Sterling High players admit and their head coach Robert Toomer accepts it:
The Rangers, notably the seniors, are playing for their collegiate futures with their high school present on the gridiron essentially now boiled down to three more games before wrapping things up.
A 63-0 defeat at North Shore last weekend moved Sterling to 1-6 overall and 0-4 in District 21-6A and unless some wacky results occur around them and the Rangers win out, they will not advance to the postseason.
Yet, there is still plenty to play for when the Rangers host Deer Park 7 p.m. Friday at Stallworth Stadium.
“I think everyone here is looking to play in college and looking to get recruited and look good,” senior Trace Smoke said. “You also want to go out swinging if you are going to go down.
“We should have won a lot of games. Of course we are learning and the coaches are teaching us, so I believe we win against Deer Park. We will win these games because we are that skilled.”
Toomer, a former collegiate player at Louisiana State said that there is a big picture for the Sterling program still to play for while also seeking greener pastures after graduation.
“It’s not all about winning football games, but it’s also about team camaraderie and learning life lessons no matter what adversity they are facing,” Toomer said. “We play every game like it’s our last game if we are undefeated or have the record we are. We are going to send the seniors out on the right note. We know we have had some opportunities that we have wasted.
“Not only for recruiting, but how do you react when the chips are down? How do you go to work when you don’t feel like it? It’s one of those deals where your character kicks in. You don’t have to be on a winning team to be recruited. Each play is being recruited and you never know who is looking at you. Watch your demeanor, mannerisms, body language and give 110 percent.”
Deer Park (4-3, 2-2) fell to La Porte who held on for a narrow 24-21 win over Sterling two weeks ago.
Toomer is still wary of the Deer.
“Deer Park is well coached and offensively they are going to formation you to death,” Toomer said. “They want to see what you can do with that motion. If you can’t handle that and their shifts? Then you are in trouble.”
“Their defense doesn’t rush a lot and they sit back and wait. They try not to be out of position and try not to get beat deep. They play a lot of man.”
Anything would be a better result than last week’s education North Shore instilled on the Rangers.
“North Shore is a household name,” Toomer said. “They brought the brand and rightfully so. Our kids played hard and didn’t quit. North Shore is one of those programs where you wish to be, but we are nowhere close to that.”