SPRINGHILL – Excitement abounds in Springhill on a Monday, the first day of school, as North Webster prepares for another season on the gridiron.
Players are flying around the field making plays, but head coach John Ware and his coaching staff, including former Haynesville and Ruston head coach Tommy Reeder, still find several coaching points to harp on.
It’s business as usual for a program that’s made a habit out of contending in Class 3A.
The Knights enter 2017 as the favorites in 3A’s tiniest district, 1-3A, featuring Loyola, Green Oaks and themselves.
In 2016, North Webster once again made the playoffs and posted a winning season under Ware’s direction. The program hasn’t known anything else since consolidation in 2011.
With the Knights’ coaching stability, the return of star running back TJ Hawthorne and a slew of supporting ball carriers and a solid defense, the pieces are in place for another successful campaign if Ware’s bunch can execute his scheme and navigate what is easily the toughest schedule of any Webster Parish school.
The Knights begin the year on the road with rival Haynesville before returning home to face Class 4A North DeSoto. Week 3 brings Minden to The Castle, followed by back-to-back road games at West Ouachita and Southwood. The reward for making it through that brutal first half? A date with defending Class 1A state champions Logansport, who returns most of their starters. Class 5A contender Airline rounds out the non-district schedule before the two-game district stretch to end the regular season.
The Knights will lean on Hawthorne’s explosiveness with a new quarterback under center in Tyrell Markray. Jalyn Thomas, Sam Modisette and Kyler Harbour, fresh off a return from a season-ending injury last season, make up a talented backfield.
LT Grigsby, John Hardy and Lucas Williams makeup part of what will be a strong front seven, and the secondary is coming along quickly.
The Knights will get a taste of what their difficult schedule will be like this Friday when they host the Benton Tigers for a scrimmage in Springhill. The Tigers are led by senior all-area QB Garrett Hable and project as one of, if not the, favorite in Minden’s district, 1-4A.
The action begins at 6 p.m. at Baucum-Farrar Stadium in Springhill.