Saturday night, our high school Training Camp Road Trip continues with a look at District 3-4A Div. II with the Graham Steers. They'll be working in a new quarterback this year. And coming off their first losing season in four years, Graham is looking to bounce back in 2016.
Junior linebacker Joel Jones expressed how last season felt. "I think after a year like last year," Jones said. "It definitely relights a fire."
The Steers went 5-6, losing to Brownwood in the first round of the playoffs a year ago. the good news, the last two times graham had a losing season, they reached at least the state semifinals the next season.
"The resolve and the focus is there," Head Coach Kenny Davidson said. "And so we're optimistic on both sides of the ball, for sure."
"Don't get our heads down, no matter what," Jones said. "You know, if we're trailing in the 4th quarter, don't just get beat. You know, always fight-- always fight for it. You never know how it will end up."
The Steers return seven starters on offense, including their top three receivers and most of their line. But they'll have a new quarterback in Junior Tucker Horn. He started on JV last year. And knows he's walking into a pretty good gig.
"I have a very good offensive line and receiving corps that are being brought back," Horn said. "And I was thrown into a very good situation. I'm glad to be here, and I'm glad to have these guys to work with."
"He's really dedicated. He goes to the camps," said Coach Davidson. "He goes to the extra work, goes the extra mile for training in the summer. We did 7-on-7, did a great job in 7-on-7."
Horn knows it will be a bit of an adjustment going from Thursday nights to Fridays, but he and his teammates think he's ready.
"I have all the faith in the world in Tucker," Jones said. "I think that he's a good guy, good quarterback. He's very smart, I think he can use that head of his."
"Last year I did, I stood on the sideline for a varsity game," said Horn. "Got to kinda get used to it. But I can't wait for this year, will be a lot of --we're all really excited."
Graham's defense was up-and-down last year. This season they bring back just three starters on that side of the ball. Led by all-state defensive end Jack Hays.
"You know, he's kind of a player-coach," Davidson said. "He knows--he's been there, and he's a technician, so he's helping show, and helping us coaching-wise. He's the example. Do what he does."
That defense should be bolstered by the return of two players from injury. Kody Perry was limited to offense last year, while Wes Martin missed the whole season. He should help in the secondary and at running back.
"I mean they're really fast," said Horn. "We have some great defensive players out there, and it's fun to go against them. Makes for some good competition against each other."
"Well we don't have a lot of varsity experience," Jones said. "But it is throughout the whole program. Junior high, freshman, JV, varsity. So, we have some experience, but not a whole lot of varsity experience. But I think we'll be alright."
The steers will open their season on the road Friday night at Sanger.
Monday we will continue with District 3-4A Div. II with the Vernon Lions.
2016 Graham Steers Schedule
Aug. 26 at Sanger, 7:30
Sept. 2 vs Brownwood, 7:30
Sept. 9 vs Hirschi, 7:30
Sept. 16 at Burkburnett, 7:30
Sept. 23 at Stephenville, 7:30
Sept. 30 vs Big Spring, 7:30
Oct. 7 at Bridgeport, 7:30*
Oct. 14 at BYE
Oct. 21 vs Krum, 7:30*
Oct. 28 at Vernon, 7:30*
Nov. 4 vs Iowa Park, 7:30*
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