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Football’s first hit

Coaches, players and students get a taste of the upcoming season at Jamboree

Katie Bullock, Editor-in-chief

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Tonka’s defense lines up facing Oak Park’s offense before the start of a play.

The football team showed improvements in their overall skill and communication according to athletes and coaches at Jamboree, where they played in front of a crowd for the first time this year on Aug. 12 at North Kansas City High School’s District Stadium.

Besides the Winnetonka Griffins, Jamboree hosted the Oak Park Northmen, North Kansas City Hornets and Staley Falcons. At Jamboree, all four teams played at once by splitting the field into two halves. On each half of the field two teams play short, unscored games before rotating to play different schools. It is the first opportunity that teams have to play against other schools this year.

“My favorite thing about Jamboree is just being out here and getting to play some real football,” head football coach Jared Barge said. “We’re tired of hitting our own guys and so playing against some other teams finally is really fun.”

Although the Jamboree games are unscored and not counted for team records, Barge believes that it serves as a way to help get the team ready for future games.

“I think [the players] were a little nervous at first, but with this we got some first game jitters out of the way,” Barge said. “Hopefully now we’ll be ready for next week.”

Jamboree also helps the team get a first look at the type of competition that they will be facing during the regular season.

“We have a lot of really good competition tonight and so we need to look at them on film and see where we’re at going forward,” Barge said.

The team has improved since last year according to Barge, but many athletes currently have to play both offense and defense due to a lack of players which can make the games more challenging.

“Our strength is definitely our offensive line,” Barge said. “But our weakness is probably that we don’t have a lot of depth right now. We’ve got a lot of guys playing two-way stuff and we need to find some more ways to help them out.”

Although both coaches and players acknowledged a need to keep working, athletes like varsity football player senior Kevin Green have also noticed the team’s improvement over last year.

“We’ve overcome a lot of failures this year,” Green said. “Our communication has gotten way better than it was last year or in any of the years before. We talk to each other and the coaches. We come to practice every day and just listen and learn not only as teammates but also as friends.”

The new season also means changes in coaching. First year English teacher Jordan Chrisman is also a new assistant coach who got his first chance to coach in front of a crowd at Jamboree.

“I’ve always loved football and always known that I wanted to be a coach. I played in college and I love the kids and the game. It doesn’t feel like work,” Chrisman said. “Tonight we came out and competed and tried hard. That’s all you can ask of anyone.”

According to Chrisman, the improvements that the football program as a whole have made showcase the players determined attitudes.

“I think this team is really resilient,” Green said. “I think that they had a tough year last year and they’re ready to prove people wrong. They don’t give up. They come to practice every day and work hard, no matter what happens. Even if they have a bad play or something they come right back from it. They’ve learned a lot since last year and we’re still building on that, but I’m looking forward to getting out there and seeing them improve.”

Jamboree also gave Griffin football players their first taste of what it would feel like to represent Tonka, something that Green said matters most.

“Us coming onto the field on game days just seems like it brings everyone in the school together. That’s our way of showing our pride and showing our Griffin,” Green said. “The more we get to know each other the more it feels like we’re a family. I don’t even know how to explain it. It’s like we’re all related in our blood and when we step onto the field we know that we’re all here to represent Tonka. It’s a great feeling.”

The football team will play their first official game at the North Kansas City High School District Stadium against Park Hill South on August 18 at 7 p.m.

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Football’s first hit