Steinbach brothers persevere, lead Heritage football through tough times

Steinbach brothers persevere, lead Heritage football through tough times

Austin (left) and Tate Steinbach are three-sport athletes for the Heritage Timberwolves. The twin brothers are leaders of a football team that is struggling on the field but winning in terms of character. Photo by Paul Valencia
Austin (left) and Tate Steinbach are three-sport athletes for the Heritage Timberwolves. The twin brothers are leaders of a football team that is struggling on the field but winning in terms of character. Photo by Paul Valencia

Austin and Tate Steinbach love representing their school

The Heritage Timberwolves have lost a lot of football games but they refuse to lose their sense of humor. 

“Our games get over quick,” Tate Steinbach said. 

Many of their games end with a running clock — after the deficit on the scoreboard becomes 40 points — but they will not be running from the challenge.

They are The Few. The Proud. The Timberwolves.

The results of any game on a Friday night are not going to deter them from having fun, from competing.

“I’m stubborn, I guess. I just don’t give up,” said Austin Steinbach. 

Twin brothers, Austin and Tate Steinbach, are seniors on a team that is down to less than 24 healthy players. The Timberwolves are 0-5 and facing a tough schedule ahead of them to finish out this season.

Yet, the brothers are determined to finish strong. For themselves. For their friends. For their school.

“I’ve learned dedication and how to put in hard work, even through thick and thin,” Austin said.

“I do it for my brothers,” Tate said, referring to his teammates. “It’s fun to go out and play, to put my heart out there, win or lose. It’s sad to lose, but even with the loss, it’s still fun to go play.”

The scores are, well, there is no sugar coating it, the scores are brutal. 53-6. 32-0. 48-7. 71-0. 51-0.

Many fans only see the scores when they come across the screens on their phones.

Those fans do not see, however, that memories are still being made at Heritage. Good memories.

Take last week’s Skyview game. School administrators worked with the WIAA and the officials’ association for the running clock to start as soon as the margin got to 40 points. Usually, the running clock does not start until the second half.

Skyview went up 44-0 in the first quarter. 

Instead of feeling all doom and gloom, the Timberwolves made the best of the situation.

“The coaches didn’t give up, but they were like, ‘Why not have some fun?’ They put our center in at running back,” Austin said. “He got 10, 11 yards on a run. They knew we weren’t going to win that game so they let us have fun with it.”

That was not just a 10-yard run for Devin Wilmoth. It was a candidate for play of the year for the Timberwolves.

Tate moved to the center position for that play. Austin was the left guard. Wilmoth went through the hole created by the Steinbach brothers. Wilmoth was then met by the Skyview defense about three yards downfield, but the Heritage linemen — led by the Steinbachs — got to the pile and together pushed Wilmoth another seven or so yards.

“It was the best part of the game,” Austin said. 

“He had the biggest smile,” Tate said of Wilmoth. “Everybody was cheering. Everybody was going around him, hitting his helmet, just having fun.” 

“The sideline blew up,” Austin said. “There was so much positive energy to such a negative game.”

This lost season on the field has turned into a winning season off the field. As long as character still matters in high school sports, the Timberwolves are winning.

No one from Heritage expected it to be this bad after last season. The football program had a change in the coaching staff and several athletes, many starters, moved or transferred and are playing at other Clark County schools.

With injuries and other situations, the team was down to 24 players against Skyview. The Steinbachs think that number will be even smaller when the Timberwolves take on Kelso on Friday night.

But they will still show up to represent Heritage.

“Sometimes it’s hard. What gets me out of bed, what gets me going is knowing I have a team that is there with me,” Austin said. “At the moment there aren’t a lot of us. But what I’m trying to build … there will be more of us. This freshman class is very promising. Our sophomore class is very strong. Our juniors are very experienced. Hoping next year they will surprise some people. Even though I won’t be here, I hope I can help with that.”

The Steinbach brothers are all about trying to make something positive happen at Heritage. They both wrestle and they both play baseball, too.

“I’ve got a close bond with all the athletes I play with. That’s why I really stuck it out,” Austin said. “People talk way too harshly about Heritage. I hear people talk about how bad of a school it is, but it’s not. The staff here is amazing. Every classroom is so welcoming here. It’s just an amazing staff, just an amazing atmosphere.”

There is a pride in being a Heritage student athlete, even in defeat.

“We never stop trying,” Tate said. “That’s a big one. If you look at all of our sports, we never stop trying.”

As seniors, the Steinbach brothers have four more football games, a wrestling season, and a baseball season to wear Heritage colors. But they are also looking to the future, challenging the underclassmen.

Austin is so proud of the younger players on the football team, for “sticking it out even though we’re getting our tails whipped every game.”

But he hopes younger students who are not participating in sports right now will take on the challenge of turning things around at Heritage. Come out for sports. Make a difference.

“I want them to not want somebody else to do it. I want them to step up and force the change,” Austin said.

“Be the change,” Tate added.

“It’s in your hands now,” Austin concluded.

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