MESA, AZ - It's been a long time since the Mesa Westwood Warriors started a season 2-0, but it's been even longer since Arizona high school football fans considered Westwood football a powerhouse.
In fact, the Warriors have won just two state championships, the first in 1964 and the most recent in 1988. As head coach Spencer Stowers enter his second season, the Warriors have won just one game in each of their past two seasons.
When Stowers arrived, he worked on three things: Academics, pride in their school and building strength.
"We're starting to see a few of those things now. With the 15 or 16 sophomores that we had in and out of our program last year, they're now playing for us this year," said Stowers.
The coach wanted his kids to realize first and foremost that their education was number one and then once that was established, they could begin taking pride in their school.
"It's all about pride. Westwood has a very rich tradition."
A lot of these kids grew up watching their brothers, fathers and uncles play for the Warriors, and it's that long term commitment that Stowers wants to build on.
"I sense that, and I feel that. We're trying our best to maintain that tradition," added Stowers.
One of the key reasons for the early success this season is the fact that Westwood moved down to Division II this season, and it's something that has helped them compete on the field.
"We are excited about the opportunity we have this year: the opportunity week in and week out to win football games."
Coach Stowers sees Westwood as his long-term home.
"Without a doubt, I look down the road, I picture this team being on top and being at a level that no one thought Westwood would be at. And that's what I'm most excited about."
Westwood did lose their first game to Mesa 27-7 in Week 3.