HOLLIDAY, TX (KAUZ) - We wrap up District 5-3A Div. II in our Training Camp Road Trip with the Holliday Eagles. They're looking to rebuild their offense, and think they'll be more comfortable this time around.
For running back Jake Hillard, the plan is simple: "Run hard, score touchdowns."
The Eagles are in their second season running the Wing-T offense. Last year the learning curve was tough; they ranked dead last in the area in total offense, under 250 yards per game. But they expect that to change this year.
"They know what they're doing this year," said head coach Frank Johnson. "You know, we're way ahead of where we were this time last year. Hopefully we can continue growing that."
"We had all spring to work on it," said senior receiver John Dyes. "We're already out here, way past where we were last year, so it's been a whole lot easier."
They will have to replace virtually their entire offensive backfield from last year, after graduating QB Levi Draper and running backs Trace Grimstead and Joey Lewis among a big senior class.
"What we lost is quite a bit of speed," Johnson said. "But the kids that are working at those spots this year, all of them have done a good job. I think they're going to run hard."
One of those kids is Hillard. The 5'9" senior may not be big, but racking up nearly a hundred tackles as a junior, at barely over 150 pounds, shows he's got plenty of heart.
"Looks like he has pretty good vision," Coach Johnson added. "And he runs hard. I knew that from last year."
They'll also add transfer Kade Patterson, whose dad is the new school principal.
"He should be pretty strong this year," Dyes said of the new running back. "But he's young. He should help."
Johnson: "Kade has a little athleticism," Coach Johnson said. "I think he'll do great back there."
Under center will be Coach Johnson's son, Jett. He was the JV quarterback a year ago as a freshman.
"He's young; he's going to be a sophomore," Dyes said. "But he should be able to throw the ball pretty well."
So far, the Eagles are looking good in camp. But the real test will come when they get out on the field.
"We're pretty good against air," Coach Johnson quipped. "Now we've got to find out if we can actually block real people, and tackle real people."
Last year, the Eagles returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2012. Now the goal is to make that the tradition once again, like it used to be in Holliday.
"We're going to try to work hard," Hillard said. "And we're going to try to be a model for the younger guys, so that they know to work hard, and they can get to playoffs later down the road."
For Coach Johnson, year 4 means this is his first season with a complete team that he's had for their whole high school careers.
"Pretty much, this team is kids that were in eighth grade when I moved here," he said. "And it's kinda like they're my first real group. Somebody that I've had throughout the system. They're mine."
The Eagles will open their season on the road a week from Friday, visiting the Paradise Panthers.
On Thursday, we'll take a look at a team in Paradise's district, Texoma's only Class 3A Div. I team, the Bowie Jackrabbits!
Holliday Eagles 2016 Schedule
Aug. 26 at Paradise, 7:30
Sept. 2 vs Boyd, 7:30
Sept. 9 vs Ponder, 7:30
Sept. 16 at Bowie, 7:30
Sept. 23 vs Iowa Park, 7:30
Sept. 30 BYE
Oct. 7 at Nocona, 7*
Oct. 14 vs City View, 7*
Oct. 21 at Henrietta, 7*
Oct. 28 vs Millsap, 7*
Nov. 4 at Jacksboro, 7*