COLUMBIA — At the end of Wednesday evening's practice, Tolton football coach Chad Masters spoke to the 42 kneeling players around him once more about building a program. Friday night's match against Southern Boone will be the team's 20th game in its third year of existence.
"I'm not gonna tell you it's magic," Masters told those huddled. "I don't know. I hope it is. But people achieve great things because they're willing to go out of their comfort zone."
Southern Boone (0-1) at Tolton (0-1)
WHEN: 6 p.m. Friday
WHERE: Tolton High School
Entering his junior year at Fr. Tolton Regional Catholic High School, Ryan Chappell wanted a change. He spent the previous fall running cross country and playing soccer. He spent the previous eight falls playing soccer.
"A lot of people in the school were telling me I should come out and play (football), it's a lot of fun," Chappell said. "I thought I should try something different."
And so in between AAU basketball tournaments in the summer (He was the Trailblazers' leading 3-point shooter as a sophomore.), Chappell spent time with the football team learning a new game.
"He always watched it growing up," said his father, Mike Chappell, who was at practice Wednesday helping a crew set up the game field by laying down the white yard lines.
He was a high school football player himself.
"It's always been an interest of his," Mike Chappell said of his son. "He's pretty excited about it, and more and more, he's getting used to the game. Every time he plays, the game kind of slows down for him."
Already, Ryan Chappell has proven himself as a versatile option as a receiver, who also kick returns and boots field goals for the team.
Masters said Ryan Chappell stands out as a "natural athlete."
He's always known high cardio, but now, Ryan Chappell said he's learning the effects of adding a helmet and shoulder pads to his conditioning.
He took the field under the lights for the first time Friday against the Class 1 No.2-ranked Valle Catholic.
"Ooohhh," Ryan Chappell said, "I was pretty nervous."
The nerves didn't stop Chappell from a team-high in average return yards, Masters said.
"He's a pretty cool customer," Masters said. "Whether it's competition in a football game or a basketball game or a soccer game or a game of checkers or Tiddly Winks, I think that kid's gonna try to come out and beat you."
But Chappell and the Trailblazers were dealt a 56-0 smattering by Valle. Valle won the same game 61-0 last year at the start of Tolton's one-win season.
Chappell knew of the team's record before he joined. That, he said, played no part in his decision.
"I honestly didn't think about the wins, about how they did last year," he said. "I just came out to play."
It's not magic, but Chappell left his comfort zone and a program hopes to get better for it.
Supervising editor is Greg Bowers.