After taking over the Westwood football program last year, coach Cass Burkhart's first season wasn't an easy one. In the midst of a 25 game losing streak, Burkhart worked to change the culture. By the end of 2012, the program was heading in a new direction.
For three years the sights and sounds of high school football were all there for the Westwood Rebels on Friday nights. But at the end of each game, the school's victory bell remained silent.
"We lacked a lot of confidence and just that desire to put forth the effort to win football games," Burkhart said.
Six games into his first year, the Rebels were still winless and their losing streak hit 31 games.
"It was difficult. It got old," junior Hunter East added.
Then it ended. A win over West Monona snowballed into a three game winning streak and a once forgotten sound returned to Sloan, Iowa.
"We didn't know what it was actually for until last year," East said. "Once we learned what it was for, we all have a real good time running over and ringing it."
"It's a blast," Tanner DeVries said. "We got everybody in the stands will come down and we'll all right it and all celebrate. It's a great feeling."
The winning ways carried over to this season with a wild, three overtime victory over Woodbury Central and win over Maple Valley/Anthon-Oto. Aside from the sound of the victory bell, the performance of the defense has been the biggest surprise.
"We're mean on defense," DeVries said. "We've got a sense for the ball and we all run to the ball as a team and try to get the all to come out."
"Those kids just get after it. They just do." Burkhart said. "That's something you can't teach. That's something they've got on the inside and they've got a lot of character. We're real proud of what they've done so far."
"As the age old cliché goes winning is contagious, and the Rebels have proven just that. They'll look to ring the victory bell for the sixth straight game Friday against Avoca.
Want to know what the bell sounds like? So do we. The Rebels didn't want to ring it for the story and jinx themselves Friday night, so you'll have to go to the game to hear it.
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