West High School closes out first season following tragedy Friday night

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by DAVID SCHECHTER

Bio | Email | Follow: @davidschechter

WFAA

Posted on November 9, 2013 at 12:33 AM

WEST, Texas -- It's been a long football season for kids in West.

First, their football field was turned into a triage center during the April 17 explosion that killed 15 people.

Friday night, they play their final home game after losing eight of their last nine match-ups. But just putting a team on the field and making it this far is bigger than anything that shows up on a scoreboard.

Tyler Pustejovsky, a West football standout and the homecoming king, did a dance in front of his classmates as he was announced at a Wednesday night event honoring his senior class. Afterward, the community lit a fire - of their choosing - to honor the kids.

Friday night, Pustejovsky’s football career comes to an end.

"Just knowing it’s my last game makes me want to break down and cry almost, to be honest,” he said.

In some ways, the needs and challenges of kids and coaches who've lost their homes and had their lives disrupted have trumped football this season. The Trojans have won just a single game, so far, but the team still believes, Coach David Woodard said.

"Any time you step on the field, you have to feel like you have a chance to win. And you have to play like it, and coach like it, and work as hard as you can to get it done,” Woodard said.

The field, that once served as a field hospital, is beat up from heavy rain and heavy use.

"It is slop. Can't really get your footing anywhere. Nothing but mud,” said senior wide receiver Cameron Porter.

"Very sloppy. Very wet. Very messy and muddy,” said junior kicker Haden Tobola.

Despite the field conditions, it’s a football field again, not a triage center -- a fact that’s not lost on the coach.

"I know that we're never going forget about it, but if they can put it back a little further in their mind, and realize it’s a football field again; a place where kids go out on Friday night and they play and they compete. And other people sit in the bleachers and talk and converse and re-live their old times," Woodard said. "That’s what it’s there for."

E-mail dschechter@wfaa.com

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