Which makes what they’ve done one year later all the more remarkable.
King’s Way (2-0) has opened the first two weeks with road wins over Stevenson and Ilwaco, outscoring the two teams by a combined 79-14.
At Stevenson, a handful of the team’s 11 seniors won their first game wearing a King’s Way uniform since their freshmen season in 2019. For others, it was their first ever.
The early results don’t mean the Knights are satisfied, especially with Trico League play starting in a couple weeks. But, they’ve gained some much-needed confidence while validating the work players and coaches have put in to get the program moving in the right direction.
“We’ve built this,” Duke said, gesturing toward players and coaches running through practice on the turf field. “We’re 2-0 so far, we’ve gained more players, more respect.”
The high school program is up to 38 players (it had 26 last year) with an additional 30 players on the middle school team, which practices on the same field opposite the high school players to “keep those kids connected and keep them looking at a bigger picture themselves, so they can see themselves out here really soon,” Mancillas said.
To start, the mindset at practices and inside the locker room before games is more focused and ready to go, said Sweeney, a senior receiver, defensive lineman and linebacker.
There’s also the motivating force of a winless season, the desire to prove doubters wrong, and the realization they had a lot of work ahead of them to get better. They still do.
“I think losing last season really helped us because we knew we had to put in work if we want to be better this year. So we did it, and we’re just coming together,” said Schiefer, the starting quarterback who’s tallied 637 passing yards and nine touchdowns through two games.
“Last year was just super unorthodox, you could put it. We couldn’t find any team chemistry, but this year it’s a lot different.”
After two weeks on the road, the Knights will play in front of their home fans when they host Meridian on Friday at 6 p.m. For a program that was put on pause just two years ago and went without a win last season, the Knights are eager to let people know how far they’ve come in a short time.
“I’ve gone here since kindergarten. It’s been a great time coming back and playing for my home school,” Sweeney said. “Just the pride that comes with it. We just want to show people what King’s Way football is about and how good we can be.”