Why not us?

Brenna Claus, Sports Editor

The ‘Pack has waited four long years for this moment. Every game faithful fans come and support the boys in hopes of a victory, in hopes of a post season. All of the hard work, sweat and tears finally paid off. The football team clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2011 after they defeated Tokay on October 30.

The ‘Pack ended the regular season with an overall TCAL standing of 6-4. On November 13, the West Wolf Pack faced the Antelope Titans in the first round of playoffs. Antelope punched in first and scored two touchdowns in the first quarter and another three in the second quarter. Not discouraged, West struck back in the second quarter when senior running back Christian Velasco scored a run touchdown. The Titans scored their sixth touchdown in the beginning of the third quarter.

The game wasn’t over just yet. During West’s first kick return of the second half, senior Matthew Roe returned the ball for approximately 60 yards and got to the Titan’s own 24 yard line. With great field position, senior quarterback James Gibbons pitched the ball to senior running back Marcel Dancy for an easy score. Early in the fourth quarter the Titans quarterback ran in the ball and scored their last touchdown of the game. The rest of the quarter was quiet until junior quarterback Jake Hiltachk threw a touchdown pass to senior running back Justin Velasco in the last seconds.

The Titans and Wolf Pack fought hard all game and neither team gave up. Antelope beat West 49-21 and advanced to the next round of playoffs. After the game, James Gibbons had some words of advice for his younger teammates. He said, “Remember this moment, remember this day, this painful loss. We got you a quarter of the way you just have to keep moving.” During this last game of the season, the seniors shed some tears, had a special moment with their families and said a bittersweet goodbye to their last game of high school football.

As spectators, we may not understand what it takes to be a football player, let alone a player at the varsity level. We only get to watch the result of a football player’s work in their games on Friday nights. Most football players would consider football a lifestyle. They eat, sleep and breathe the game they love to have a successful season and possibly pursue football after high school.

When asked how Coach Anastasio prepares the team, senior Jarrett Rasmussen said, “You know, same thing as every week. Just watch film, hard week of practice, and just enjoying ourselves and playing the game we love.” During the summer the football team practices four or five days a week for two to three hours, and that doesn’t account for the individual work each player puts in. They spend a lot of time on and off the field to make a successful regular season and post season possible. During the school year the football team practices 5 or 6 days a week and plays on Friday night. When Coach Steve Anastasio was asked to describe the team’s work ethic, he said, “For the majority of the time they work hard. They did a lot of stuff in the offseason this year. We were having great attendance during the summer, and I think it paid off here. But they have it. They work very hard.” He went on to say, “Great kids. Three years with the kids that are seniors. I wouldn’t want to coach any other kids, they’re outstanding. West High kids are special kids and can make a lot of good things happen if they put their minds to it.”

Every drop of sweat, every sprint, all of the pain, all of the long hours and all of the practices were worth it in the end. Accomplishing a goal is a great feeling.

Coach Anastasio was named the TCAL Coach of the Year, voted by fellow TCAL head coaches, and senior running back Marcel Dancy was named the TCAL Co-Offensive Player of the Year. Senior offensive lineman Francisco Jimenez was named 1st team offense. Senior defensive backs Christian and Justin Velasco were named 1st team defense. Senior offensive lineman Justin Vargas was named on 2nd team offense. Senior defensive linemen AJ Husary and Emran Kazem and sophomore linebacker Jonah Gaotaote were named 2nd team defense. Senior offensive linemen Steven Ramirez, Jarrett Rasmussen and Cody Alexander, junior defensive back Emmanuel Turner, junior tight end James Jones, senior quarterback James Gibbons, senior linebacker Matthew Roe, senior defensive back Anthony Rhoads and senior defensive lineman Andre Fetui were all TCAL Honorable Mentions.

After months of hard work, the football season has officially come to an end. While seniors reflect on their last game of high school football, the juniors are ready to come back next year as seasoned varsity players, eager to improve and bring West back to the playoffs once more.