SPRINGHILL – The North Webster Knights will be on display for a national audience Thursday when they travel to Mansfield, as the LHSAA chose them in the preseason for the game of the week. The game will be televised on FOX Sports New Orleans.
It’s a first for the program, and something that will be special for this Knights team and head coach John Ware.
“I’ve been involved in football my whole life,” Ware said. “I’ve never gotten to do this. I told our guys you won’t get this opportunity much. It’s a huge game for us.”
Some coaches might view the bright lights of television as a distraction, but Ware doesn’t see it that way.
“The guys have been talking about since the preseason,” Ware said. “There will definitely be some excitement around game time.”
Mansfield brings an 0-7 record into Thursday’s matchup, but Ware said that record is not indicative of what the Wolverines can do.
“They lost their quarterback for about four weeks and he’s back now,” Ware said. “They have plenty of good football players and have always had tradition there. It ought to be a good matchup.”
The key for North Webster is containing Mansfield’s elusive signal-caller Jaylin Wilson.
“The quarterback can take off and run,” Ware said. “When he gets in scramble mode he can hurt you, and they are big up front on both sides of the football. North DeSoto only beat them 19-17 at the beginning of the year, so they aren’t a bad team.”
On offense, the Knights will try and get back to basics this week, after struggling to establish their physical running game for most of last week’s game with Loyola.
“Some of our basic plays we didn’t execute as well,” Ware said. “I told this group they have a chance to be as good as they want to be, we just haven’t gelled the whole way yet. I’m looking forward to this week and seeing if they’re up for that challenge.”
It’s important for the Knights to get going on the ground, especially with such diverse talents in the backfield as Devin White, Jalen Smith and T.J. Hawthorne.
“I’ve never had three backs as good as this at one time,” Ware said. “To have them, as well as a 6’4” receiver and a quarterback who can throw, no one should be able to stop us.”