ARCHER CITY, TX (KAUZ) - We begin the 11-Man portion of our Training Camp Road Trip with the Archer City Wildcats. They're one of four teams in District 7-2A Div. II with a new coach this season.
Coach Shad Hanna comes to Archer City after seven years at Midland Greenwood, which followed six years at Alpine.
"Just, you know, needed a change, and a change of scenery I guess, my family and I," Hanna said. "You know, we just felt led by God that we needed to be in Archer City and everything has kinda worked out and fallen into place."
The Monahans native said he was ready to get back to a small-school setting, both for himself and his family.
"We were just getting too big," he said of his time in Midland. "The school was just growing so fast, and I just--the classrooms were huge. It just wasn't a good situation for my family and I. And we just wanted to downsize, we wanted to go back down to a smaller school situation."
His Wildcats bring back starters at 17 of 22 positions, but a lot of them will be juniors and younger.
"We're not senior-heavy," he said. "We don't have a lot of seniors, but a bunch of those young guys are starting to step up and lead, too."
A few of the seniors who are coming back are senior lineman Dalton Drennan, who is moving from tackle to center this year, and quarterback Morgan Wylie. Hanna said Wylie is one of the true leaders on the team.
"He's got that positivity about him that everybody, just, they just believe in him," Hanna said. "And so he's just so positive, so upbeat."
Drennan agrees. "Great guy to be around, overall great person," he said of his quarterback. "I think he has the characteristics to lead this team to victory."
"[He's] somebody that's not going to get down on everybody, and get down on himself," Hanna went on to say. "And I think he's that guy and I think that's what's going to lead us and get this thing turned around."
Coach Hanna says numbers are up this year, and a big part of that is players returning to play who hadn't in a few years. For instance, Jacob Wilhelm had played on the offensive line a while ago, now he's back with a new position, moving to inside receiver.
"He hasn't played in a few years, so man he's really stepped up and really shown great leadership for the group," Hanna said.
"The toughest part has probably been just running the right routes whenever they make the calls for the plays," Wilhelm said. "[It's been a] lot of fun. Everyone's great, helping me out learning the routes and everything. The coaches are great."
The Wildcats haven't had a winning season since 2010, with just 11 wins the past six years. Coach Hanna knows he'll have to fight that momentum to get things going.
"They've struggled the last few years, and I think that's going to be the one thing that we're going to fight the most is just, learning to win," he said. "We have got to have some great things happen for us. We've got to stay healthy of course, just like any other small school. But mainly just winning those games early, and gaining confidence. That's the one thing that we need to happen for us right now."
"Everyone's very excited about it," Wilhelm added. "And I think we're just going to give it our all and just go all-out for every play."
"The positivity is really, really intense," Drennan said. "And the hype is real out here, and we're coming. We're coming hard, coming fast."
The Wildcats will open their season Friday, September 1st at home against Millsap, kicking off at 7 p.m.
On Friday night we'll continue in District 7-2A Div. II with the Quanah Indians.
Archer City Wildcats 2017 Schedule
Sept. 1 vs Millsap, 7 p.m.
Sept. 8 at Nocona, 7 p.m.
Sept. 15 at Seymour, 7 p.m.
Sept. 22 vs Olney, 7 p.m.
Sept. 29 vs Baird, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 6 BYE
Oct. 13 at Munday, 7 p.m.*
Oct. 20 vs Petrolia, 7 p.m.*
Oct. 27 at Quanah, 7 p.m.*
Nov. 3 at Haskell, 7 p.m.*
Nov. 10 vs Electra, 7 p.m.*