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Knight, Windham wants to succeed

August 13, 2012
Underthelights

By MATT WAGNER

Tribune Chronicle correspondent

Instead of waiting for the basketball season to roll around, Matt Knight wants to make this football season for the Windham Bombers special.

During Knight's reign in Windham, the Bombers have won two games and have recorded two winless seasons. Contrast that to winning back-to-back district titles in basketball, it seems the two sports are exact opposites for Knight and Windham.

Knight said that he and his fellow seniors are sick of losing.

"We've been losing our whole entire lives at football," Knight said. "It's so much different between football and basketball because in basketball we're used to winning all the time. In football, we never win.

"It makes us hungry for basketball season, but we'd really like to win at football."

Knight enters his third year under center at Windham. He has played through some of the darkest times for the program, including last season when the squad consisted of only 18 players by the end of the season. The offense averaged 7.4 points per game in 2011.

Knight did not play last year due to personal reasons.

He said both he and his fellow seniors have grown over the past three seasons.

"Kids that were young with me as a freshmen - we were timid," Knight said. "Now that it's our turn to kind of be a leader, I feel like we have stepped up, and we're getting hungry for wins. We've got to change what's been happening."

Some of that change is already happening. The Bombers saw a jump in numbers this season, as 34 players came out to join the team. That's a 10-player increase from the start of the previous season.

Windham also has 11 seniors on the squad, as opposed to three in 2011.

If the Bombers are to turn the program around this season, Knight will play a big factor - and not just as a quarterback.

Knight is the undisputed leader of the squad. Not only has he started all three seasons at quarterback for Windham, the senior has logged serious varsity experience in basketball and baseball, playing a huge role in Windham basketball's run into the regional semifinal in March.

Fellow senior Tyler Pennington described Knight as a hard worker, knowledgeable about the game and a good leader. Sophomore receiver Parker Rickey described him as a good motivator.

"(Knight) brings a lot of motivation," Rickey said. "He's the type of guy that will sit there and motivate you if you mess up and stuff like that - just build your confidence up."

With his guidance, the expectations for this team is up if you talk to the players.

While admitting that it is tough to play against some of the bigger schools in the Portage Trail Conference, County Division, both Pennington and Rickey said the team is looking for a .500 winning percentage, possibly even a playoff appearance.

The Bombers haven't qualified for the playoffs since 2006.

If those goals are too lofty, just being competitive in games, as well as beating rival Garfield, would make this season a success.

"We should be a little better, but as long as we beat Garrettsville (Garfield), that will make our season," Rickey said.

Still, for Knight, just changing the mentality of the program from losing to having pride would be considered a success.

"I would love to change the way people look at the football team," Knight said. "We have been getting more kids out, start to get confidence on the football field and stuff .

"We win with class, and we lose with class. We'd just like to win a lot more than we lose."

sports@tribtoday.com