WEST, Texas -- The first West High School football game since the blast that leveled so much of the town felt like a win, but wasn’t.
The Trojans lost to the Little River-Academy 41-7.
First-year coach David Woodard led his team with their heads held way up, and roused his players with a powerful pre-game speech.
“We're in that rebuilding mode. Just like our town is,” Woodard told his team. “We can learn a lot from our town. And tonight, our town is going to learn a lot from us."
In December, Woodard took over a team that went 1-19 in the past two seasons. His mission to the turn the team around took on greater significance after the April blast that killed fifteen people. The field where they played Thursday was used as a triage center after the explosion.
“Everyone in that stadium is here to watch you put on a show. Don't disappoint them,” Woodard said. “Give them something to smile about and talk about in the morning."
The Trojans came out swinging, airing it out long on their first offensive play of the game. It was a jolt of joy for senior student Fallyn Gutierrez.
“West is just something that sticks in your heart. That's who they're playing for out there," she said. "They're playing for West."
Like all students, Gutierrez has been through a lot. She’s happy to see a football game again on a field that last saw tragedy.