There’s not a lot of them, but what Westwood lacks in numbers on its reigning state championship football team, it makes up for with tons of hard work, discipline and heart. The Wildcats, on a 25-game winning streak dating back to last year, go for their second straight state title tonight.
CAMILLA — When Chason Worsham leaped into the air, countless thoughts were going through his father’s head.
With a 25-game winning streak and a trip to a second straight state championship game on the line in last Friday’s GISA Class A state semifinal against Thomas Jefferson, the freshman left his feet and summersaulted through the air.
“The season was on the line,” Westwood coach Ross Worsham, Chason’s father, said about the two-point conversion play that the Wildcats needed just to force overtime. “First, I am hoping he gets across the goal line, and then I am hoping he’s not hurt.
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“Then you put your eyes immediately on the line judge to see if he got in. Once he raised his hands, it was pandemonium.”
It was one of several clutch plays the Wildcats made in the closing minutes of the game to keep their winning streak alive and set up a state final rematch against Memorial Day tonight in Camilla.
Memorial Day came into last year’s title game as the favorites, but the Wildcats jumped ahead early and never looked back.
Apparently, nothing has changed this year,
Memorial Day (11-2) is once again favored to win the championship, but the Wildcats are still riding that momentum from their thrilling semifinal win.
At Westwood’s practice Tuesday, everybody was still talking about the miraculous finish that extended their season and gave them the chance to upset powerhouse Memorial Day.
First it was a 17-yard pass from Mason Worsham to Mitch Good on a fourth-and-17 on the final drive of regulation that set up a touchdown.
Then there was Chason Worsham’s legendary leap that landed him in the end zone and sent the game into overtime, where the Wildcats had all the momentum and escaped with a 35-28 victory.
The ending was just another chapter in a storybook two-year span for these Wildcats.
“We are all focused, and we have one more job to do,” said Mason Worsham, a four-year starter under center. “The senior class wants to leave here 26-0 and with two state championships, and we want that to be the legacy of our senior class.”
To keep their streak alive, the Wildcats will have to go through an athletic Memorial Day team that is riding an eight-game winning streak and has outscored those last eight opponents by an average of 47 points per game. Ross Worsham said the talent that Memorial Day will bring to Camilla tonight is similar to what Westwood dealt with in last season’s state a title game — a 31-12 victory Wildcats victory.
Chason remembers last year’s state championship game, but was sidelined with an injury. Still, he watched it blow-by-blow and remembers how exciting it was to knock off the two-time defending state champs.
“At one point, I think I threw my crutches to the ground (I was so excited),” Chason Worsham said about last season’s game in Savannah. “It was a great atmosphere. Everybody was pumped up. Even the little water girls were going crazy about everything.”
They were big, fast and athletic — a lot like this year’s Memorial Day team that has only lost to GISA Class AAA schools Tattnall Square and Stratford Academy, who will be playing each other for the Class AAA championship tonight.
“They are very good, talented, fast and athletic,” Ross said. “They do lots of the same things they did last year. They probably have more speed and athleticism than us.”
But Mason was clear of one thing.
“We got some athletes, too,” he said. “We are coached very well, and we know what we are supposed to do.”
The Wildcats’ game plan is simple — jump out to an early lead, not give up big plays and take advantage of opportunities when they arise. In other words, do exactly what they have been doing every Friday night during this 25-game winning streak.
The Wildcats’ head coach knows what his team is capable of, but he also knows Memorial Day hasn’t forgotten about last year’s title game.
“They are looking forward to another shot at us,” Ross said. “They were the favorite last year, and they are the favorite this year. I expect them to come in more focused and more coached up and a little bit more motivated to play. … We expect them to come in looking for revenge.”
But in the minds of the Wildcats, that revenge will have to wait. After all, they have a legacy to continue and a dynasty to build — and Memorial stands in its way.
“It’s pretty special, knowing that very few teams get to go through what we are going through right now,” sophomore running back J.T. Edore said. “It’s a great thing to be a part of. We know what’s on the line, and we have to put every ounce of effort we have to win this game.”
Even if that means doing a summersault across the goal line with the game on the line.
“Those are the types of plays you dream about making,” Chason Worsham said.
And these are the types of games you dream about winning.