Road Trip: Hirschi Huskies

We finish up District 4-4, Div. I with the Hirschi Huskies. Last year, they reached the playoffs for the second-straight season, on the back of one of the state's top running backs.

Now, with him gone, they need to figure out how to get back to the post-season.

Cedric Battle, essentially, was the Hirschi Huskies' offense last season. He ran for over 2600 yards, with 30 touchdowns, on his way to being named Class 4A Offensive Player of the Year in the state of Texas.

The Huskies know that no one player will be able to replace him in 2015.

"You know, he's a great player," said senior linebacker Dorian Norwood. "A great guy, he was a great team leader. But the way we came back, we came great. Offensive-wise, I think we're in a great position right now."

"We've got some pretty good kids to replace him," said junior lineman Deondre Clark. "I've got faith in them, but I feel like the line is going to need to do better than before, with a running back like Cedric."

Without their all-state runner, the Huskies and second-year coach Danny Youngs realize they'll need a bit more balance this season.

"Our focus is to run the ball and play great defense, but we have to be balanced," Youngs said. "Even with a great running back, like we had last year in Cedric, you're not going to win if you can't balance. They stick everybody in the box and when you play good teams, you can't block them all."

The player who will try to instill that balance will be sophomore quarterback Martez Vrana. He was just named the starter on Monday by Coach Youngs, and he's focused on changing the way teams see the Huskies.

"We haven't really been a passing team lately," Vrana said. "We've been a running team, so when we play teams, they look at us as a running team. We'll come out here and show them that we can pass. That's one thing that we need to get better at."

No matter how the Huskies do on offense, they'll need to improve a defense that allowed over 40 points per game in 2014.

This year, the Huskies will be very young, but have a lot of promising talent and think they've gotten the hang of Coach Youngs's system.

"I'll be honest, we only have two seniors on defense right now," Youngs said. "We have some other seniors that play, but for the most part we'll have two seniors out there and nine underclassmen."

As always, the Huskies will have plenty of motivation in the form of doubt from those on the outside, which they need to keep right there, on the outside.

"I think the biggest challenge is ourselves, to be real with you," Norwood said. "Doubting all everybody else, the stuff we have in our heads. Everybody thinks we're going down, or we're not going to be good this year. 'We're going to win one game,' that's the stuff I think we need to overcome. That's the stuff we're going to overcome."

"There's a lot of chips [on our shoulders]," Clark said. "Especially being in Wichita, being the 'third' high school in a way, we want to prove everybody wrong."

The Huskies will open up the season Friday night, on the road against the Bowie Jackrabbits.

Thursday night on Newschannel 6 at 6, we'll hear from the Wichita Falls Coyotes, right before they kick off the season that night at 7 p.m. against Mansfield Summit, at Memorial Stadium!