Guyer’s Walsh heaping praise on offensive line

Guyer head coach John Walsh high-fives players coming off the field against Southlake Carroll, Saturday, November 22, 2014, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. David Minton/DRC

Guyer head coach John Walsh high-fives players coming off the field against Southlake Carroll, Saturday, November 22, 2014, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. David Minton/DRC

I’ve been covering Guyer football since that monumental 1-9 season in 2007, and even heading into that season, the Wildcats had two future Big 12 offensive linemen.

Since then, not much has changed, except for the Wildcats’ run of success that has seen them post a 94-22 record since the 2008 season began. In that time, the Wildcats mixed in a trip to the title game in the state’s largest classification (something no other Denton ISD program has accomplished) and back-to-back titles in the old Class 4A in 2012 and 2013.

Through all those successful seasons, there’s been a constant at Guyer — a really strong offensive line and a dominant rushing attack.

With all that said, this year’s prospects in those two areas look to be the strongest in program history. It starts with the running back tandem of senior Myron Mason, who could be a Division I running back by season’s end and sophomore Noah Cain, who was recently ranked as the top back in the Class of 2019 nationally and has several big-time offers after a great freshman year.

But those guys need help, and the offensive line should be ready to provide it this year despite returning just one starter in right guard Colton Kubicek (6-2, 270). Joining him are left tackle John Lanz (6-4, 260), who Walsh swears will be an FBS player, left guard Blake Watson (6-3, 240), who started for Flower Mound last year, center Dylan Alexander (5-11, 245) and right tackle Josh Nicholson (6-2, 230).

Wondering how the Wildcats could be better up front than ever, perhaps, despite four new faces? I was, too.

“We’ve had some really good offensive lines here,” Walsh said. “I’m really excited about this one because they have the talent the others have had but from left to right, it’s business every day, no nonsense, blue-collar and they’re extremely intelligent. When you have that going on up front you don’t have to be too special behind them.

“But we feel like we’re pretty special behind them.”

 

What you need to know: Mansfield Lake Ridge

Mansfield Lake Ridge head coach Kirk Thor receives the trophy after their big win over Aledo in the 5A Div I State Semifinal game at Birdville Fine Arts Complex in North Richland Hills, Texas, Friday, December 11, 2015. Lake Ridge won and is moving onto the State Championship for the first time in their short school history. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)

Mansfield Lake Ridge head coach Kirk Thor receives the trophy after their big win over Aledo in the 5A Div I State Semifinal game at Birdville Fine Arts Complex in North Richland Hills, Texas, Friday, December 11, 2015. Lake Ridge won and is moving onto the State Championship for the first time in their short school history. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)

After months and months of waiting and weeks and weeks of hype, the regular season is here, and once again, Guyer will be a force to be reckoned with on the state landscape in Class 6A after a somewhat surprising run to the regional final a year ago.

Also, once again, the Wildcats will play a fierce nondistrict schedule starting with Mansfield Lake Ridge, which was one nightmarish, injury-laden state championship game away from hoisting the Class 5A Division I state championship trophy in just its fourth year of existence.

So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at what to expect as the regular season finally opens.

The Game: Guyer (0-0) vs. Mansfield Lake Ridge (0-0), 7:30 p.m., at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex. Guyer enters the season in the fourth “others receiving votes” spot, or 14th, in the preseason Class 6A Associated Press state poll. Lake Ridge enters the year tied for 11th in the first “ORV” slot, and oddly, got one first-place vote.

Series Record: This is the first-ever meeting between the two teams.

What happened last week: Well, one of those fake games, as I like to call them. I was at Guyer’s scrimmage against traditional state power Euless Trinity, and walked away not being exactly sure what I’d just seen. Guyer’s first team dominated the Trojans’ first-teamers, but I’m not so sure this year’s Trinity squad is the typical Trinity squad. Regardless, the Wildcats looked good. Lake Ridge also scrimmaged, and according to Guyer coach John Walsh looked much like the team that took the state by storm a year ago, only with a few new faces. Lake Ridge actually lost 47 players to graduation and a staggering 81 percent of its total offense — mostly quarterback Jett Duffey and running back Duke Carter, who were both injured before the state championship game loss last year.

What to expect: This is going to be a good game between two athletic teams with a lot of swagger. Sure, Duffey is gone and he was a transcendent player, but the Eagles now have junior Jason Bean under center and he already has an offer from SMU despite never having started a varsity game. Guyer will be shorthanded on both sides of the ball, but especially on defense. Middle linebacker Caleb Bridges suffered a broken collarbone in last week’s scrimmage and is out 6-8 weeks, meaning outside linebacker Tucker Nitardy will move to the middle and Trevon Turner will step in for Nitardy. The biggest absence will be that of Thabo Mwaniki, a two-way standout who’s committed to Oklahoma State. Mwaniki is a starting wide receiver and safety for Guyer but won’t be at the game as he’ll be overseas for funeral services for his father. That will mean a good challenge for some new faces from a Lake Ridge offense loaded with athletes.

