Mind made up: Delta Charter School safety devoted to game

Published 11:47 pm Monday, October 2, 2017


FERRIDAY — Delta Charter School’s Drake Smith grew up playing football, but at the brink of adolescence, he realized a problem.

Smith — a native of Monterey — knew he’d have to move schools if he wanted to play at the varsity level.

Email newsletter signup

“It didn’t become that big of a deal until about seventh grade when I realized I wasn’t going to be able to play high school football unless I moved,” Smith said.

Monterey High — an LHSAA Class B school — does not have a football program, but Smith wasn’t going to back down.

“Where I live, it’s closer to Block,” he said. “It was either there or here, but everybody that I knew and grew up with was here. I didn’t want to go somewhere I didn’t know anyone.

“It took about a month of begging my parents and figuring out how I would get here every morning. Finally, they gave in and told me I could come. I got so excited. That was a good day — really great day.”

Smith made the move the summer following his freshman year. Playing mainly on defense as a safety for the Storm in his senior season, he wants to hold onto the sense of unity he has established with his teammates.

In its fifth year of existence, Delta Charter (3-2, 1-0) became eligible for LHSAA postseason play last year while also graduating its inaugural class.

“The way we play together and stick together as a team — we don’t ever put each other down,” Smith said. “I want to show everybody that we aren’t a losing team like they think we are. We are going to go out there and fight every game, no matter the team.”

Smith said the team’s strong bond is directly correlated to one important thing — their coach.

Delta Charter hired coach Blake Wheeler this past May after first-year coach Zach Rogel left the school to pursue things outside of football.

“We got really close to Coach Rogel, so when he left it sucked,” Smith said. “When I met Coach Wheeler for the first time, I didn’t know what he was going to do. Then I got to talking to him and practicing with him, and I began to love him too.

“The way he teaches us and motivates us, you can tell he really cares about us. He’s a great coach, and I couldn’t ask for anybody better to do the job.”

Wheeler thinks Smith has a little spark of his own, too.

“He expects to make plays,” Wheeler said. “He is just a guy that has his mind made up, executes the right way. I’m glad that we have him, because it just tells me what these kids are made of.”

Smith still makes the approximately 30-minute drive from Monterey every day to come to school, practice and games. Ultimately, he said he would not have missed the chance to play varsity football for anything.

“It’s a brotherhood. Over the years, it’s become more relevant how important that is,” he said. “Football is not just a game. It teaches you about life and teaches you responsibility, discipline. That keeps you on your feet as a person — gives you something to do every day.”