The Triton football team has had its share of challenges this year, not the least of which includes replacing 16 seniors from last year’s team or acclimating a junior quarterback to the spread offense.
When it came down to leadership, the Vikings found a co-captain in an unlikely spot: Travis Kneeland.
“Travis has always been a very quiet kid, always,” Vikings coach Pat Sheehan says of Kneeland. “And this year, he’s really become a vocal leader — a leader by example. He hasn’t missed a thing. He’s always got a great attitude and works his tail off.”
A consummate team player, Kneeland plays tight end, wide receiver and defensive end.
“On the defensive end, teams have been running away from him,” says Sheehan. “As a wide receiver, he’s got 20 catches for 350 yards and four touchdowns. He’s a very reliable receiver. (Quarterback Brad Whitman) loves throwing him the ball because he knows, for the most part, Travis will come down and catch it.”
Playing a combination JV and special teams last year, Kneeland did his thing with punt returns and being a good teammate, but always with an eye on playing varsity in his senior year.
“I was sick of JV,” admits Kneeland. “It was embarrassing, I thought. But I made the commitment to step up. I knew there were a lot of seniors that played last year, and there would be spots being filled, and I wanted one of those spots on both sides, offense and defense.”
Not many players would think of making captain in their first full year on the varsity squad, but that was always Kneeland’s goal.
“I wanted to be captain last year, but I didn’t get it, so I just thought to myself, ‘Well, if I’m not going to get it, I might as well be a leader out there anyway,’” says Kneeland. “The seniors are supposed to be leaders, so I decided that needed to happen. Through the first half of the season, I stepped up, being a leader, telling kids where to go and what to do on the field and off the field too. And the coaches saw that and they chose me.”