The hurdle called Butler has been cleared, but it’s only going to get more difficult from here.
The Westside football team lost to the Bulldogs by a combined 90-20 the previous two seasons, but the players hope Friday’s 21-6 win marks a sign of change – and progress – before the schedule gets tougher.
“We had to come out and make a statement,” senior receiver/linebacker P.J. Freeman said. “We were ready this year. We’re a different team.”
Patriots coach Steve Hibbitts thinks coaches can see improvement before the players, so the Butler victory was important for the players’ sake.
Westside is in the second year of the Wing-T formation after previously going with the spread. But after using more misdirection a year ago, the Patriots are relying on more of a power game – “coming right at you,” as Hibbitts describes it.
So far, Westside’s offense and defense have conspired for the 2-0 start behind a run-first approach that is content with grinding out gains three or four yards at a time.
Through the first two games, the Patriots have rushed the ball 94 times for 324 yards; opponents have come up with only 135 yards on 65 attempts.
“We try to sell the kids that we want to get at least four yards per play. Sometimes that’s just the way it is because we don’t have a huge amount of speed,” Hibbitts said. “The kids have bought into what we do. They know we’re going to push it up the field, but if we get a big play, that’s going to be positive.”
The next step is consistency. Against Butler, the Patriots ran one offensive play in the game’s first 91/2 minutes, and that ended with a lost fumble.
However, after falling behind 6-0, Westside embarked on a 17-play, 61-yard drive that took 9 minutes off the clock. The Patriots added two more scores in the second quarter to go up 21-6.
“It’s a whole lot easier. We’re just working as a unit and trying to get it done,” senior lineman Price Dodd said of the offense. “You can throw out every play and I’d know it – everyone does.”
After playing Hephzibah this week, Class AA Westside will be confronted by Class AAAAA Lakeside and then region play.
But as long as Westside gets better with consistency, Freeman sees success.
“Once the defense set the tone, the offense did pretty good,” Freeman said.
“Once the offense gets going, we keep pounding it and pounding it until we get downfield and score a touchdown.”