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The Fire to Fuel the Team

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The Fire to Fuel the Team

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The football team crowded into coach Gary Griffin’s room with curiosity after an unexpected meeting was called on the morning of August 26, 2016. A few senior football players heard rumors and speculations the night before after the community pep rally. They decided to take matters into their own hands and tell the rest of the team the truth in the rumors. In this moment the world stopped turning and the news of head coach Kyle Littrell’s resignation left them shocked and speechless.

One senior player, Korbin Hankinson, said, “It hurts that he is gone.”

The rest of the coaching staff remains, consisting of Gary Griffin, Jeff Lohse, Robert Ebenstein, Joel McGhee, Jason Spradling and Zach Livingston, with Griffing and Lohse assuming the head coaching role.

The ultimate question, though, is how the change would affect the team in what is expected to be a stellar season. The answer came on September 2 in the game against Wyandotte. The shock and horror gave way to a season-opening win 48-0 against the Bulldogs. According to many players, the reason they played so hard was for the one man who had been there for them from the start, Littrell.

In reference to Littrell, senior Jake Hill said, “You are the reason we are where we are. And we play for you on Friday nights.”

The remaining coaching staff have also stepped up into a role they weren’t expecting. They, too, hoped their team would be ready and that the stress of this situation wouldn’t affect their winnings.

They run practices the same as always, Hankinson says. But some disagree, and high school senior, T.J. Dover feels that “the small things just aren’t the same.”

The same boys still play the same routines but a piece of them is missing. That piece is coach Littrell. Some of the players have been under his coaching and guidance for four years only to see it washed away in a blink of an eye. However, they have a positive outlook on the situation and are not afraid of the battles that may lie ahead. They aren’t angry with Littrell but rather thankful for his hard work and dedication to their team, which ultimately became their family.

“Thank you for building the bond between the team and coaches; for building our family. I know you put your heart into it everyday. You will always have us on your side. And we will beat Paola,” Thomas San Agustin, senior, said

In interviewing the players, many expressed similar sentiments regarding Littrell. They said he is so loved by the men whose hearts he has touched through his passion for football. That love will stand forever and they cherish the time he has spent with them and they hope to see him in the stands at the games. He enriched their minds with the values of hard work, perseverance, and family. He showed them how to be strong in the midst of trials and tribulations. And for that they are forever grateful. The current record of 3-0 indicates rather than demoralizing the Wildcats, it has provided a spark to finish the way coach Littrell indicated at the Pep Rally before the season and the news emerged.

Hill said it best, “In the end, I wish he was still our coach, but we are using it for fire to fuel the team.”

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