In the small town of Woodinville, Washington, a high school football team is building something special.

The Woodinville Falcons are more than just your traditional group of jocks ready to deliver big hits on Friday night. They’re a community, a family, and a brotherhood — building each other up and molding themselves into honorable young men.

“Our football team is a family environment,” Falcons’ head coach Wayne Maxwell said. “The guys know we trust them and they trust us. We show that love for each other and that’s something pretty special and unique.”

This attitude all starts with the Falcon Core Principles, something Coach Maxwell and his team work tirelessly to instill in every single kid that passes through the Woodinville football program.

“The Falcon Core Principles are the foundation of this program,” said Maxwell. “Every kid is working on being the best version of themselves and their teammates are too. That’s what high school athletics is all about – growth and community.”

While other schools are solely focused with success on the field, the Falcons believe that hard work and character development off the field translates fluidly to their performance on the gridiron — and they’re right.

Under Coach Maxwell the Falcons hold a record of 120-51, won four conference championships, and appeared in the state title game twice. But some of the program’s most memorable moments don’t come from the game of football itself.

Prior to the 2015 season, the coaching staff decided to further acknowledge players in the program by awarding the player who most exemplifies the qualities of the Falcon Core Principles with the honor of wearing the number 44 jersey.

“All hard-working guys are 44 candidates, but it takes a little extra step of leadership and initiative,” said Dylan Axelson, a former Falcons player who was one of the first players selected with the 44 honor. “The guy who shows up earliest, leaves the latest, studies film, plays harder than everyone else, and is an all-around leader – that’s 44.”

As the 44 strong mantra evolved, Coach Maxwell even remembers a specific moment that made an impact on him and the rest of the coaching staff.

“During our 2017 playoff run, our players came out of the tunnel right before kickoff, turned to our stands and saluted the whole crowd with 44s,” said Maxwell. “They wanted to acknowledge and thank our Falcon Family and community, and it was pretty special. Our philosophy is to empower our players to do things like that without being told and no one told them to do that, so it was really cool and I was very proud.”