End of Football Season, the Start of Prepping for next Season
Tariah Harrell, Staff Writer
Coach Joe Reich and the Wingate Bulldogs came up short in the South Atlantic Conference championship game on Nov. 12 against the Newberry Wolves 22-27.
Wingate senior running back Blake Hayes rushed 27 times for 165 yards and two touchdowns for the Bulldogs. Hayes ended the 2016 season with 1109 rushing yards.
“It was a tight game,” Wingate redshirt senior defensive end Andre Foulks said. “Both teams played great, we just fell short. It was an exciting atmosphere to play in”.
“It is frustrating to see your guys work that hard to come up a bit short but again as I get older, it is more the group effort and the team,” Wingate head coach Joe Reich says. “I personally do not carry stuff over from one year to the next; each year is a new team, but there are lessons that we need to take from any experience so we can get better. We need to work on finishing, that is not just from the game. We had a few games that we did not finish strong enough, even in some wins,” Reich mentioned. “I think the returning players will understand that and make that a key goal for next year”.
The Bulldogs finished the season 8-3 overall and 5-2 in the South Atlantic Conference. “I would not have change anything about the way the game went,” Reich says. “I think our guys played hard and executed pretty well against a good team. I am not one to really call the fire department over a fire that happened last week, if that makes sense. You learn and you move on”.
In the 2017 season, the Bulldogs will be regaining Lawrence Pittman, Adam Riley lll, Kam Johnson back to the field due to season-ending injuries, along with newcomers. “I am hoping that it won’t be one guy you need to keep an eye on but many as we play great team football,” Reich mentioned. “Between Blake and LP returning, that is a lot of yard ok the ground plus the entire offensive line and tight ends as well. Having Adam back, especially as a kickoff and punt returner will be awesome,”.
“It hurts falling short to something when it is at your fingertips, but I realized that all the seniors I have seen come before did not get this close. I think this team will show later teams how to get the job done,” Andre Foulks says. “I would advise next year’s team to not take any game or team for granted. Hard work will get them back in the same position, but it will be a greater outcome,”.
The Bulldogs has already started post-season lifting striving for greatness. “The outlook for next year is very good,” Reich says. “We return a lot of guys at key spots and where we lose guys, we have some key backups that now need to step up and take over. If we work hard starting NOW, we have a change to be pretty good, but that is all talk until we put in work.”
Edited by: Sara Gunter