Glendale Prep continues to battle long odds in 11-man football

Glendale Prep Academy head coach Jamie Self watches from the sideline during the first half of their Division 2A football game against North Pointe Sept. 21. [Ralph Freso/For West Valley Preps]

Sam Ganczaruk
For West Valley Preps

High school football teams can be measured by the amount of effort that is exerted on the field every week and if the player isn’t performing, the coach will likely make a change.

Glendale Preparatory Academy doesn’t have that option, as the Griffins have 19 players listed on their roster and typically field 13-14 players a week because of injuries or eligibility issues.

“What we find ourselves doing is seeing who is there on Monday and basically building strategy around personal,” said Jamie Self, who has been the football coach since the program began in 2008. “The dynamic for us as coaches is to figure that out quickly and then translate to the athletes in ways they can succeed.”

Glendale Prep is a state-chartered public school that is part of the Great Hearts network of public charter schools with 22 in the Phoenix metro area. Glendale Prep teaches grades 6-12, with an enrollment of 553 students.

“We are like an Ivy League School,” Glendale Prep athletic director Steve Drake said. “We are at capacity and have a waiting list of prospective students.”

The issue, football-wise, is the school’s academic reputation – with just under 300 high school students – moves it well into the 2A conference. However, with many students there for academic reasons, the football numbers are more in line with 1A schools that play the 8-man game.

The Griffins are in just their third season of 2A play and are outnumbered on a weekly basis. Friday they faced Phoenix North Pointe Prep, which fielded 38 players.

Glendale Prep plays true Iron Man football with most players never coming off the field – playing offense, defense and special teams.

“It is all a mental game,” junior Ryan Rafidi said. “We are physically able to and we have been doing it for three years now. I’m used to it, some of the guys out there are not used to it but are getting there.”

Despite being outnumbered on a weekly basis, Glendale Prep has seen some success. In 2016 the Griffins managed 4 wins to 5 losses, 2017 4-6.

At 1-5 so far this season, Glendale Prep earned its first win outscoring a much larger Sedona Red Rock program, 40-21, on Sept. 14.

“It is remarkable that we finish games and have competitive moments with the little resources we have,” Self said. “We can’t run certain plays because guys are out there but they are hurt or they are exhausted. For them to continue that and have a sense that they are doing something worthy rather than just losing all the time, that’s the value we have to remember as coaches.”

The players value winning but even more they don’t want to let the guy standing next to them down.

Glendale Prep Academy freshman quarterback Sam Terpstra, front is tackled by North Pointe defensive lineman Oscar Molinar during the first half of their Division 2A football game Sept. 21. [Ralph Freso/For West Valley Preps]
“We want to represent our school and respect each other,” said freshman quarterback/outside linebacker Sam Terpstra. “We want to play as a family.”

Besides the number of players in the program, Glendale Prep has to deal with the fact that home games are played offsite at Cortez and Apollo high schools.

There is no home field advantage and the school just this past year developed an actual weight training facility, not to mention that their practice field is in a water retention basin.

“We hope improving the facilities will bring more athletes in to play,” Drake said. “I’m excited for the future.”

Glendale Prep didn’t fair well against North Pointe, falling 79-24, but the score will not detour the team from suiting up the next week.

“You get to show up every day knowing there is adversity, knowing that you can’t be lazy and knowing that whatever hard work you put in, that is going to get rewarded,” senior Ian Kraemer said. “It is that sort of promise through this of becoming men and a better person, that is what I hold on to.”

Glendale Prep Academy head coach Jamie Self talks with his players during halftime of their Division 2A football game against North Pointe Sept. 21, Ralph Freso/For West Valley Preps]

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