If you have ever had a small argument with me over sports or anything else, there’s a good chance you know I like to play devil’s advocate — probably too much. It’s to the point where it annoys everyone else.
While it feels like this is an unpopular opinion right now, I wanted to preface all of my arguments with this is not just another edition of Caleb playing devil’s advocate.
So, let’s get some facts out of the way first.
The Wetumpka football team is facing its first two-game losing streak since 2015. Wetumpka is sitting with a losing record for the first time since 2015. Wetumpka’s offense just had its worst two-game stretch since 2015. Wetumpka has lost two straight games to its biggest region rival for the first time since 2005.
There are plenty of negatives to pull from but fortunately for Wetumpka and any football fans in the community, the season is not anywhere close to being over.
“When you go through a couple of weeks like this, your judgment can be clouded,” Wetumpka coach Tim Perry said. “It could be the attitude that, ‘What do we have to play for?’ We have to remind them there is a lot to play for. The playoffs are still available.”
The high expectations of the season were always going to be difficult to meet but that’s the price of having a successful program and it’s clearly taking a toll on some of the players and their morale. People talk about acting like you’ve been there before when you do something good but it may be more important to act like you’ve been there before when something doesn’t go your way.
Three of Wetumpka’s four losses are against teams currently ranked in the top 10 of the latest Alabama Sports Writers Association poll and still the team’s biggest test will not be facing one of them. It will be facing the adversity of this season.
I am not as connected as most with the thoughts and comments of Wetumpka alumni and football fans but even I have heard enough negativity to realize the biggest hurdle the team could face is the outside noise. And I realize that’s all I am to the team as well but with what this program has done over the past three seasons, it amazes me how quickly a high school fan base can turn because some good competition showed up.
Of course, in an ideal world, the players would easily tune out things being said from the stands or around the community but these are just high school kids. That’s a lot easier said than done.
Perry really summed it up best and I could probably add a few of my own thoughts to this statement but I’ll let his words speak for themselves.
“We have such a great community and such passionate fans so when something like this happens, everyone means well and they want to fix things and give advice,” Perry said. “But we are just focusing on ourselves. We can’t let any negativity creep into our attitudes. I remind them we are a good football team; we just haven’t been playing very well. It’s natural for our confidence to be shaken.”
And once the players realize that, they can still be one of the most dangerous teams in Class 6A. Yes, another trip to the state semifinals may be a little farfetched but playoff experience and talent can go a long way in the postseason and Wetumpka has plenty of both.
There is a lot of work to do and Wetumpka really needs to turn a corner this week but the players and coaches are capable of turning this season into far more than the negatives listed at the top of this article. And they have made that clear based on the success over the last few years.
And if anyone wants to start blaming the attitudes of the people on the field, take a look around the stands on a Friday night (or Thursday night this week). Because the way I see it, the attitudes on the field usually reflect the attitude in the stands, not the other way around.
Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for The Herald.