Everyone in the 5A Division I playoffs – except Highland Park – lost their finale in 2017, including Texas High.
However, Coach Gerry Stanford’s Tigers bowed out of the postseason in style, losing a 56-49 heart-breaker to eventual state champion Highland Park.
“We were playing our best football at the end of the season,” said Stanford, who bid farewell to 32 lettermen last winter. “No doubt we gained a lot of momentum coming out of last year. It carried over to the off-season, into the summer, and our first days of practice in August.”
Last year at this time Texas High players were trying to learn how to line up in their new offense. This year the Tigers are focused on detail. Despite the graduation of all-state receiver Tevailance Hunt, Stanford believes THS will be better offensively. Only three defensive starters return, but Texas High’s coach is optimistic on that side, too.
However, the Tigers did not fair well in their scrimmage with Class 6A Longview. The Lobos look ready to challenge for a state title in Texas’ highest classification (6A Division II) after dominating Texas High last Friday night at Tiger Stadium in Grim Park. Stanford would be the first to tell you it was just a scrimmage.
Texas High will also be playing in a different district the next two years. John Tyler is the early favorite in District 7-5A Division I, and at least one publication has Texas High second. Mesquite Poteet, West Mesquite, McKinney North, Sherman and Wylie East, complete the new league.
“It’s going to be a tough district, one of the deepest in 5A,” Stanford said. “I’m familiar with some of the schools. The head coach at Sherman (J.D. Martinez) was my offensive coordinator at Marcus. We worked together for twelve years. I expect us to be in the middle of every game each week.”
Clack back to lead Texas High offense
Stanford has reason to be excited with the return of senior quarterback Coltin Clack (6-3, 215), who passed for over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns despite missing several games with an injury. Senior running back Chris Sutton returns after rushing for 811 yards and nine touchdowns in 2017. He also had 11 receptions for 136 yards and two scores. Receiver Chris Lyles is back after catching 31 passes a year ago.
“It’s always good to have your quarterback back; he’s someone who has experience under the Friday Night Lights, and in front of a big crowd,” Stanford said. “Coltin can handle the pressure, too. With the exception of Hunt, all of our skill guys are back. I think we’ve got some very talented running backs and receivers.”
There’s also three players (Ladd Preston, Cameron Radney and DeAndre Brown) back in the offensive line. Four have quality reps according to Stanford.
The Tigers’ defense will be smaller this fall, but the coaching staff believes athleticism and intelligence will offset the lack of size.
Defense was the Tigers’ strength in 2017, according to Stanford.
“We’re a faster defense this year overall,” he said. “We’re much more comfortable with the leaders we have on the field right now. I think the guys are more comfortable in knowing what their roles are. Lyles is a leader at safety, he’ll have to go both ways some.”
Others expected to perform at a high level include Brown, who is moving over to the defensive line with Justin Franklin and Demarcus Vaughn. Sophomore Clayton Smith is one of the Tigers’ best young players, and will be an outside linebacker, as will Darryl Maxwell. Marquavious Fisher and Seth Willis will be in the secondary with Lyles.