CLYDE PARK — Imagine a team where half the players have never played a varsity game. For most, the results would be a tossup, but for the Shields Valley Rebels it’s worked in their favor.
“Going into the season we weren’t expecting these young freshmen to have to be able to step up right away and play,” head coach Mitch Ward said. “Just kind of from the first day of practice you could tell that the freshmen were right there with the couple juniors and seniors we have on this team physically and they were caught up ready to go.”
Three freshmen, led by first-year starting quarterback Dylan Flatt, have helped Shields Valley to a 5-3 record and to the brink of the playoffs.
“This is my first year playing quarterback since sixth grade, so it’s been a major adjustment the first couple of weeks,” Flatt said. “You kind of just have to overcome that because we are so young.”
“If you just watch a game, you would have no way of knowing he’s a freshman, he’s just that great,” Flatt’s teammate Jack Marshall said. “So I think he’s shown a lot of growth and skill throughout the year.”
One would think these 14-year-old’s are inexperienced, but throughout the season they’ve grown to be one of the most dominant fronts in the South.
“I think that if you watch a game the last two or three weeks that we’ve played, without knowing us, you wouldn’t know that a couple of those guys were freshmen and never played at a varsity level before,” Ward said.
“We all work together really well. Us freshmen, we’ve always been together, we’ve always had a really good class,” Flatt added.
And after only two years at head coach, Ward is leading the Rebels straight to success.
“I think it shows Mr. Ward is a great coach,” Marshall said. “He kind of came into a program that hadn’t had a lot of wins in the past and now we’re winning games, good in our conference. We have a lot of potential. It’s going to be a dynasty, I think.”