ANAHEIM, Calif. — High school football would not be the same without the traditions that make each program unique, and "tradition" is more than just a word at Servite High School in Anaheim.
For Friars Head Coach Troy Thomas, tradition is the foundation of his football program.
"I think that traditions are really important to honor our past. Servite has been open for over 60 years. There has been a lot of young men, teachers, administrators, coaches that have set a very strong foundation for us to represent. I take that very seriously; our guys do too," he said.
From the perfectly synchronized pre and postgame Hut Drill that was created in 1961 to entering the game with bagpipes to Coach Thomas's signature look — a shirt and a tie, the traditions are about more than football.
Players like senior safety Nick Jako, who is among the Curia, or peer-selected team leaders, often grow up imagining the day they get to be part of it all.
"Every freshman's just trying to work their way up the ranks and trying to get the goosebumps everybody else gets on Friday nights. So once you make it to the varsity level, it's kind of a surreal experience to hear the bagpipes, doing the Hut Drill, all of that. Because you've made your way up the ranks, so it means something," Jako said.
At the heart of every tradition is uncompromising respect for past generations and each other.
Star junior quarterback Noah Fifita has been a huge part of the all-boys school's success in the Trinity League but sees himself no differently than his teammates — to him, he is another Friar in the Servite brotherhood.
"That brotherhood's not necessarily who's here right now within these four years, but also the guys who came before us, the guys who come after us. So when they preach brotherhood at Servite, that really means something. And to be a part of it, to be a big part of it and this football team and all the traditions we have is a blessing," Fifita said.
For a school trying to turn the corner and take down the Trinity League giants, maybe they need look no further than their school's past — a small band of Friars from Chicago who came together in faith and whose foundation would build everything they stand on today.
"Every game since I've been here, I feel like we show up to play. Sometimes the scoreboard says what we like it to say, and sometimes it does not. But I know this, our kids are going to represent Servite and their families and God in a positive way," Thomas said.