Big Changes for Holliday Eagles - KAUZ-TV: Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

Big Changes for Holliday Eagles

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"Day and night."

That's the way new Holliday head coach Frank Johnson describes the difference between the Eagles' old defensive style and his approach.

"They've had a pretty stable staff here for a long time," Johnson said. "You know, they've made subtle changes throughout the years, well now it's a big change."

Cody Patton's defense in 2012 was aggressive, based on pressuring the quarterback.

Coach Johnson has a more conservative, read-and-react defense based on eliminating big plays.

"Coach Patton['s style] was more of a, 'just blitz,'" said senior linebacker Logan Allen. "You didn't have to read as much. We're having to read a lot more, so we just have to become smarter, I guess."

"We've been reading more at practice every day," says fellow senior Seth Oliver. "So we've gotten better and been making more tackles behind the line of scrimmage."

Coach Johnson says the kids seem to be handling the change better than he is. "I don't sleep at night, worrying about it," he says. "They seem to be alright with it."

On the offensive side of the ball, after quarterback Brennan Whitaker moved to Iowa Park in the offseason it's now an open competition between junior Matthew Tigert and sophomore Levi Draper.

"Their strengths are kinda different," Coach Johnson says. "Levi's got good speed. I think Matt probably, right now, has the edge in mechanics and throwing it."

Tigert does have a year of starting experience at the 6-man level, during his freshman year at Christ Academy.

Whoever starts will face a tough non-district schedule which includes State Champion Munday and playoff teams Windthorst and Vernon.

"That just gets us more tough, mentally and physically, for district," Oliver says. "And I think that'll help us out a bunch this year."

Coach Johnson agreed:

"Sometimes it'll hurt your overall record, but the great thing about playing good opponents, they'll get you prepared for playing good opponents in the playoffs.

"Which is always our number-one goal, we want to make the playoffs."

The Eagles open the season August 30th on the road at Van Alstyne. The teams had planned another game at Allen's new Eagle Stadium, but Holliday did not want to play on a Thursday so it became a true road game.