Varsity football tackles their way to the top

Harsh lights flash against the dark sky, and the stadium’s turf is hot with the constant collision of shoes, elbows, and helmets. The crowd goes silent and time slows down as the NPHS football team line up to face their opponents. The whistle is blown. Seconds later, the crowd erupts in cheers and applause.
This fall, the NPHS football team is finally back in front of a large audience after a year of COVID-19 restrictions. On Friday, Sept. 3, the team played their first home game in a huge 42-7 victory against Atascadero. “For us, it was the first time we got to play in front of our home crowd since two years ago and having a great big crowd like that and the excitement, it was a great night,” Coach Jason Klein said.

Tyler Anderson, senior, is the varsity team’s outside linebacker and wide receiver. “I felt really good [about the game],” Anderson said. “The whole team was on the same page going into it and everyone did their job, so it made it really smooth and super fun, especially it being our first home game.”

Anderson has been playing football for 11 years, and this is his second year on varsity. “My favorite part about football is the fact that it takes everyone on the team to do their jobs,” Anderson said. “From the best guy to the bench player, everyone has a role, and in order for the team to be successful everyone has to execute their role.”

Lance Knieriem, senior, found his passion for football seven years ago, and is now the running back for the Panther team. Knierniem explains that the game is not only strenuous physical exercise, but also requires quick contemplation of moves. “The hardest part is probably just the mental part of it, on top of like, you know, remembering plays and stuff like that,” Knieriem said.

Before games, the entire football team has certain traditions that bring them closer together and put them in the right mindset before a game. “There’s a sign in the locker room that’s right next to the exit door and so before games everyone hits it with their hand and touches it,” Anderson said.

Knieriem also enjoys the team culture before a game. “The band going through the locker room [is] one of my favorite things ever! It gets you so hyped, you could just feel the tingling sensation in your body and it’s just the greatest thing ever,” Kniernem said.

Klein is amped for the upcoming year, and knows this team is something special. “Everybody’s different. Everybody’s there for different reasons: they love the game, they want to be a part of campus, they want to win, all kinds of different reasons,” Klein said.

“The main goal of our team is to become one, and what that means is that everybody on the team knows what their role is and they do their job to the best of their ability,” Klein said. “The reason that they’re out there is because they want to play for each other and that they also try to find a way to help each other. That is our goal, every year.”