The road to the state championship is never easy, but for Gilbert Williams Field, there were more obstacles to overcome than most teams have had to face.
Williams Field had to forfeit four wins earlier this year because of two players deemed ineligible. After the AIA took a deeper look, the wins were restored, as well as the two player’s eligibility.
Despite a strong start on the season, the Black Hawks needed to “get their stuff together” according to running back Braedyn Bushman. The team was winning games, but not clicking.
“We were falling apart as a team and wasn’t really trusting each other with anything,” Bushman said.
One week early in the season, instead of watching film, as they usually do on Saturdays, head coach Steve Campbell held a meeting with the team.
“(We thought) let’s sit down with the guys and say ‘What do we need to do to become a better team?’,” Campbell said. “(We) allow those guys to say ‘We want to be a better football team, this is what we have to do.’”
The success on the field continued, and the Black Hawks began playing as a team. They went on to win nine regular season games and nab a #2 seed in Division III. Their only loss was against Saguaro, the team they will take on in the state finals Saturday.
“We went into (Saguaro) crapping our pants because we didn’t know what to expect. That was the first really good team that we had played,” Bushman said.
Saguaro has been one of the most highlighted teams in the state all year, and deservedly so. The Sabercats feature a lineup touted with future college players, and have put up nearly 52 points per game this year.
With the 42-7 loss to Saguaro in the rearview mirror, Coach Campbell and the Black Hawks are thankful for a second crack at the Sabercats.
“We have to work on us. We know what our defensive gameplan is and what our offensive gameplan is and that’s what we’re going to execute.” Campbell said. “We’ve got to play Williiams Field football. That’s the only way we’re going to win. We’re not going to win playing Saguaro football. We can only do our style.”