While winning and losing is a part of every sport, success can be measured in more than what is on the scoreboard.
And when he looks back at his group of seniors who recently played their final football game for the Hurst L.D. Bell Blue Raiders, coach Mike Glaze sees winners despite their 3-7 record on the field.
“Hopefully that they helped the program take a step to becoming a championship-level program,” Glaze said.
The Blue Raiders, with three wins, posted one more than the past two seasons combined. Several of these seniors were on board for both of those 1-9 campaigns, including three-year starters Brendan Weatherspoon on the line and Devunte’ Dawson at cornerback.
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Weatherspoon has committed to play for the University of North Texas. Dawson, defensive end Ricky Tatu, receiver Christion Nealy, defensive back Nick Dillard, linebacker Nate Alexander, safety Derek Thomas, receiver Ricky Walton, and running backs Ivan Traylor and Terry Pace are also hoping to play in college.
Tatu, Alexander and Thomas were nothing short of forces on defense, combining to average 37 tackles (Tatu 14, Alexander 12, Thomas 11). Also, eight seniors combined to average two sacks per game, led by Keroles Dawed, who averaged one every two games.
On offense, Traylor led the way with 889 yards and 11 touchdowns rushing, while Pace added 496 yards and 5 TDs. In all, Traylor collected 1,149 total yards, including 139 in kick returns. Walton accounted for 737 total yards and five TD (110 and 1 TD rushing, 511 and 4 TD receiving, 116 kick return yards).
But the greatest contribution of the seniors, Glaze said, is they helped make the team more competitive. The Blue Raiders averaged more points this season (17.6) than 2015 (14.8) and surrendered far less (29.5 in 2016, 40.2 in 2015).
A 26-14 win over Keller gave them a two-game win streak and put them above .500 for the first time since 2013. Injuries beset them in district, which was also one of the toughest leagues to be found.
“I hope that they showed the underclassmen that we could play with anyone and be successful against really good football programs,” Glaze said.
The Raiders were just a play or two from going 3-0 in pre-district, losing to Coppell 28-21 in overtime. In district, they had some key plays that allowed opportunities to slip away.
But Glaze said moving forward is not an easy task. Nonetheless, he did stress that the program did indeed progress this season, and the seniors about to leave can take pride in that.
“I hope that the Class of 2017 can look back and say they helped start the change and continued the process towards future success,” Glaze said.
“I just appreciate the efforts of our senior class. They helped L.D. Bell take a step in the right direction, and hopefully learned some life lessons along the way.”