Coaches stress hard work and a positive attitude as the team experiences growing pains

By all accounts, it has been a dismal season for the Hillsboro football team.

The Spartans simply never found any rhythm or momentum during the 2012 campaign. Heading into this week’s OSAA Class 6A play-in game, Hillsboro has yet to win a game, compiling an 0-9 record (0-7 in the Pacific Conference).

“Size-wise we didn’t match up well against some teams,” Hillsboro coach Ken Ingram says. “That was a big factor. Then it was just basically trying to figure out the right people, the right parts and coming together as a team.

“That’s been something that’s held us back a little bit.”

Hillsboro won the OSAA Class 5A state championship in 2009, led by current University of Oregon star tight end Colt Lyerla. But, since moving up to the 6A level, the Spartans have struggled. Ingram refuses to blame the level where Hillsboro is competing for the Spartans’ record, though.

“If you look at our attendance, we’re not even at a 6A level, but that’s where we’re (playing),” Ingram says. “That’s not something that we have control over. We just play who is on our schedule and play as hard as we can and try to do the best that we can.”

Despite their record, Ingram has seen improvement from the Spartans throughout the season.

“Sometimes it’s hard to see, but there are things,” Ingram says. “Guys are getting better and improving. The guys are still working hard. They’re still coming out and giving effort and playing hard.”

Part of the reason that Ingram has seen improvement is his demand that his players work hard every day in practice and throughout games.

“The biggest thing is to stay positive, keep a good attitude, just keep going forward,” Ingram says. “When I was at Linfield, coach (Ad) Rutschman always talked about hard work. Hard work is the great equalizer. You keep working hard, good things are going to happen.”

Ingram has tried to use this season to teach his players valuable life lessons about determination and mental fortitude through adversity.

“We talk all the time about how in life you have to deal with adversity,” Ingram says. “Things don’t always go your way, but you’ve still got to go out there and show up every day and work hard and eventually things are going to work out for you.

“You’re always going to have to deal with adversity. One thing that you have complete control over, if something doesn’t go your way, is your attitude and how you respond to that. We talk about that and how you’ve just got to keep battling and keep your attitude good and just keep playing hard.”

Looking at the lower levels of Hillsboro’s football program, Ingram feels that things will get better for the Spartans in years to come.

“Our sophomore kids are a good group and they’ve done some good things on our JV program, and our freshman team is a good group,” Ingram says. “We’ve got some good things coming.”

Before they can look to the future, though, Hillsboro has another game this season, a play-in game on the road against Westview High of the Metro League. Ingram realizes that the Spartans will go into the game as underdogs. But, he is already planning out ways for Hillsboro to pull off an upset, win the first game of the season and show the state that the Spartans are a better team than their record indicates.

“It’s just another opportunity to go out and play,” Ingram says. “There’s times in the year where we’ve done things well, there’s obviously other times where we’ve made some mistakes. This is just one more opportunity to go out there and show that we can still be a good football team.

“For our seniors it’s another opportunity. Right now we’re planning and game planning. It’s another opportunity to go out and show that we’re better than we’ve played.”

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