NOCONA, TX (KAUZ) - Our Training Camp Road Trip continues in District 5-3A Div. II with the Nocona Indians. They come into the season with a ton of experience back after a 7-win season that earned them a playoff berth.
They return 21 players from last year's team and expect that experience to show up on the field.
"I don't think there is any doubt that experience helps," said head coach Brad Keck. "I think the biggest thing it gives our kids is confidence that they can do it. They are a little more sure of what they are doing. That's what we have seen in the two weeks. We are ahead of where we were last year at this time, just knowing what to do and where to be, so there is no doubt experience helps."
On offense, senior quarterback Jeremy James returns under center, after passing for nearly 2,300 yards and 22 touchdowns last year. His teammates think he can be even better in his second year starting.
"Jeremy's throwing the ball better than he did last year," said coach Keck. "He got a little stronger arm and running really well. You know, we expect some big things out of him and he expects some big things out of himself."
"He's still got speed, but he can throw it with a lot more accuracy," said senior defensive lineman Charles Evans. "And he can still run the ball."
"He's probably gotten faster," said senior running back and linebacker Tanner Cable. "More precision on his throws, and accuracy, and less interceptions. He cut that out."
With the experience the Indians have coming back on the offensive line, they want to be able to run the ball better this season and be a more balanced offense.
"Last year we leaned a lot on the passing game," coach Keck said. "I still think we will throw and catch pretty well. But our offensive line all returned and they are a year older now. I feel better about our run game. Tanner Cable is a heck of a running back, just a good athlete so I think our running game will be strong for us so I think we will be pretty balanced."
"I expect to see a lot of passing, and maybe some more running than last year, because our line was young," Cable said. "They have grown up a little bit and gotten bigger and better blockers, so we should be running the ball more, too. Just a little bit of both."
"Our line this year is going to be a lot more experienced," James said. "They were real young last year. They are experienced this year, so that will help in the run game a lot. And the pass game, we have Riley [McCasland] out there and Hunter [Fenoglio] and Jose [Ogeda]. There is a bunch of good receivers out there that we can rely on and catch the ball if we need to."
On the defensive side of the ball, the Indians are going to a new scheme that they feel will help them be more aggressive. They will be led on that side of the ball by one of the best defensive players in the district in Cable, a returning honorable mention All-State player.
"We're in a little bit different defense that's a little more aggressive defense, and the kids have really bought into it," Coach Keck said. "Tanner Cable coming back there, you know an All-State kid. 170 tackles, he's all over the field. And anytime you've got a Tanner Cable on defense, you have a chance to be pretty good defensively."
"They are looking good," James said of his defense. "I mean, they have improved so much, especially from last year. We are putting in a new technique this year, and it's going to be hard to learn the first couple of weeks or so, but once we get it down, we are going to be real good and I like the way we are all looking this year."
The Indians have high expectations for this season, and they do not want to settle for just making it to playoffs.
"Obviously, better than last year," is the goal, Evans said. "We made it to playoffs, that's good, but we want to make it further into the playoffs. We don't really want to go first round and get beat out."
"We were working on making the playoffs last year," James said. "But this year we expect ourselves to win the district championship if we can. We are going to fight for that and make playoffs. And eventually we are going to try and make a run in the playoffs as deep as we can, because getting beat in the first round, that wasn't good enough for us. So we need to try and get farther and just maybe, hopefully make it to state."
The Indians open their season on the road at Alvord on Friday, September 1st.
Wednesday night, we'll finish District 5-3A Div. II with the Henrietta Bearcats.
Nocona Indians 2017 Schedule
Sept. 1 at Alvord, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 8 vs Archer City, 7 p.m.
Sept. 15 vs Olney, 7 p.m.
Sept. 22 at Chico, 7 p.m.
Sept. 29 vs Perrin-Whitt, 7 p.m.
Oct. 6 BYE
Oct. 13 at Holliday, 7 p.m.*
Oct. 20 at Jacksboro, 7 p.m.*
Oct. 27 vs City View, 7 p.m.*
Nov. 3 at Henrietta, 7 p.m.
Nov. 10 vs Millsap, 7 p.m.