Wildcats victorious in American Football Showcase in Ireland

This season, the Cats’ football team participated in the American Football Showcase  in Dublin, Ireland, an overseas American football tournament featuring college and high school. The tournament’s mission statement is to promote Ireland as a travel destination by bringing American football there. Two other high school teams from Georgia, Marist and archrival Blessed Trinity, also squared off against teams from Florida and New Jersey. Besides the high school games, two college teams, Boston College and Georgia Tech, also participated in the showcase.

Not only did the football team travel to Ireland, but WCAT also travelled with the team to cover all team events. Headed by Daniel Searl, nine members of WCAT flew to Ireland with the football team to cover all four games that Westminster and other teams played in the tournament.

“They went to Ireland, and they worked their tails off every single minute we were there, and had a good time doing it,” said Searl. “We didn’t stop for six and a half days.”

The work for WCAT students began as soon as they boarded the plane. They started filming on the airplane, interviewed various players and coaches, went throughout town to follow stories, and stayed late into the night editing videos. Through the experience, WCAT members learned important professional skills as the media.

“[The students] got to be in the world of professional media and understand how the systems works,” said Searl. “They learned that you’re not just watching the game. You’re taking notes and creating storylines in your head.”

In addition to just being in the realm of professional media, the WCAT students received the opportunity to interview Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson along with Westminster grad and current Georgia Tech kicker, Harrison Butker. They did these interviews during a press conference, in which the students acted as professional reporters. Furthermore, Georgia Tech allowed WCAT to go to a practice and interview Paul Johnson.

“We would like to thank Boston College Sports and Information for giving us full credentials, the college football Ireland crew for allowing us full access, and Mike Flynn from Georgia Tech,” said Searl.

Senior Bennett Porson was one of the nine students from WCAT who got to travel to Ireland to cover the Cats. Porson and junior Ryan Costley were the two main interviewers for WCAT, interviewing coach Johnson and Butker.

Porson thought that the most important part about the Irleand trip for WCAT was the fact how they had the opportunity to cover multiple teams in the showcase.

“It wasn’t just Westminster sports, as much as we were there for the football team,” said Porson. “We were able to cover multiple aspects of journalism over in Ireland. We had the awesome opportunity to cover all three [high school] games on Friday, and then Saurday, we had a fantastic experience on the sidelines of the college game.”

On top of just covering the high school games and being on the sidelines for the college game, WCAT also became created connections with Fox 5 News, based in Atlanta.

“[Our participation in the showcase] created an awesome bond that we now have with Fox 5,” said Porson, “and people know us for the guys who went over to Ireland and covered their sports.”

Participating in the American Football Showcase, the team battled against the Community School of Naples Seahawks from Florida. Before the game, many players on Westminster’s team believed that they should win the game easily, but the Community School of Naples put up a fight. The Cats and the Seahawks were deadlocked at 21 heading into the fourth quarter, but that’s when the Cats turned it on. An interception returned for a touchdown from senior running back Zay Malcome sparked the offense and defense to put up 21 points in the fourth quarter to beat the Seahawks, 42-21.

Any other year, the Wildcat football team takes a team trip to Vero Beach, but this year, the Ireland trip replaced that.

“Usually, we go to Vero, but we didn’t really have that experience to bond and be around each other as a team, so I thought [the Ireland trip] was really good for us,” said Malcome.

Malcome said that the team’s main goal for this season, besides defending their state title from 2015, is to make the state playoffs.

“For us, we try to take it a game at a time,” said Malcome. “Our goal is to make the playoffs, and keep that streak going, we haven’t missed the playoffs since 2006, so we want to make sure we keep that going.”

According to Malcome, the Cats are looking towards the rest of the season with the mindset that they have a 0-0 record.

“It’s kinda like a new season right now because we just started regions,” said Malcome. “Our slate’s clean, and we just want to be able to power through our region.”

Sophomore wide receiver Nance Hill also played for the Cats over in Ireland and said that the trip got off to a bit of a rough start but ended up being a great experience.

“The first few days we were all really tired from the traveling,” said Hill. “It was a long plane ride, there’s a big time difference. I think it was 13 hours total of traveling, which was really tiring for the first few days, but after that it got really fun.”

The time the team spent together on the trip bonded the players.

“We were in a hotel together, so that was fun, and at night we had about an hour just to hang out with the team,” said Hill.

Upcoming the team faces off against neighborhood rivals Pace and Lovett.

“Obviously our long-term goal is to win the state championship again,” said Hill, “but some short-term goals are to beat Lovett and hopefully, to beat Pace as well.”