White pine linebackers staredown Agassi Prep’s quarterback during the Bobcat’s final home game of the season on Oct. 30. (Garrett Estrada photo)

White pine linebackers staredown Agassi Prep’s quarterback during the Bobcat’s final home game of the season on Oct. 30. (Garrett Estrada photo)

Quinn Ewell knew he had his work cut out for him when he took the head coaching position for White Pine High School’s football team. After going winless last season, Ewell’s first priority was to change the tone in the locker room, to get kids believing that they could compete with anybody.

Reflecting on the Bobcats 3-6 season, Ewell said he saw glimpses of that belief in his team’s wins, but he feels he needs to do more next year to push it further.

“I would see sparks of success here and there. But overall I wish we would’ve had it the whole time,” Ewell said.

One glimpse came on the Bobcat’s first drive of their final game of the season, at home on Oct. 30 against Agassi Prep. The Bobcats took the ball right down the field and scored a touchdown. One their next defensive series, White Pine forced a fumble and gained possession again. It was the kind of start Ewell has been hoping to see out of his team all year.

But like most of the Bobcats’ games under the first-year head coach, they were unable to keep the momentum going. A controversial fumble by White Pine’s offense stopped the following possession and hurt the team’s morale. After that it was all Agassi Prep.

The Bobcats would go on to lose 56-12, not scoring again until the second half when Agassi replaced its starters with the second team. It was not the way Ewell hoped to finish off the season, but despite the loss, he thanked the players after the game for their effort throughout the season.

“I told them thank you for the time and effort they put in here, for their commitment and for the consequences that they had to put up with,” the coach said after the loss.

But the tone was not one of defeat. Instead, Ewell encouraged his players to start preparing for the next season.

“I told them now the bar is set for their speed, their lifting and for their overall improvement,” he said.

It’s all a part of getting them to believe in themselves, the coach said. This season might not have gone the way he was hoping, but it provided a building block, a step in the right direction for the program. The coach knows that getting better is not just on the players either.

“I personally failed by not getting them to play to their maximum ability for the whole season. I think the hardest part with football is to have a team believe that they are a top competitor,” Ewell said. “I saw that belief in the game against Battle Mountain this year, but then it would be gone the next week, so I need to figure out how to get that belief to last an entire season rather than just for one game.

For all the talk of improving year over year, there is one group that won’t get that chance. For the eight seniors who played their last game as a Bobcat against Agassi prep, the coach had nothing but praise for them sticking with his vision throughout the difficult losses.

“It all started with them, with their attitude and their hard work. They are the guys that helped up start to rebuild this year. They were the guinea pigs this year, and I think their example will help us for next year.”