DIANA - What a difference two years makes for the New Diana football team. After enduring a winless season in 2015, the Eagles are now headed to the state quarterfinals.
“Everybody’s excited. The community is excited. We’re all excited,” stated senior wide receiver TJ Rogers.
The Eagles got to this point by defeating Jacksboro in the 3rd round of the playoffs by a last second touchdown pass; which was caught by Rogers. The victory solidified the Eagles first trip to the state quarterfinals since 1972. Many of the athletes who were on the winless team two years ago, are the heart and soul of this team now.
“We have 14 kids who are seniors this year, and they have really taken a leadership role and put a lot of work into it,” explained head coach Robbie Coplin.
The second year coach has really turned things around since he arrived in New Diana, and he has been successful in having the players buy into his system. One particular player who’s bought into Coplin’s system is senior quarterback Jackson Sampson. Sampson has been the starting quarterback at New Diana since 2015 and he’s taken the offense to new heights this year. He currently ranks in the top five in the nation in passing yards and passing touchdowns.
“My understanding of the offense has gotten a lot better…our second season in the system is going to be a lot better than the first one. I didn’t expect it be this good, but nonetheless we’re playing good right now,” stated Sampson.
New Diana will have their toughest test of the year when they faced undefeated Gunter on Friday night. But the Eagles are not intimated of facing the defending state champions.
“We believe we can play with anybody. We’re not scared of anybody. We’re not scared of Gunter,” Sampson explained, “Whoever plays against us, we’re going to go out there and play our brand of football.”