Winning attitude: Senior QB looks to inspire Van Horn teammates

Bill Althaus
Van Horn senior quarterback Sean Mitchell, left, works on handoffs to running back Lamonte Belshe, center, during a recent practice.

On a mild and breezy early August morning, Sean Mitchell is on the practice field with his Van Horn High School teammates doing his thing – encouraging, leading, playmaking and making his presence felt from one end zone to the other.

The 6-foot-2 senior quarterback isn’t thinking about the pandemic, the approach of a thunderhead that could signal rain or the blaring stereo coming from a car in the parking lot.

No, he is laser focused on one thing.

“Winning,” Mitchell said, “that’s all we care about here at Van Horn.”

He paused for a moment, and grinning added, “Winning and brotherhood. We’re a family! We are the Falcon family, and all you have to do is spend a few minutes watching us practice or play and you can sense that this team is special.

“Our coaches are special. Our administrators are special. There’s nowhere I’d rather be than right here at Van Horn High School. I am so proud to be a Falcon.”

As if on cue, Van Horn activities director Chris Corrie walks on the field to watch the practice, which is conducted by a man who bleeds Falcon crimson and grey, head coach William Harris.

“You were talking about pride,” Harris said, “and I look around the field and see our amazing new field house, our football/soccer field, all the great things that are going on here at Van Horn, and you can add to that all the great coaches we have on our staff and all the great young men we are coaching.

“I’ve heard the stories of what it used to be like here – hypodermic needles and broken bottles on the practice field (that is now the site of the turf covered football/soccer field), the metal detectors, all that stuff.

“And now, we have so much to be thankful for. You know, it’s a struggle for some of my guys to be on this team. They have a lot of responsibilities with their family and most of them work, so we are thankful when they are here to practice, and we are making the most out of our practice time.”

When asked about his senior quarterback, who learned what it takes to be a leader and a role model from former all-state quarterback Shaun Ross, Harris just shakes his head.

“How much time do you have?” he asked with a laugh. “I could talk about Sean all day. He watched Shaun (who is now at Fort Hays State) and learned so much from him.

“He is what a coach wants from a leader, a senior who has worked so hard to make himself a better player and a better person and I can’t wait to see what he does this season.”

The Falcons were 5-5 last year and 2-1 in conference action and Mitchell hopes to see those numbers improve in 2020.

“I’m a lot more patient this year,” Mitchell said. “I’m going to let the plays come to me. I am better at reading the defense and we’re all working so hard, we think this could be a great season, something we can remember for a long, long time.”

Van Horn football head coach William Harris, right, works with senior defensive lineman Jason Skivers, front left, on snaps during a drill at a recent practice.