Nacogdoches, Texas (KETK) — – Filling home stands, sticking out an away game in the rain and showing an even stronger love for the black and gold— fans are proving that Dragon Pride is alive and well at Nacogdoches ISD.
The Dragons’ 6-1 football season start has lifted the spirits of not only the players and coaching staff, but also the entire NISD student body and Nacogdoches community.
“I think that anytime your football team wins, it kind of sets the tone for the school year,” said head football coach Bobby Reyes. “The kids get excited and they start focusing on good things instead of bad things.”
The Dragons experienced a historically rough football season in 2012-13, finishing with zero wins for the first time since 1985 – only the fourth winless season in the history of the program, which dates back to 1911.
This year, the team is on pace for its best season since 1992 when the Dragons went 10-2, losing on a last-second field goal in the regional semi-finals to Lake Highlands.
Not to mention, the current Dragons also accomplished something that last happened in 1992 — a 28-24 win over the Lufkin Panthers.
Several on-the-field leaders have been credited for their hard work and focus to accomplish the turn around.
Senior offensive lineman Jacob Bragg said that last year, every day was a constant struggle to get everyone to come to practice, but this year things are different.
“We want to win and we’re walking a little taller,” he said.
Bragg also added that the team is making smarter decisions off the field, which is leading to more consistency and success on the field.
For this Nacogdoches football team, winning doesn’t stop at the end of the fourth quarter, or even on Monday’s as the celebratory weekend comes to an end.
Nacogdoches High School principal Kenneth Wooten says he’s noticed a change in the attitudes of students and faculty, calling it a “trickle-down effect.”
“Success breeds success,” Wooten said. “Any time your football team and volleyball team get off to a great start, it sets a positive and enthusiastic tone for your students, and your staff as well.”
Reyes has done an outstanding job not only turning this football team around on the field, but instilling an attitude of responsibility and pride in his players.
“I think that if you want to be a part of something, you have to be responsible,” Reyes said. “Our kids are committed, and they want to play. And they know that if they want to do that, they’ve got to be responsible.”
Reyes added that responsibility is key to being a good teammate and a good citizen.
Senior linebacker Brian Scott says the new found determination and responsibility goes a long way on the field.
“You can trust in your teammates better,” Scott said. “You know that they know their assignments and where to line up.”
Scott provided further insight into the transformation.
“We’ve got to do things right, because on the field, in the game, that’s entertainment,” Scott said. “If we want everyone to see us better, that we are a new Dragon football team, we’ve got to go into the classroom and present ourselves better. Keep our pants above our waist, don’t sleep in class and turn our work in on time, to let everybody know that the Dragons are for real this year.”
Dragon spirit is at an “all-time high,” according to McClellan.
“I’ve never seen it like this before,” he said. “At the Carthage game, we still had a students section. It’s just changed the whole atmosphere in the community as well.”
Reyes added that the student section at the Carthage game, despite the weather, was really encouraging to him as well.
“It was pouring down rain, and we had so many students there,” Reyes said. “It was fun to see those kids there because they’ve bought in like our football team’s bought in, and that’s real positive.”