Proving the Pundits Wrong at Old High

The Wichita Falls High School Coyotes are banking on an abundance of senior leadership this year, a total of 23 seniors and 16 returning starters.

But most outside observers don't seem to think that will be enough. Almost every pre-season poll in Texas, including Dave Campbell's Texas Football and the website, has picked the Coyotes to finish last in District 4-4A.

The Coyote coaching staff isn't letting the players forget that.

"[They] pretty much remind us of it every day," said junior cornerback Pryor Johnson, just up from the JV squad this year.

"We try hard every day, because we know we don't want to do that."

One definite strength of this Coyote team is its offense.

Quarterback Dylan Sheffield led a dynamic passing attack last year as a junior, and he has almost all of his weapons back for his senior year.

"The entire offense is second nature," Sheffield said. "Instead of thinking in terms of routes or anything like that, the whole team thinks in terms that relate to the [whole] offense."

"They do know the offense," agrees Coyote head coach Jayson Lavender. 'They had a wonderful summer of 7-on-7, and so they're ready to go."

The key for the Coyotes to surprise the pundits this season will be whether the defense can step up.

Lavender, like many coaches, says that defense is all about tackling.

But also the Coyotes made a change at defensive coordinator this year, promoting Marcus Shavers to take the job in an effort to shake things up.

The guys who have to face that new defense every day have noticed a difference.

"The overall improvement of the defense is the intensity," says Sheffield. "The way that they get after it, the way that they're flying around to the football, I haven't seen it since I've been here."

But the biggest motivation for the Coyotes in 2011 will still be the almost universal pre-season disrespect from the so-called 'experts.'

"It has motivated us a lot," admits Sheffield. "It also has helped us realize that all we have is each other. And that's made us grow together as a team."

The Coyotes will open the season Friday night at 7:30 at Burkburnett.