Padyn Kesselring ‘19: Representing Romeo High School on one of its most popular stages, Barnabo Field, the athletes of the varsity football team, mostly upperclassmen, reflect the school and community’s work ethic and dedication.
Relentlessly striving towards greatness, these four phenomenal sophomores, Jack Wendt ‘19, Brock Horne ’19, Gavin Miller ‘19 and Eric Fraeyman ‘19, find themselves on the varsity football team sooner than most.
Wendt, a quarterback and defensive back, who last year started for the JV football team as a freshman, finds himself learning by playing behind senior quarterback, Austen Malczewski ‘17.
“I just want to keep getting better,” Wendt said. “My goal is to start next year.”
Horne, a middle linebacker and running back who played JV football his freshman year now finds himself starting on the varsity team at inside backer.
“It’s a lot of hard work but it’s fun,” Horne said. “There’s a lot to prove and live up to.”
Miller, an offensive lineman who started on freshman last year now learns from Louis Thom ‘17 who plays above him at guard.
“Playing varsity football is kinda like a roller coaster,” Miller said. “You work hard to gain momentum, the parts that are the most fun go by really fast, it makes you want to throw up at parts then when it ends you’re really sad and want to ride again.”
Fraeyman, a tight end and linebacker spent last season with the JV football team, and showed many glimpses of a bright future starting at tight end, until his season was cut short with a knee injury.
“It’s an amazing feeling to experience the brothership of the team,” Fraeyman said. “This year I want to keep improving and become the best I can for the future.”
Although this year’s sophomores were present for playoffs last year, this was their first real experiences with a full length varsity schedule, and they noticed the difference.
“I found everyone was big and everyone is fast,” Fraeyman said. “Now it comes down to how badly you want it.”
Playing now at a much higher tempo, Wendt and Horne recognize the increase of speed in the game as well.
“The game is just so much faster, and everyone is so much stronger.” Wendt said. “It’s quite a jump to this level.”
However, the varsity game consists of much more than physical differences, as Miller appreciated the differences of mentality in the games.
“I think just the seriousness throughout all of the players is the biggest difference,” Miller said. “Everyone on the team is playing for the chance to play at the next level, whereas the younger teams play just to play.”
Sometimes, playing on the big stage and representing Romeo has an effect on young players, rattling their mentalities and the four sophomores recognize this.
“There definitely is a lot of pressure,” Horne said, who has started every game thus far for the Bulldogs at middle linebacker. “As the youngest on the team big things are expected of you.”
Disagreeing slightly was Fraeyman,“I don’t feel pressure because of my age,” Fraeyman said. “I think all players feel that pressure because they want to do everything they can to help the team win.”
On the same hand these young Bulldogs also love the Friday night experience.
“Running onto the field before a game,” said Wendt. “There’s simply no better feeling.”
Disagreeing was Miller, “Hearing the student section chant after big plays,” Miller claimed, “there’s no bigger rush of adrenaline.”
Countering that was Fraeyman, “Pulling up in the bus and walking through Barnabo’s gates.”
Finally and concluding the question was Horne, “The atmosphere, there is no one favorite thing, it’s all of it.”
As the youngest on the team, these four need lots of guidance and leadership that they find through their older teammates.
“Louis Thom, is like an older brother to me,” Fraeyman said, “He gives me great advice for both football and life. He is making this experience much more fun.”
“Louis Thom,” agreed Miller, “he was my wrestling partner and we play the same position, anytime I have a question about who to block he is the first person I ask.”
Looking up to his partner in crime on defense, Horne said he looks up to safety and running back Kade Messner ‘17.
“Kade, he’s such a great athlete and leader,” Horne said. “His leadership completes this defense and someday I do hope to be that kind of leader on this team.”
Admiring the man starting in front of him, Wendt said he felt himself trying to model Austen Malczewski.
“I admire Austen,” Wendt said. “He’s a great leader and controls the game and offense well.”
Just like every Romeo athlete these Bulldogs have goals for their season and future.
Looking to improve as much as they can this year and become potential starters next year, Wendt and Miller do everything they can week in and week out at practice, getting playing time when they can.
“Starting next year is the ultimate goal,” Wendt said. “Everything I do now is preparing me for that.”
“This year I want to learn as much as possible,” Miller said. “So that in the future I can be the best offensive lineman I can be.”
Setting the bar even higher, Horne and Fraeyman look to take their game to a very high level in the near future.
“For the season, my goal is to contribute on defense and make my presence known,” Horne said. “For the future my goal for myself is to become an all-state linebacker.”
“This year I want to improve and become the best I can be,” Fraeyman continued. “Ultimately, I hope to continue my football career beyond high school.”
One thing all these boys had in common was their predictions for the future of Romeo football.
“We have a great program, incredible coaches and an incredible community backing us up,” Fraeyman concluded. “I think as long as we put in our full effort and keep a positive attitude we will have a continued success.”
With these four sophomores leading the program, Romeo Football can return to a stage bigger than Barnabo Field.