Not every football player is born with superior natural ability.
Some have to work their way up to starting on Friday nights.
Kamiakin senior linebackers Sterling Farrah and Thomas Kirk are two of those type.
When they were freshman it was hard to imagine them both being captains and starters, but through hours and hours of hard work, it has paid off.
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“We have been at every workout we’ve had after school and in the summer,” Kirk said. “(We are) not necessarily the fastest, but our footwork has gotten better and we’ve tried really hard to keep up with everyone and to get more athletic.
“Watching Drew (Oord) and Zach (Umemoto), they were natural athletes. We wanted to be as good as them or better, and to do that, we had to work hard.”
And have they ever.
The pair has been friends since playing Grid Kids for the Tigers in seventh grade. Farrah started out as a cornerback, but switched in ninth grade to linebacker. They both started as juniors and now are hoping for big senior years to propel them into college ball.
“I watched some of the great linebackers,” Farrah said, “and you pretty much just fall on the line. You work your butt off and you can stack up. A lot of guys have natural ability. I would say that me and Tom ... have worked really hard for everything.”
The hard work has been noticed and appreciated by their coaches. Both helped anchor a young defense in 2012 that was wracked by injuries, but in the process gave a lot of players experience they otherwise might not have gotten.
“Their work ethic has carried them across the river,” Kamiakin defensive coordinator Tim Maher said. “They are doing a great job. They busted their ass. They have virtually made themselves captains, through their hard work.
“They weren’t your typical three sport athletes. They were football players and they wanted to play, and it has taken them awhile to get there. They have both improved their speed and their game understanding, and they can play right now.”
Both come from a heritage of football players. Kirk’s dad, Rob, played in high school and at Oregon Institute of Technology in the early 1980s. His uncle, Mark Thompson, was an assistant at Walla Walla High. His older brother Sam also played linebacker at Kamiakin.
Farrah’s uncles — John and Lee Adams — both played at Kamiakin and John even walked on at the University of Idaho.
Those genes have paid off for both and have resulted in spots on a Kamiakin defense that has been the cream of the Mid-Columbia Conference the last few seasons.
“It is definitely satisfying,” Farrah said of being a starter. “It is one of those positions that you have to know what everyone else is doing. It is a leadership role at Kamiakin, definitely. I love it.”
It’s also a position where players get a chance to bottle up a running back, or lay out a receiver over the middle.
“I’ve always played linebacker,” Kirk said. “I just like to hit — to mess up a running back coming up the middle.”
But he also likes to work, and it has paid off for both him and Farrah.