Growing up is hard to do, and the 2019 version of the Mineral Wells Rams well get a serious “adulting” test on the road Saturday when they take on No. 5 Midlothian Heritage in scrimmage action.
“We are looking good health-wise right now,” coach Gerald Perry said. “The guys got a real taste of what it’s going to be like with the heat when we had an afternoon practice.”
Mineral Wells is also about to get a taste of Jaguar served up Midlothian Heritage-style, and with young and tender palates the Rams might not like the taste.
The Jaguars went 11-3 in 2018 and lost a classic-playoff game in overtime against Carthage 50-49 in the regional round. Midlothian is ranked number five behind La Vega, Carthage, Argyle and Liberty Hill, and that’s pretty much how the playoffs ended last year, too.
Midlothian is loaded with talent and has a seasoned team. Mineral Wells has young talent and is still working on the aforementioned “adulting” on the football field. The Jaguars offer a real opportunity to find out what it takes to be an elite team.
Mineral Wells has 11 seniors on its roster, and fortunately, quarterback Braden Fryer is one of them. Fryer is flourishing as a leader, and his positive attitude is being picked up on by younger players. Fryer is pushing fellow quarterbacks Jayce Holland, Ethan Oliver and Nathan Peterson to do extra throwing and catching is an example of going the extra mile.
While Fryer looks like the starter, Perry is going to have several wrinkles in his offense designed to confuse defenses and score points. It’s just too tempting not to use Fryer as a slot back on occasion after he earned all-district honors as a sophomore at that position.
Holland’s a step faster than Fryer, but field experience and learning the Rams’ offense is no easy task. Oliver has been showing great promise at slotback and gives Perry yet another arm to throw into his bag of tricks. Three players on the field at the same time who are capable of slinging a touchdown is down-right scary for any defensive coordinator.
Even with all those arms in his stable, Perry is talking about having a run-heavy offense this season and with a young team that makes sense early. There are three things that happen when you throw the football and two of them are bad.
Two other things that are “bad” for the Rams are running backs Anthony Hernandez and JW Ethridge, and it’s the kind of å “bad” that spells trouble for opposing defenses.
Hernandez is one of the strongest players on the Rams’ roster, and his 700-pound plus squat capability can carry defenders along with him. Ethridge is a starting linebacker who likes to lay wallop, and he’s a downhill runner who doesn’t avoid contact.
Anthony Flores is Mineral Wells’ strongest player, and he’s expected to anchor the defensive line, but he will also serve as a lead blocker and ball carrier.
The Rams may be young, but with the strength they have and the hard-nosed attitude there should be plenty of “rat-a-tat-tat” going on Saturday.
Sophomore Heldadio Gonzales appears to be the starting center, and he has displayed reliable intelligence in setting up the Rams’ blocking schemes.
Senior right tackle Ethan Waters (6-3, 260) is a beast and already has a scholarship offer from Culverstockon, an NAIA school in Missouri. Waters hasn’t relaxed since getting that offer, and it doesn’t appear it will be his last one either.
Ian Sanchez (5-11, 245) is slated at left guard after dropping weight this summer and gaining a step. Jeremiah Woodard (5-11, 280) should play opposite him in the right guard slot after also having a solid summer.
Incoming freshman Cayson Wells is looking to be a part of the offensive line rotation, and at 6-3, 340 pounds, “Wells can be something special if he puts in the work,” Perry said.
Freshman Jake Wilcox is a strong candidate to start at left tackle, and he is another player who has drawn attention for his hard work in the weight room.
Junior Isiah Galvan and freshman Omar (6-2, 250) are expected to be of the offensive line’s rotation, and both have shots at earning a starting role.
On the defensive line, Flores will be a force along with sophomore Dorian White at nose tackle while Jordon Dixon and Devon Salazar are looking for playing time at linebacker.
The Rams’ have several offensive skills players who likely to see action on both sides of the football and even compete for starting jobs on the defense. Speedy players like Charles Carter (4.4) and Christian Robinson (4.5) can stretch the field on offense while cover covering receivers on defense.