PALESTINE – For the first time since 2008 the Westwood Panthers sit 2-0 in district play.
Ironically, coupled in that year, was also one of the few times Westwood was able to defeat the Crockett Bulldogs – something they've done just twice since 2008.
“Hopefully we're starting to understand our habits dictate our behavior,” head coach Richard Bishop said. “It's validation. It's huge for these players to see the fruits of their labor. It's big for their mental state. Sometimes it's hard to continue improving when you're not getting the desired outcome.”
Though their outcomes have been more positive than how they ended their non-district stretch, they're still abiding by their 24-hour rule. Celebrate for 24 hours then shift focus to their next opponent.
Their three-game slide before the start of district brought a heightened sense of urgency to their practices. Not only was how they lost disappointing, but it showed they were not where they needed to be as a team.
“Hopefully we learned from that,” Bishop said. “With some of the guys we had out it felt like we were two weeks behind and trying to play catch up. We put it all together against Elkhart, but we still used that bye week to focus on some of the fundamentals.”
Possibly their biggest test of the season thus far comes Friday against the Diboll Lumberjacks (4-3, 3-0). The Lumberjacks have also dealt with similar problems to Westwood with players being in and out of the lineup.
They're coming off a 50-15 win against Elkhart and is favoredby two against Westwood.
Where Diboll holds the advantage over Westwood is the amount of depth they can deploy throughout the game. At times, they can have 35 to 40 guys available, which limits the amount of players needed to play both sides of the ball and keeps their starters fresh for four quarters.
Westwood is coming off of their best rushing performance to date as they tallied 533 yards against Crockett – 249 of those yards coming from quarterback Lamarion Goodwyn.
“We now control our own destiny,” Bishop said. “We don't have to hope or depend on someone else's game for us to get in [the playoffs]. We're sitting in the driver's seat, which is our biggest positive right now.”
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Panther Stadium.