A season 12 years in the making
LPHS All Conference selections Austin Samuels and Frankie Starz reflect on friendship and football
By Jana Bounds
ig Horns football players faced goliaths in 2019 – big teams, huge players and they still created some solid upsets for Ennis and Twin Bridges.
The clash of helmets, dirt, injuries, pain, sacrifice – camaraderie in the struggle to prevail – high school football is merciless. The Big Horns saw no mercy – injuries plagued players throughout the season, they were often outnumbered two to one and the sinewy Big Horns never stopped fighting behemoths. In fact, they seemed to fight harder with each game.
This season will always mean something to Lone Peak High School seniors Austin Samuels and Frankie Starz far beyond their recent All Conference selection.
“Although we did not make the playoffs, it was very rewarding winning a lot of big games this season,” Starz said, noting the wins against Ennis and Twin Bridges. “We didn’t have a very big team and we were able to overcome that and win some important games – that I will remember for my entire life.”
Samuels also fondly remembers the late season game against Twin Bridges in which Starz led the Big Horns to victory with a 55 yard drive in 49 seconds with one time out.
“What I found most rewarding about this season from a personal standpoint was feeling like I’m leaving the game at my best. I’m never gonna play this game again and it feels good to leave the game in a good place,” Austin Samuels said.
Austin Samuels said the main challenge he overcame this season is the same challenge he faced throughout his time in sports – his size.
“I’ve been small my whole life and in the game of football that isn’t exactly ideal,” Austin Samuels said.
Austin’s father, Chris, who is the assistant football coach said that football has been deeply rooted in their friendship – they started playing at recess in kindergarten.
“This season was 12 years in the making for them,” he said.
They have impressive stats that earned them All Conference distinction. Samuels made 1st team /unanimous All Conference - Outside Linebacker and 2nd Team All Conference Wide Receiver. Starz made 2nd team All Conference - Middle Linebacker and 2nd Team All Conference - Quarterback.
Samuels will leave LPHS as the career leader in interceptions and receptions.
Both team captains, they take pride in how the team developed and improved throughout the season.
“It was their faith/belief/confidence that really helped us get better and better and better all season long. I’ve been a coach for a long time and really can’t think of a team that was able to do that,” Chris Samuels said, expressing his pride in the boys. “The two of them never got flustered, never got down – they were encouraging. I hope those qualities will serve them well past football.”