Football Snaps 2-Year Losing Streak


Seniors Jordan Wander and Nic smith embrace after a 42-37 victory over W.T. White, ending a 21-game losing streak. Talon photo by Daphne Lynd

Seniors Jordan Wander and Nic Smith embraced on the field with tears in their eyes after their victory as varsity football players, but this win goes beyond one football game.

“Its the best feeling I’ve ever had,” Wander said.

It had been 749 days since the last time the varsity football team won a game. Only one player on the current roster (Smith) had ever won before as an Eagle. With a 42-37 victory, they broken a 21-game losing streak.

“It’s been a long process,” Head Coach Greg Pels said. “Our kids have worked really hard.”

Together, players and assistant coaches decided to present Pels with the game ball after the win.

“That ball is special because it does show that we are making an impact, but it also validates to all of our kids, our student body, our community, that we’ve got this thing headed in the right direction,” Pels said.

Pels said receiving the game ball had personal significance as well.

“It means a whole lot, because you’re with these kids a lot, your with them more than your own family, and they become your extended family and we treat each one like they’re our own kids,” he said. “Any time that they express something to you, it really does mean a lot, its something for me that will be very special for the rest of my time on the earth, and it will be something that ill keep it in a safe spot.”

On September 25, 2015 the Eagles won a back and forth game against rival Pearce high school. After that victory, they lost all of their remaining 2015 games, and parted ways Head Coach Brian Chandler.

Pels was brought in as both the head coach and the athletic coordinator for Richardson in 2016.

Pels’ first season as coach ended with no wins, and only 66 points scored in all ten games, extending the losing streak Chandler began.

“Good and bad things are going to happen,” Pels said. “You just have to overcome them.”

Come the 2017 season, the Eagles started where they left off with five losses including a 48-6 loss against Naaman Forest.

W.T. White had been experiencing a similar season, going 0-5 and allowing at least 40 points to opposing offenses every game.

It was a battle of defenses in the first quarter, until junior Stone Carter took a kickoff return for 95 yards to put the Eagles up 7-3.

Each team was able to find the endzone one more time before the end of the half heading to the locker room with Richardson in front 14-10.

With a tight score, the second half would be key. They had struggled in the second half against other teams, including their previous two losses where they tied at half time but would go on to lose both games by more than 20 points.

Led by Smith and senior Zack Jackson’s combined 344 rushing yards, the Eagles added 28 points in the second half against W.T. White and clinched their first win of the season.

Students jumped over the railing and stormed the field to celebrate with the team.

“I’ve never seen that before,” Jackson said. “It felt like I was in a college game or something. It’s wild that we have a thriving student section and to know we’ve had them through wins and losses.”

The Eagles will hit the road for an away matchup against district opponent Lake Highlands (3-3) who is currently on a two-game losing streak.

“I’m really proud of the guys,” Wander said. “We knew we would win, and that was the mentality we had going into it. We just need to go out and get the win next week.”