PARKER CITY, IND - Wes-Del started this season with changes that included a new field and a new attitude. Friday night, the season came to a close with a sectional semifinal loss to Monroe Central.
With that in mind, some Delaware County high school football fans might be wondering if those changes did anything to affect the entire program. This season, Wes-Del won four games, which is the most wins for the Warriors in the last five seasons.
Another achievement is that four weeks ago, the Warriors (4-6) fell to the Golden Bears (6-4) 27-0. Four games later, Wes-Del scored their third most points of the season, falling 43-34.
Yet there is another thing. After the game, Wes-Del athletic director Kye Denny spoke to the Warriors. He told them that they proved to everyone that the program deserved its respect.
“These guys have worked hard all year long,” Denny said. “At the beginning of the year, we had a slow start and nobody believed in us. But we all believed in one another. I believe in this coaching staff and I believe in every one of these kids.”
One word that Wes-Del head coach Matt Nuckols has mentioned is the word fight. He believes that this year's Warriors had that mindset and heart from day one. In the loss, Wes-Del ended the third quarter down 35-18.
With 4:42 left to play in the fourth quarter, senior wide receiver Abdulla Abdulameer made a one-handed touchdown catch, which was followed by a successful two-point conversion to make the score 35-34. That fight that Nuckols preached about was there.
“[This team] stepped up and did everything we asked them to do,” Nuckols said. “These guys have brought it all season.”
Even though Nuckols has stated that this year was a huge stepping stone for the future, the ones that led the underclassmen were the five seniors who have been with the program through the trials and tribulations.
“Eli Watts, Corben Price, Abdulla Abdulameer, Triton Blevins, and Trey Adams,” Nuckols said. “They made a mark on this program. They are a lot of the reasons why it went the way it did and why this is gonna keep rolling in a new direction.”
Blevins was one of the biggest reasons that the Warriors gave the Golden Bears a scare. In his final high school football game, the Warriors starting quarterback had three rushing touchdowns and one passing touchdown.
“I just wanted to do well,” Blevins said. “I really wanted this game.”
Once the Warriors broke their final post-game huddle of the season, players hugged for more than ten minutes. After most players had started for the locker room, Blevins, Abdulameer, and Adams each embraced each other once more.
“It’s special [to be a part of the team],” Adams said. “From where we started to where we are right now, we’ve grown so much and I’m proud of the guys.”
While the players’ youth was a factor this season, the Warriors’ coaching staff was also loaded with new faces. After every coach took a turn to talk to the team, they also joined in to give their thanks.
“They were amazing,” Nuckols said. “I couldn't be more proud of them. We got a lot of smart guys who are good with the kids, motivating their minds with everything we have. I couldn't ask for a better staff.”
Yet one of the biggest reasons for the success wasn’t on the gridiron. It wasn’t in the way the team practiced or the weight room. It had nothing to do with the game itself. It was the cheerleaders on the sidelines, the fans in the bleachers, and the overall support that the community had for the black and maroon.
[They need] to keep believing,” Nuckols said. “The support we felt this season, I couldn’t be happier with. They just need to know it's nothing but up from here.”
With the season coming to a close, the offseason now becomes a time for the Warriors to work on their game. While this could be a time that athletes want to speed up, Blevins and Adams both urge them to soak it in.
“Enjoy it while you can,” Blevins said. “Four years goes quicker than you imagine.”
Contact Zach Carter with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on X@ZachCarter85.