With only seven returning starters from a team that went three rounds deep in the postseason last year, it would be understandable if Lake Dallas head coach Michael Young had some reservations heading into the 2012 season.
Instead, Young and his staff are ready to prove a lot of doubters wrong. They will start that process Monday when the Falcons begin fall workouts with less than three weeks remaining before they open the regular season Aug. 30 with a locally televised game against Richardson Pearce.
Guyer and Denton also will begin practice Monday, a week after the rest of the area schools hit the field. Denton, Guyer and Lake Dallas all participated in spring football, meaning they had to push back the start of practice by a week.
“Everyone’s really excited,” Young said. “This is kind of a fun year for us because of the expectations. We always have them for ourselves, and we always have had high expectations from outside in the past. But it adds excitement when other people have some doubts about us. I think that adds a little bit different wrinkle now.”
While there might not be many outside expectations at Lake Dallas, they are overwhelming a few miles down the road at Guyer, which will renew its rivalry with Lake Dallas after a two-year hiatus.
Guyer, expected to be a top team in Class 4A when The Associated Press preseason poll is released, has much of its offense back, including junior phenom Jerrod Heard, who totaled more than 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns while leading Guyer to the Class 5A Division II area playoffs last season as a sophomore.
Head coach John Walsh said the Wildcats have been itching to get back to work and redeem themselves after an embarrassing 48-24 loss to Mansfield to end their season at Arlington’s Cowboys Stadium in November. It marked the shortest playoff run in the program’s brief history after three straight seasons of at least making the state semifinals and one state championship game appearance (2010).
It wasn’t falling to a solid Mansfield team that left a bad taste in Guyer’s mouth, it was the fact that the Wildcats were outrushed by 200 yards and didn’t play their style of football.
“Going back to the loss against Mansfield, that was one of our poorest exhibitions of Guyer football in the last four years,” Walsh said. “We remind our kids often about performing every day and every day matters. We’re very hungry. The kids are extremely hungry. We’ve really had to coach them down a little bit because we don’t want them peaking too fast. We just need to take care of things one day at a time.”
At Denton, the Broncos will practice for the first time under new head coach Kevin Atkinson, who spent the previous 10 seasons as the head coach at Keller and was an assistant coach at Ryan in 2000 and 2001.
In the past seven seasons, Denton has compiled a 12-59 record and made one postseason appearance, but Atkinson is ready to get started on bucking that losing tradition.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing us become a team that’s mentally tough,” Atkinson said. “I’m not just talking about being able to push yourself beyond exhaustion. I’m talking about just being able to overcome adversity. When you’re in a situation where you haven’t had much success and one little thing goes wrong it can spiral you out of control.”
As for missing a week of practice in the fall, Walsh said the tradeoff is totally worth it.
“We can do that because our kids retain a lot of information from spring ball,” Walsh said. “It hasn’t been that long. I could go out there right now and call plays and they’d know what to do.”
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872. His e-mail address is email@example.com.