SPRINGHILL – It’s game week across the state of Louisiana, including in Springhill where the North Webster Knights are preparing for a week one tilt against Class 1A power Haynesville.
The Golden Tornado have won 17 state championships in their program’s storied history, the most recent of which in 2014 when the Tornado defeated Mangham in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The Superdome is where Ware, a Haynesville grad himself, is trying to take the Knights in 2017, and the talent is on the roster to pull it off if a few breaks go their way.
The first order of business is figuring out how to slow the Golden Tornado.
“We’re still tinkering with some things,” Ware said. “I like to think we’re prepared. We’ve worked hard in the offseason and got better in the summertime. You’d certainly think we’re ready, but we’re still not hitting on all cylinders offensively. Sometimes that takes a little longer; defensively, we’re playing pretty good.”
Haynesville enters the season with roster full of size and strength, bucking the trend of past teams that relied on superior ball-carriers and simpy got by with flawless technique in the trenches.
“(Haynesville) still has great athletes,” Ware said. “They still have a couple kids who can take it to the house at anytime. Their defensive line is really good and they have a couple linebackers back. That’s really the strength of their team.”
It’s also the strength of Ware’s bunch. The Knights stymied the Minden and Cedar Creek run games last week with phenomenal play throughout the front seven, spearheaded by senior linebacker John Hardy and defensive lineman Sam Plants.
North Webster will need to duplicate the productivity from their front four lineman to give their linebackers a chance to make tackles.
“We need to control the line of scrimmage defensively,” Ware said. “One of our strongest units is our defensive line with a couple of returning starters and guys with experience. The linebackers have to be disciplined and key well against them; and you can’t miss tackles, especially against them.”
If the Knights’ defense is successful in slowing down the ground-and-pound game of Haynesville, the pressure falls on first-year starting quarterback Tyrell Markray to guide North Webster’s offense through the stingy
Markray displayed the ability to throw from the pocket last Friday against Minden, delivering a perfect pass to TJ Hawthorne off play action for a touchdown. He also took care of the football, something that will be paramount when he steps under center for his first regular season start.
“We just need him to take care of the football,” Ware said. “Manage the game, manage the huddle, manage the checks; all of those things he’s done good so far, he really has. He can make plays when they present themselves, but it’s about not trying to over do it.”
Weather could be a factor, with rains expected throughout the week and on Friday night.
Come rain, sleet, snow or mud, the two teams will duke it out at Red Franklin-Memorial Stadium Friday at 7 p.m.