FOOTBALL: W-G, Fairbanks battle in NWCC opener

WAYNESFIELD — As has been the case for several years now, the game between NWCC foes Waynesfield-Goshen and Fairbanks has determined the league title. This year, it appears to be no different.
“Absolutely,” Waynesfield coach Gary Spencer said. “The road to a league title goes through Fairbanks. The kids know that. They are a great football program.”
Like Waynesfield, the Panthers also nailed down their first win of the year last week as both teams enter league play. However, that win was in the form of a 55-6 win over Triad, a team that the Tigers struggled with defensively in a 39-22 loss in week one.
“We are going to have to play the whole field,” Spencer said of the Fairbanks.
Fairbanks runs a spread offense to take advantage of their spread and runs about 50/50 pass and run.
“They are a very-well coached football team,” Spencer said.
Offensively, Spencer said his team will have to sustain its drives without shooting itself in the foot. The team’s tendency to do that has been apparent in the first two games, as they saw big 30-12 and 24-0 leads evaporate in the second half.
“We are going to have to find a way to finish off 14 and 15-play drives,” Spencer said. “We talked about it all week in practice. We have to play four quarters of football. We have been able to move the ball, but we have to be able to convert it to points.”
Spencer said a key to that will be the development of underclassmen on the team. Without a lot of team depth at several positions, development of these players is key in order for the Tigers to remain aggressive for a full 48 minutes.
“I see several of those players starting to turn the corner,” Spencer said.
The win is also key with any playoff chances either team may have. With the league starting out a composite 2-16 in non-league games with Fairbanks and Waynesfield the only teams winning, second level computer points will be hard to come by.
The team will also be playing to honor two people. Ned Burden, 21, who had played recently with the team, lost a valiant battle with cancer, and Deb Boday, 53, the team’s bus driver to away games, both passed away Monday.
“The kids are thinking about those families and are mourning the losses,” Spencer said. “Their families have been in our prayers.”