First Row L-R: Juan Mejia, Chris Wilson, Luke Worlock, Landell Walker, Haiden Cobb. Second Row L-R: Jack Csillag, Sam Cretsinger, Hayden Parker, Kaleb Walker, Colten Grindstaff. Third Row L-R: Kyle Sluder, Conner Gibson, Aaron Ferguson, Ethan Smith, Nate Dorman, Ezra Taylor. Fourth Row L-R: Owen Price, Gunner Hutchins, Samuel Lavey, Hayden Parker. Coaches: Josh Helvey, Devin Shaw, Mark Humphrey, Charlie Grindstaff, Elijah Osborne. Not pictured: Jace Stout, Gage Stout, Noah Brown. Photo by Joey Icenhour
By Tim Chambers
Perhaps no Longhorn team has been hit as hard as middle school football. According to their head coach Devin Shaw, they are definitely behind the curve due to missing two valuable weeks of practice, which is usually used to learn all the basic fundamentals.
“The two weeks off hurt because it came right when we were about to go in full pads,” said Shaw. “We got shut down for 14 days, so we have only had four practices since we have gotten back. We pushed our first game up to September 17, so we have lost games and valuable practice time. We are behind, but we will push hard to try and make up for the lost time.”
Because of the COVID virus, the team will only play a five-game schedule, all of them conference games they will do so with a roster of around 20 players.
“We are deep at running back, but our numbers are down,” said head coach Devin Shaw. “We got to go over our defense on Monday for the first time, so we are behind the curve. The kids will work hard toward that September 17 start date. They will be ready. All of them are excited about playing.”
Shaw said it tough to lose the practice time they did as a junior high team.
“You get kids that have never played, so the time we lost would have been used to teach them hitting and how to tackle and such. You cannot get that back. We will have to learn on the fly. We will do this while we work on our offense and defense.”
Shaw touched on some players that will definitely see action.
“Kyle Sluder started two games last season in the backfield before suffering a broken collarbone. He is back healthy, and he will be one of our studs again this year. He will be a two or three back and probably play linebacker.”
“We lost Jace Stout, which hurt us. He could be back if we return to school. Landle Walker is another kid who will see time at a three back and receiver. He is one of those kids that we will take and plug. He is that type of player for us.”
Luke Warlock moves up as the JV quarterback from a season ago to the starting one on this year’s varsity.
“He has gotten a lot taller and stronger, and he is a good field general.” “We feel like he will make good decisions and are a good leader on the field.”
He will get plenty of help from his center Nate Doreman who started every game as a seventh-grader.
“He was our center last year, but he will probably play right tackle or guard for us, and he will play tackle on defense.”
“A lot of our seventh graders got good minutes last year, so we have got a lot of smart football kids. They are very coachable; we tell them once and do not have to tell them twice. You like to see that in kids.”
“The team is deep in the backfield with Sam Cretsinger, Colton Grindstaff, and Connor Gibson. The trio will help out a lot.”
Shaw thinks his team can compete for a championship with Hampton behind their stiffest opponent.
“We get them at home, so it is a good thing,” said Shaw about the Bulldog. Hopefully, we can beat them here, and win the thing by playing well against the rest of our schedule. Our kids want to strap it on and get started. We will correct our mistakes, and the season goes on.”