The football season for the Colton Vikings was a bit of a mixed bag. When the team was firing on all cylinders, it looked like they could not be stopped. Such was the case in each of the teams five wins, where the scored upwards of 40 points each time. Defensively, the team also appeared to be improving with each game as well, shutting out Gervais and Culver in the final Viking wins of the season.
With that being said, Colton head coach Brynie Robinson believes that the most growth and biggest changes the team underwent came after the losses. The first loss of the season to the Sheridan Spartans, a 50-30 defeat, particularly sparked improvements.
"I thought the Sheridan loss was really good for our program because it focused us up on what we needed to do to maximize our strengths and stayed away from our weaknesses," Robinson said. "After that we had a pretty good streak of games."
That streak included blowouts of the aforementioned Culver and Gervais, and a sound thumping of Chemawa as well. Though the team ended its season on a three game skid, Robinson was proud overall of the way his players handled themselves. A particular point of pride was the senior leadership Robinson saw from his veteran players.
"This was probably the best leadership group I've ever coached," Robinson said. "Early on in the season, the seniors knew that it was their team. They made a lot of decisions about warmups, we gave them empowerment to lead the program, and I thought they did a phenomenal job. One of the leaders researched and asked questions about how to be a better leader before the season started, and gathered with coaches, and did a good job of leading with the other seniors."
That leader was Chance Ritchie who, along with fellow seniors held a team meeting after the aforementioned Sheridan loss to recoup and rally. The improvements made as a team were a big part of improvements made by individuals.
Robinson noted improvement across the board, but singled out player such as senior Cameron Phillips at linebacker, sophomore Robbie Skinner, senior TJ Tiano at safety, and senior outside linebacker James Parker.
Phillips earned first team all-league honors at lineback; Parker, earned second team honors at linebacker as well as honorable mention at running back; junior Wyatt Earls was given second team honors at quarterback and an honorable mention as a defensive back; senior Joseph Reed was awarded first team all-league at running back; junior Seth Ethington was an honorable mention recipient at tight end; senior Steven Hagler was a first team offensive lineman and second team defensive lineman; senior Jaeden Bramblett and sophomore Elijah Hagler were second team offensive linemen; Tiano was a first team recipient at safety; and Skinner was an honorable mention at linebacker.
Another area Robinson saw improvement was the team's consistent time in the weight room, and area he believes will be crucial to future success at the 2A level.
"Next year, in our league, it's important to keep lifting," Robinson said. "Especially in Colton, it's important to build a culture of lifting to get them bigger, faster, and stronger. It just enhances their competitive fire, toughness. We're just much more competitive when athletes are in the weight room. If we can build a culture of weight lifting in the community, not just for football but in general, I think Colton football players, Colton athletes, and Colton in general will just be stronger."
Getting stronger will help the team with another crucial thing at the 2A level: staying healthy and having a strong roster.
"Depth is always a challenge," Robinson said. "When you're a small school and you have an elite group of athletes, and some of those athletes go down, the depth is not like a 5A or 6A school. The pool of talent is a little bit bigger up there. When you're a 3A, 2A, or even 1A program, and your horses get injured, then you might not have as many as you need. The goal is to make sure they stay healthy and strong and perform like horses, but that you get your other kids to perform like horses and get up to that level."
Robinson, like most coaches at the end of the season, was sad to see his player's time ending but was encouraged by their efforts and character during the season.
"It was a great group of young men that I had the pleasure and honor to see grow as men in many ways that transcend beyond the sport," Robinson said. "They fought hard, played as a close knit family, and couldn't be prouder of their development and the time we had together.
"The legacy they are leaving on the community and family is fantastic," Robinson continued. "It's been a huge blessing and I look forward to watching these great young men continue to grow in the future."
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