Our High School Training Camp Road Trip moves to Class 4A, with the Iowa Park Hawks!
In Coach Aubrey Sims's first season at Iowa Park, the Hawks made it back to the playoffs for the first time since 2010, and had a good run before losing in the Regionals. The Hawks graduated a lot of talent, but they feel they still have a great group coming back.
"We lost some great people in spots," Sims admitted. "But we're hoping overall as a unit--all eleven of them--we can replace those spots and make them be better off overall."
One thing helping is that in Coach Sims's second season, the team is more comfortable and knows what to expect.
"We know a lot more than we did last year at this point," said senior linebacker Braden Hennan. "Last year we didn't know very much going in at all. A new offense and everything. We've got a bunch of kids that I think will help us out a lot coming up from the JV, that played a little bit of varsity last year."
"I just think overall, mentally, we are a lot farther ahead than we were last year just because kids understand terminology," said Sims. "We know their names. I mean, last year we were out here during two-a-days and we didn't even know their names. So, all of that I think is definitely better where we're at right now at this point."
One of the key holes to fill will be at quarterback. Landen Kimbro will be leading the Hawks' offense, and they expect similar results to a year ago.
"Landen is doing a great job," said Sims. "He's a lot different than the kid we had last year, but we're a lot different in a lot of places. So just trying to adapt and try to do what's everybody's strengths, and just trying to find what's best for us.''
"I think he's doing very good," Hennan said of Kimbro. "I've played with him all through my life and he's played quarterback. He played a game last year, and I think he's going to be very good for us.''
The Hawks will also need the younger players on the team to step up and play a major role. And the older players say the playoff run from last year will help them get this team ready.
"We try to do the best we can to tell them how it was, so that they can experience it for themselves and for the class under them," said senior defensive end Tyler Hamberger. "And we are going to tell them that it was a great time and we're going to be back this year.''
"It was a great experience going to the playoffs, after like four years," said senior linebacker Andrew Perez. "Like a real good experience, but it's always ups and downs in there.''
On the defensive side of the ball the Hawks bring back some experience, and the coaches think that will help with the team's aggressiveness.
"I think we will be a little bit quicker than we were last year," Coach Sims said. "I think we are going to be a little bit stronger, then we've got all of our secondary back. So those kids were able to add some things to them and to be a little bit more than just one dimensional we were able to do some things mix some coverages up and do some things different defensively."
"We got some depth," said Hamberger. "Got some speed, got some strength, got some size, so we will be alright."
Even with the loss of so many players, the Hawks expect to be competing into December.
"I think that group of seniors last year set the bar high, and each year kids are competitive," said Coach Sims. "They want to try to do better than the group ahead of them, so this group is definitely focused, and wants to try to do better than the guys did last year."
Iowa Park will open their schedule at home against rival Burkburnett, a week from Friday.