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Area high school teams ready for some football

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There is just something special about the sport of football. Texans seem to know this better than anyone else, and the teams of southern Denton County have certainly given local football fans a lot to cheer about in recent years.

In 2013, things should be no different, and as we move toward the start of the school year and cooler temperatures, we also prepare for what should be another great season on the gridiron.

Four of the region’s six teams made the post season and competed in a total of 12 playoff games in 2012, and Guyer High School brought home a 4A State Championship.

Wildcats coach John Walsh said he believes his team is hungry for more heading into the 2013 campaign, and said that even with a state championship under its belt, Guyer still wants more.

“We are treating the 2013 season as we do every season,” Walsh said. “Previous seasons have no influence on 2013; we have to start our new journey and win every day.”

The start of the 2012 season looked like anything but a championship run, as the Wildcats opened the year with a 0-2 record, and losses combining a total of 42 points.

But a 27-14 victory over Marcus on Sept. 14,  proved the starting point of an undefeated run for Guyer, which included playoff victories against perennial powerhouses Aledo and Tyler John Tyler, and of course, their 48-37 victory over Georgetown in the state championship game.

The Wildcats return 12 starters from last year’s squad, including state championship MVP and 4A Offensive Player of the Year, QB Jerrod Heard (2,090 yds passing, 2,138 rushing, 52 touchdowns), RB DJ Breedlove (1,126 yds rushing, 15 touchdowns), DE Thomas Ferguson (67 tackles, 10 sacks, 12 hurries), LB Demontrie Taylor (150 tackles, 4 hurries), and DT Carl Thompson (57 tackles, 2 sacks, 13 hurries).

With a strong front seven on the defensive side of the ball and the best offensive player in the state and strong running back returning this season, look for Guyer to be competing for a state championship once again in 2013.

“We have to take care of our daily itineraries, and we will be in December Football,” Walsh said.

Lake Dallas (Oct. 18) and Wichita Falls Rider (Oct. 25) should be the Wildcats strongest district opponents this coming season.

Down the road in Argyle, the Eagles had some serious question marks heading into the 2012 campaign, particularly at quarterback, where First Team All State selection Austin Aune had left a gaping void.

Brandon Boyzuick (1,925 yds passing, 19 TDs) quickly took the reins, however, and led the Eagles to a 9-1 regular season record, earning First Team All-District honors himself, and signaling the start of a new regime for the Red and Black.

Argyle finished the season with an 11-2 mark, advancing all the way to the regional quarterfinals before losing to the always game Gilmer High School.

The most frightening aspect of this Eagles team is probably its running back tandem of Nick Ralston (1,728 yds rushing, 22 TDs, Second Team All-State selection) and Ian Sadler (382 yds rushing, 15 TDs) who both averaged more than seven yards a carry in 2012.

If that’s not enough, Sadler was also Argyle’s leading receiver last year (1,004 yds receiving, 12 TDs).

Boyzuick, Ralston, and Sadler, along with All-District linemen Zach Benson, Micah Capra and Matt Hiter, and all-district receivers Chance Bode, Jon Pucciarelo and Dalton Ledford, are all returning.

The Eagles also get back last year’s Offensive Newcomer of the Year, and all-state honorable mention linebacker Sam Sizelove, and last season’s district Utility Player of the Year and honorable mention all-state linebacker in Colton Hinnrichs.

“Expectations are very high this year,” Coach Todd Rodgers said. “We have a big senior class, and they are all good players.”

Rodgers is really not exaggerating, as the Eagles also return a very strong defensive unit, including last year’s District 10-3A Defensive MVP and First Team All-State selection in DB Connor Wilson, along with seven other all-district selections, including First Team All-District defensive backs Reese Thompson and Hunter Tredwell, defensive tackle Capra, kicker Cole Hedlund and linebacker Colton Katzen.

Second team district selections include Hunter Stewart at defensive tackle and LB Christian Hackney, which totals 15 returning starters for the Eagles.

The offensive and defensive backfields on the Argyle football team are probably the most impressive aspects of the squad from an outsider’s view, but this Eagles football program might be the most complete 3A team in the state, with hardly any weaknesses or deficiencies.

Argyle has been knocking on the door of a state championship for a few years now, and 2013 could very well be the season that Argyle players, coaches and fans remember with great reverence.

Celina (Nov. 8) should be the Eagles strongest district opponents this coming season.

Across town at Liberty Christian School, the Warriors continued upon their tradition of excellence with a 7-5 season in 2012 and a trip to the area round of the playoffs.

Liberty Christian, which has won three state championships in the last 20 years, returns a total of 13 starters from last year’s post-season squad (seven offense, six defense), and coach Greg Price said he is feeling very optimistic about the Warriors chances in 2013.

“I like the depth and leadership we have returning,” Price said. “We have five starters returning on our offensive line and will be solid at quarterback, running back and receiver.  Our defensive front will be physical and fast.  Our biggest area of vulnerability will be in the secondary. 

“I feel like where the district is and what they are returning, we have a solid opportunity to challenge for the district title.”

JonAaron Howell (816 yds rushing, 10 TDs) gives the Warriors a strong ground game and is also a threat at receiver (223 yds receiving, TD), along with Hunter Griffith (339 yds receiving, 2 TDs).

Griffith and Howell play both ways for LCS and were both defensive all-district selections for the Warriors last season as well.

First Team All District selection Brad Lundblade and DL Wheldon Whittle should anchor the offensive and defensive lines respectively for the Warriors in 2013, and first team LB Matt Marrs will be a major run stopper for Liberty Christian on the defensive side.

One question mark for Liberty comes at the position of quarterback, where both Colby Moore and Travis Ball are named by Price as candidates for the position, as well as players the Liberty head coach expects to have big seasons.