Final say: I think Lake Ridge will give Guyer a good game, but ultimately, as long as Guyer doesn’t turn the ball over too much, the Wildcats will pull away in the fourth quarter and take advantage of Lake Ridge’s man-press defense that is hard to execute against good, athletic offenses.

Prediction: Guyer 38, Mansfield Lake Ridge 24

Former Guyer QB named DeSoto starter

Denton Guyer High School quarterback Shawn Robinson (3) throws a pass as he is pressured by San Angelo Central High School defensive tackle Jordan Schellhase (41) during the second quarter as Denton Guyer High School hosted San Angelo Central High School at AT&T Stadium in Arlington on Friday, November 27, 2015.  (Stewart F. House/Special Contributor)

Denton Guyer High School quarterback Shawn Robinson (3) throws a pass as he is pressured by San Angelo Central High School defensive tackle Jordan Schellhase (41) during the second quarter as Denton Guyer High School hosted San Angelo Central High School at AT&T Stadium in Arlington on Friday, November 27, 2015. (Stewart F. House/Special Contributor)

After there appeared to be (at least somewhat of) a quarterback competition going on in the spring involving former Guyer standout Shawn Robinson and Courtney Douglas at Robinson’s new school DeSoto, the Eagles have reportedly pulled the trigger and named Robinson their starter under center just a few days before they open the 2016 season against Jesuit on Friday.

Robinson, who starred at Guyer as a sophomore and junior after transferring from Saginaw Chisholm Trail following his freshman season, transferred to DeSoto back in April after his mom, Andrea, and dad, Othell, each landed coaching jobs at DeSoto.

Robinson battled a hamstring injury in the spring and last year’s backup at DeSoto, Douglas, was reportedly holding his own in holding off the highly touted four-star recruit in Robinson. But it appears, for the time anyway, Robinson has gotten the nod.

The Dallas Morning News received an email from DeSoto head coach Todd Peterman confirming the decision.

Robinson, a TCU pledge, inherits a team full of FBS commits on the offensive line and at wide receiver, so if he can stay healthy he should be be able to thrive. Of course, DeSoto hosts Guyer on Sept. 2 in what should be a complete circus in terms of hype.

Robinson put up monster numbers as a sophomore at Guyer but struggled at times as a junior, especially in the passing game. In the postseason, however, he took over a couple of games and finished with 1,474 yards passing yards and 11 touchdowns, with eight interceptions for Guyer. He led the team with 1,678 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns.

Stillwell now officially ‘the guy’ as Guyer hits field

Denton Guyer High School quarterback Luke Stillwell (18) tries to escape the grasp of San Angelo Central High School defensive end Elbert Paulk III (33) during the third quarter as Denton Guyer High School hosted San Angelo Central High School at AT&T Stadium in Arlington on Friday, November 27, 2015.  (Stewart F. House/Special Contributor)

Denton Guyer High School quarterback Luke Stillwell (18) tries to escape the grasp of San Angelo Central High School defensive end Elbert Paulk III (33) during the third quarter as Denton Guyer High School hosted San Angelo Central High School at AT&T Stadium in Arlington on Friday, November 27, 2015. (Stewart F. House/Special Contributor)

Luke Stillwell was seemingly born to be the starting quarterback at Guyer High School.

When the Wildcats take the field for their season opener against Mansfield Lake Ridge on Aug. 26, it will be Stillwell who starts the game under center.

It’s what was meant to be. It’s just a year earlier than planned after star quarterback Shawn Robinson transferred to DeSoto in the spring, thrusting Stillwell into the spotlight.

On Monday morning as the sun was rising, Stillwell was leading what is now his team during the Wildcats’ first workout.

“It feels like it is my team now,” said Stillwell, a 6-4, 190-pound junior who was attending Guyer football camps at the program’s inception in the mid-2000s. “We have so much talent all over the field, but I kind of feel like it’s my team to take over and take control of. It feels like it’s my turn.”

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Guyer’s Cain named country’s top ’19 RB

Guyer freshman running back Noah Cain (22) evades a tackle by Southlake Carroll junior defensive back Jake Murphy (18), Friday, November 20, 2015, at Eagle Stadium in Allen, TX. David Minton/DRC

Guyer freshman running back Noah Cain (22) evades a tackle by Southlake Carroll junior defensive back Jake Murphy (18), Friday, November 20, 2015, at Eagle Stadium in Allen, TX. David Minton/DRC

If there’s one thing I have known about Guyer sophomore Noah Cain since, oh, about the Keller game last year, it’s that he is really good at running with a football in his hands.

See what I mean?

