By Will LeBlond
NEWFIELD – At the Newfield High School football stadium, a garage is located right near the entrance to the gates, which highlights the past success of the Trojan football program.
Memories of the past glory at the school have subsided a bit since the early 2000s dominance of the Trojan football team, especially when the program was momentarily dormant less than five years ago, because of low numbers.
Skip ahead those five years and now Newfield is on the path back to the top. A squad that picked up just one win last year may not seem like a team on the rise, but head coach Chris Bubble says the right people are in place to get his program back.
“They’re good kids, they work hard,” he said. “They’re two- and three-sport athletes, and they’re going to be role models for the younger guys and just continue to work hard.”
The kids Bubble refers to are the ones that are keeping the program of Newfield football alive. With about 20 players in preseason camp for the Trojans, the few that are taking part are the ones that can lead the charge around the community.
Without question getting to the point of winning games is one of the biggest pieces in rebuilding a program, but Bubble spoke to the character of the kids that are with the program, even though the victories have been few and far between.
“Winning is going to breed winning, and I think if we would win more football games, we would have more guys out here,” said Bubble. “The guys that are out just love the sport and want to continue to spread the word and help build the program.”
The word has certainly spread to the younger generation of Trojan football, as this year’s squad has a heavy core of sophomores and juniors on the roster. Looking even further, beyond the varsity level, Newfield has a high number of modified players and fields a youth program that includes an upwards of 50 participants.
The key to keeping those younger players involved with football and athletics as a whole is to get to them at that young age, which is something Bubble will have the chance to do this year when he begins his tenure as an elementary school P.E. teacher at Newfield.
“I’m going to try and keep them motivated to play a sport,” he said. “I don’t care if they choose to play something other than football, but we can’t afford at a small school for them to not do anything.”
A prosperous future of having many participants could be on the way, as the modified program has had huge success, as Bubble noted multiple seasons of having a very small loss total. Hypothetical predictions for the future aside, the biggest current concern for the program is building with what they have and keeping the team alive.
A good deal of pride is needed to keep any group of players invested in a team, which is what Bubble has been preaching to his current squad with their attitudes essential in the rebuild.
“They do take some pride in whether the facilities look a certain way, if we represent the community in a certain way, how we represent ourselves, our coaches and our families in a certain way,” he said, “and I think passing that along to the younger guys is something they care about.”
Along with developing the football program, Bubble also takes tremendous pride in the safety of his players, which was evident during the team’s first full pads and full contact practice on August 20. With already low numbers, the team cannot lose many to injury, so the Trojans have made the adjustment to tackling the right way, including contact to the lower half of the body in order to avoid head injuries.
One could make the argument that the risk of injury has lessened the number of players taking part in football, but Bubble is a defender of the sport and hopes that the perception of danger can change.
“I think it’s unfortunate that parents are of the perception that football is a dangerous sport,” said Bubble. “Unless they experience it, there’s also an assumption of risk that the kids are taking and the parents are taking in letting them participate in any sport.”
The Newfield coaching staff hopes that a safe approach to the game and increased word of mouth, along with growing the pride of the program, can rebuild it to a top team in the area. They are well aware, however, of the steps needed and the work it will take to get to that level again.
“It’s just making that transition and keeping that team in play,” said Bubble. “The goal was to finish the season every year until we start to get those numbers back up and the next couple of years it’ll be tough.
“They’ll be the foundation of continuing the program into the future when a lot of schools have merged around us,” he added. “We’re not opposed to that, but we just want to make due with what we have.”
For more information about Newfield Central School Athletics, visit www.newfieldschools.org/athletics.