WSN’s Hoehn reflects on 2012 season
While the historic season for the W.S. Neal Eagle football team ended last week at Fayette County in the second round of the AHSAA class 3A state playoffs, the Eagles and head coach Doug Hoehn hope to take the accomplishments from the 2012 season and build on them for the 2013 season.
The Eagles ended their season with a 9-3 record after falling to Fayette County 34-6.
“Fayette County was a very good football team,” Hoehn said. “They had more team speed than us and they were bigger than us on the line of scrimmage. After watching them on film, I think they played a very good game and I think they played a better game than they had played on the films I saw. I know their coach told me after the game it was probably their best game they had played all year long. For us we came out a little sluggish. We did not play our best game and we were a little flat. They jumped on us 21-0 and we had a hard time recovering from that. Our kids played hard, but we just didn’t play our best game and that was a very good football team we lost to.”
After rushing for nearly 400 yards a game this year, the Eagles were held to 214 yards rushing by Fayette County.
“Marquese Banks scored our touchdown and had 85 yards rushing and was our leading rusher,” Hoehn said. “We lost Josiah Nettles in the first half due to an injury. With Marquese’s 85 yards, he finished with 2,055 yards for the year.”
While the season ended in the second round, three rounds short of a state title, the 2012 season could be classified as a championship season for the Eagles. After years of being down, the 2012 season saw many first for the Eagles.
The season saw: the most wins since 2006; after five combined wins in previous four years, W.S. Neal had nine this year; saw their first playoff win since 2006 and played in their first playoff game since 2007.
Some more key items from the 2012 season included five region wins this year after getting five total from 2007-2010. The Eagles scored 481 points after scoring 430 total points from 2009-2011.The last time there were more points scored more was in 1971 when they went 12-1 and scored 537 points.
W.S. Neal scored 481 points this year with their best quarter of scoring coming in the third quarter where they scored 162 points. The Eagles scored 94 points in the first, 110 in the second and 115 in the third quarter. The Eagles surrendered 237 points this fall with 79 coming in the first quarter, 50 in the second, 57 in the third and 51 in the fourth.
The Eagles will be losing their top two running backs in Marquese Banks and Josiah Nettles and both quarterbacks Christian Purvis and Dylan Godwin.
“I think the kids came a long way,” Hoehn said. “Last year we lost nine games, this year we won nine games. I think that is a pretty dramatic turnaround. We finished the season with 5,088 yards rushing and 56 rushing touchdowns. That is a big improvement over last year. We scored 481 points, which is 40.08 points, a game which is another improvement from last year. We had one game where we rushed for over 600 yards and two others we had over 500 yards.”
Hoehn said the Eagles placed in the state records this year also.
“We don’t have the No. 1 record, but we placed in the record books with state record for scoring,” he said. “We set a school record for scoring the most points in a game this year with 66. We set a record for over 600 yards rushing against Holtville and 552 against Excel. We are also going to be on there for over 500 against Millry. For the season, we had 5,088 yards and we will pass nine schools on the list now for that. Marquese will be on there for 2,000 yards rushing and we will be on there for defense allowing fewest yards against Cottage Hill. There were a lot of first on here for W.S. Neal football. This is the first time W.S. Neal has been on here for anything. Our 1971 team went to the state championship and lost to Tarrant 34-20. That is the most successful team in school history and they averaged one more point a game scoring than we did.”
Hoehn said to see his team make a big turnaround from his first year to second year was big.
“I have been here for two years so seeing them win a playoff game and make the playoffs and do the turnaround from 1-9 last year and no wins the year before to 9-3 this year and put some stats up like this is good,” Hoehn said. “The school has been here a long time and have not put up numbers like this in awhile. That says a lot. We are proud of the seniors. They have come a long way. We are not happy about not playing (last night) and we are not happy when the season ends, because we have find something else to do besides football.”
While the team saw an increase in wins and stats this year, Hoehn said he also noticed another increase—an increase that involved the school and community.
“I think the program this year brought a lot of school pride back to the program this year,” he said. “The bands and the cheerleaders all did a great job. The football team and the fans and the student body all did a great job. I think there is a whole lot more of excitement around Neal now from the fall sports. We are looking forward to taking it to our spring sports now. We had a lot of community support and a lot of great turnouts at our games this year home and away.
“Our stands were packed at Fayette County and that is a five hour drive. Our side was packed and we had more fans than Fayette County had and that surprised me.”
So what about next year?
“We are relatively a young team,” he said. “On defense we had some people play because we had some injuries. We will have every single starter back except for one. On offense, we will have to replace a little bit more. We will have three offensive linemen to replace and our running backs and our main running back in Marquese, but we had a lot of kids get reps this year as freshmen, sophomores and juniors. So we are talking about four starters on offense and one on defense.”
Hoehn said his team will be back at work on Monday.
“We had inventory days and administrative days last week,” he said. “We met with the kids and started planning for our seniors and their plans for college. We keep files on them and now we start helping with things to help them with college ball. We will get back to work Monday after we get back from Thanksgiving break. We will start winter workouts then.
“We are proud of our accomplishments, but both coaches and players still wish we were playing. It just gives us something to work harder for next year.”