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Patriots remember, return to the field

Peter Webb, a 16-year-old Southwest Covenant sophomore, died after being injured while making a tackle during a Patriots’ game. Photo / File

On Tuesday afternoon, members of the Southwest Covenant Patriot football team were doing what they do. Running through drills, tackling inner-tubes and urging one another on.
It is the same thing they do each week as they prepare for their next opponent.
This week was different in only one aspect. It was quieter.
The players were more focused on what they were doing as they prepared for Friday’s three-hour trek up the Turner Turnpike to play Bluejacket.
It’s the first game the team will play since the death of one of their teammates.
Peter Webb, a 16-year-old sophomore, died two weeks ago after being injured while making a tackle during the Patriots’ game against Strother.
The private Christian school canceled last week’s game so players would have an opportunity to mourn their loss.
While the game was canceled, coach Trey Cloud said the players did get together twice last week. On Wednesday, they met in the locker room where the laughed, joked and told funny stories about their friend and teammate.
On Thursday, a day before his funeral, the players put on their shoulder pads and their helmets and went to the field, where they did some one-on-one drills.
Monday, the team returned to full practice.
It is, after all, what Peter Webb would have wanted them to do, Cloud said.
“It has definitely been challenging, for sure,” Cloud said. “It is time. It is part of the healing process.”
“We’re trying to focus on the game.”
Cloud said the idea is to keep the players active, to keep them focused on what is ahead of them. That is a team looking to knock off last year’s class C state runners up.
“Sometimes, the best thing is for them to be out here with each other so that they are not doing anything or thinking. That was the idea of practicing a little last week. Just being together,” he said.
That is why the team got together last week.
But, Cloud said getting ready for this week’s game has been difficult.
“Our goal is not wins and losses. It’s about getting better. It’s about being present when we are here,” Cloud said.
Meanwhile, Webb’s brother, Ben, was expected to suit up Friday. He’s the team’s quarterback.
Cloud said he believes Ben will be OK.
As for the rest of the team, they are working through the emotions.
“Life is going to go on, and you have to decide what you are going to do with this from here. What would Peter want us to do. Would he want us to quit, or would he want us to fly around like he did every day.
“There is definitely a healing process. It’s not like you can jump back and be 100 percent. There is a process to that,” Cloud said.
The coach said he wants the players to play hard, but to enjoy the game.
“I tell them each week that you have to enjoy the moment. Fly around, embrace the moment. Have fun. Enjoy it,” he said.
But this game is important. In part, because it is bigger than a football game.
“The only way we get through this is to be with each other and through each other. We don’t want to go into our corners and not be together. That’s not healthy, and that is not how we get through this,” Cloud said. “We get through this with each other and through each other.”

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