Countdown To Kickoff: River Road’s success builds off the little things

VIDEO: Countdown To Kickoff, featuring River Road

AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - At River Road High School, there is nothing that qualifies as being too unimportant to practice.

“Well, I believe you gotta build football from the least building block to the biggest, and we gotta leave no stone unturned because I think we gotta teach our kids everything about the game so that when we get to that point, and with that extra time we’ve been given, it gives us a chance,” River Road Head Coach Bryan Welps said. “I can really teach the basics and things to lead us into the season when we get there.”

From kicking extra points to long snapping, everything is worked on during a routine River Road summer workout.

“Special teams will lose you a game,“ Welps said. “I learned a long time ago that you better be good in all three of them. Special teams is gonna run on average 15 to 20 plays per game. If you win special teams and win one of the others, you win the ball game. So we always look for a big play in special teams to change this game. So that’s a big thing on our wall of goals and our kids know special teams in important.”

It’s a lesson that has sunk in with the Wildcat players, especially with Coach Welps’ son and star quarterback, Lance Welps.

“Oh man, my dad doesn’t care about offense and defense as much as special teams, but you gotta work everything in there because one dropped snap can cost you a ball game, or one missed hand-off can cost you a ball game, one dropped snap on the field goal,” Lance said. “I mean you just never know a missed PAT can cost you a ball game. You gotta work everything and that’s the important of being a good football team. Knowing everything and critiquing everything.”

The Wildcats finished 4-7 last year. It’s a distant memory they are quickly trying to build on.

“We have 17 returning starters, made the playoffs for the first time in three years, and yeah, just looking better, getting better constantly,” River Road junior tailback and defensive star Elliot Brown said. “Everything is important, everything is a part of the game. Special teams is a big part of football, it’s three parts. Offense, defense and special teams. You gotta do everything.”

This year, making the playoffs isn’t just a goal. It’s an expectation.

“You see making the playoffs, to our coaches, it’s something that should happen,” Lance Welps said. “We’re good enough to make that happen, we’re looking at deep rounds, fourth, fifth round possible, changing the culture around here. It’s big for us, this is a big year for us. I plan on making this year one of those legendary years so when I leave this year, I’ll leave with a smile on my face.”

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