Patriots bring young, experienced team into 2017 season

WEST ISHPEMING — There’s no way to sugarcoat it: the Westwood football team did not have a good year last season and most of it was due to inexperience. But with this year’s loss of senior talent across the Mid–Peninsula Conference, suddenly the now experienced Patriots look like favorites.

Westwood went 2–7 last year with wins over Manistique and L’Anse. However, they scored their lowest point total for a season in 13 years. The expectations are low coming into this season, but they feel like the conference title is there for anyone to take.

“We’re hoping that we can just compete better than we did last year. We’re trying to work on a lot of little things and get better every single day. And I know it sounds cliché, but with this team, we have to do that. We got to get better and recognize our weaknesses. If we can get better at those things, I think the wins will take care of themselves,” head coach Scott Syrjala said.

“I think it was very important for us to get that experience. Yeah, we took our lumps and we had a pretty rough year. But I feel like this year we’re going to be a lot stronger, faster and be able to make those plays that we didn’t make last year,” said tight end Blake Hewitt.

And now those juniors are moving into leadership roles on both sides of the field and the sophomores have a year of experience under their belt, so there is a lot to like about this team.

“I like how we’re a lot more closer together this year. Last year we were a little bit split up just group-wise. But now we all usually get along and it’s just a better group to be around. We’re a decently strong team. We’re a decently fast team. But we got to pick up the mental toughness, and that will come eventually with all the reps and toughing through everything,” guard Sam Gilles said.

Westwood will open the 2017 season at home as they host Munising on August 25th.