Like all football teams, the Stockton Tigers enter this season with some new faces on the roster, but there’s something a little different about this new group of Tigers.
“It’s been an incredible experience, a dream come true,” said Sheldon senior Bryce Lamb.
For Lamb, the dream of playing football as a high school senior didn’t seem like it would ever come true.
“Ever since we were little kids we had mighty-might football, but then we got to junior high and just kind of dropped off,” said Lamb.
As a student in the Sheldon school-system, there were no opportunities to play football until now.
“We tried forever to co-op, and piggyback with some other teams around like Liberal or Lamar, the neighboring schools, but nobody would pick us up except Stockton,” said Lamb. “And I’m just really glad I got the opportunity my senior year.”
For the first time ever, Sheldon and Stockton will co-op to form one football team. Meaning players like Lamb will play organized football for the first time in six years.
“They haven’t played since the sixth grade so the good thing is they have no bad habits, but everything’s new, we’re helping them get dressed day one,” said Stockton Head Coach Travis Hurley.
Learning how to put on the equipment was just one challenge for the Sheldon players, who must travel roughly 35 minutes to practice with their Stockton teammates.
“We car pool in a van, our coach drives us there, but getting everyone there in the mornings [is tough], leaving at like six [a.m.], some guys have to get up at like 5:30 [a.m.] or 5:00 [a.m.]”
Those early mornings and the additions of the Sheldon players seem to be paying off.
“I think it’s brought us closer together as team, when you bring guys from a different school and we bonded right away, it creates a better brotherhood, and I think we’re a lot better with them than we are with just the people at our school,” said Stockton senior Jacob Greenlee.
And as the season draws closer, players like Lamb will get the chance to turn this dream come true into another.
“You’ve got to go as hard as you can, you’ve got one year to prove yourself, if you want to play college football, you’ve got to prove it, you haven’t played in six years, you’re really going to have to bust it,” said Lamb.