Tanner Proctor is a senior at Smith-Cotton, but out on the football field he is a rookie.
“I figured it’s my senior year, I’ve got nothing better to do during the fall, I’m usually just sitting around,” he said. “A lot of my friends are playing. I might as well come out and give it a try.”
Proctor, an All-Conference wrestler as part of a West Central Conference championship wrestling team last year, is one of several Tigers who are coming back to the sport for the first time in years. The Smith-Cotton football team entered camp in 2013 with about 80 players. This fall, that number jumped to more than 100 as coach Ryan Boyer made a point of bringing athletes who were already in the school into the football program.
“We went around all spring and just talked to them,” he said. “I think a lot of kids, even adults, want to be wanted. We talked to a lot of them. Not all of them came out, but we’re going to work with the ones that did.”
With the help of the new reinforcements, the Tigers can field full scout teams as well as being able to plug certain players in depending on situations.
“It helps out with depth at positions with the longevity of the season because injuries will occur,” Boyer said. “It’s a good thing. It’s a little different managing them all, but that’s OK. It’s a good problem to have.”
Now, with the help of the veterans on the team, the coaching staff is working to get those new players caught up.
Proctor last played football in third grade.
“Everything’s a lot more complicated compared to what it was back then,” he said.
He still said he’s picking it up better than he thought he would.
“It’s coming to me a lot faster than it did the first couple of weeks,” he said.
Another newcomer to the varsity football team is Dalton Zaremba. Like Proctor, Zaremba was part of a Smith-Cotton team which won a WCC title. For Zaremba it was in baseball.
Zaremba last played football in seventh grade, but this year was convinced to come back by friends and teammates.
“They wanted me to come back and I said why not,” he said.
Though it’s been a few years since he last laced up the pads, Zaremba is in the same boat as the rest of the Tigers.
“There’s a new coach so everything’s new,” Zaremba said. “New plays, new everything, so I fit in pretty good.”