NAMPA -- Wins have not just been hard to come by for the Nampa High football team over the last season and a half.
They have been down right impossible.
"Nampa has been in the losing column for a long time now," said two-way sophomore standout Donavon Estrada.
"We're on a 14-game losing streak," added sophomore wide receiver Cade Smith. "We need to break that this year."
The challenge for Nampa moving forward will be disconnecting themselves from the negativity that festers from 14-straight loses. The Bulldogs last win came on Sept. 18, 2015. Last season they went 0-9 and were outscored 326-72.
One thing that could help them turn the program around: Youth
Many of the guys on varsity this season will be underclass, and have not been a part of the losing streak.
"They're young, but they're excited and they're ready to go," said second year head coach Dan Holtry.
"There's really no pressure," said junior quarterback Braden Minor, who played one game on varsity last season before breaking his hand. "We're already at the bottom. The only place we can go is up."
For most programs, leadership usually comes from the top. But as the Bulldogs start to rebuild, their hope arrives from the bottom.
"We had a freshman group last year that went 8-1. Those guys know how to win," Holtry said. "Yeah, it was freshman level, but they know how to win and they've experienced that. So they don't know anything different. We are pulling a few of those guys up, so hopefully they rub off on the rest."
Estrada and Smith each played on that freshman team last fall. Nine months later, they have both earned a promotion to varsity. In addition to their speed and athleticism, Estrada and Smith also bring an attitude that the program has sorely missed.
"We just have that mentality of winning," Smith said of the sophomore class. "We know how to win and we're going to try and bring it to this level."
The versatile Estrada could see some time at quarterback, but he will mostly be used as a safety on defense and a wide receiver on offense. Add Smith to the equation and all of a sudden junior quarterback Braden Minor has some reliable targets to get the ball to.
"We have a bunch of good chemistry already and we haven't even played a game yet," Smith said about his quarterback. "He has the knowledge and he's smart when it comes to [throwing] the ball."
Considering the Bulldogs will be one of the youngest teams in the 5A SIC this year, they will still likely experience their fare share of growing pains. However, if they can show the patience it takes to develop the talent that have, they know that the lessons they learn this fall could lead to something they already know they're capable of in the future.
"This year we feel like we're going to be a lot more competitive," Holtry added.
"It's very important. If we're patient, eventually something big will happen for us," Estrada said. "When we're seniors, we're going to play against the same guys we played against as freshman."
"It just means we have room to grow. We're a young team," Smith said. "But two years from now we're going to have that experience and hopefully win a state championship."
8/25 - at Caldwell
9/1 - vs. Vallivue
9/8 - at Eagle
9/15 - vs. Kuna
9/22 - vs. Meridian
9/29 - at Capital
10/5 - vs. Columbia
10/13 - vs. Mountain View
10/30 - at Boise
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