WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - We close out Class 4A-Div. I, and begin our look at the Wichita Falls ISD, with the Hirschi Huskies. They have a lot of returning talent on this team, and if they can master the mental side of the game, this could be a breakout year.
"You know, we want to be as big, as fast, as strong as we can, but we want to be the smartest team on the field, also," said head coach Danny Youngs.
For years, Hirschi has had a reputation as a talented team that has a tendency to hurt itself with mistakes. This season, with a chance to make a playoff run, they want to clean up those errors.
"We're watching a lot of film, making sure that we're not making the same mistakes that we've been making these past 2 years," said senior right tackle Michael Harris. "And just trying to become smarter football players."
That starts on the offensive line, which coach Youngs said has gotten a lot better over the off-season.
"The improvement in our offensive line is going to be the difference," he said. "Those guys [the skill players] are only as good as those guys up front."
"Offensive line is the most important part of offense, really," Harris said. "Because if you don't have an offensive line, then Daimarqua [Foster] and Mar'tez [Vrana] aren't going to be able to do anything. Because if Mar'tez can't stay upright, then he can't get the ball downfield. Daimarqua, he's going to have to have holes. He can't just run by himself."
Vrana is a third-year starter at quarterback who threw for over 1,000 yards last season.
"Mar'tez has been working on his footwork a lot more, so now he's becoming a dual-threat quarterback," said senior running back and linebacker Isaiah White. "Trying to work on his scrambling, and getting out of the pocket more."
If Vrana and his receivers can make some connections, that can only help Hirschi's always-dynamic run game, which will feature Foster as the lead back this season. He averaged almost nine yards per carry backing up Roman Turner last season as a sophomore, finding the end zone nine times.
"That's just going to be hard, having to stop the run with Daimarqua and having to stop the pass with Mar'tez and his wide receivers," said senior defensive end Ezekiel Holmes.
"We're going to have to be able to throw the ball to get people out of the box, to give some more running lanes for Daimarqua," coach Youngs said. "And vice-versa, if you're going to stick them up there and try to stop the run, Mar'tez has got to make them pay in the passing game."
The defense also has a lot of talent, with White leading the way after an all-state season at linebacker a year ago. But one player being counted on for a breakout season is junior defensive tackle Lloyd Murray, Jr.
"He's working hard to get better," said Holmes, who plays along with Murray on the defensive line. "I mean, he's going to be a big impact on our line, on the whole defense for that matter."
"He's keeping his explosion, but he's getting better and better every day," White said. "The way he fires off the ball has gotten way better than what it was last year. So as soon as the ball is hiked, you're going to see someone fall on their butt, instantly."
Murray had a strong summer of camps. He initially committed to Florida State before later decommitting, and now holds over a dozen major-college offers. This all comes despite a less-than-impressive stat line as a sophomore.
"Lloyd's done a good job at handling a lot of the early publicity," said coach Youngs. "His parents do a great job with him, keeping him level-headed."
"I know he doesn't like the fact that everybody thinks he's just hype," Harris said. "So he's practicing hard, he's been hitting the weight room hard. So I feel he's going to have a big season."
That's the mindset for the whole Huskies team this summer, and they're hoping it translates to wins in the fall.
White summed it up best: "While people are talking, we'll be working, basically."
The Huskies open their season Friday at Dallas Life Oak Cliff.
On Thursday, we'll preview the MSU Mustangs on Newschannel 6 at 6, leading up to their season opener against Quincy (Ill.). Then, we'll start Class 5A with the Rider Raiders at on Newschannel 6 at 10!
Hirschi Huskies 2017 Schedule
Sept. 1 at Dallas Life Oak Cliff, 7 p.m
Sept. 8 vs Waxahachie Life, 7 p.m.
Sept. 14 vs Graham, 7 p.m.
Sept. 21 vs Perryton, 7 p.m.
Sept. 29 vs Breckenridge, 7 p.m.
Oct. 6 BYE
Oct. 13 at Sanger, 7 p.m.*
Oct. 20 at Decatur, 7 p.m.*
Oct. 27 vs Burkburnett, 7 p.m.*
Nov. 3 at Argyle, 7 p.m.
Nov. 10 vs Gainesville, 7 p.m.*