Redwater puts winning tradition to test in new District 7-3A Division I

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Redwater football players working in weightroom in preparation for 2018 season.

REDWATER, Texas – Twenty years ago someone might have Redwater drowning this fall when the 2018 high school football season kicks off.

The Dragons will face a murderous row when District 7-3A Division I play begins. Atlanta is down from Class 4A; Mount Vernon was 11-1, and has most of its starters back; and Jefferson matches up athletically with just about anyone in 3A. Then there’s Hughes Springs, a consistent power every year under coach Chris Edwards.

“We’ll have to play our best every week in district,” said veteran Redwater coach Tommy Graf. “The key to our success is what we do. You can’t look at our schedule and think we’re going to win every week.

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Redwater coach Tommy Graf begins his seventh season as the Dragons’ head football coach in 2018.

“Since I’ve been at Redwater my kids after never let me down in regard to effort. With effort and execution, good things can happen. We like our chances, and love our number (77) of kids that have come out this year. We’ll hang our hat on effort and execution, and see what happens.”

Redwater has been in the playoffs eight straight years, six under Graf. The Dragons were fourth last year, losing in the final seconds of their last game, or they would have been second.

Graf is proud of the fact nobody can take Redwater lightly.

“We’re one of those teams you have to look at now,” he said. “Our strength this season is our familiarity with our offense. We’ve done the same thing from the flexbone for ten years. When our young kids get to the varsity they know the offense because they’ve been doing it since the seventh grade.”

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Peyton Davis returns at tailback for his third varsity season after running for 900 yards and 14 touchdowns at Redwater in 2017.

Redwater offense can be explosive

The Dragons line up in a single-wing, adding the threat of a veer option. They averaged 34 points per game last season, considerably higher than the 20 they averaged while winning district a few years ago.

Peyton and Preston Davis accounted for more than 2,000 yards in 2017. Peyton is a 3-year starter at tailback, who ran for 900 yards and 14 touchdowns last season. Quarterback Jonah Ketchum, Garrett Johnson, Matt Williams, Mason Robertson, Dalton Graf, Nick Fernandez and Lawson McBain will probably have an opportunity to run with the ball.

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Jonah Ketchum saw action at quarterback for Redwater in 2017.

Redwater will have the ability to throw the ball, too. Ketchum, Preston Davis and freshman Malcolm Brown, have outstanding arms, according to the Dragons’ coach. He claims Redwater has never been deeper at the position.

Seven returning starters has Graf optimistic about the Dragons’ defense.

“I think we will be better on defense, eventually,” he said. “Last year we lost a key player (Mason McCloskey) for the season in a scrimmage. We were very young at linebacker, but those kids are back. If we have a weakness, it’s our size. We may average 200 at best on both lines. The biggest kid on our team may be 240.”

Graf’s analysis for 2018 is simply put – don’t expect Redwater to sink.