As soon as the Guyer football team was finished celebrating its second straight Class 4A Division I state championship in December, coach John Walsh was salivating at what he had returning on defense for the 2014 season.
After an expected move up to the state’s largest classification — the newly named Class 6A — the Wildcats went through spring football without several of those defensive starters, who were nursing minor injuries.
When fall practice officially began on Monday morning, Walsh finally caught a glimpse of what should be the anchor of his team early on while a new offensive line and sophomore quarterback Shawn Robinson adjust to their new-found roles.
“We just picked up where we left off in the state championship,” said senior defensive tackle Carl Thompson, who is committed to Kansas and missed spring practice due to injury. “Now we just have to fill the new guys in, but they already know what they’re doing from the spring. Everybody’s ready.”
Aside from Thompson, Guyer’s defense went through spring practice without starting safety Jordan Wallace, who’s committed to Iowa State, and fellow starting defensive tackle Isiah Correa. Walsh said it was a welcomed sight to see them all back at work early Monday morning.
“For a coach, you look down there and you see your two interior guys that you haven’t seen in action since December,” Walsh said.
“When we have Carl and Isiah in there, things get a whole lot better. We’re full tilt now with no one on the sidelines, and we hope we keep it that way.”
Walsh was also clearly happy with his new signal-caller.
Robinson, a sophomore who started last season as a freshman at Saginaw Chisholm Trail, came to Guyer when his mother, Andrea, was hired as Guyer’s girls basketball coach and his father, Othell, was brought on as a tight ends coach.
Now, he’s replacing three-year starter and two-time state championship game offensive MVP Jerrod Heard, who is now a freshman at Texas.
“It’s amazing to me how much he retained from the spring and how much he has learned,” Walsh said. “That’s a credit to [quarterbacks coach Lee] Vallejo and [Othell Robinson], just going home with his dad. He’s a special talent, but I can tell intellectually he’s a cut above the rest, too.”
Robinson said he feels some pressure stepping into the starting job for a two-time defending state champion after starting as a freshman for a youthful, new program that went 3-7 last season.
“I feel the pressure, but I feel like I’m ready for it,” said Robinson, a dynamic 6-2, 198-pound dual-threat quarterback who already has offers from Nebraska and Texas. “I’m just going to go in and make the simple plays. I’m hoping it’ll be like Jerrod never left.”
Robinson will be broken in along with an entirely new offensive line after the Wildcats graduated all five starters from last year’s state championship group.
That would usually be a huge concern, but Walsh said he’s confident in a group of 10 players who look to be a special group up front.
“It’s always scary when you have five new up front,” Walsh said. “We have 10 guys down there who are sizable, strong, move well and know our system. We have a lot of options.
“We know they have a long way to go. We’re going to line up against Euless Trinity [in an Aug. 22 scrimmage] and probably think we don’t have a very good line when we see those guys. In the end, that’s going to be a special group for us.”
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872 and via Twitter at @aboedeker.