It was their second victory in a row. The fans cheered loudly and the team’s confidence swelled. The voice of the Rangers boomed over the radio. Northwestern’s faith was renewed in their team. On Saturday the Northwestern football team played Southern Arkansas University in a home game. The Rangers won the game 38-16. This was a turning point for the Rangers because they have not beaten the Muleriders in the last five years. Something changed for the Rangers this year.
One new aspect of the team was the new defensive coordinator, Kent Gordon. Matt Walter, head football coach, convinced Gordon to come to Alva this year. The two had coached together at Emporia State University.
“Football is very high on the priority list here at Northwestern,” Gordon said, “and that is why I decided this is where I wanted to be.”
Gordon has made Northwestern’s football team his priority, and it shows on the football field. He has tried to keep the Rangers improving in all aspects. “Coming to Alva the number one thing I focused on was discipline,” Gordon said. “I told the team they are going to have to do things right. I’m not just talking about on the field; I’m talking about off the field.” Gordon believes discipline should be in all aspects of the players lives for them to be successful. “Learning discipline on and off the field, learning how to play hard on the field and learning how to be a good teammate,” Gordon said. “That all stems from learning how to go to class everyday, acting right in public everyday and just the little things. It was just the little details when I got here that I wanted to teach the team about. Some people call it knit-picky, but I don’t let them slide with anything.” Part of discipline is playing out the whole game despite the struggles, and that is exactly what the Rangers did this weekend. Gordon’s goal for the weekend was to have the team play all four quarters, rather than starting weak like the Rangers did in their first
Team work is what helped the Rangers play all four quarters in the last game. “The effort the [players] gave… how hard, and how physical they played, I can’t name one guy because they all did [good],” Gordon said. “The team understands that there is not just one guy who is going to win a football game. [All parts] have to play together. I think the guys on defense are learning right now that if everybody does their job they will be fine. You don’t have to go try to be the superhero, just go do your job.”
Gordon said most of the team is young, and they are just learning to trust one another. Going into the weeks ahead he thinks the team will continue to get better and better. “We just have to keep getting better,” Gordon said. “That game is over; we can’t go back to it. So going into the next weeks we have to continue to get better. We can’t relax because we had a big win this weekend. I tell the team you have to continue to play hard and you have to continue to perfect your craft. You’re not going to stay the same— you’re either going to get better or get worse. So what do you want to do?”