DEKALB, Texas – Buddy Griffin knows what it takes to win high school football games in DeKalb.
Griffin was the head football coach at DeKalb from 1993-1996, compiling a 22-21 record, including a 10-3 season in 1995. He rejoined the Bears’ coaching staff last January, taking over as head coach in March.
“I’ve faced rebuilding situations just about everywhere I’ve been,” Griffin said. “There’s still a lot of things intact from the first time I was here. The community is great, the kids work hard, and they’re not afraid to play the game.”
Griffin’s new staff faces the challenge of teaching his players a new offense (split-back veer) and defense (4-2-5).
The Bears only have four seniors playing football in 2018, which doesn’t help matters. However, Griffin is excited about a big junior class.
“I’m really excited about all of our classes, but we will be a heavy junior team,” he said. “Some of our sophomores will have to step up and play. We feel like we’re going to be very competitive, the kids’ work ethic is outstanding.”
Realignment has DeKalb in 11-3A Division II with Waskom, Daingerfield, Elysian Fields, Paul Pewitt, New Diana, Ore City and Queen City.
DeKalb returns 17 of 24 lettermen, including six starters on both sides of the ball. The Bears were 6-6 in 2017, with a 3-3 record in district and 1-1 finish in the playoffs.
“We’ve been working hard to get kids in the right positions,” Griffin said. “I want team players, who are going to rally around each other, play hard for each other, and play with pride. That’s the thing that DeKalb has always had when I was here before.”
Team speed a plus for DeKalb
Griffin feels team speed could be this year’s strength. He’s comfortable knowing his players expect to be pushed and driven.
“I think we have great team chemistry right now,” he said. “I’m very excited with what I’m seeing. We’ve got to play good defense until the offense comes around. This is totally opposite of what they’ve been doing.”
The Bears are blessed with talent in the defensive secondary. Senior Jason Jackson, brother of Jaquan Jackson, who rushed for nearly 3,000 yards in 2017, may never leave the field. Jaquan is now playing for Northwestern State University. Griffin said the multi-talented speedster could play running back, quarterback, receiver and defensive back.
Timon Proby, JeMichael Wherry, Riley Starrett, Ty Olson, Jamario Vaughn and Ramaj Vaughn will all split time in the secondary.
There’s experience at linebacker with Alex Clark, Dillon Kizer and Olson. Christopher McDaniel, Ty Brown, Carter Wafford, Kyle Telford and Londell Howard are the front-runners in the defensive line.
Some of those same kids will join Clayton Graef, Whit Sparks and Katerius Gray in the offensive line, possibly the Bears’ deepest and strongest position.
Daniel Espinoza will be the Bears’ punter and kicker.
It’s also obvious the Bears must remain healthy to stay competitive. They’re starting the season with 41 players, and Griffin is counting on half that group to be on the junior varsity.
“There’s going to be a transition time, but like I said, we feel we’ll be competitive,” Griffin concluded.