NEWCASTLE, TX (KAUZ) - Our Training Camp Road Trip wraps up our Class 1A two-a-days with a look at the Newcastle Bobcats. They're trying to extend an impressive streak, but it won't be easy.
"It's going to be a interesting year, just simply for the fact that we're going to be young this year," says head coach John Eli.
His Bobcats come into 2017 looking to win their eighth-straight district title, but they will have to rely on a young group after losing a ton of seniors off of last year's team.
"We've got some kids that got some experience last year, hopefully to fulfill some of those roles," coach Eli said. "Graduating nine seniors, you know, it's hard to replace guys that have been in the program that long and that many of them. But we do the same thing year in and year out, so just getting them the experience at the varsity level is probably going to be the biggest key: early on, getting some success."
With his young group, coach Eli still plans to run the same offense and defense because the players are familiar with it.
"Just doing the same thing we've been doing, year in and year out," was the goal, he said. "It's a program thing. They have been running it since some of them were sixth graders. So just moving up to the next level, I guess, for most of them."
Eli also said, with having such a young group, he wants to focus on the fundamentals of playing football.
"One of the biggest things we will have to focus on is fundamentals: blocking, tackling," he said. "You know, just the basic things that you have to do every year. You just have to get better, so that's what we are going to focus on."
Another way coach Eli expects his team to improve is through tough competition. Even with a young group coming back, they have a tough non district schedule including Gordon and Guthrie, two teams that beat the Bobcats last season.
"I always schedule tough," he said. "You don't get better by playing somebody that is not going to give you a challenge. So we've got Gordon and we've got Guthrie. We've got Tioga, we've got Woodson, we've got Throckmorton, we've got Knox City. So those are always going to be a challenge for us, to get us better for district."
His Bobcats have won seven-straight district titles, but this year coach Eli says Bryson is the favorite with the talent they having coming back.
"Bryson is bringing everybody back, so they are going to be the team to beat, I think, this year," he said. "Hopefully we can gain some experience and get some confidence as we go into district and make a run, but they're the team to beat."
Newcastle opens their season Friday, September 1st at 7:30 p.m. at home against Gordon.
On Thursday, we'll begin our look at area 11-man teams, starting in Class 2A Div. II with the Archer City Wildcats!
Newcastle Bobcats 2017 Schedule
Sept. 1 vs Gordon, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 8 at Guthrie, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 15 at Tioga, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 22 at Woodson, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 29 vs Throckmorton, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 6 vs Knox City, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 13 vs Forestburg, 7:30 p.m.*
Oct. 20 at Bryson, 7:30 p.m.*
Oct. 27 vs Gold-Burg, 7:30 p.m.*
Nov. 3 BYE
Nov. 10 at Saint Jo, 7:30 p.m.*