Photo by Shawn Byrne.
KINGMAN – They may be coming off a season in which they went 1-9 and were winless over the last nine games, but the Kingman Bulldogs plan on bouncing back in 2016 with some bite.
“We aren’t quitters,” said quarterback frontrunner Darrell Mitchell. “We’re organized this year and more dedicated. The coaches want us to be mentally tough and want us to overcome anything that is in our path.”
Mitchell and teammate Paul Jones both played most of their time last year on junior varsity. Jones has the work ethic coach Cam Wierson wants every Bulldog to possess. He was found in the summer lifting and training with both the wrestling team and with Wierson’s football team. The coach is figuring out where on the field Jones fits in best for himself and the team, and Jones is upbeat about the squad as a whole.
“We’re unified and work really well together,” he said. “The attitudes are stronger this year, and the work we’ve put in has made us better. We encourage each other and push each other.”
Wierson said he has another 10 players like Mitchell and Jones, players who are ready to run through a wall and do whatever is necessary to get some wins. He needs more.
“I still have kids who don’t want to be around here every day,” Wierson said. “I’m dealing with it slowly and still being the nice guy. There’s a line in the sand, but nowhere near where I want it.”
Those 12 players are a great foundation for Wierson, but high school football requires depth. Wierson is pleased with those 12 who are showing their dedication to the Bulldogs.
“They’ve bought in,” the coach said. “We’re better today than we were at this point last year. There is no question about that. It’s tough to steer a new culture, and I’ve got to work with what I’ve got.”
As the first week of practice comes to its conclusion, the Bulldogs don’t want to lose sight of the big picture.
“We need to stay focused, but we still want to have fun and have a good time,” Mitchell said. “We don’t want to be working hard but not liking what we’re doing. The coaches want us to have fun while getting the job done.”
Kingman opens the season in three weeks hosting Lee Williams Aug. 26.