Bring on the Friday night lights.
With high school football season beginning this week it is time to look at a few story lines involving our area grid teams.
This is the time of the year when teams are healthy and hopes are high, and it is a time where fans look ahead on their teams’ respective schedules in search of when “the big game” will be played.
The Index covers sevens football-playing schools including Mineral Wells, Community Christian School, Santo, Millsap, Perrin, Gordon and Strawn. And fans of the Rams, Warriors, Wildcats, Bulldogs, Pirates, Longhorns and Greyhounds have probably circled one or two games on the schedule that is a “must see” contest.
Of course, each team has strengths and weaknesses, and coaches use the pre-district season to determine both – to fix the problems before district and to find out what works best for their respective teams.
For the Rams, in the early games it will be interesting to see last year’s leading tackler, junior Josh Hardee, playing full time at running back. While this is a bold move it is also a move that plays to the Rams’ strengths.
The Rams have more depth at linebacker and less at running back, and since Hardee showed flashes of brilliance last year in limited snaps at running back by averaging more than 10 yards a carry and scoring four touchdowns, it will interesting to see how Hardee will do by getting most of the carries.
If Hardee is successful, that puts less pressure on junior quarterback Caleb Acosta, who will be starting his 11th varsity game as signal caller when the Rams host Graham on Friday.
If teams are forced to key on Hardee, that will leave the speedy and dangerous Rams receivers in single coverage, and I feel Acosta can pic defenses apart in those situations.
Another key is obviously the Rams’ defense. Can the linebackers flourish without last year’s leading tackler? Will a new set of defensive linemen tie up blockers to free up the linebackers? These and other questions will be sorted out in the first month of the season.
When you talk about circling dates on a calender I feel the date circled the most is Sept. 27 – the day of arguably six man football’s greatest rivalry, Gordon vs. Strawn.
This year the game is at Strawn. Several story lines involve both these fine teams, both of which reached the state semifinals last year (Gordon is in Division I bracket while Strawn is in Division II bracket).
Man, talk about story lines. Let’s start with Gordon. Like Mineral Wells four years ago, a native son is coning back home to coach the ‘Horns.
Former Longhorn Joe Kostiha returns not only home, but back to his roots in football, the six man game.
In talking to Kostiha this summer I could sense pride and excitement from the former Alvarado defensive coordinator who is enjoying his first gig as a head coach.
It will be interesting to see how the ‘Horns respond to their new coach. The community seems to be pleased with the new hire, and I see another long playoff run for the ‘Horns.
The story line for Strawn is simple: The ‘Hounds are loaded. Strawn opens the year with one of the most exciting players in our area, Coletyn King, staying at home to play for the ‘Hounds. King had played at Gordon last year because his step father,Shane Mallory, was head coach before resigning to go into private business.
But even without King, Strawn was still loaded as all-state players Harrison Nowak and Ross Alison return. Coach Dewayne Lee may have a problem – since he can only use six players at a time there will be some talented players on the sideline.
But the coach knows how to use his personnel, and that “problem” really is an asset as the ‘Hounds will be fresh when they start what should be a long playoff run, and a possible state semifinal rematch with Richland Springs.
Honestly, both Strawn and Gordon could make the six man state championship games, which beginning this year is being played at AT&T (Cowboys) Stadium in Arlington.
The high school football forecast magazines have not shown much love for Perrin, Millsap, Santo and CCS as the annual publication does not pick any of those schools to make the playoffs.
But Perrin and Santo missed postseason play by a only a game last year, so a one-game improvement can mean at least an extra game this season. Their story lines are finding that one extra win this year.
Millsap will be interesting to watch as they are changing to a running offense after using the spread. Coach Kyle Coker believes his slot T offense is more suited to his personnel, and I expect Millsap to win a few games this year.
CCS is in good shape with both Isaiah and Samuel Brazeal returning, but the story line is the district the Warriors play in has added two bigs schools, including Trinity Christian Academy from nearby Willow Park. With Azle Christian also in the district and with just two teams qualifying for the playoffs, it will be a big deal if CCS plays into November.
There you have it, a few story lines to get you ready for another exciting year of high school football in Mineral Wells and the surrounding area.