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2014 Summit Football Preview

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Pride: Team has ability to be good, compete

 

Entering the new season, the Summit football team is hungry for more. After starting a disappointing 0-3 last year, the Jaguars turned the ship around in district play, finishing the season 6-6 overall, 5-2 in District 15-4A, getting into the playoffs via a late-game field goal, and being eliminated in the second round.

Summit is looking to expand on those results this year without the 0-3 start. The Jaguars’ first three opponents are Wichita Falls, Birdville and cross-town rival Mansfield, all of whom made the playoffs last year in their respective classification.

Last year, Wichita Falls went 8-6 overall before being eliminated by eventual state champion Aledo in the fourth round of playoffs. The Coyotes scored an average of about 20 points per game while giving up 25 points per game. However, the defensive numbers are skewed a bit by 49-3 and 69-14 blowout losses to Denton Guyer and Aledo, respectively. This won’t be an easy win.

Birdville went an impressive 11-3 last season before losing to Denton Guyer also in the fourth round. Their only other losses came in the first two games of district play, scoring 45 points per game throughout the season. However, in the playoffs, the Hawks averaged two touchdowns less per game. This game will be a rematch of a 2010 playoff game that sent the Jaguars packing after losing by an extra point; it won’t be an easy win, either.

Of the three teams Summit plays in its first games, Mansfield has the least impressive record at 5-6, losing to Waco Midway in the first round. The Tiger offense averaged 22 points per game while the defense allowed 28 points a game. Mansfield won the 2013 Blue-Out game, 42-23, and the last Jaguar win came in 2009; so this win won’t come easy.

In comparison to the stats, last year, Summit averaged 25 on offense while allowing 32 points defensively. However, the Jaguars did hold Ennis to its second-lowest points total all season (19), behind only state champion Aledo (6). Also, Summit’s first win by more than a touchdown came in the first round of playoffs (25-15 over Nacogdoches).

It won’t be easy, but getting at least one win in the first three games will help this team build confidence and momentum and make a playoff run.

We sat down with head coach Travis Pride earlier this week to talk about the upcoming season. Here’s what he had to say:

How does this team compare to teams in the past?

“All my teams have been a little bit different. Who you have where, strength of position is always different…. The biggest thing for me is the character of the team. This team has its own unique identity, probably one of my more favorite character teams. The personalities and leadership, they’re really fun guys to coach. I don’t know how they’ll compare with wins and losses with (teams before), but I know they’re gonna be fun to coach and they’re gonna work hard. They embody a lot of the elements I truly believe. With all that said, I do think that they have a chance to be really competitive.”

What will be the biggest challenge this year?

“Our district is just super good. I think we’re gonna have a good football team. But with that being said, I think Timberview is gonna have a really good football team. And Lancaster’s gonna have a good football team. And Lake Ridge is gonna have a really good football team. And Waxahachie. So you could be a darn good football team and at the end of the day you might be sitting at .500*…. I think there are teams that are just really stacked** this year…. I think it’s a very competitive district that we’re in.”

Have there been any major changes on offense or defense?

“Not schematically. The schemes will remain pretty much the same. But you gotta adapt your schemes a little bit to the personnel but (play call will change)…. From year to year, the strength of a position alters.”

Last year’s team was full of new players, including starting quarterback Braden Nolen. How will experience help this team?

“It’ll help. A lot of those players who were new to the varsity level now have a year under their belt. We’re gonna have a handful of new players again (who) have to … take some responsibilities. I think (for) those kids who’ve had some playing time, their game is going to improve and I think their ability to lead the newbies will help the rookies kinda find their place.”

In his first year as starting varsity quarterback, Nolen threw for 2360 yards, 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. How do you think the junior Nolen will compare to his sophomore year?

“I would guess that there would be quite a bit of improvement. He was very good as a sophomore. But with his work ethic, he pays attention to detail, and he’s so coach-able. His desire to be good is so great that I don’t think there will ever be a year in which Braden doesn’t improve. That’s just the nature of him.”

How is the chemistry of this team compared to the past?

“It’s really good. These kids have good relationships with themselves. We got a couple key figures that the only way they know how to do things is work. And those are some of our better players. Someone told me once that when your leaders happen to be your best players, special things can happen. And that’s kinda the case for us. Braden is one of our leaders and he is a super hard worker. And then you’ve got (junior Dylan) Briscoe, and (junior Rycardo) Dos Anjos and (junior) Miles Adams. (They) are just great kids, hard workers, great leaders and they’re some of our better players. So that kinda sets the tone for good things.”

Eight of the 10 regular season games are really just “home games,” being played at Vernon Newsom and R. L. Anderson Stadiums. The other two are at Birdville and Lancaster. What do you make of that?

“I guess it’s good. In the football world, it’s fun to travel around a bit, see different venues and see different things. But I guess in reality everyone wants home field advantage, so I guess eight of 10 (games) we indirectly have home field advantage. On some of those games the other team can claim the same, …but it’s nice. You have more opportunities to draw a bigger crowd because it’s right in your back yard. So hopefully it’ll be beneficial to us.”

In case you haven’t been in the north parking lot at school, since May, construction crews have been working on replacing the grass JV field with artificial turf, among other things. What do you think of the new JV field?

“It’s nice. The fields are great. There have been a lot of improvements for us over the summer, so we’re excited about that.”

We know coaches don’t like to answer this question, but if you could say, how good is this team?

“If I had a gut feeling, I would tell you. It’s just this team has the ability to be very good…. But the strength of District 14-5A … is a loaded*** district this year. I think that at the end of the day, we can be a very good football team and still have a couple losses on our (record). I think they got great potential; I really do.”

Note: All responses are written as spoken with minimal editing.

For Summit, the road to playoffs starts this week at R.L. Anderson at 7:00 pm**** against Wichita Falls.

 

*.500 – This is a term used by most coaches to describe when a team has as many wins as loses. For example, Summit last season finished 6-6, or at .500.

**Stacked – This is a term used to discribe a team that has a lot of talent.

***Loaded – In this instance, this term describes a division of sports teams that are really good that have to compete against each other.

****Just another reminder that this week’s game is at 7:00 pm, not the typical 7:30 pm start time. However, for every game after this week, the start time will be 7:30 pm.

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About the Writer
Josh Martella, Editor

I am Josh Martella, and I am a junior this year. This is my second year on newspaper staff, and I guess you could say that this is also my second year...

The School Newspaper of Mansfield Summit High School.
2014 Summit Football Preview