HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – “Our motto is try to be tougher than the team that we play and our guys have kind of fallen in love with that motto and the wins have followed so it has been a great year.”
It has been a great year for the Newsome Wolves but the year is still in session.
“They know the history and they know what is at stake,” Christian Yockey, the head football coach at Newsome High School, said about his players. “They cannot wait for the community to come out to our field this Friday night and put on a show for them and hopefully, we play our best game and if we play our best game, we got a great chance to win.”
The Wolves will host their regional final game in school history on Friday night. Their opponent is a team they have faced in the past, the Osceola Kowboys of Kissimmee.
“Back in 2008 and 2009,” recalled Yockey, “I think we played them in the playoffs. Obviously, we did not win. In 2012, we got another crack at them down at Kissimmee and again, we did not win so we have been close a bunch of times. I think 21-13 and 21-18 and this group of kids, they were not a part of that history.”
The Wolves had not won a playoff game since that 2012 season when the Kowboys eliminated them.
They snapped that streak, an eight-year and four-day streak, on Nov. 20 against the Wharton Wildcats. They won 21-7.
The players remember it well.
“It was just incredible,” said Caden Huffman, a junior linebacker. “We went into that game wanting to play with everything we had. We knew it would be our seniors’ last game if we lost so everyone came out and played their hearts out.”
“We just played our game and we played very well,” said Jason Albritton, a junior running back. “We had a lot of guys step up and I was very impressed with how our team played.”
The Wolves starting quarterback, Kamarii Austin, called the win “exhilarating.”
“Because it was away,” he said, “being able to ride on the bus back here knowing that we won and knowing that we would play here for the next one was exciting.”
The Wolves defeated Steinbrenner High School the following week after losing to that team in the first round of the playoffs last season.
“It was pretty bittersweet,” said Yockey. “We got our doors blown off last year in the playoff game and that was one of the things we talked about when we came back in January as a team is how we just kind of felt comfortable because we made the playoffs and we didn’t want to be a team that was satisfied just for being there.”
This team is far from satisfied. They are rewriting the history books at Newsome High School and they are thoroughly enjoying the entire process.
“Our team is very prepared,” said Albritton. “We have been working very hard and we deserve to win this game.”
He shared some stories to support his statement.
“I have been very impressed with how we have been able to progress,” he said, “because we had a long break due to COVID and I have been very impressed with how people continue to work hard even over that break.”
The Wolves missed back-to-back games because of the virus but, while they could not practice together on the field, they decided to strengthen their knowledge of the sport off of the field.
“We tried our best to get together in small groups and work through plays outside of football so we have a lot of guys who are dedicated to playing football,” said Albritton.
He also attributed the success of the team to the relationships on the team.
“We are a really tight team,” he said. “We like each other a lot and there is not much butting heads at all.”
“Everybody out here,” said Huffman, “we all love each other. We all spend every minute of the day with each other. We talk to each other all the time and I would not give anything for a different team. I have never been a part of a playoff team that has gone this far. Everybody is here for the ride and we want to make it last as long as we possibly can.”