Learning the gamePublished 5:00am Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Two 11-year olds have played an important role in the season of the Escambia Academy football team.
No, they are not wunderkind athletes like Dylan Moses, who already has a scholarship offer at LSU despite having just entered the eighth grade earlier this school year.
The two 11-year-olds mentioned are both coaches’ sons: Troy Fountain and Ty Kirchharr. Both have served this season as the Cougars’ equipment managers.
As equipment managers, they ensure that players have water when they need it, that officials have dry footballs when they need it and tend to any other technical needs as they arise.
Troy Fountain is in the fifth grade and is the son of head coach and athletic director Hugh Fountain. Ty Kirchharr is in the sixth grade and is the son of varsity assistant coach and JV head coach Paul Kirchharr.
They share the joys and sorrows of the team, as they high-five players after positive plays and shake their heads in disbelief after unsuccessful plays.
“I would say that we started off the season, they didn’t really care about each other,” Fountain said.
“They did,” Kirchharr corrects him. “They just didn’t play together.”
“At the Clarke Prep game, we didn’t do much in the first half, but when we went into the locker room we came back as a different team,” Fountain continues. “In the games we’ve lost, we never played together in the first half.”
“The Cougars care about each other,” Kirchharr insists. “Sometimes they play as a team and that’s how they’ve won games.”
This week, Kirchharr has been preoccupied, as the entire Cougars team has, with the pending first round playoff game against Tuscaloosa Academy. The Knights are a perfect 10-0 this season, but Kirchharr has faith in the team.
“I know we can beat Tuscaloosa,” he said. “I got the feeling we’re gonna’ beat them.”
“We’re the best two minute o[ffense] team you’ve ever seen,” Fountain said
For Fountain, the defining quality of the team has been their ability to come through in the clutch.
“Every time it came down to where we needed a play, they gave us a second chance,” he said.
The duo has different main concerns when it comes to their job. Kirchharr is mainly concerned with the water aspect.
“There are a lot of players that need water,” he said.
Kirchharr said his biggest concern is running out of water. Still, he makes an effort to ask every player if they need water, even those who usually decline his offer.
Meanwhile, Fountain concerns himself with keeping the footballs dry.
“If the ball is wet, then they drop it,” Fountain said.
The hardest part of the job for him is when he has to run out to the hash marks where the referees spot the football to hand them a dry football and run back. He is expected to get it right and make it happen in a hurry.
When asked who their favorite player on the team is, it isn’t a difficult choice for Kirchharr: Noah Allison, an EA transfer from Charles Henderson High School in Troy who passed away over the summer after a car accident.
“Because he was a leader,” Kirchharr said. “At the Macon East game, Bo Bishop wore Noah Allison’s jersey but he asked his mom.”
The Cougars team has worn “69” on the back of their helmets this season as a tribute to Allison, who wore the no. 69 jersey.
“It was hard on my dad because he left Troy just for my dad,” Fountain adds.
Allison exemplifies the spirit of this season’s team: a team that won’t ever give up.
Meanwhile, choosing a favorite player is a more difficult task for Fountain.
Asked if he has a favorite player, Fountain responded, “That’s a hard choice. I have a bunch. My true answer is no I don’t ‘cause I like them all.”
An interesting point noted by coach Hugh Fountain is that while he was at Charles Henderson, the equipment managers he had wound up playing for him later on. Fountain said they were some of the best players he coached and assumes it had to do with constantly being around football at such a young age.
Troy Fountain and Ty Kirchharr are not only around the Cougars team often, but they also play football, too. Fountain plays primarily left tackle and some defensive tackle, while Kirchharr is primarily a defensive end with some experience at tight end.
“The more that you watch football,” Kirchharr said, “the more you know about it and the better you get at it.”