said he was confident in their chances.
"Next year, I'm positive we can get there."
Defensive Player of the Year - Chance Galletes
Offensive Player of the Year - Cody Grussendorf
Most Improved Underclassman - Connor Hoyt
Most Improved Varsity Athlete - Ray Jones
Lineman of the Year - Tyrel Kramp
Special Teams Player of the Year - Chas Riley