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Mansfield Magazine

Lake Ridge Football: Protect the Integrity

Dec 10, 2014 01:19PM ● By Kevin

Lake Ridge Football 2014. Photo courtesy of George Olsen.

With its third full season of football behind it, Lake Ridge High School celebrates many firsts in 2014 - first home win, first win over a Mansfield ISD team, first playoff berth. The Eagles finished their season with an 8-5 record as area champions and regional semifinalists. They also went 4-3 in the district.

"I was really excited for our kids and thought it was fun for them," said head coach Kirk Thor. "When you start off the first year you opened up... we were 0-10, getting defeated by lopsided scores. The kids were resilient and kept working hard. To see the seniors go through that first year and growing to what they did this year, I thought it was exciting. It was good to see the hard work pay off for them."

Thor is also the campus athletic coordinator. He said while the playoffs and many firsts were fun and exciting, setting the foundation for the future of Lake Ridge football was just as important.

"We’re focused one day at a time and our kids have done a great job of that," he said. "Our key core belief is to be 1-0 today. We tell kids all the time that at the end of the day if you did your best socially, academically, athletically, spiritually, you’re 1-0 for the day. On Monday we're only worried about having a good Monday practice; on Tuesday, we're only worried about having a good Tuesday practice; and so on and so forth. We don’t have our minds clouded with things we can’t control. Our kids did that this year and because of that, we were able to see some success this season."

Other successes this season included a 38-19 win over Seguin en route to postseason play, and a 37-35 victory over Longview, making the Eagles regional semifinalists. They ended their season with a loss to McKinney North; however, they kept true to their morals and followed their one rule: protect the integrity of Lake Ridge football.

"They represent MISD, Lake Ridge High School, Lake Ridge football and the community, and whatever decision they make must protect the integrity of our school," Thor said. "It serves as a guidepost for them to make the right decisions. Going 8-5 is fun, but our coaches' vision is that we build good men, good people and a good program. We use football as a tool to build people for success in life. That’s what we do and that’s our focus."

As a core group of seniors graduates, Thor said he is proud of the group's leadership, perseverance and competitiveness. He said they stuck to and believed in the plan. Now a strong junior class and group of underclassmen follow suit, maintaining a family atmosphere on and off the field.

"When you walked in the building, came to practice, went to game... what you saw was a family-type atmosphere," Thor said. "The young kids bought into that from the senior and junior class. I think there was a real tight bond on this football team and we want that for years to come. We want them to feel like they can grow in every way with our program."

Thor continued, saying success isn't just measured by wins and losses, or how deep you go, but it's doing the best you can today.

"I can’t remember the last time in last three years we had to coach effort," he said. "They just kept playing. In so many games, they were resilient and played to the final quarter. Anytime you do that, it’s a successful year."

The community's support of the team both inside and outside of the halls of the school was also outstanding, according to Thor.

"MISD is a great place to work and a great place to be," he said. "From the building administration to the athletic department, the district and community outside was very supportive. The kids felt that. I was excited about that. It was a fun football year because of the support we had community wide so I think that was great."

Thor looks forward to continuing to build the program. He said the group has learned how to handle defeat in years past, and this year has learned how to handle success. He's appreciative of a team of good players and coaches and looks forward to starting fresh in 2015.

"No matter where’ you’re ranked and how you did the year before, it’s still 0-0 on the scoreboard," he said. "I think our kids buy into that and are excited about that. Now the goal is to raise the bar higher and be better football players and better people next year."

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