By JUSTIN RAINS
Football coaches preach living in the moment, never getting too high or too low regarding results on a week-to-week basis.
That’s exactly what the Westwood team is hoping to do this week.
The Panthers are putting last Friday’s 82-35 rout at the hands of Franklin in the past, and instead looking forward to visiting Teague, which comes to Panther Stadium (1820 Panther Drive, Palestine, Texas 75801) for a 7:30 p.m. kick-off Friday.
“The big message is, it’s one game, one loss. Our ultimate goal is to win three of the games and it doesn’t matter who those are against,” WHS coach Roger Mays said. “Whether we lost that one by one or by 47, it doesn’t matter. Like we’ve said before, we try and pick out the positives and move on and I feel like the kids have done that.”
Three wins, in a six-team district, should be enough to get Westwood into the postseason.
While Franklin was rushing for more than 500 yards against Westwood, they weren’t doing much passing. The exact opposite might hold true this week.
Teague is a very pass-happy offense, a type of attack that has troubled Westwood a bit this season.
The last time Westwood saw a team that liked the throw the ball, Groesbeck quarterback Colt McCoy threw for almost 300 yards in a 40-0 Goats’ victory.
“Plain and simple, we’ve worked on it,” Mays said. “Against Groesbeck we had some alignment issues, kids just not covering in the right spot and you go into every week not expecting that to happen. This week, kids know they’re responsibilities and we should sure that up, just by alignment.”
The Westwood offense wasn’t shut out against Franklin, far from it in fact. But, most of the offense came courtesy of the rushing attack, and Keke Hicks accounted for 296 total yards in the loss.
The passing attack that Westwood used so successfully in its win over Malakoff has hit some speed bumps in the past two weeks, but Mays said he still sees his team as a balanced one.
“It’s important and we’re more balanced in play-calling with this system,” he said. “Keke got his yards and he made big plays, (and) the passing game, we felt like, was there, there were just missed connections. Always, we feel like, we have the threat of passing.”
The Panthers did make one big play in the passing game last Friday, when Hicks hit Dra Ross for a 48-yard touchdown pass in the first half.
Ross — an all-district and all-area performer on defense a year ago — has seen his role in the Panthers offense greatly increase as the season has worn on.
A lot of that has been out of necessity. The Panthers have battled injuries all year, including a lingering issue with running back Aaryon Robinson’s ankle.
Robinson is again a “game-time decision” for Friday, according to Mays.
In his place — if he can’t go — will be Armani Allen and Ross.
“We’ve got Armani Allen scheduled to start in his spot, and Armani ran the ball hard in the second half last week,” Mays said. “He did a good job and we’re also getting Dra Ross some reps back in the backfield. He’s stepping up as a dynamic athlete.”
Like he wants his team to do, Mays is focused forward on Teague and not back on the loss at Franklin.
He said his team still has a very realistic shot at making the playoffs, and he wants his players focused on that.
Plus, he said, they could still get a “huge” victory this week as well.
“Going into district, knowing you’ve got two of the big dogs right off the bat, you feel like if you can split that two-game series then you’re in good shape, back in the driver seat (and) we’re still looking at it like that,” he said. “Last week was one loss, and if we come out and win this game, then last week won’t matter anymore. You still come out 1-1.”
Sports editor Justin Rains can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org