52-6, not even close to the West Plains story

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West Plains head football coach Adam Cummings and the Wolves program is officially underway in 2022. [Joe Garcia III/ Press Pass Sports]
A hundred years away from Aug. 26, 2022 a committee will gather preparing ceremonies for the 100th anniversary of West Plains High School.

They will come across the score 52-6 as the first-ever football game played by the West Plains Wolves.

They will read how 5,000 fans showed up in Happy State Bank Stadium to watch the Bushland Falcons roll to a 52-6 victory over West Plains.

They will know a score but what they will have no clue so much more than a football game unfolded under the Friday Night Lights on a perfect August evening in the Texas Panhandle.

They will not know the vibe at the game was electric with excitement, like a playoff game, seeing the Wolves take the field for the first time running through a paper sign held by the cheerleaders that said: Bring out the BLUE in 22.

They will not know a community showed up together in a big way, really for the first time of what will be many gatherings, screaming support for their Wolves.

They will not know many grade school age kids were wearing Wolves shirts and smiling wider than a goal-post when their faces were shown on the stadium big screen.

They will not know the Wolves suited 34 players, a mere eight of those seniors.

They will not know when the kickoff was booted it signified a weight off the shoulders of West Plains head coach Adam Cummings who since being hired back in January had answered what seemed like 100 times a day the question “What is that first game going to be like?”

They will not know Bushland’s first offensive series ended in a three-and-out by a pumped-up West Plains defense.

They will not know Bushland took control early, building a 21-0 lead at the end of the first quarter, then upping the margin to 42-6 by halftime. Meaning Bushland coach Josh Reynolds, friends to several of the West Plains coaches, was all class in calling off the dogs in the second half.

They will not know the first touchdown scored in West Plains history by junior wide receiver Jeremiah Gutierrez on a pass from freshman Reid Macon saw Gutierrez react calmly like this had happened 1,000 times before.

They will not know when the game ended at the end of the shake-hands line West Plains defensive coordinator David Sutterfield was greeted by hug after hug after hug by Bushland players and coaches. The scene oozing with emotions, and, yes a tear out of Sutterfield. Sutterfield had coached at Bushland before taking the West Plains job.

They will not know following the game Bushland coach Reynolds, rightfully so, praising his teams’ performance, yet making sure to compliment West Plains saying, “This felt like a playoff game with it being West Plains first game in school history. It’s awesome what they are starting at West Plains as a program.”

They will not know in the first-ever post-game huddle of a West Plains football game coach Cummings reminded his team there will be more doubters then ever so this is the time “we need to stick together” and be a family.

They will not know West Plains junior fullback and defensive lineman Dawson Hall poured his heart and effort into the game and while leaving the field was emotional over the loss. However, Hall also more committed than ever to the West Plains cause.

“I mean, the loss is rough,” said Hall who wears No. 44. “But we will learn from it. One percent better every week. It’s one game. This isn’t district and by district this will be one heck of a team and I’m excited for it. The hype was great. But for me it’s right here on the field that’s what I look forward to. I’m excited to move on with my teammates and see what happens and press that gas a little harder.

“I learned we are fighters tonight. I mean we didn’t give up until that last whistle blew. That’s what I like about us. And I think by the end of the season that’s what makes a championship team.”

They will not know Bushland junior quarterback Dawson Jaco, making his first varsity start, was brilliant completing 23 of 30 passes for 182 yards while throwing and running for a touchdown. He was classy in victory seeing big things ahead for West Plains.

“I know most that team,” Jaco said. “I’ve played other sports with most of them. It’s their first year. They played really hard. They will be really good in the future.”

They will know not while certainly it wasn’t the outcome Coach Cummings wanted in his head coaching debut for his players and Wolves Nation, he knew what was happening in real time.

“This is an awesome environment and what Canyon ISD has put together here at Happy Bank Stadium is unbelievable,” Cummings said. “Our fans were awesome. Our band was awesome. Our cheerleaders were awesome. And we had a great turn out.

“We talked about this at the end. This game tonight was way bigger than us. This is something for generations to remember because it will never happen again. Obviously, the outcome isn’t what we wanted but at the same time the magnitude of what took place tonight for this school and these communities is unmatched.”

52-6. That will forever be the first football score put up by the West Plains Wolves.

Not for a second does that 52-6 tell the story of a special Aug. 26 night in 2022.

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