But the Warriors always find a way to play tough, hard-nosed football and put themselves in a position to contend for a district title year after year after year.

Liberty Christian is definitely one of the stronger teams in their district this season and should vie for a district championship.

Prestonwood Christian (Sept. 27) and Nolan Catholic (Nov. 1) should be the Warriors strongest district opponents this year.

Moving across county to Flower Mound, the Marcus Marauders are coming off a strong season in 2012 that included a trip to the bi-district round of the playoffs.

While Marcus finished the season with a 4-7 overall record, the Marauders went 3-2 in district competition and had the misfortune of drawing powerhouse Euless Trinity in their bi-district game.

The good news for MHS is that it returns both the Offensive and Defensive Newcomers of the Year from 2012, in TE Kaden Smith (13.7 yds per catch) and DL Keaton Sutherland.

The Marauders have a total of 12 starters returning from last year’s squad, including tailback Mark Demery (712 yds rushing, 4 TDs) and brothers Cole and Cade Erwin at quarterback and receiver respectivel
y.

Coach Bryan Erwin said he is impressed with the talent his team brings to the field this season, but was reticent about making any prognostications regarding the 2013 campaign.

“We have a real good group of kids,” Erwin said. “We have a chance to have a very good ball club.  I cannot make predictions because I have no idea what the future holds.”

The bad news is that Marcus plays in a very tough district and will have it’s hands full night in and night out, as there are simply no walkovers in 5-5A.

Cole Erwin will step into the starting quarterback role full time this season, and will have the opportunity to show that he can lead the team to victory.

A balanced passing attack with the Erwin brothers and Smith, combined with a good ground game from Demery will determine much of the offensive success the Marauders enjoy in 2013.

First Team All-District selection Logan Russell will anchor the offensive line in 2013, and second team selection DL Mike McMillan should do the same on the opposite side of the line.

Marcus should have enough this season to claim the third or fourth playoff spot in 5-5A.

Denton Ryan (Oct. 11), Coppell (Oct. 25) and Hebron (Nov. 7) should be the Marauders toughest district opponents.

For arch rival Flower Mound, things did not go as well last year, as the Jags finished 3-7 with a 1-4 mark in district 5-5A competition.

Records can be deceiving, however, and even though the team missed the playoffs, the Jaguars did not lose to any district opponent besides Marcus by more than nine points.

Coach Dane Johnson said he is optimistic about what his team can do this season and said it should prove to be a very interesting year for the Jaguars.

“I feel good about the 2013 season,” Johnson said. “Our boys have worked extremely hard all off season and desperately want to do things here that haven’t been done before.

“I think our chances are good. We are going to have to play some real good football because our district is one of the best in the area.”

The problem that the Jaguars face heading into 2013 is how hard the team was hit by graduation, with just five starters returning from last year’s team.

Johnson said in spite of this fact, he expects great seasons from a number of his players.

“I think Connor Wanhanen is going to have a big year after getting a lot of game experience last year,” Johnson said. “Also, LaJohn Williams, who saw limited action last year but has big play potential.

“Michael Smith, our leading receiver returning, is going to have a big and consistent year also. I think the biggest change will be defensively with great leadership from Travis Paovo and Daniel Deloimere.”

All-District QB Wanhanen (1,600 yds, 9 TDs, 7 rushing TDs) will have his work cut for him this season, and Flower Mound faces the same obstacle Marcus does in that 5-5A is a very strong district.

On the other hand, with such a small number of teams (six), all it takes is a single upset for Flower Mound to claim a post-season berth.

What it really boils down to for the Jaguars in 2013 is how well the younger and inexperienced players step up into their new roles and make an impact.

Coppell (Oct. 18), Hebron (Oct. 25), Marcus (Nov. 1) and Denton Ryan (Nov. 8) should be the Jaguars strongest district opponents this year.

Continuing to move southwest, just before we get to the banks of Grapevine Lake, we arrive at Coram Deo Academy, whose 1-8 record in 2012 is something that first year coach Doug Hix wants his team to put far behind it and turn things around this season.

“I am very eager to get the pads on and see where we stand competitively,” Hix said. “We have awesome kids on this team, with great parents.  Hopefully, myself and the coaching staff can develop them into competitive leaders.  It’s going to be fun.”

Hix has already had the opportunity to scout the level of talent the Lions possess and said he has been impressed with what he has seen to this point.

“Senior Center/Defensive Tackle Isaac Rowland is returning off an all-district year and is someone I have grown to think highly of and expect great things from,” Hix said. “He is an exceptional leader and an extremely hard worker.  His leadership will enable us to improve this year. Senior linebacker Sam Perrone is coming off an all-district year, and from what I have seen is a true ‘football’ player. He gets it; he does things the right way.  He is a hard worker with a great attitude and committed to serving the team.

“Additionally, I expect senior running back/safety Charles Clinkscales, who is the fastest player on the team, to have a good year, and newcomer Justin Henderson, who after sitting out a year, returns for his sophomore season and will be looked at to be the defensive leader.”

The Lions have a total of 12 starters returning from last year’s team.  

Coram Deo’s strongest district opponent this season should be Colleyville Covenant Christian Academy (Nov. 1).

To wrap things up, 2013 should be a special season for the teams of southern Denton County.

Guyer and Argyle both have the potential to make deep runs into the playoffs and compete for a state championship, and Liberty Christian, Marcus, Flower Mound and Coram Deo all have a legitimate shot at post-season berths.

Ultimately, it comes down to strong fundamentals, execution, a lack of turnovers and good health, and if our teams strive for these objectives, it will be a very good year for the region’s programs.

 

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