HOLLIDAY, Texas (TNN) - The Holliday Eagles have been one of the best teams over the past two years, winning 23 games but missing out on a state appearance both times.
The Blitz on six preseason previews moves to Holliday where Eagles are trying to continue that success, but with some new players wearing the red and white.
“I’ve been really pleased up until now with our retention and knowledge considering what graduation did to us," Holliday head coach Frank Johnson said. "I was worried about us being behind and the kids haven’t really missed a beat.”
“It’s definitely a different team," Holliday senior lineman Conner Hill said. "I think one returning lineman. It’s definitely going to be a different look.”
That's the position that took the biggest hit.
The Eagles return one offensive lineman from last season, but Holliday returns star running backs Conner Cox and Tristin Boyd, who combined for more than 2,000 yards and 26 touchdowns a year ago.
Coach Johnson says having that returning star power will help the inexperienced line.
“In my experience you got a good running back and an offensive line that’s new, young, average or whatever, that running back can make them look good," coach Johnson said. "It’s not brain surgery, you got a good running back, you give them the ball and you act like you’re a good coach.”
It might not be brain surgery, but coach Johnson must be a science teacher the way his defense dissected opposing offenses last year.
The Eagles allowed only 11 points per game a year ago and it’s what the Eagles hang their hat on, but the Holliday defense is going to look different after losing two all-state defenders.
“I’m old enough that I still believe that you play defense and hold people under 20 points and you will win the game," coach Johnson said. "Our goal each week is to hold them to nine points or less.”
“I’m looking forward to seeing how our defense plays after losing our defensive line from last year." Hill said. "I think we definitely have the kids to replace them.”
“I think it starts with the secondary, then the linebackers of course and down to the D-line because we have a new d-line," Holliday senior DB/WR Ayden Hutchins said. "So we have to show them what’s up, get them in the game, get them some reps and just get them ready to go.”
Another new face taking over is Kase Patterson, who replaces Jett Johnson as the Eagles signal caller.
Patterson got some game experience last year and has the full support of his teammates.
“Oh man, Kase, he’s a good guy. He knows how to get stuff done," Hutchins said. "He’s definitely a big leader on the team, he knows what to do and he’s a good fit for sure.”
In the past two seasons, the Eagles have gone 23-4 and three of those losses came at the hands of Gunter.
So in this year with some turnover, Holliday will rely on their seniors to step up and lead this team toward their goals.
“It’s not like starting over, we do have 16 seniors on this team and that provides the leadership," coach Johnson said.
“I think it’s pretty easy because of the people we have had in past years," Hutchins said. "They have shown us what to do, led well. I think it’s just second nature to us to show the younger guys what to do since they showed us so well.”
Week 1: F 8/30 vs Iowa Park 7:30pm
Week 2: F 9/6 @ Boyd 7:30pm
Week 3: F 9/13 @ Windthorst 7:30pm
Week 4: F 9/20 vs Bowie 7:30pm
Week 5: BYE
Week 6: F 10/4 @ City View 7:30pm
Week 7: F 10/11 vs Gunter 7:30pm
Week 8: F 10/18 @ Henrietta 7:30pm
Week 9: F 10/25 vs Callisburg 7:30pm
Week 10: F 11/1 @ Nocona 7:30pm
Week 11: F 11/8 vs S&S Consolidated 7:30pm