Eugene, Ore. -- "What this team needs to do is make that sacrifice that last year's team made," says Churchill head football coach AJ Robinson. "You know, there's new players and returning players but last year's team made a sacrifice and a collective sacrifice that football season was going to be a priority for them."
It's a sacrifice that led to a 2017 5A state title game. But Churchill high school fell short and has already made a commitment in the offseason.
"Like we are working out all the time," explains senior Keagan Lutje. "All summer, winter we have weights. And we are just working hard and working for this season that we are going to have."
And it starts with their coach, AJ Robinson.
"AJ was just on us all the time," recalls lineman Richard Estrella. "Telling us to keep our heads up, you got this, and just on us all the time. It's what we have been practicing for, to just keeping us up."
"Our coach before was just really negative and he yelled at us when we were down and stuff like that," quarterback Jack Blackburn mentions. "AJ just always picks us up and he's just really positive about everything and that really helps."
He sees not a reinvention of the wheel, just a continuation of the culture they set.
"Our team this year is very similar to what it has been," Robinson says. "Take everything you do day by day and just try to be yourself in that moment.
Which of course comes back to the collective sacrifice.
"...That this is important to them and that that they are maybe going to live a life of discomfort for a bit," Robinson continues and concludes. "And just put away some distractions and just make choices that show that football is a priority to them."
And that means only one goal: finish and win the 5A state title.
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