In his second season as head football coach at Fort Worth Southwest, Rob Goebel has his Raiders winning games, and they have another test this week.
Southwest (3-2, 2-0) faces Fort Worth YMLA (2-3, 2-0) in a District 7-5A battle, 7 p.m. Thursday at Clark Stadium.
"We’re going to have to play our game," Goebel said. "It’s homecoming, but we can’t get wrapped up in all the distractions. If we execute our game plan, it’ll be a good game for us."
Off to a good start in district play, Goebel credits the beginning of fall camp with Southwest’s participation numbers up from last year’s marks.
This season, 123 students tried out for football – there were so many freshmen that two teams were created which rarely happens at the school.
Over 50 freshmen showed up which is well up from 15 last year.
"We’re trying to do things the right way by putting a quality off-season program into place," Southwest principal John Engel said. "It translates into being in the right position and it’s producing considerable results."
Getting healthy and senior leadership has helped too.
Goebel had seven sidelined during the Joshua game, but the bye week before the district opener against Arlington Heights allowed them to get back.
"It was a big key and gave us confident as a whole," Goebel said. "I like where were at right now."
Among the seniors that returned from last season’s 6-5 playoff team is quarterback Octavio Martinez – who ranks 20th academically in his class.
"Our team improved a lot. We had a new coaching staff and we worked harder in the summer," Martinez said. "It’s an all-team effort and that’s our motto – team first."
"It’s great to look at these seniors, who some started as sophomores and got that experience," Goebel added. "They got more last year and that playoff game under their belts – they’ve done a really great job."
Other seniors include linebacker Koran "KC" Cooper and running back Jason Bailey Day Jr., who returns from an injury in August.
"We try to lead everyone at every level and help them understand that this is bigger than them," Cooper said. "If they don’t have anyone to do it for, do it for the person next to them. There are a lot of us and it’s our last go-around, and we just want to be different."
"We’re a lot stronger and more discipline. We had a tough off-season, it left a bad taste after how that playoff game went and we wanted to make sure that doesn’t happen again."
The Raiders are coming off a 61-31 victory over Fort Worth Western Hills. Martinez passed for two touchdowns and ran for one score; junior safety O’Brien Neely had two fumble recoveries, one for a 48-yard touchdown and added a 63-yard pick six, and was voted dfwVarsity defensive player of the week.
Bailey Day scored on a 7-yard touchdown reception.
“I’m finally back, finally 100 percent, and I’m happy to be here for my teammates,” he said.
“All the seniors have a 3.5 GPA or better and we’re all in the National Honor Society so not only do we mentor the younger guys on the field, but in the classroom. On the field they look up to us like a big brother, and they just take after our work ethic. We’re influencing them in a real positive way.”
Fort Worth ISD as a whole has seen strides this season. Along with YMLA and Southwest, South Hills is 2-0, and Wyatt and North Side had great starts at 4-0 and 3-0, respectively.
"It’s been an exciting year for football in Fort Worth ISD and we hope to keep it going," said Dean Pritchett, FWISD Assistant Director of Athletics.