We wrap up District 2-3A Div. II in our Training Camp Road Trip with a look at the Nocona Indians!
They had a rough season last year, going winless after two back-to-back playoff seasons. The team was very young and inexperienced in 2014 with only eight returning lettermen. Coming into the 2015 season, the Indians think the experience will make a big difference.
"I think the experience is going to help them quite a bit," said Head Coach Brad Keck. "You know we had quite a bit of freshmen last year that got some varsity playing time, just got to see the speed of the game. So I think that's obviously got to help us. They understand the Friday night lights a little bit more than they would have."
"Last year we had nobody that had really played a varsity game besides the seniors," said senior Peyton Crabtree, who plays on the offensive line and as a linebacker. "This year almost everybody on our starting roster has played a game, so that changes everything."
The Indians also have sophomore quarterback Jeremy James coming back with more experience, and they are confident he can lead the offense.
"He's doing well," said Coach Keck. "He's getting better every day. One thing about Jeremy is he wants to be good at it. When he makes a mistake, you talk to him about it and he normally doesn't make the same mistake."
"He's getting a lot of reps, helping our team out a lot," said senior wide receiver Robert Hawkins. "And that's what we need. He's stepping up, he's filling that spot."
"He's transitioning fine," said junior running back Parker Marshall. "I mean he's a young kid but he is going to do good this year. I have good confidence, you know I trust him to carry the team."
The Indians had to open up the offense last year, and they think that experience will help the offense this season.
"We are a run-first team, and last year we ended up throwing the ball a little more than we usually do," said Coach Keck. "And I think that's actually going to help us in the long run, because we worked on the passing game a lot more than we had in years past. And so I think we will probably be a fifty-fifty team, run-pass, this year."
"I feel like we will run it a lot," said Marshall. "We will run it and we will just keep pushing the ball three or four yards down. That's all that matters, just keep pushing."
On defense Nocona hopes to build off a strong run defense from last year.
"I think our run 'D' is going to be really solid," said Crabtree. "You know last year, we had to work on our pass defense. For this year, with new coaches, it's going to be amped up."
"I think we will be good," said Marshall, who also plays linebacker. "Our defense last year, our run defense, was real shut-down. We can shut them down pretty good. As long as our secondary can keep up I believe we will do good."
The Indians feel that with the experience and a strong defense coming back, they will be able to forget what happened last season.
'Our number one goal is we want to get a little better everyday," said Coach Keck. "It's not necessarily where you start, it's where you finish."
'You know, it's always playoffs," Crabtree said of his goal. "It's always to make the playoffs, and I feel like we could do it. We have to work for it, but we can do it."
Nocona will open its season at home, taking on Alvord on August 28th.