Last week’s win over Mansfield was the most important victory of the 2016 season for the North Webster Knights.
The Knights improved their record t0 4-4 and jumped to No. 17 in the LHSAA Class 3A power ratings. With the top 32 teams claiming a spot in the postseason, the Knights can all but wrap up a playoff berth with a victory over the Green Oaks Giants this Thursday on the road.
But it won’t be easy.
The Giants aren’t as bad as their 1-7 record would indicate, according to North Webster head coach John Ware.
“They’re very athletic all the way across the board,” Ware said. “They have some guys out wide who can really go get the ball, and they have good team speed across the board on defense as well.; they fly to the football.”
“When you just look at a record, it doesn’t look that good, but they’ve played a tough schedule and when you see the scores you’re looking at a football team that was in a lot of close games throughout the year.”
North Webster enters the game with some momentum, having racked up 43 points and recorded a second-half shutout of the Wolverines last Friday night at Baucum-Farrar Stadium.
This week, Ware said his team will have to continue that trend, as well capitalize on what he sees as a sizeable advantage for the Knights on special teams.
“I think we’re probably a bit better than they are in that department, and that’s always a big thing,” Ware said. “I think if we continue doing what we’re supposed to, not making mistakes, we’ll be alright. We work hard at special teams throughout the year.
There were a couple times earlier this year when we weren’t as good as we have been lately, and I promise you when you’re not good in that department it stands out.”
TJ Hawthorne has led the charge on special teams, scoring 5 return touchdowns on the season. He’s also a pretty good hand in the backfield, where he’s partnered with Jaylen Thomas and Sam Modisette to form the latest formidable Knights’ backfield.
North Webster has a unique blend of youth and experience in the lineup, which explains both their early struggles and their recent surge.
“I think offensively we’ve really come a long way from the beginning of the year,” Ware said. “We seem to be getting better each week.”
“Defensively, we settled in. This is a new day and age on defense, and when you don’t have the athletes who can man up on the outside, it makes things difficult. We’ve played pretty well, with only a few setbacks here and there.”
The Knights will try to clinch a playoff spot in a rare Thursday night game, kicking off at 7 p.m. in Shreveport.