It’s been a few years since John Ware probably considered himself in football shape. However, when he saw his sophomore standout Devin White sprinting free down his sideline, the Springhill head coach suddenly had a giddy-up in his step.
As White sprinted free of Caldwell Parish defenders for an 85-yard game-sealing score late in the fourth quarter, Ware pulled up near midfield and threw in a couple pirouettes in the slop.
“It’s just exciting, you don’t know what you’re going to do (to celebrate),” Ware said.
“That (run) just iced it.”
What a beautiful dance it was for the Knights fanatics who packed the stands here despite adverse conditions.
Motivated by his excitable coach, White scored all three Knights touchdowns, added a 2-point conversion and reeled off 206 yards rushing Friday as North Webster, the No. 18 seed, knocked off second-seeded Caldwell, 21-6, and advanced to the third round of Class 3A play.
North Webster will travel to play No. 10 seed Amite for a spot in the semifinals.
“Coach has wanted this,” White said. “He said he played that (Caldwell) coach at another school and they dogged him, so we had to come out here and show them, so he could say, ‘I got a better team, now.'”
Three plays prior to White’s magic, with the Knights (9-3) holding a 15-6 lead, North Webster’s defense held Caldwell (10-2) out of the end zone after the Spartans had first-and-goal at the 2. Two negative runs and a short gain led to a failed fourth-and-goal from the 6 – the 12th play of a drive that started at the Spartans’ 29.
“We had a couple of defensive stands over the course of the third and fourth quarter,” Ware said.
“Our guys have done that all year long. We might bend a little, but we seem to make plays when we need to. That’s what we did tonight.”
Caldwell opened the scoring with a touchdown from running back Tarion Waymon late in the first quarter, but never scored again.
White found yards difficult to come by early, but that changed when he carried the ball on all six plays of a Knights drive midway through the second quarter. He gained 33 yards on the possession and helped North Webster take a 7-6 lead with a 3-yard touchdown.
“This is a mud bowl game,” said White, who carried the ball 22 times. “But I really want to thank my offensive line. They really gave me a push. I told them if they gave me one good hole, I was going to break one.”
A muddied Waymon went toe-to-toe with White, collecting 203 yards on 30 carries, but the night belonged to the home team.
An emotional Ware could hardly speak to his team following the game. He was able to scream: “We got one more week.”
The magic is back in Springhill.
“It’s something I can’t explain,” Ware said.
“It’s been a roller coaster, you know. But it’s big for this community and this football team – everybody involved. I have an outstanding staff, and a good administration – put that together and you can make a good program.”