SPRINGHILL—Despite their 50-6 loss to #1 seed John Curtis on Friday night, North Webster head coach John Ware was a proud man.
"I am very proud of my team," he said. "They never quit fighting. It was just a matter of time when you play a team like that. I've played some great teams before, but I've never seen one like that."
Regardless of their somewhat early exit from the playoffs, just making the playoffs was a huge deal for the Knights. North Webster finished the season at 7-4, and the future seems bright for the Knights.
"This has been, no doubt, a great season for us," Ware said. "It was a lot of fun and we accomplished a lot of firsts for North Webster High School. This was the first winning season for the school, first playoff appearance and the first winning season for these guys. It's been great, I really can't explain how it's felt being here this year."
North Webster High School is a consolidation of the former Springhill, Sarepta, Shongaloo and Cotton Valley High Schools. Over the last two years, many students and their families still felt more a part of their old schools than their new one. Ware hopes this season has done something to ease the transition.
"The kids really came together as a school this year," he said. "We feel like this season has brought us all together now. We're all Knights now. If you looked in the crowd Friday night, we had almost 1,500 people there. The excitement was great. There were people from Springhill, Sarepta, Shongaloo and Cotton Valley, and instead of setting separately, they all sat together and were rooting for the Knights. It was a great thing to see."
Ware could see the change in the student body as the year went along.
"At the first of the year, we went to a pep rally and there was no confidence and nobody cared about anything," he said. "Now it's crazy and everybody is fired up. It's been great to watch every step of the building of the program. That's what's made this season so special. You look and see that we've won seven ball games, and that's good, but it's nothing great. But from where we came from when I got here in July to Friday night is remarkable in a whole lot of ways."
Ware feels his Knights have made great progress, but he's not about to let the rest on their laurels, not that he expects them to want to.
"The kids coming back got a little taste of it and they know what they have to do," he said. "Now we'll go through the off-season program, staying in the weight room getting stronger and getting better for next season. You can win a lot of ball games between now and August. I'm real proud of my kids and of what they accomplished this year, but this is only the beginning."