TOPSHAM – Mount Ararat senior linebackers Kyle Graffam and Kaiden Getchell have one task when they enter the football field: find the ball.
The seniors are doing a lot this fall, leading an Eagles team that is not just 4-0, but difficult to score on.
“There is always something to read before the hookup,” said Graffam. “It’s something we’ve been taught well, but it’s something I’m proud of.
Getchell added, “Our motto is eight ball hats at all times. It’s something we’re good at and that’s exactly what we do.
Under the leadership of head coach Frank True for eight years, the Eagles have appeared to pick up where they left off after winning the State Eight-side Championship in 2019. While the offense regularly enjoys big games , it was the defense that caught the attention of many. In four games, the Eagles have allowed just 64 points – although college starters have allowed just two touchdowns. Their smallest margin of victory this season is 30 points, a 42-12 season opener over Spruce Mountain.
The unit benefited from the performances of several outstanding players. Junior Shea Farrell runs high as a linebacker / safety hybrid while Getchell and Graffam anchor the middle as linebackers. Up front, Elliot Douglass plugs holes and is often found in the opposing team’s backfield.
While only Douglass, Getchell and Graffam remain players who saw their precious college time in 2019, the Eagles have clearly developed well, which has allowed several players to fulfill their roles well.
Peter Hahsey (linebacker), Max Spring (lineman), Wes Wallace (defensive back) and Mackenzie Wilkins (defensive back) also play important roles.
“My job is to hold on and not let them push me down,” said Douglass, who recently signed up to Castleton State in Vermont to play football. “If I can bounce the opponent on the outside where one of these guys (Getchell, Graffam and Farrell) can hit him, then this game has been a success for me. These guys are waiting for them, I just hope to push the bunch.
It’s a thankless job, eating up blockers and letting linebackers get closer to the ball with the occasional sack here and there.
Douglass’s teammates know that too.
“If I’m able to get a tackle, Elliot has done his job,” Getchell said.
True said the experience gained during the 2019 season has helped him get a “head start” over fellow coaches, many of whom are coaching in the eight-man ranks for the first time this season.
“Without a doubt, that was a big help,” said True, whose team hosts the undefeated Cheverus (2-0) on Friday night. “In 2019 we were running one thing and at the end of the season we were running something completely different. We were able to start this year with the patterns with which we ended the 2019 season. “
The differences between eight-a-side football and traditional 11-on-11 football may look different from the bleachers, but it’s the same game for players, many said.
“Eight or 11 players, the goal of the game is no different,” said junior defensive back Shea Farrell. ” Mount. Ararat has definitely had a head start on these other teams with the experience we have, but we try not to think about the record and train as hard as possible for Fridays.
True says playing defense in the eight-a-side game can be tough.
“With eight players you still have the same number of gaps with a lot of ground to cover with three guys less,” he said. “In that regard, it’s much more difficult.
With Cheverus arriving in town on Friday, the Eagles know the importance of the job at hand.
“I’m so excited it’s our return game for us too, so we’re hoping for a huge crowd,” Getchell said.
Graffam adds: “We are amplified, but we are also focused. We don’t want to let distractions take away from us what needs to be done, we are ready to show what we can do.