Well, all that hype and all those accolades were given some “oomph” on Wednesday afternoon when recruiting site 247 Sports released its initial rankings for the Class of 2019.

Cain, who’s 5-11 and now a hair over 200 pounds, missed the better part of four games last year with a broken hand, but still managed to rack up 1,058 yards on 112 carries (9.4 yards per carry) and 10 touchdowns while adding another score through the air.

And now, he’s ranked as the nation’s top running back in his class and as the No. 5 player overall nationally. The sophomore-to-be is poised for a huge season as a part of what is sure to be a dynamic Guyer rushing attack with Cain, seniors Myron Mason and Christian Moore and junior quarterback Luke Stillwell.

Cain already has offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Kansas, Miami, Oklahoma State, SMU, Texas A&M and Tulsa and is sure to get a lot more in the next few years.

 

 

Guyer’s Sutton commits to Illinois State

Guyer junior defensive end Jalen Sutton (17) and senior linebacker Michael Carillo (32) bring down Mansfield junior running back Kennedy Brooks (5), in a UIL Class 6A Division II state quarterfinal, Saturday, December 5, 2015, at Dragon Stadium in Southlake, TX. David Minton/DRC

Guyer junior defensive end Jalen Sutton (17) and senior linebacker Michael Carillo (32) bring down Mansfield junior running back Kennedy Brooks (5), in a UIL Class 6A Division II state quarterfinal, Saturday, December 5, 2015, at Dragon Stadium in Southlake, TX. David Minton/DRC

Just days after Guyer added another big-time college commitment to their list, a somewhat under-the-radar player made a commitment of his own on Tuesday when defensive end Jalen Sutton committed to Illinois State.

The Redbirds compete in the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) in the Missouri Valley Conference along with known powerhouse North Dakota State, which just produced rookie NFL quarterback Carson Wentz.

In other words, there are plenty of big-time players in the FCS, as you can see when you look at the NFL Draft list on an annual basis. Now, Sutton appears to be lining himself up for that same chance after emerging late as a junior after his playing time increased due to some injuries on Guyer’s defensive line.

After entering a prominent spot in Guyer’s defensive line rotation late in the year, the rangy defensive end was in on 22 stops, including nine behind the line of scrimmage and two sacks. He also had a pass breakup and nine quarterback hurries.

 

Guyer’s Mwaniki set to continue pipeline to Stillwater

Guyer junior defensive back Thabo Mwaniki (1) sacks Byron Nelson senior quarterback Preston Haire (12), Friday, October 23, 2015, at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex in Denton, TX. David Minton/DRC

Guyer junior defensive back Thabo Mwaniki (1) sacks Byron Nelson senior quarterback Preston Haire (12), Friday, October 23, 2015, at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex in Denton, TX. David Minton/DRC

As a middle-schooler at Harpool, Thabo Mwaniki remembers watching from afar as a trio of Guyer football players excelled in the Big 12 at Oklahoma State.

Now that Guyer’s contingent of OSU players has all moved on, Mwaniki will start what he hopes is another pipeline from Guyer High School to Stillwater after committing to play college football for the Cowboys on Saturday.

Mwaniki visited Stillwater on Thursday and made his decision shortly thereafter, choosing OSU over 12 other Football Bowl Subdivision offers including Colorado, Kansas, Purdue and North Texas.

“It just feels like home to me,” said Mwaniki, who will play safety at the next level but will play mostly at strong-side linebacker and wide receiver during his upcoming senior year. “I love the staff. [Safeties] Coach [Dan] Hammerschmidt is great. The facilities are top of the line. The campus is beautiful. Just everything about it was great.”

Oral commitments are non-binding. The first day a Class of 2017 recruit can sign a national letter of intent is Feb. 1.

Mwaniki moved up from junior varsity as a sophomore three games into the year to play safety for Guyer before moving to linebacker due to injury a handful of games into the 2015 season. He finished his junior year with 61 tackles, including 14 stops behind the line of scrimmage. He added two sacks and a fumble recovery. He was also Guyer’s second-leading receiver with 18 catches for 294 yards and a touchdown.

“His versatility speaks volumes,” Guyer coach John Walsh said. “I think that’s what caught the attention of a lot of people. They want him at safety, some want him at corner, but he could be a receiver at that level. He has some of the best ball skills and explosiveness that we’ve had come through. The different things he brings to the table makes him so attractive.”

Mwaniki had planned to commit at the beginning of the summer but was waiting for an offer that blew him away. On Thursday, he got it.

“We’ve been talking for about four weeks now,” Mwaniki said. “The biggest thing for me was that they’re losing five safeties by the time I get there, so early playing time was a big factor for me.”

And once again, Guyer fans seem poised to have a reason to follow OSU on Saturdays.

“I’m excited for Thabo,” said Walsh, whose son J.W. was a Cowboys quarterback who graduated in December. “Plus, I get to keep all that orange stuff in my closet.”

