WINSIDE – For the past five years the Winside high school football program has posted a 1-7 record. The Wildcats will again be battling low numbers, but will be taking the season one day at a time.
Tuesday late afternoon was only the second practice for Winside up on the game field. The team wore just their helmets, but will be implementing shoulder pads and full pads into the coming days.
Entering his third year as head coach for Winside, Kent Lawson said with schools their size there will be great fluctuations with number of male students and female students class to class.
“We lost a big senior class and brought in a very small freshman class,” said Lawson. “When you have that thing, that numbers game just year-to-year.”
A pressing issue this year is fielding a team. As of Monday to open practice, Winside had only 10 players to field an eight-man team. The Winside coaching staff is looking for a few more players to join. In 2015, the team had about 18 players while staring the season with about 16 last year.
Of the 10 players, there are three seniors who are suiting up as a key loss for the team is the absence to fellow senior Jon Escalante who will miss the season due to an injury in the 2016-17 State Wrestling Championships. Other seniors are William Bullard, Colton Jensen and Brandon Watters.
Two seniors, Jensen is a tight end and outside linebacker as well as Watters is a quarterback and middle linebacker. Jensen added what he is most excited about while Watters talked about what the team is working on.
“Just have enough guys to actually play a game now,” Jensen added. “It was rough towards the end of the year (2016) having eight guys on the field and one or two guys on the sideline and you never knew what was going to happen toward the end of the games.”
“Our main goal is the in-comers to learn and adjust to not just junior high, but advance up to bigger guys,” said Watters.
Lance Lawson, son of the head coach, will be an assistant coach. Lance won a national championship as a quarterback with Sioux Falls and he’ll be running the offense for the second season.
The lone win a year ago, was over Elkhorn Valley (38-6) while the Wildcats had to forfeit two games. Winside’s closest loss was to Scribner-Snyder (44-34).
Coach Lawson added with the small numbers, they’ll need to simplify the game.
“Like last year with 16, if one person got hurt you might move two or three to kind of accommodate,” Lawson mentioned. “We’re in a position now if one is hurt you don’t have to make a lot of change.”
Winside will begin their 2017 campaign with their home opener on Thursday, August 24 against Elkhorn Valley.