High School Football Team Puts Tiny Kansas Town on the Map

Smith Center, Kan., is no boom town. There aren't many jobs here, and there's one main road and only one stop light. But the tiny town's residents feel like they live in the luckiest town in America, thanks to the local high school football team that's putting them on the map.

Click here for a slideshow capturing the big moments before the Smith Center Redmen's state championship game.

The mighty Redmen of Smith Center High School have smashed their way through the record books. They reigned undefeated for four years and hadn't even given up a touchdown during that streak until last week.

null

But that's not the reason people here feel so lucky.

The reason is Roger Barta. He's the team's coach, and he's teaching his boys how to play football and win at the game of life while they're at it.

"He tells us how to be a man, and then he shows us too," Smith Center quarterback Joe Windscheffel said.

Former player Caleb Wick said, "All of the coaches teach you to become a young man first and a football player second."

Barta, who is generally a quiet man, said 30 years on the field have taught him that the success in football and life are interchangeable.

null

"I don't know if winning or losing is what our program is about. You know five, 10, 20 years from now, something that we did might help them be successful in life," Barta said.

The players are featured on trading cards and have to sign contracts promising to abstain from drugs and alcohol.

The coach enlists everyone to help in his efforts to build a strong team.

The moms form an assembly line before each game to make sandwiches, and parents are often brought into the locker room.

When the team is on the road, the town doesn't just shut down -- almost everyone leaves, and local people decorate the town and send the team off like heroes.

null

This weekend the town of 2,000 people packed up and traveled 90 miles away to Hays, Kan., to watch their boys play in the state championship game.

On the way to the game, the team bus was filled with silence. When they took the field, the players held hands like brothers.

The team gave up their second touchdown in 54 games before turning things around, taking charge and winning their fourth state title in a row.

A team, a town and a coach -- all of them, together.

-- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 3914983.
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...