At the South Fremont Junior High School, the stands rumble with crowds cheering on the previous underdogs, watching the team become the winners.
“After every game, we ask them, ‘Are you guys having fun?,'” said Blake Bartschi, a sophomore studying accounting. “They all scream out ‘Yeah!’ And you know what? It’s because winning is fun and success breeds success.”
Bartschi and his roommate Bryson Stoddard, a sophomore studying business management, are in their first year as co-head coaches for the local seventh-grade football team in Saint Anthony at South Fremont Junior High.
The two attended South Fremont and played on the same team when they were in seventh grade several years ago. Stoddard was an all-state cornerback his senior year at South Fremont and Bartschi was an all-state wide receiver his senior year. Bartschi played tight end at Weber State one year before injuries cut his playing career short.
“They wanted to put people in who know the system, have played the game and so the head coach at the high school asked Bryson and me to run it this year and it has been fun,” Bartschi said, explaining how the two became co-coaches for the team.
Bartschi and Stoddard teach their players the willingness to try new things and put in the extra effort to prove their worth to the team.
“The kids love the new stuff, when you toss in something new, I feel like they just thrive on it because it’s not the same old monotonous stuff that we do every day,” Bartschi said. “It’s ‘Oh, coach is trusting me to go blitz, so I’m gonna put in that extra effort to go blitz.’”
It has been an adjustment for both Bartschi and Stoddard to learn to coach a team on their own. Stoddard is over the defense while Bartschi is in charge of the offense.
While they enjoy getting to be in charge, it hasn’t always been easy.
“I definitely understand a lot better what my coaches went through,” Stoddard said. “From week to week you will explain this exact same thing to the exact same kid and he just doesn’t seem to catch on to it. But for you you’re like ‘dude it’s this simple.'”
The struggles continued in trying to learn to coach the offensive and defensive line as neither one played those positions in high school.
“We are running a completely different offense than we did last year. The kids have more fun with it because not just one person is getting the ball every time. Two weeks ago we had four different kids score a touchdown,” Bartschi said.
The love these coaches have is backed up by their actions. At their game last week there was a parent from the opposing team yelling at Bartschi and Stoddard’s players. The former Weber State tight end had no issue walking on the field and yelling at that parent and telling him to worry about his own kids.
“You feel like they are your kid, ya know?” Bartschi said. “You take that pride.”
For South Fremont, protecting your team has been something that has been preached all season.
“That has been our cheer this year is family. It’s our team motto,” Stoddard said.
This theme of family spilled into talking about their favorite part from this season.
“Last year they won one game right?” Bartschi said. “So they have the mindset like ‘If we can just win one game or a couple of games, that’s enough.’ But now, we won’t ever lose a game. So I think seeing the mentality flip and the desire to be great now, instead of just settling for mediocracy is the most rewarding thing and my favorite thing to see in them.”
The team’s second-place divisional record, schedule and standings can be found at the Upper Valley Grid Kid website.