Trailing Rogers by a dozen at the half, Gonzaga Prep boys basketball coach Matty McIntyre asked his Bullpups to dig a little deeper. To give a little more. The Bullpups already had given him plenty that day: They helped McIntyre say goodbye to his mother, Christy, who died on Jan. 8 and was laid to rest Friday in Post Falls.
The setting sun hits the orange Art Deco bricks, and the glow makes Rogers High School look like it’s on fire. In the adjacent field, the school’s football coach takes over a lackluster practice from his assistants, displaying energy he hasn’t had for days. Head coach Matt Miethe missed practice two days earlier, hooked up to an IV full of antibiotics at his home, hoping to avoid his 19th hospitalization in nearly as many years from the effects of an ailment that goes dormant but never fully leaves his system.
Before a team meeting in the wrestling room at Rogers High School, the players gathered for the official team picture. Coach Matt Miethe prefers to have the team photo shot at the end of the season so that the Pirates who are memorialized in the yearbook are the players who made it to the end. The 2013 final team photo of the Rogers Pirates had 43 players. Here are some of them: Marcus Phillips, the most recognizable kid on the team, with drooping, black, curly hair and braces, is one of several sophomore varsity starters who give the Pirates hope for the future.
David Casteal addresses his sixth-grade class as “learners,” as in: “Learners, here’s what going to happen.” On this October morning, Casteal’s learners at Cooper Elementary School are visited by Mads Tranberg, Rogers High School’s Danish foreign exchange student who recently made the football team’s first field goal in three years.
This is it. The last time these players and these coaches will be a team. The last time to play under the lights of Joe Albi Stadium. The last chance to win. The Rogers High School football team and their coaches stand shoulder to shoulder, arms around one another in a circle in the school’s wrestling room. They are about to board a bus to their last game of the season. “The friendships that you make, the bonds that you build, will last a lifetime. It’s never going to be like this again – even for those that have more games ahead of you, this circle will never be the same,” coach Matt Miethe says. “Here’s one last shot for this circle to go out and get the job done tonight.”
A ball sailed through the uprights during practice at the Rogers High School football field one day, drawing the kind of cheers from players that normally would be reserved for a game-winning field goal. The kicker, a tall, blond Danish exchange student, lined up in a different spot on the field and did it again. Then again. And again.
Jacob Meusy held it together as the seconds ticked off the clock of a homecoming game that appeared won, but somehow slipped to defeat in the final minutes. He held it together as he reprimanded a teammate who had thrown his helmet as tears ran down his face – angry, the player said, at his lack of playing time. Meusy told the teammate to shape up and grabbed him to line up and shake the hands of the celebrating players from North Central who had just beaten them.
To make his team think about a fresh beginning, coach Matt Miethe asked his players to contemplate their end. In the first week of Rogers High School football practice, Miethe assigned players the task of writing their obituaries, imagining the end of their high school careers and their deaths at age 99.
Sun., Nov. 17, 2013, 1:31 p.m.