2018 SOUTHWEST COVENANT FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Patriots set to open new season without familiar faces

For the past four years, the face of Southwest Covenant football has been Sam Webb.

Webb and his senior class accomplished more than any other class in the history of Patriot football.

The Class of 2018 led the Patriots to their best season in program history in 2017. Southwest Covenant hosted and won its first home playoff game and the Patriots made a quarterfinal run in the Class C postseason.

With a new season around the corner, it’s time for a new set of seniors and another strong supporting cast to step up and carry on the legacy that last year’s group started.

Southwest Covenant coach Trey Cloud said it is a little different without the seniors from last year’s team, but he likes what he has seen out of his players throughout preseason practice.

“It’s the first year in four years without Sam Webb and the 2018 senior class,” Cloud said. “That was a special class. Most of them played as freshmen, so not having them here is a little weird, but they left and entrusted the younger players with the ability to lead our program into the future. We have a lot of younger kids stepping up. This year’s seniors have been great. They have really stepped into those leadership roles. The juniors are doing well. We are not super young. We have some older players. We just aren’t very experienced in some spots.”

Cloud said preseason practice and the scrimmage have gone well throughout the month of August.

“Practice has gone really well,” Cloud said. “I thought the scrimmage last Friday (Aug. 17) went really well. Our guys are doing a great job and playing with a lot of intensity.”

Last year, the Patriots opened the regular season on Zero Week, but this year, Southwest Covenant will open the year with a road match up at Central Marlow at 7 p.m. Friday.

“We are not playing a Zero Week game this year,” Cloud said. “It allows us to have another week of practice and we couldn’t find anyone to play us in Week Zero.”

Even though it won’t be Sam Webb quarterbacking the Patriots in 2018, it will still be Webb under center.

Sam’s younger brother Ben Webb will get the nod as the starting QB for Southwest Covenant. Ben is a junior and has dealt with injuries throughout his high school career.

Cloud said he is excited to see what Ben will be able to do this season.

“Ben broke his back as a freshman and then broke his collarbone as a sophomore, so our goal is to keep him healthy,” Cloud said. “He throws a really pretty ball. He is a natural quarterback. He is actually a more natural quarterback than Sam. He doesn’t have the leadership experience yet like Sam had, but he will get better with that. He is a quick learner.”

Southwest Covenant will not have the size it has had over the past several seasons, but Cloud said he is excited about the team speed in 2018.

“Offensively, we can accomplish whatever we need to,” Cloud said. “We have good team speed. We are not huge, but we are quick. There might be a little drop off from last year, but we are going to be able to score on people. If we can get on the edge, we will be able to make plays.”

Defensively, the Patriots return the majority of their eight starters. Cloud said he is looking forward to seeing what his team can accomplish on the defensive side of the ball.

“We have high expectations over there,” Cloud said. “Our secondary is back, our linebackers are back and we have a defensive lineman back. We lost most of our size from a year ago, but our goal will be to stop the run first. Teams will be bigger than us, so we are going to swarm and gang tackle and deal with the size difference.”

Cloud said there are several keys to his team having success in 2018.

“We need to stay healthy,” Cloud said. “We need to have strong leadership and we need to stay focused and stay hungry. Most people have expectations for us to drop a level. We don’t want that. We are focused on building a program and sustaining success. We are ready to go. We are ready to fight.”

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