ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Winning hasn't always come easy for the East High Thunderbirds.
"We were not good," senior wide receiver Colton Herman said. "It wasn't doing great and with the help of Coach Trotter and Coach Don, we've really built this program up."
Jeff Trotter came to East in 2011. The team hadn't had a winning season in three years. He's now in his eighth season and he's changed the culture for East football.
"It was tough, I mean, we walked into a program that, I think it was just organization and systems," Trotter said.
Trotter took a team that only won one game in 2010, and six short years later, only lost two games and took home the state championship.
“He just pushes it in all of us, you know," Herman said with a grin. "We don’t go in just to win a couple games. We go in to win state from the day off.”
His teammates agree.
“Just the mindset that we train to win championships," senior linebacker Hale Siulua said. "Just that whole process. So we train to win. “
But that's not all he's teaching them.
“Coach Trotter is a good coach," senior quarterback Kapono Medeiros said. " I really love him and he’s always a person that is always there for you to count on.”
With 24 seniors on the team, the Thunderbirds are hungry to get back to the state championship, and Trotter says this year they're the most motivated he's seen.
“We had the most kids in the weight room, we had the most kids with no GPA issues, and that kind of took care of itself," he said with a grin. "I didn’t have to do much. They’re a pretty self-motivating group. “
But with that in the back of their minds, East is ready to keep the winning culture going for seasons to come.
“Be a family, be a team is really what I’ve seen here," Herman said. "You really gotta be a family to win championships and win games. If you’re not a family, then you don’t have really much at all."
Join Channel 2 Sports at East's game Friday against Cesar Chavez High School from Phoenix, Ariz. It's our Tailgate Tour Game of the Week.