Kim keeps pushing Nitros straight ahead

Chan Kim takes a lunch-pail approach to his job as the fullback on the Glendale High football team.

When the ball's in his hands, he's a wrecking ball rolling downhill, absorbing hits with legs churning all the while, unquestioningly fighting for every precious inch of sweat-soaked turf.

"When it's fourth and two, I have to get it done and get the first down," Kim says.

In the Nitros' run-dominated offensive playbook, Kim is just as likely to get the ball on first, second or third down, as well — if not all of the above — with the simple directive of lowering his head and trying to move his team forward one carry at a time in quintessential three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust fashion.

"He's exhausted after every game," junior quarterback Alex Yoon says of Kim, who doubles as the Nitros' strong-side inside linebacker. "That just proves how hard he works. He's willing to do anything, even if he has to endure pain."

Even as it saps his energy and takes a grinding toll on his body, Kim picks himself up out of the pile, dusts himself off and gets ready to do his job all over again without a second thought, whether it ultimately leads to a reward or not.

"You don't think about it," Kim says of the fatigue late in games.

Kim truly embodies the spirit of the 2010 Glendale Nitros, a team with a thankless job to do that still shows up for work week in and week out and punches the clock, even when it's getting punched in the mouth.

There's no getting around the weekly struggles the team has endured this season. No matter how many close games they've been in or good teams they've been competitive with, 0-9 feels like 0-9 and that's where Glendale finds itself with Friday's "Battle for the Victory Bell" against archrival Hoover the last remaining shot for redemption.

The Nitros aren't as polished and, at 31 strong, certainly don't have the depth of some of the teams they've lost to, but continued to come to play with heart and effort even long after the season began to slip away. While they may get gassed in the second half of games, they don't quit.

Kim, a senior captain, wouldn't let them anyway.

"[It comes from] each other, our teammates," Kim says of the Nitros' motivation to keep fighting. "We've got each other's back.

"I have to keep them up to get motivated and get pumped up for games."

Fellow captain Anthony Platero says Kim is a big reason why the Nitros' intensity hasn't waned throughout the long season.

"He always motivated all of us and he just left his heart out on the field every day," the senior running back/linebacker says. "He's a vocal leader and he also shows it."

The Nitros' program has seen its share of changes over the last two years, first with Coach Alan Eberhart taking over in 2009 and again at the beginning of this season when Eberhart scrapped the team's previous spread offense in favor of the wing T. Through it all, Eberhart has been able to rely on Kim to help hold the team together during tough times.

"He was one of the kids who immediately bought in to what we were trying to do, he's just a good kid who wants to learn football," Eberhart says. "He never questions what we do, he always works hard and when you don't have a lot of kids and it's not going very well, you kind of love those kids."

The switch to the wing T has also had the effect of putting the ball in Kim's hands a lot more, something that Eberhart no longer has any reservation about doing.

"It was kind of hard to find a place to play him [at first]," Eberhart says of Kim, who began playing football when he arrived at Glendale four years ago. "I didn't trust to give him the ball though he was a pretty good running back, he didn't know the plays. He slowly gained my trust, but he's just got a unique toughness and he's become a pretty good running back."

Kim also plays on the Nitros' lacrosse club and finds a lot in common between the two sports, from the bone-jarring hits to the swarm of speeding bodies that constantly follow the ball.

But it was this season that Kim's made the biggest strides from simply being a good athlete to becoming a good football player.

"His vision got better and at running the ball he's more confident," Platero says. "He's just a hard runner."

Says Yoon: "He's everything you could ask for. He's a good runner, he's a good blocker, he goes all out on every play. He is extremely tough. He's somewhat of a beast. It's very rare for a person to take him down solo."

Kim's high school career and the Nitros' season now come down to one game. The rivalry alone probably provides adequate motivation, but for the Nitros, it's about one last chance to walk off the field as winners this season.

"It's the biggest game of our life, for the seniors, it's the last game of our lives," Kim says. "[A win] would make my whole season better."

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