“It was an exciting game, back and forth,” Whitefield coach Jimmy Fields said. “Both teams had to overcome adversity. The lead changed several times. They made a few plays more than we did at the end.”
However, the Wolfpack are still halfway to their win total from last season, and appear to be improved this year as they have been more competitive in defeat. Still, that is no consolation for Whitefield — which is perhaps the best sign of all.
“It’s still early and we’ll see,” Fields said. “It’s a long season, but certainly our kids have stepped up and made some strides. Losing is unacceptable, so there wasn’t a lot of consolation in what I (said). That’s one thing that I am pleased with is that they are not pleased with their effort. They expect to win and want to win. Even though they played a tough game and things like that, they are still disappointed and heartbroken. That’s the mark of a potentially good football team that doesn’t accept losing.”
Though wanting to win is certainly helpful, focusing on the past isn’t conducive to being productive during a football season. Thus, a delicate balance is required.
“I think sometimes that aspect of coaching is overrated,” Fields said. “There’s no magical speech that can snap a kid out of that or into it. I think with players, their character is their character. I think coaches can certainly help shape and mold, but you already have to have a good group of kids that are committed to winning. Our coaching staff has a group that is committed to winning. They are anxious to get back on the field.”
More than balancing attitude, Whitefield has shown strides in areas that were concerns coming into the season, most specifically on the offensive line. The Wolfpack only had one starter from last season return on the line, but have managed to improve greatly in order to free up space for star running back Richard Sherrell.
“Their learning curve has been real fast,” Fields said. “Going into it, they were inexperienced. We graduated a good group of senior offensive linemen last year. That was a concern, but you never know until you get into the trenches on Friday night. But they have responded and done very well to this point.
“I think they have grown up in a hurry. It’s like a parent watching a kid go to college. You wonder where the time went. Our offensive line has grown up in a hurry.”
As a result of the line’s adjustments, Sherrell has been able to find his way to success more often than not.
“We expected — I don’t know if you foresee how many yards or carries — but he’s a good football player and a better young man,” Fields said. “He’s one of the senior leaders that worked hard in the offseason and worked hard to get to this point. He’s had some early dividends that have benefited us.”
Sherrell’s success is even better news considering that Whitefield’s opponent tonight has struggled defensively this season. Over its last two losses, Fellowship has allowed 95 points, including a shutout loss to Christian Heritage last week.