Kodiak football is small on manpower but strong in spirit

KODIAK, Alaska (KTUU) - When a player goes down with an injury, you always hear the phrase, "Next man up"


But what if there isn't anyone to take the spot?

“It sucks sometimes. It really does," Kodiak High's senior quarterback Kaleb Finley says. "But, I mean, I don’t play for myself. I play for the other 10 guys that are on the field working just as hard as me, so, really it’s for them."

The Kodiak football team, including JV, has 35 players on its roster.

"We are on an island, it’s difficult. Other places can kind of play other small squads all around the state with their youth programs," first-year head coach Bryan Ellsworth said. "But we have to play kind of with what’s here."

For this team in a small fishing town, strength in numbers is not a luxury. But what the team lacks in size and number of players, it more than makes up for in one very important category: Passion.

“This is my family. Honestly, we come out here every day and all the guys that are here, constantly, they put in all the work," senior running back Micah Bartel said with a giant grin. "Every single day, there’s a lot of dedicated people out here and that’s just something really cool."

For Coach Ellsworth, it's something he couldn't be more proud of.

“But, if you keep going, and you keep going and you pick up that guy next to you, that’s what it’s all about," Ellsowrth said.

With numbers so low, everyone learns to be ready to do whatever is asked of them.

“Go with the flow, because you really do not know what’s going to happen next," Bartel laughed. "We’re short on guys, short on positions. Everyone could play anything.”

The Bears may be small on manpower, but they are strong in spirit.

“Just because, I mean, it’s always hard, it’s always going to be hard, but there’s no reason that it has to be not fun," Finley said with a soft smile. "As long as it’s fun, then you've got a reason to play."

Kodiak faces off against Lathrop on Friday, September 7 at 6 p.m. in Kodiak. It's Channel 2 Sports' Tailgate Tour game of the week.

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