Thomas Jefferson’s football team enters a more competitive season as they moved from 3A to 4A this year.
When Thomas Jefferson played Bear Creek at the Homecoming game, many students were seeing the 2022 team for the first time. Seniors could be seen and heard leading cheers for their team under the bright lights of All City Stadium. All eyes are on this year’s team given last year’s success as they snatched a state win as a 3A team. As the Spartans make the jump into the 4A league, they are facing new challenges and overcoming them.
A number of seniors have graduated from TJ since last season, leaving important roles behind. But Junior Dimitri Haralambopoulos, is not too concerned about this. “It’s like they say in football, it’s next man up. We might have lost some seniors but we’ve also gained some underclassmen who are taking on those leadership roles.” Likewise, in his third year with the team, Jake Tapia is confident that losing some of their players will not harm the team’s performance. “We had a lot of transfers this year so we bounced back and everything. We did lose Austin Lindgren, our quarterback, but we got Doren Sacha now, and they’re filling that leadership position well.”
With more students enrolled at TJ, the size requirements moved the Spartan’s league. Due to the larger population of the school, the football team is now in the 4A league, which is bound to create new challenges for the players. Physical Education teacher and football coach Alex Alcala expands on this change. “Anytime we bump up in class it’s almost like a shock at first because we’re going up against teams that have 60 or more kids on a roster. Here at TJ a lot of our players go both ways, offense and defense, so it’s definitely a challenge.” The Spartans are meeting the challenge well so far with a 4-4 record.
The team of 62 seems more than ready to tackle the obstacle. Senior Dedrick Payne, reflects that “3A was kind of too easy for us, so 4A will be a better challenge… We did win state in a 4A competition,” Payne reflected on a state game when the Spartans secured wins against numerous 4A teams. Overall, players are aiming to do their best in this trying season. Trayveon Johnson, a junior and lineman, says, “there’s more physicality in practices this year. Practices are more tough, we’ve played in a 4A game, we know what that intensity and energy’s like and we want to follow that through with our practices.” The 2022 team only has a few games left in the season, and it will be entertaining to see what they can accomplish in this new league. Ultimately, Spartans can expect to see players rise to new challenges and play their hearts out.