The Westside Seminoles were within 10 yards of a semifinal berth but were unable to find the endzone against Benedictine as time ran out on their season.
This left a bitter taste in head coach Spoon Risper and his team’s mouth all offseason. During workouts, he reminds them to remember that feeling of walking into the locker room that night as added motivation for the upcoming season.
“That was one of the worst feelings,” Risper said. “That was a tough pill to swallow to be that close to beating a very high-powered high school football team.”
The Seminoles are looking to take the next step as a team. They’ve been to the playoffs every year but one since Risper took over in 2009 but haven’t been able to clinch a spot into the championship game.
“We want to get over the hump. We are tired of getting to the quarterfinals and semifinals,” Risper said. “We just want to be able to knock that door down and get to the championship game.”
Key matchups this season
Southwest @ Mercer on August 24
The Seminoles will square off against one of their top rivals in the first game of the season for the Macon Touchdown Club Middle Georgia Kickoff Classic.
“It will be a great experience to play on a college campus as beautiful as Mercer...It is good for not only the kids but the community as well,” Risper said.
Westside went undefeated for 18 years against Macon schools until 2016 when Southwest knocked them off by a score of 8-3. Since then, there has been a bit more excitement surrounding this game.
Southwest head coach Joe Dupree once served as an offensive coordinator at Westside. The pair of head coaches are the best of friends — except for one night a year.
“It is kind of like a family feud on that night,” Risper said. “He wants to beat me and I want to beat him.”
Peach County on Nov. 8
Peach County has won the region each of the past three seasons and Westside has finished as the runner-up twice during that span.
This could be the game that determines the region championship and could have a big impact on the seeding for the playoffs.
“In order to be the man, you got to beat the man and right now Peach is that man,” Risper said. “Peach has a really solid football program. They are state (title) contenders every single year.”
Players to Watch
Quarterback Victor Dixon Jr.: He is the leader of the offense and this will be his third year under center for the Seminoles.
“He understands the high school football game a lot better now,” Risper said. “The game is coming easy for him now.”
He will look to build on a stellar high school career as he preps for the next level as he has already started to receive college offers.
Defensive back Jehlen Cannady: His nickname is Hollywood for a reason. He loves the bright Friday night lights and is one of the top playmakers for the Westside defense.
“He is a great kid,” Risper said. “He is our spark plug for our defense and our entire team.”
Risper said that the senior can also lineup at wide receiver where has also is an impact player. He is also considered one of the vocal leaders on the team.
Linebacker Jayland Parker: He is the most highly touted recruit on the team according to Risper. He has already committed to Colorado a Power Five Conference team in the Pac-12.
“He plays with a motor and we are glad to have his leadership,” Risper said.
He has a chance to make an impact each time he touches the field for Westside this season. He could be one of the top players in all of Middle Georgia.
Wide Reciever Jaylon Barden: He is the fastest player on the team according to Risper.
“He is our playmaker,” Risper said. “He can run the whole route tree and take the top off down the field.”
He can be a big play weapon for Dixon to exploit defenses with. He has committed to play for the Pittsburgh Panthers in the ACC.