BOWIE, TX (KAUZ) - Tonight our Training Camp Road Trip visits the only Texoma team in Class 3A Div. I, the Bowie Jackrabbits. They're looking to climb the ladder in District 4, and make a deeper playoff run in 2017.
That all starts up front with a veteran offensive line.
"We have three out of five starters back," says head coach Dylan Stark. "We have a couple guard positions to fill, but those guys are a couple of seniors that have really stepped in there and done a great job."
One of the three returning starters on the offensive line is senior right tackle Hunter Kirkham.
"Trying to get general cohesion with everybody," was how Kirkham described camp thus far. "I lost my right guard last year, he was a senior, he graduated. Just trying to get our communication down, that's the biggest change."
That line will be blocking for a new starting quarterback, senior Matthew Wallace. He transferred in from Forestburg before last season, and primarily played defense in his first year of eleven-man ball. Now he's moving back to quarterback, where he earned district Offensive MVP honors for the Longhorns as a sophomore in 2015.
"I think our passing game has gotten a lot better than last year," said senior running back and defensive back Jay Rogers. "I think we're going to throw the ball a lot more this year, and be good at it."
"Matthew's a really good athlete, and he's very coachable," coach Stark said. "He'll do whatever you ask him to do, and that's what you want a quarterback to be. A leader, somebody the guys will play for, and that's Matthew for sure."
The 'Rabbits will move Jeffrey Howard back to receiver this year. He was going to be the starting quarterback last year, but was hurt in the Burkburnett scrimmage and missed the whole season.
"Jeffrey, you know his sophomore year, was one of the best receivers probably in the area," coach Stark said. "And having him out there will be a threat outside, hopefully open up our running game a little more."
"I think he's been doing great at receiver," Rogers said. "I think that's where he belongs, and that's where he likes playing."
"I think it's kinda helped him understand what a quarterback might see," Kirkham said. "And like, the holes that you need to get into."
The defense will be a veteran bunch, with seven returning starters all playing for defensive coordinator Glen Dunnam, in his third year since returning to Bowie.
"We've been really consistent, you know basically the same staff for a few years now," coach Stark said. "And so the kids are able to pick it up a lot quicker. Kinda know what to expect, and I think that really helps."
"It helps us trust the coaching staff, and the whole systems that they run," Kirkham said. "It doesn't change everything every year."
"I've been with coach Dunnam for 3 years now, since I was a sophomore," Rogers said. "Just getting used to his coaching and how he would just sit down and tell you what you did wrong and how you should fix it. I think that's just how it helps. We're all just used to his coaching and his style of it."
After finally snapping their long playoff win drought two years ago, and backing it up with another gold ball last year, now it's time for the Jackrabbits to build on that success with a deep playoff run.
"Our motto is 'climb,'" Stark said. "We want to take the next step. We feel like we've been in the second round the last two years; we'd like to go further."
?The Jackrabbits will open their season on the road at Aubrey on September 1st.
On Friday night, we'll move into Class 4A Div. II, with the Vernon Lions.
2017 Bowie Jackrabbits Schedule
Sept. 1 at Aubrey, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 8 vs Howe, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 15 vs Henrietta, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 22 at Holliday, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 29 at Jacksboro, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 6 BYE
Oct. 13 vs Boyd, 7:30 p.m.*
Oct. 20 at Breckenridge, 7:30 p.m.*
Oct. 27 vs Brock, 7:30 p.m.*
Nov. 3 at Paradise, 7:30 p.m.*
Nov. 10 vs Ponder, 7:30 p.m.*