For the Guyer Wildcats, the 2012 football season marked a banner year in the program’s relatively young history when they used a second-half comeback to win the Class 4A Division I state championship over Georgetown.
Since that day, the players have worked slowly to move on from the joyful memory and get ready to play with a huge target on their backs.
On Monday, when Guyer officially began fall workouts, that process of moving on was complete.
“That’s one of the things I’ve been thinking about,” said senior defensive end Thomas Ferguson, who led the area last season with 10 sacks. “We need to get our minds right. What’s in the past is in the past. That’s 2012, this is 2013.”
The Wildcats will undoubtedly enter the 2013 season as favorites to repeat as state champions, with star Texas pledge Jerrod Heard under center and a nucleus of returning starters coming back. Head coach John Walsh said his players know the task at hand when they step on the field for their first game Aug. 29 against Class 5A Division II state finalist Cedar Hill.
“We talked in the off-season about winning it again, but it’s not based on what we did last year and our kids understand that,” he said. “We took that approach from the beginning. Success of 2012 has nothing to do with what’s going to happen in 2013, and they understand that.”
After a day of practice in helmets only (the first day Guyer can practice in pads is Friday), Walsh said he was already seeing some positive signs, one of which has been something the eighth-year head coach has raved about all off-season.
After giving up 25 points per game last season, including three times of surrendering at least 50 points, Walsh is confident he has an experienced defense that can be called upon to win a game, if needed.
“We know we gave up a lot of points last year,” Walsh said. “It’s not a secret. We had a lot of youth, but all that youth is not youth anymore. So now we’re going back to the ’08, ’09, ’10 and even ’11 defenses. Last year was the first year we’ve given up a lot of points. I think we’ll go back to where if it comes down to winning a 10-9 game, we can win a 10-9 game.”
Of course, the likelihood of the Wildcats needing that isn’t as high with Heard and a handful of explosive skill players on the offense, including returning running back D.J. Breedlove and newcomers Anthony Taylor, Alex Honey and David Haynes.
The Wildcats averaged a little more than 46 points per game in 2012 and were led by Heard, who rushed and passed for 4,279 total yards and 53 touchdowns.
“The sky’s the limit for this offense,” tight end Jonathan Pershall said. “It’s just like last year. We can rush for 500 or 600 yards. We can pass for however much we want. With ‘Big Texas’ [Heard] back there, we can do whatever we want.”
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872 and via Twitter at a @aboedeker.