Unstoppable?

Varsity football team heads into districts undefeated, 9-0

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Kaylee Todd

Hassan Haskins, running back/linebacker, carries the ball past Lindbergh, Oct. 6. “I do my best when we play,” Haskins said. “I score a lot of touchdowns and gain a lot of yards. I play my part and do my role.”

From lashing the Lancers to mutilating the Mustangs at their own homecoming, Eureka football has proven itself to be a powerhouse.

“The season went great. For tougher opponents like Lindbergh, we prepared really well. We watched films of past games and dialed in on that. We also had an offensive ‘trick play’ made specifically for Lindbergh,” Tucker Tandy, linebacker, said. “We exceeded expectations in the big moments when we needed to while still having fun.”

There are 15 seniors on the varsity team that have dedicated a majority of their high school experience to football, most of them playing since freshman year.

“There is more confidence because we are more of a senior-lead group,” Julien Cifarelli, quarterback and linebacker, said. “There’s a lot more experience on the team and everyone knows how to win, so we just start winning.”

This confidence and experience has driven them to an undefeated season, 9-0.

“It’s a great year all around. They’re playing hard, and we have a special group of senior leaders,” Jacob Sumner, head coach, said. “Every week those boys are going out there prepared and are taking care of what they need to.”

The team practices about 15 hours a week, which includes after school and early mornings.

“We try to have good mental learning days and then physical practice in the middle of the week, and then we slow it down and go over our gameplan on Thursday morning,” Hunter Mulholland, running back/linebacker, said.

Practices are crucial to the development of the team, and they take it up a notch to prepare.

“We try to limit mistakes during practices. The coaches usually call penalties over anything and everything so we can become aware of our mistakes,” Mulholland said. “They judge it more harshly than in a real game.”

Seniors play a major role in practices.

“Hassan [Haskins, running back/linebacker] is always there for the younger players,” Mulholland said. “When another player finishes a play at practice or a game, Hassan is giving pointers so they can improve. He’s really influential.”

The younger players absorb and execute his advice.

“When another player finishes a play, at practice or a game, Hassan is giving pointers so they can improve,” Mulholland said. “He’s really influential.”
Haskins is involved in the game whether or not he is playing.

“I stay positive so they listen to what I have to say,” Haskins said. “If I tell a receiver how to block better, I see him implementing that on field.”

Haskins resides at first string on offense and occasionally starts on defense.

“I feel like I have impacted the team a little bit,” Haskins said. “I do my best when we play. I score a lot of touchdowns (31 last season) and gain a lot of yards (1,803 last season). I play my part and do my role.”

With the first game of playoffs tonight, the team has focused on putting in the extra time to prepare.

“We practice a little harder and focus on fixing little mistakes every day to prepare for playoffs,” Haskins said. “We just keep grinding.”

The coaches push players to exceed the abilities of their opponents.

“We challenge them to play at their expectation level to the best of their ability and continue to set a standard,” Sumner said. “We have a very talented group of kids. If they keep playing at that level, good things will follow.”

While there isn’t much change to the everyday practice routine, the boys keep their mindset on moving forward through the brackets.

Varsity football is on home turf against Seckman for the first playoff game tonight, Oct. 20.

With nine wins under their belts and new tubes of eye-black, Eureka football is ready to take on their next opponents.

“We take the ‘one game at a time’ approach,” Sumner said. “We have to prepare for each opponent in the playoffs and attack each week like it could be our last.”

Players feel confident going into the playoffs.

“I feel like we’re going to win every playoff game because we’ve been practicing extra hard and we’ve wanted this opportunity for a while,” Haskins said. “Hopefully we’ll go to semi-finals and see what happens then.

Haskins is dedicated to the sport, putting more time in over the weekend to prepare for the week ahead.

“I tend to workout for about two hours over the weekend,” Haskins said. “Then I take time to rest before Monday practice.”

Working hard on a daily basis has shown on the field and is recognized by college recruitment.

“Hassan is a hard working young man,” Sumner said. “He’s talented out there and is a big impact player on the field. With any chance I get, I help him for college preparation. We’re proud of him.”

Having more than just college football in mind, Haskins hopes to further his talents in football.

“I have 15 full-ride offers,” Haskins said. “I’m thinking about University of Michigan, but I’m not for sure. Hopefully I’ll make it to the NFL.”

Ranking number 28 in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Super 30, a yearly countdown of the top 30 senior football prospects in St. Louis, more scholarships before the season ends may be likely.

“He’ll probably be playing somebody on Saturday’s in college and who knows from there,” Sumner said. “But hopefully on [NFL] Sunday’s, as well.”

Kick off for the first round of districts is at 7 p.m. tonight, Oct. 20, when the Wildcats look to sack Seckman. Tickets are $5.