HOOKS, Texas – Realignment in District 7-3A Division I has most of that league’s head coaches frustrated, including Hooks’ Chris Birdwell.
“There’s probably going to be one or two good football teams staying at home when the playoffs start,” said Birdwell, whose team was 5-6 in 2017. “Six of the seven schools in this district made the playoffs last year, and they would be favorites in another district.
“We’ve gone up to Division I, and Atlanta has dropped down from 4A. Mount Vernon was 11-1 last season, and they’ve got most of their starters back. It’s the same for Jefferson and Hughes Springs.”
Birdwell is confident his club will be able to line up and compete. He’s got a senior squad that features eight returning starters on offense and seven on defense. Graduation did hurt, the Hornets losing their top two running backs, and several linemen.
The Hornets’ strength remains on offense with two veteran quarterbacks, and a stable of quality receivers.
“We don’t have the superstars that we’ve had in the past, but we’ve got a bunch of really good high school football players,” Birdwell said. “We’ve got a little size, and we’ve still got kids who can run well. (Logan) Murray was third in the 100 at state last spring. Carter Duncan has been to state track a couple of times.”
Mason Vasquez started most of last season at quarterback, but will be pushed hard by Connor Price, who was the starting signal-caller two years ago.
Hooks lining up in multiple offensive formations
Hooks will once again be operating from multiple offensive formations, using two backs, and only one back occasionally. Birdwell jokes that one of his problems will be finding a way to get all of his receivers on the field at the same time.
Marquiz Estell, Murray, Slate Ruth and Duncan head that contingent.
“We’ve got to find an offensive line that can protect our backs,” Birdwell said. “There’s some holes in the defensive line, too.”
Sophomores T.J. Rigsby, Dawson Adams and Matthew Estes are candidates to fill those spots.
The Hornets’ secondary should be sound with Estell, Murray, Scott Satterfield and Shamar Jefferson.
More than 60 players (grades 9-12) showed up for the first practice on Aug. 6, a number that pleased the coaching staff. Birdwell indicated Hooks has had as many as 70, and as few as 45.
“We shouldn’t have as many going both ways as you might think,” he said. “Our linemen, receivers and linebackers go mostly one way. We might have two or three going both ways.”