By Josh Beavers
The North Webster Knights ended the school year with a lot of questions to answer.
Covid kept last year’s team from bonding. Injuries were a huge factor in why the team notched only three wins to five losses. And real tragedy struck in May when the team, school and community lost Tavious Tate and Donald Owens, both 16, in a devastating double drowning.
“That has been so awful,” Knights head coach John Ware told the Journal on Monday morning. “Those boys were part of the team, the community.”
Peace of mind in an already uncertain time is very important, Ware said. The tragedy ended an unprecedented year for the Springhill-based school which serves as the high school for all communities in the central and northern parts of the parish.
“We were very concerned with safety last year because that was the most important thing we could do,” Ware said. “But that took a lot away from the team being able to gel.”
The 2020 North Webster squad had a lot of newcomers, and Covid kept the team from bonding like it should have.
“We lost a lot of camaraderie,” he told us. “We didn’t get that time together in meetings and in the locker room where that team spirit and bonding is built. No pep rallies. All of that was hard on the boys.”
On top of the inability to properly bond as a team, the Knights were devastated by injuries.
“We were on our third quarterback by week three,” Ware said. “We had five season ending injuries.”
Among those injuries were a broken ankle and two players who went down with knee issues.
Looking forward, Ware said the team will focus on building strength and work on conditioning three days a week this summer before working on an individual focus in July.
“We’ve got some good players coming back, and the team worked their butts off during the off season,” he said. “They are getting bigger and better.”
He is encouraged by the size of the team and its strength but said there are some question marks regarding the overall team speed. “We’re lacking a little there,” he told us.
Ware said the team has numerous senior leaders and mentioned a few by name. “Jamarcus Stevens is one of our best athletes and he will play outside linebacker, running back, and some receiver.”
Jaterion Robinson, who is a three-year starter, also plays linebacker and tight end/H-back on offense.
Senior lineman Drew Hutchinson and Ty Modisette anchor the offense and will look to open holes for running backs throughout the season.
“There’s a lot of questions we’ve got to answer,” Ware said. “It’s hard to tell from one year on to the next how the team will gel together. But if we can all stay healthy, I feel we will be competitive.”
Check back next week for a look at the Knights’ opponents this fall. North Webster opens the season at home against Haynesville.