The Norman Transcript

October 24, 2012

Washington turning season around

By Corbin Hosler
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Just a month ago, things weren’t looking very good in Washington. The Warriors had just lost big to Class 2A’s No. 4 Frederick, and the loss dropped them to 1-3. There wasn’t a lot of faith in coach Brad Beller’s football program, which is just two years removed from a trip to the state quarterfinals.

Not a lot of faith outside of the locker room, that is. Inside it, there was more than enough to go around.

“A lot of people look at it and say when you’re 1-3 you’re not doing very well,” Beller said. “But we felt like we were just about to get started.”

They were. Since then, the ninth-ranked Warriors are 4-0 in District 2A-3 and have won each game by an average of 24 points. The winning streak has Washington tied for second place in the district entering Friday’s home game against Riverside (1-7, 0-5). If the Warriors win as expected it will set up a final-week showdown with Lindsay that will decide which team will finish in second place and host a playoff game.

The reason for rough start is clear. All of Washington’s non-district opponents are members of Class 3A, and Frederick is 8-0 and a state title favorite. It was an extremely difficult schedule to start the season, but Beller would do it again if given the choice.

“Any time a team goes through adversity, they’re either going to fold or they’re going to come out better for it,” he said. “Our kids came out better. They come to work every day and I think our best games are yet to come.”

There’s another reason for the turnover and it begins with the team’s six seniors, whom Beller called “an extension of the coaching staff.” The group leads by example and has provided a steady-demeanor and much-needed experience for the Warriors.

One of those seniors is center Tyler Lenhart, who said he wants to take his team back to the heights it reached two years ago.

“We’re working hard to get one last game here on this field,” he said. “Nothing beats a playoff game at home. It’s a whole different atmosphere.”

The Warriors’ goal is to play on Thanksgiving week, which means a return trip to the Class 2A quarterfinals. It’s an attainable goal and one that wouldn’t be possible if not for the adversity the team went through to start the season, Lenhart said.

“That showed us who we were, and it brought us closer,” he said. “Those games made us that much more ready for the playoffs. We push each other hard in practice and that makes the whole team better. It gets us that much closer to that gold ball.”

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