The Purple Tigers are 6-0 for the season and 2-0 in Region 4-2A as they seek their first league championship since 1985 and first undefeated season since ’76.
But that has taken a bit of a backseat as the players mourn the loss of their teammate. Dotson, a senior who had been a running back in previous seasons, gave up his senior year of football in order to work and help provide for his family. Thus, there isn’t a hole in the lineup to fill.
But there is a gaping hole in their hearts.
“Keon, although he didn’t play on the team this year, he was still a part of the team,” Watertown coach Gavin Webster said. “He was still close to the guys. He hung out with them.
“He was a very good friend to everybody… He was real close to most of those guys.”
Westmoreland is 5-1 for the season and 1-1 in the region. The Eagles have long run the wing-T offense and 50 defense. Webster and his staff know how to scout the Eagles and prepare the Purple Tigers for what’s ahead on the field.
But dealing with the tragic loss of a teammate isn’t covered in coaching school.
“We take it day by day,” Webster said. “You just go with it. The kids are hurting; you know that. You got to be patient… You just got to feel your way through it.
“We came in on Sunday and watched film. We talked about it. We got some things we’re going to do as far as honoring him.
“I can say this about this football team, they’re a very mature football team. I’ve been very impressed with the way they’ve handled it. They’ve struggled with it, but they’ve handled the whole situation the best they can. There’s no guidebook on how you’re supposed to handle this. People cope with this in different ways. These young men are coping with it.”
And it’s not just the players and students, it’s also the coaches and staff at school who are also grieving.
“We’ve all had a hand in coaching him,” Webster said. “We’ve had him in class. It’s tough on everybody. You deal with it in your own way, trying to say the right words, be there for the guys. It’s a tough situation for his friends and his family.”