Aspirations for a state title were not accomplished by Southwest Covenant this season but not all hope is lost.
Coach Trey Cloud led his team to the winningest mark in school history at 13-1, with their single loss coming at the hands of Tipton in the state championship game.
The Patriots exceeded expectations coming off graduating eight key seniors from the previous season.
Hard work made the difference for this group.
“I’m definitely proud of the guys,” Cloud said. “I’m proud of how they fought all year. The work they put in paid off.”
The narrative for the beginning of the season was the margin with which they were winning ball games.
Southwest Covenant won by mercy rule in each of their first five games. It wasn’t until Coyle came to town did they get tested. Even then, the score wasn’t close at 48-24.
The Patriots continued their dominance by starting out the playoffs securing mercy rule wins against Sasakwa and Tyrone. The team made school history by making the semi-final game against Buffalo and winning 42-20, putting them in the state championship.
What made the team special was the talent on the roster.
The team starts with quarterback Ben Webb who needed to step up in the absence of his brother, Sam Webb. He finished the season going 109 for 177, collecting 2,130 yards, throwing 40 touchdowns and only three interceptions.
The junior took on a different role than he was used to but quickly fit in and led the Patriots on both sides of the football.
“The key to how successful we could be was how much he could step up and do,” Cloud said. “He just rolled with it every step of the way. Sometimes he would get a little overwhelmed so I would have him back up a couple steps because he’d never played there and that’s hard to do. He was definitely the key.”
What helped Webb’s case was a strong receiving corps.
Newcomer Will Haas came alive for Southwest Covenant this season putting up monster numbers. His 804 receiving yards on 44 catches led the team. Primarily a basketball player, Haas stood out in his first season on the gridiron.
“He’s just a deep threat every time you throw it his way,” said Cloud. “That’s awesome to have, for sure.”
Trevor Kelly’s veteran leadership made one of the biggest impact on the team. The running back ended the year with 859 yards on 83 carries for 71 yards per game. His presence on and off the field was apparent.
“Those senior impacts are huge,” Cloud said. “Trevor’s a great player, he’s been a four-year starter for us. He’ll definitely be missed. The impact of all the seniors is huge. Each one of them has an impact, especially when you have a small team like this. Every one of them matters.”
As a team, Southwest Covenant picked up 4,488 total yards of offense and surrendering 2,678 to their opponents. 2,248 of those came on the ground with the remaining yards coming through the air.
The Patriot defense stood tall. They forced 30 turnovers from opponents and picked up 50 sacks. Opponents were able to reach the Southwest Covenant QB just five times.
Having a strong statistical, as well as winning, season lays the foundation for the future.
“It gives the kids a taste of what it’s like to be successful and what that means. You can go from there. But I was just really pleased with everything.
“I think it’s definitely a stepping stone, not only for the past, but for the future.”