By JUSTIN RAINS
A long, tumultuous season comes to an end for the Westwood football team Friday — win or lose.
There are no playoff implications, for the Panthers at least, to worry about. No thoughts of next week as they welcome in Crockett for the final regular season game of 2012.
But, WHS coach Roger Mays said that that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to play for. In fact, there’s a lot to play for.
“For two reasons I feel like we need to go out and get this victory and play well,” WHS coach Roger Mays said. “For the seniors, I want them to leave with a good taste in their mouth. They’ve put in a lot of hard work.
“For the younger guys, we haven’t won the last game of the season here for the last several years,” Mays continued. “I always feel like that puts you on the right foot going into the offseason.”
Kick-off is set for 7:30 p.m. at Panther Stadium (1820 Panther Dr., Palestine, Texas 75801).
While the game has no bearing on Westwood after this week, it has huge implications on Crockett.
A Crockett loss, combined with an Elkhart win over Trinity, would put the Elks in the playoffs as the district’s third playoff team. But, if Crockett can win and Elkhart wins, the playoff spot would be decided on points.
Mays knows people will be watching the game for that reason, but said it has nothing to do with how his team will approach or play the game.
“Honestly...we want to win for our reasons,” he said. “There’s a lot of outside people that look at it like we need to play spoiler, but we’re not really looking at it that way.”
Crockett is a lot like other teams in the district, and Mays compared them to Trinity in the sense that they are an athletic team that spreads the ball out but then tries to run.
He said that Westwood will try and counter that by playing an aggressive style of defense, one with eyes toward the future as well.
“We’re going to try to put pressure on them and put our kids on the move,” he said. “We want to be aggressive and go hit them in the mouth. We’re trying to get out on the right foot for after this season, and get our kids a tough mentality.”
Offensively, Westwood still wants to try and establish the pass as a means to take some pressure off the running game.
The Panthers running game thrived against Elkhart Friday, led by Keke Hicks’ 184 yards. But, the Panthers were never able to fully get the passing game going, which made defending them easier.
Mays stressed that it’s important for Westwood to establish the pass early as a way to get teams to not commit seven and even eight players into the box on every play.
“We’ve got to throw the ball early to keep the defense honest,” he said. “If they outnumber us (in the box) it makes things hard on you. We’re going to throw the ball, but it’s hit-and-miss.”
Sports editor Justin Rains can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org