A culture change has New Diana on a historic playoff run

DIANA, Texas (KETK) - The New Diana Eagles will take on Jacksboro, in the third round of the high school football playoffs, somewhere they haven't been since 1995.

Nothing invigorates an East Texas community like a winning football team, something the folks in Diana haven't had in quite some time. 

"They've probably been hiding from us since we've been so bad in the past, but finally we get some success and we're rolling with it," said senior quarterback Jackson Sampson who is now the leading passer of all classification in the State with 4,216 yards and 55 touchdowns through the air.

In 2016, Robbie Coplin took over as the head football coach, and implemented early morning practices and more time in the weight room.

"Totally changed  the way they had been doing things, and they really bought in, and you know, their success on the field is showing for it," said Coplin, "It's all a credit to them and their hard work."

This team has accomplished something they haven't done in more than two decades, and just two seasons ago, they didn't even win a game.

"Most have been on varsity since that sophomore season when we went 0-10, so the growth that we've come with together, coming from that really deep hole that we were in, coming from that, is really, I guess, amazing.  Just good to be around these guys for the whole time, the guys who stuck around," said Sampson.

Now 9-3 New Diana gets ready to take on 11-1 Jacksboro, who just last week, knocked off the undefeated Harmony Eagles.

"I just knew we had to be aggressive last week and we have the same mentality this week, just attack the ball and just get to it," said Cole Willeford, who plays linebacker and fullback.

"There is a lot of success going on, and you know, you can really feel a culture change going on in the school, you know, there is a lot of excitement around everything," said Coplin.

Now the Eagles look to continue to make history at 7:00 p.m. Thursday, at the Ford Center in Frisco.

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