The Hirschi Huskies have a new coach this year as they try to return to the playoffs after a successful season last year.
They have been known for years as one of the most athletic teams in Texoma. This season, they're trying to add another dimension.
"We're fast, obviously. I mean, we were last year," says senior tight end and defensive end Ben Pierce. "[This year] we're working on our line. Trying to get strength, instead of just trying to outrun people. To run people over."
"If we just give them at least two seconds, they can get the ball anywhere," says senior lineman Martin Cunningham. He is the left tackle for the Huskies, and the leader of their offensive line. "If we just open a hole big enough for them to get their leg through, they'll be able to get fifteen, twenty yards down the field."
The Huskies will have a new quarterback this season, with Doug Johnson stepping in to the position.
He will have some help in the backfield, with star running back Cedric Battle staying at Hirschi after nearly moving away earlier this month.
"Cedric or anyone else, we're going to play with the kids that show up to practice, and Ced's a talent," says first-year Head Coach Danny Youngs.
Battle rushed for over nine yards per carry and 23 touchdowns last season as the Huskies made the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
"He was our best running back we had," Cunningham said. "He got most of the plays for us. When I thought he was leaving, I was like, 'Oh, no. It's not going to be great.' But he brings a lot of success to us, and he's a great inspiration."
Battle will be key in the Huskies' first season under new coach Youngs, who comes in from Kennedale. One change he'll make on defense is switching from a 4-3 to a 3-4 front.
As part of that, senior Ben Pierce is moving from linebacker last year to defensive end this season.
"I don't think it's causing much of a problem," Pierce said. "We learned it quick, picked it up, and think we can do good."
The Huskies will be playing for a fallen teammate this season, 2014 Hirschi graduate LaKarl Williams. He lost his life in a car accident last month.
"He played for us last year, and he did a very good job," Cunningham said. "So it'd be best if we tried to live up to his memory and played the way he'd want us to play."
With the way the District 4-4A Div. I race is shaping up, the final playoff spot could come down to the last week of the season, when Hirschi visits longtime rival Burkburnett.
Pierce says he wouldn't mind that. "Just a good old football game to get to the playoffs," he said. "That'd be fun for the fans, and us."
The Huskies will open up their season Friday night at Memorial Stadium when they host the Bowie Jackrabbits!
Hirschi Huskies 2014 Schedule
Aug. 29 vs Bowie, 7:30
Sep. 5 at Grandview, 7:30
Sep. 12 at Springtown, 7:30
Sep. 19 vs Vernon, 7:30
Sep. 26 at Iowa Park, 7:30
Oct. 3 BYE
Oct. 9 vs Mineral Wells*, 7:30 (Thurs)
Oct. 17 vs Gainesville*, 7:30
Oct. 24 at Decatur*, 7:30
Oct. 31 vs Graham*, 7:30
Nov. 7 at Burkburnett*, 7:30