The Barbers Hill coaching staff. led by head coach Tom Westerberg, second from right, was pleased with the program’s progress this year. The Eagles finished 11-2, made it to the Region 3 semifinals and won the District 12-5A II title. (Submitted photo by Valerie Hull).

Eagles plan to build on historic season

To say the whole point of hiring Tom Westerberg as Barbers Hill head football coach from Allen High School four-plus years ago has come to fruition.

A four-time state champ at his previous stop, has brought winning to a higher level with the Eagles as his fourth edition went 11-2 this fall, finished the season in the Region 3 semifinals and captured an unbeaten District 12-5A I championship.

“I told the kids that it was probably the second time in my career that I walked off the field in a playoff loss that I felt a sense of accomplishment,” Westerberg said. “I felt our kids did as good as we could.”

It was the first time since 1999 that Barbers Hill advanced to the third round of the playoffs and the first postseason wins as a Class 5A program while capturing a first district title since 2011.

“We have done some things around here that they haven’t done in a long time,” Westerberg said. “We didn’t win the game against Manvel, but it’s now the same. We go back and go to work, but we accomplished everything that we set out to do. The next goal is to win a state championship.

“If you are practicing on Thanksgiving Day you can talk about winning that last goal of winning a state championship.”

Manvel ended Barbers Hill’s run last Friday in a 55-35 playoff game at NRG Stadium.

“I felt better going into that football game, but we didn’t play as well defensively as we could have,” Westerberg said. “I knew we were going to be able to move the football and score. It was just a matter of could we stop them and we had been playing good defense throughout. We just gave up too many big plays.”

Westerberg attributes a lot of the success this season falls to the outgoing senior class who set the tone all year.

“They got along every day and you weren’t having to break up little spats every day,” Westerberg said. “They liked practicing, liked playing and liked to have a good time. It’s a close knit group and that was the fun part of it. They all want to win and worked hard to get to the point that we got.

“They are disappointed that they didn’t win, but they understand what they accomplished and what they did for this football program.”

Junior Cameron Cauley sees his seniors’ impact and hopes the program can carry it forward.

“They pretty much did everything,” Cauley said. “They were great leaders and very supportive. They were really good athletes and made us for next year to want to do better.

“I know I have to work hard. Summer workouts they were the first ones there, last to leave. They always kept calm and no situation was too hard for them or over the top.”

It’s now onward and upward.

“You do the same thing every year: You lose a group of seniors and then you have the next group coming up,” Westerberg said. “The second semester, the offseason, spring football we are going to create a new football team. We always try to get bigger, faster, stronger. It’s hard to replace some people, but other people step in and play.

“Our coaches will work extremely hard to get the next group ready to go.”

Three burning questions with Westerberg

1. Who replaces quarterback Christian Kaopua? “I have no idea, but we have some kids that played on the JV and had one –  Brent Holdren – that got into the end of the game last week. So we will look at that through the spring.”

2. Do you see similar leadership traits coming up with the juniors? “It’s a different group. One group leaves, another comes in. Our coaches work to mold and put the next group together.”

3. What needs to get better moving forward? “Everything. You aren’t ever going to settle. You are always trying to get bigger, faster and stronger with everybody. That’s what the offseason and coaching is about.”

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