Kentrell Webb remembers three years ago when he was a wide-eyed freshman football player, eager to be a part of something brand new at Paetow High, which had first opened its doors the previous August.
“It wasn’t as many people and things were still very new to everyone,” said Webb, now a senior defensive back and team captain for the Panthers. “No one really had any experience. But I knew it was the beginning of a legacy.”
Just months earlier that spring, Paetow coach B.J. Gotte and his staff often trekked to junior highs to evaluate incoming freshmen. The coaches observed and offered tips to players on how to get better.
Gotte told the freshmen when they arrived on campus that summer of 2018 that he planned to keep the group together and succeed. That meant he wouldn’t be moving any of the players up to the inaugural varsity team that fall. He’d keep them on the JV to work and grow together.
“Coach Gotte sat our freshman team in a room and told us we were special,” Webb said of a class that included current starters C.J. Dumas (quarterback), Jacob Brown (running back), Kole Wilson (receiver), Jacob Johnson (defensive lineman), Sultan Bakare (linebacker) and James Bailey (offensive lineman), among others.
If the freshmen bought in, Gotte promised the kids, things would go as planned.
Still, it’s unlikely the Panthers could have planned this.
In just its fourth year of varsity competition, Paetow is 12-1 and in its first regional final this weekend. The Panthers play district rival Hightower at 7 p.m. Friday at Rice Stadium.
This season has been a banner year for Paetow. The Panthers clinched a share of their first district championship and are outscoring postseason opponents by an average of 47 points per game.
Paetow’s rapid rise may come as a surprise to some, but not those within the program. Like Webb, for instance. A three-year letterman who knows all too well what’s been done to pave this path.
“A major moment for me was offseason my sophomore year and seeing the guys I looked up to grind and do everything they could to succeed,” Webb said. “Looking back, that’s exactly what Paetow football is now. No complaints. Just pure work throughout the whole program.”
Mid Season Highlights
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Mid Season Highlights
Webb has been instrumental in Paetow’s ascension.
This season, the 5-foot-11, 180-pound safety has 32 total tackles and a team-high eight interceptions with five passes defensed and one fumble recovery. Webb was recently named a finalist for the Touchdown Club of Houston’s Defensive Player of the Year.
He is a well-respected leader on a vaunted Panthers defense allowing just 10.5 points per game. Paetow is physical, fast, and aggressive on defense. It’s no coincidence Webb is the same.
“I began playing football at the age of 4, and after being told it’s a sport where you could take your anger out and hit someone as hard as you want without getting in trouble, I fell in love immediately,” Webb said. “I think what makes me such a talented player is my ability to use my speed and aggression to my advantage. It puts me in position to make plays. Naturally, laying the boom on an opponent comes easy for me.”
Webb talked more with VYPE.
Paetow senior safety Kentrell Webb (16) celebrates with a teammate during the Panthers' regional semifinal win over Cedar Park last week in Waller.Andy Tolbert | Special to VYPE Media
VYPE: What motivates and inspires you?
WEBB: My motivation is my family. The end goal is to put them in the best position, and when it’s all said and done, I want to be sure to do everything possible to do so.
VYPE: Coach Gotte and your teammates describe you as a leader of that defense, which is one of the best in the state. What is it like to play in such a complex scheme, and how has your role grown?
WEBB: It’s super exciting. Every day, it’s something new we’re adding in, and it just makes the game more fun. My role has increased drastically since the beginning of the season. We’ve added in more packages, and, as I’ve improved more, my coaches have put me in different positions to make plays and help my team win. When other people see me on the field, making little to no mistakes, that pushes them to get on their game. It’s like a domino effect.
VYPE: What is something people don’t know about you or might be misunderstood?
WEBB: I think something people don’t know about me is that I haven’t always lived in the best environment. Thankful to my mother for blessing me and moving me to Katy. It set me up to be in the position I am today. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
VYPE: Having played at Katy and coached at Katy, winning championships as a player and coach, Coach Gotte makes it known that Paetow does a lot of things the way Katy does things. What have you learned about what makes that way so successful?
WEBB: Every time anyone questions what we do, Coach always says it works because it’s proven to lead to success. And with Katy being a very successful program, the proof is in the pudding that it works. I’ve learned what makes both schools so successful is the discipline we play with and ability to execute. The coaches only ask you to do what you’re coached to do.
VYPE: When it’s all said and done, you will be looked back upon as a program cornerstone of Paetow football, helping establish a culture, expectations, and standard for generations to come. What does that mean to you?
WEBB: It means a lot. Myself and a lot of the current and past leaders did a great job of showing everyone what the culture is and really establishing it. The culture for Paetow will never die. People might think that we’ll only be good for a few years and die off when everyone graduates, but within the system we have, everyone is going to develop and Paetow will continue being in the running for a long time. I can’t wait to come back as a fan and enjoy every moment.
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