Entering the division championship game on Oct. 30, the White Pine Middle School Cougars football team was facing a rematch from the previous week, losing to Round Mountain.
However, head coach Joseph Tate and the Cougars did not want to have the same result against Round Mountain.
“We had our normal days of practice before the week,” Tate said. “But during practice, we implemented quite a few new things evenlike a read option offense, which even trying to implement that at the high school level in such a short time would be challenging. But, our kids dominated it. They picked it up quickly.”
Adding in new strategies to defeat a recent opponent loomed large for the Cougars as they won the rematch, 28-16, claiming the Division Championship at Tonopah High School.
Tate said the victory his players delivered and found success to secure the win.
“It was definitely well earned by the kids,” Tate said. “So, it was good to get out there and get a little bit of retribution.”
However, the championship victory did not come with ease.
The biggest challenge was the elements.
“The only thing that came up was the weather,” Tate said. “It was pretty cold and windy. It caused a couple of fumbles because our kids were wearing sweatshirts, things like that. But after those things got addressed, it was smooth sailing for us.”
Immediately following the win along with the elation and jubilation, Tate had one final message to his players.
He talked about how all the effort put in since the first day during the second week of August
“I definitely told them that victory was an earned victory,” Tate said. “And something that was given to them that their whole seasonal work paid off.”
With all of the work that went into the season, it also came with enduring the mental grind, both on and off the gridiron.
From the positive moments to the negative ones, Tate said he was proud of how resilient his players were.
“It’s been amazing,” Tate said of his players’ growth. “We’ve had a number of tragedies here in our local community this year that affected the kids pretty deeply so to see them kind of bounce back from that and come out on top this year was awesome.”
A win like this also gives the eighth graders moving on to high school a good sense of momentum.
Tate said he and the White Pine High School head football coach, Jarl Nerdrum, have been building their teams together for as smooth as a transition for the eighth graders moving up.
“Myself and the high school coach, we’re both new coaches here in White Pine County and we’ve been working our programs in tandem, making sure that I’m doing things necessary at this level to better prepare them for his program at the high school.
“So, I think our eighth graders going up, they’re going to be awesome.”
Building the foundation of a high school program is the result of talent that will come and communicating alongside coaches from a middle school program, like Tate’s is a smart way to go.
As the season draws to a close, Tate said it was an amazing season and cannot wait to go out and defend their division championship title
“The kids did great this year,” he said. “It was an honor coaching them and I’m excited to see what we can do next year.”