North Webster would much rather be preparing for the program’s first Superdome trip this week since the high school consolidated, but coach John Ware sees something bigger in the works.
North Webster High is in its fourth year, and the Knights said goodbye to their first senior football class that began in the program as freshmen. The Class 3A No. 15 Knights fell 27-13 in the semifinals at No. 3 Amite, the second straight season that the Warriors eliminated North Webster.
But Ware feels that North Webster is now a united program and school after Webster Parish consolidated four schools – Springhill, Cotton Valley, Sarepta and Shongaloo – four years ago.
“That’s one thing that happened with these group of kids,” Ware said about the unification. “It’s hard for those communities with lots of tradition and history to shut down their schools and lose that.
“Some of those kids from other schools were able to come in and make this thing work. We didn’t hear about the old schools within the fan base this season, we heard people talking about North Webster. The success on the field had something to do with that, but that’s not the only reason. The games are events that bring a lot of people together. This season we kind of made it over the top, and I don’t know the number of fans we had there (Friday at Amite), but a huge crowd went down there and was a sign of us moving forward.”
The Knights (10-4) held a 7-6 lead in the third quarter before a fake punt spurred the Warriors to a big fourth quarter.
Junior running back Devin White, who rushed for 389 yards and had close to 500 all-purpose yardage in a huge 51-47 quarterfinals comeback against Patterson, rushed for 73 yards against Amite. He finishes the season with 2,286 rushing yards and 34 total touchdowns.
But a large senior class that featured eight defensive starters and quarterback Kolby Cooper among others formed the backbone of the squad. Three-year starters include defensive backs Lyntravious Gipson, Jekyren Miles and Darius Gilbert.
“We accomplished a lot as a team, and that group had a lot to do with that,” Ware said. “We finally were able to play in big games, and when you get in those situations enough, you know to deal with it and the emotion of it.
“This group passed on something to the guys coming back. We had big moments, and we handled it. We’re expecting to win now.”
North Webster has its first 10-win season, and the semifinals appearance is the furthest the Knights have advanced after a second-round and quarterfinals appearance in Ware’s first two seasons.
The four programs that consolidated into North Webster didn’t have any playoff wins in their last four seasons, and in the three seasons under Ware, North Webster has six playoff wins.