By JAKE MCNEAL
Marysville Globe Reporter
Oct 05 2011
MARYSVILLE — Totem Middle School’s eighth-grade varsity football Thunderbirds are off to a 2-0 start in 2011 after suffering an 0-6 record in 2010.
The team scored a 12-8 win over traditional powerhouse Stanwood on Sept. 28 to secure its first home win of the season by forcing timely turnovers and controlling the ball on offense.
Quarterback Taylor Koellmer kept Totem’s modified pistol offense moving with scrambles in key moments to keep Stanwood’s defense on its heels. Robert Miles, Koellmer’s favorite target on offense, sealed the game to complement his receiving touchdown and previous interception with an interception late in the fourth quarter on Stanwood’s final attempted comeback drive.
“We didn’t expect a lot of passing,” Totem head coach Travis Marsh said of the gameplan. “We were looking out for leads (running plays up the middle in which a fullback clears a path for the running back) and sweeps — keying on the fullback and making sure the middle linebacker tracks him, and get two guys to the ball. Players get bigger in Stanwood every year.”
Brothers and Totem teammates Gavin and Keegan Holdt agreed that the turnovers were “definitely the decisive factors” in the contest.
“I think we could step up the blocking, but that’s all we really need to work on,” Gavin said. “We persevered through all the bad. We made a ton of mistakes, but we worked through them. We’re only going to get better through the season.”
“Overall, the team effort was really good,” Keegan said. “We are the smallest middle school — we have around 40 kids on the team, and last year we were 0-6. Now we want to make a name for the football team as the smallest middle school.”
The Totem Parent Teacher Student Association and principal Robert Kalahan celebrated the first home game of the season by handing out free hot dogs and soda to fans and parents. A line of vintage Ford Thunderbirds under the banner of the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the Vintage Thunderbird Club of America were on hand to commemorate the event.
“Last year our PTSA really developed — we ended up with 180 PTSA members, which was the most PTSA members of any school, even high schools, in the district. They came out and painted the goalposts here last weekend, getting the flags mounted up there. They got the car club to come out here for the first home game,” Kalahan said. “This is the first time we’ve done this for the football team. A lot of their kids are playing, so it’s a lot of great parents who are setting it up. We really want community involvement in schools — we want volunteers. It’s part of what we do in this school.”
“[The PTSA] spent two whole days redoing our goal posts. They got in touch with the classic cars, we’ve got pom poms, we’re handing out free hot dogs. This is our big tailgate bash for the year,” Michelle Sawyer, Totem center and defensive tackle Mitchell Sawyer’s mother, said.
“This team, when they were seventh graders, didn’t have any wins last year but they never gave up. They’d fight until the bitter end, and now this year they’ve come together and gelled. They’re playing from this one school here where they have eighth-grade boys,” Steve Sawyer, Mitchell’s father and Totem football enthusiast, said. “I think there’s 98 kids in the school, and 25 or 26 of them turned out for football. The team they’re playing, they took two schools and put them together to make one school, so it’s kind of like a 3-A playing against a 4-A team, so they’re playing beyond themselves.”
“We’re the smallest middle school in the league. We pull from the smallest amount of kids — a little over 100 — and there are 26 on the team. We control the things we can control: effort, attitude, intensity and execution. We can’t control the refs, but we can control ourselves. We want to be clean on offense and own positions on defense,” Marsh said. “This team would get blown out by 20 or 40 points ever game last year. They came out with a really positive attitude this year, and they’ve really bought into the intelligence game. Their maturity has really shown in how much they’re soaking up. Winning is a by-product of working hard — our kids worry about the little things, and if that turns into a win, that’s fantastic.”
Steve Sawyer would not disclose his prediction for the team’s 2011 record because, he says, “it kinda jinxes it.”
“Put it this way,” he offered instead, “I think they’ve got good possibilities.”
The girls love going to his games and cheering him on. And I can't get over his dashingly handsome good looks . . .
Thanks for being the hero of so many kids . . . especially ours!!