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By the end of a season, teams have established their identity.
Conference champions or conference patsies. Overachievers or slackers. Good sports or disgusting rogues.
When the West Brunswick High School football season ended Friday night after a 51-27 loss to Overhills in the first round of the NCHSAA Class 3-AA playoffs, West coach Jimmy Fletcher felt good about these 2008 Trojans.
And he was especially grateful for the way the seniors played.
A 0-11 season in 2007 puts into perspective this 6-6 season—and the Trojans’ 3-A title in the Mideastern 4-A/3-A Conference.
“They could have given up,” Fletcher said about his seniors. “They could have quit. They came back. What they did was incredible to turn this thing around. I know we’re disappointed (with this loss), but I tell you I am very happy with the way the season went compared to last year.”
“Last year” hung over this team like the stench from a hog farm. How long would the losing streak continue? How long would the seniors stay with the team if it began the season 0-2 or 0-4 or 0-6?
“I would have loved to have won (this playoff),” Fletcher said, “but I’m still glad that we turned it around. It’s like I told the guys coming back, let’s build on this and try to get better.”
Fletcher agreed if the Trojans had faltered again this year—if they had finished, for example, 2-9 or had off-the-field problems—it would have set back the program a couple of more years.
Fletcher said he intends to return as coach next season, and he said he has a good group of players to sustain what the Class of 2008 has begun.
“I think we have a great corps coming back,” he said, “and I’m excited about what we’ve got coming back. It’s just like I told them in (the locker room), the biggest thing right now is we have to get back to the weight room and keep getting stronger, because I felt (Overhills) was a little stronger than we were. That’s something we have to continue to work on.”
They can follow the example set by the seniors.
Even before the start official workouts in August, Fletcher had challenged his seniors to be leaders, to set an example for the rest of the team to work hard and, more importantly, never get discouraged. Bad attitudes lead to bad seasons.
“What they did as seniors is amazing,” Fletcher said. “When something like last year happens, and to turn it around this much in one year—that’s amazing.”
And these are the seniors who restored a winning attitude to the program: Jake Boudreau, Ryan Hill, Josh Johnson, Ferquan Williams, Isiah Williams, Ted King, Aaron Zettlemoyer, Aaron Ferguson, Jamonte Powell, Logan Tripp and Marc Cajuste.
“I told them I appreciate what they did,” Fletcher said. “I love them.”
MICHAEL PAUL is the sports editor at the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or at email@example.com.