17 years ago, a group of students laid the foundation for the football program at Mountain Vista High School.

Today, the team carries on a tradition set in stone and stacked in bricks.

“It’s different. I don’t know anybody else that does something similar,” senior Tristan Smith said.

Smith was painting a cross on a brick coated in green paint.

“I mean, I like the green and white. I think it looks clean,” he said.

Smith was surrounded by teammates Thursday at Clear Creek High School in Evergreen. It was the start of their summer camp, and the first practice ahead of football season. In between drills on the field, players picked up paint brushes and decorated their bricks. The players carry the bricks with them throughout the season to practice and football games.

“It represents that everyone brings their part to the game. Everyone brings their part to practice,” Smith said.

Coach Ric Cash started the tradition when Mountain Vista High School opened its doors in 2000. Acme Brick out of Castle Rock has donated the bricks to the team for the past 12 seasons.

“I think it allows [players] to take a piece of the program with them in a very literal sense,” Cash said. “I know kids – well they’re not kids anymore – people, you know, they’re married and starting to have kids of their own, and they still have their brick.”

Players decorate one side of their brick to reflect themselves. The rest of the brick is painted solid green to represent the team. During practices and games, the team stacks the bricks.

“We kind of create a little mini wall,” Cash said. “That wall is symbolic of taking my individuality and burying it with everyone else.”

Like bricks stacked in formation, the football players at Mountain Vista High School are stronger together.

“Whenever you come together as unit, whenever you stack these bricks up, you know, we can put together a pretty successful season,” Tristan Smith said.

That’s a lesson learned at practice, but one the players can take with them off the field.

“There’s so many things and so many ways I think you can take lessons from football and apply them to life,” Cash said.