HENRIETTA, TX (KAUZ) - Tuesday night, our high school Training Camp Road Trip continues in Clay County, with the Henrietta Bearcats. They're coming off a deep playoff run, and have a good chance at replicating it this year in Region II.
They lost just two games last season, making it to the state quarterfinals before a loss to Idalou. This season the team has high hopes and wants to go even farther.
"How far we went last year in the playoffs, I think we are excited to do it again," said senior lineman Adam Moore. "We want to try and possibly go farther. I think we're set to go farther this year, so we're wanting to hold up to those stakes."
With a balanced mix of returning players and new starters on varsity, the players are ready to keep the tradition going. But they also have something to prove.
"The kids are kind of wanting to make a name for themselves," said head coach Byron West. "We've had some guys in roles that have played in those roles for a lot of years. So I think we've got to still have those guys, but I think some of the guys in the new positions kind of want to make a name for themselves."
On offense they graduated two-year starting quarterback Riley Watson, and Zack West steps in to take over. Coach West's nephew, he's more of a runner than Watson was, but the team is just as confident in him.
"We like Zack a lot," said senior receiver Ben McCreary. "We grew up with Zack. Small school thing, we've known him his whole life. We're really good friends, so I think we will get along just great. We got a lot of practice last year behind the scenes, so I think we will do really well this year."
"He's doing good," said senior fullback Mason Hanson. "He's been playing quarterback his whole life, so I'm confident in him. He's gotten a lot more accurate, and a lot better at throwing, and I'm confident he can be a good quarterback this year."
The offense should have a nice balance of run and pass, with some speed coming back in the backfield and McCreary on the outside where he caught 11 touchdown passes last year.
"We will probably do a little bit of both," Hanson said. "Probably half-and-half I would say, because we have good receivers and we have fast running backs. You know, it's just going to all be good."
"I think [a] very balanced attack," McCreary said. "Very explosive, a lot of scoring potential. Obviously run the ball, throw the ball, make big plays. I think we will have a really exciting offense this year."
For the Bearcats to have the kind of offense they want, they will need the offensive line to come together and jell early on in the season.
"We're a little short on people this year," Moore said. "We lost a lot of starters, but we've got a lot of people stepping up to the plate taking care of business."
"Our focus right now is to make sure our offensive line is where we need to be," said Coach West. "You know, we've got some guys in new shoes that haven't been there. Of course they have played there a lot because we were pretty successful last year; the experience level isn't at zero, but game time experience? We need to get some under our belt."
On defense, gaining experience will also be a factor, as well as replacing a good front-7 from a year ago.
"They are doing some rearranging," Coach West said. "I mean guys that have played outside, maybe play inside this year, those types of changes. So we've got some guys that will be versatile enough to play on the line and linebacker."
"[We] lost a lot of more experienced players but I think we're also very talented," said McCreary, who also plays in the secondary. "I think we're very athletic and the only thing we lack is experience on the defensive side."
If the offensive line and the defense can find their rhythm early on, then another deep playoff run could in the future for the Bearcats.
They'll open their season at home a week from Friday (August 26th) against the Windthorst Trojans.
Wednesday night, we'll wrap up District 5-3A Div. II with the Holliday Eagles!
Henrietta Bearcats 2016 Schedule
Aug. 26 vs Windthorst, 7
Sept. 2 at Paradise, 7
Sept. 9 vs Bowie, 7
Sept. 16 vs Boyd, 7
Sept. 23 at Childress, 7
Sept. 30 BYE
Oct. 7 at Jacksboro, 7*
Oct. 14 at Millsap, 7*
Oct. 21 vs Holliday, 7*
Oct. 28 at Nocona, 7*
Nov. 4 vs City View, 7*