Waskom Relishing Undefeated Season After Having It All Taken Away in 2012
According to the history books, the Waskom Wildcats finished 0-10 in 2012 and have miraculously transformed into an unbeaten juggernaut on the cusp of reaching the state semifinals in the span of one year.
But head coach Whitney Keeling and his players know better. The Wildcats won seven games on the field a season ago and would have reached the postseason if not for an unfortunate paperwork oversight that led to Waskom's forfeit of all seven victories.
It would have been easy for the players and coaches in Waskom to let that bitter turn of events put a damper on its offseason and affect the 2013 season.
It has had a definitive impact on this year, but it's been all positive.
"I think the kids have a little bit of a chip on their shoulder and wanted to prove that those seven wins were earned," Keeling said. "We fully accept the responsibility as a football program, but we also know that we won that seven games fair and square on the football field."
And Waskom's done nothing but win this season. The Wildcats (13-0) have already eclipsed the school record for wins in a season and can advance to the program's first state semifinal with a victory over fellow unbeaten Corrigan-Camden (13-0) on Friday.
Not too shabby for a program that had not made the playoffs since 1992.
"It has been a long ride," Keeling said. "To see the school pride and the pride within the community … we've had a number of pep rallies, the news has been out to interview the kids. It's been really exciting to see our kids relish those moments. But we've still got work to do at this point. We don't want it to end here."
Waskom features one of the highest-scoring offenses in the area, averaging more than 54 points per game. And the Wildcats do in the ground. Waskom enters Friday's Class 2A Division II Region III final putting up more than 437 rushing yards per game, with three players -- Kevin Johnson, June Bug Johnson and Dillon Benton -- having already eclipsed the 1,000-yard plateau and one more -- Trace Carter -- closing in on 900.
"That's the kinda the point of our offense," Keeling said. "If you took away one person in our triple option, a lot of times it's been somebody else to step up. We talk to the kids about it not being about one person, it's about your responsibility and making sure you take advantage of the opportunity when it comes."
Waskom's opponent this week is similar in nature. Corrigan-Camden averages 436.1 rushing yards per game and has two backs with well over 1,000 yards on the season, including Keegan Mitchell, who has rushed for 2,355 yards and 29 touchdowns on the year.
"They'll be the most athletic team we've faced all season," Keeling said of Corrigan-Camden. "They have a lot of guys close to us in speed and stature. It's going to be a good football game. It should come down to whichever teams makes the least amount of mistakes. The weather is going to be really bad, which makes it really important to protect the football."
Waskom and Corrigan-Camden are scheduled to kick off at 7:30 p.m. Friday from Carthage's Bulldog Stadium. The winner will play the winner between perennial state power Refugio (12-1) and defending 2A D-II state champion East Bernard (13-0), who play Saturday night in San Antonio.