Guyer hoopsters offered by Sooners

Guyer sophomores-to-be De'Vion Harmon, left, and Jalen Wilson each picked up offers from the Oklahoma Sooners over the weekend. David Minton/DRC

Guyer sophomores-to-be De’Vion Harmon, left, and Jalen Wilson each picked up offers from the Oklahoma Sooners over the weekend. David Minton/DRC

In case you’ve been living under a rock, there are some pretty talented cats in the 2019 class at Guyer.

We saw it in two different sports this past school year. There was obviously running back Noah Cain on the gridiron, and he was joined by classmate De’Vion Harmon, who was a starting wide receiver for the Wildcats. The pair were the first freshmen Guyer coach John Walsh ever had suited up to start a season. And they both were integral in Guyer’s run to the regional final.

Then, we saw it on the hardwood with Harmon and fellow freshman Jalen Wilson, as they led Guyer to a 30-win season and a second-round playoff appearance before falling to powerhouse South Grand Prairie, and it was the two freshmen who often led the way.

Over the weekend, they made a splash on the recruiting scene when they picked up offers on the same night from the Oklahoma Sooners. Not bad for a first offer in the bag for Wilson and a second for Harmon after UT-Arlington made the initial one weeks ago. Harmon has also picked up serious interest from LSU.

Harmon, a Jack-of-all-trades point guard, averaged 13.3 points, 4.5 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game last season for the Wildcats. He announced earlier this summer his decision to give up football and focus exclusively on basketball. Wilson, a 6-5 guard/forward, averaged 14.7 points with a team-high 6.7 rebounds and three assists.

To think, the Wildcats have those two for three more seasons plus a crop of more young studs coming in. The move to the new District 6-6A with the big Plano ISD schools and Allen is going to be a really big challenge on the basketball court, but Guyer is shaping up to be able to compete for a district title.

 

Big-time offers keeping piling up for Cain

A quick look at the above highlight tape (yes, I’m a child of the 80s and I still use the word “tape”), lets you know pretty quickly that Noah Cain doesn’t mess around.

Last season as a freshman — one of two freshman starters on Guyer’s varsity team after John Walsh had gone nine years without ever beginning the season suiting up a freshman much less starting one — Cain burst on to the scene and proved to be one of the hardest runners in the Metroplex.

On Thursday, Cain added another big-time college offer to his list before ever taking a snap as a high school sophomore. It came from Kevin Sumlin and Texas A&M, who joined other Power 5 schools like Arizona, Arizona State, Kansas, Miami and Oklahoma State as ones to jump on the Guyer freshman early.

“It’s a first for me,” Walsh said. “We’ve had these programs offer our kids before but never at 15 years old. It’s a testament to his preparation he’s done prior to this, in his early years. He’s ahead of his time physically. Today, he’s a solid 202 pounds at 15.”

Cain, who’s 5-11, missed the better part of four games last year with a broken hand, but still managed to rack up 1,058 yards on 112 carries (9.4 yards per carry) and 10 touchdowns while adding another score through the air.

At this time last year I remember Walsh telling me about a freshman-to-be who was special, but he thought he might lack the home run threat. He quickly erased that doubt, and showed to be the complete package pretty quickly with a spatial awareness well beyond his years.

“He erased any downfield, home run threat doubts in Week 1 with a long run against Allen,” Walsh said. “What we know and what colleges see on tape is that, other than being physically gifted, he has natural vision and patience to set up blocks. That’s the last thing a good running back usually gets, but he has that already.”

Guyer’s Mack stepping away from coaching, assistant to take over

Addie Mack, who coached Guyer's volleyball team for the past five seasons, will step away from the court but remain at the school as a teacher. David Minton/DRC

Addie Mack, who coached Guyer’s volleyball team for the past five seasons, will step away from the court but remain at the school as a teacher. David Minton/DRC

Addie Mack said she realized a personal change might be in order as far back as this past volleyball season in the fall, and on Thursday she made it official.

Mack will step away from coaching volleyball at Guyer High School, where she’s led the program for the past five seasons as the second volleyball coach in school history.

Mack said her growing family made the decision to step down from coaching an easy one. She will continue to teach math at Guyer.

“It was a really tough decision,” Mack said. “With me having my new baby — she just turned 1 — I realized that I needed to put more time and energy into my kids. I realized this past season how much I really missed them. I just knew it’d be best for me and my family to put more time into my family.”

Mack’s teams made the postseason the past four years and claimed district titles in the past three seasons, one of which was a co-championship with Trophy Club Nelson.

The Lady Wildcats made their deepest playoff run in Mack’s tenure, and their deepest in the state’s largest classification, in 2014 when they were eliminated in the third round by state powerhouse Southlake Carroll. Guyer lost to Plano in the bi-district round this past season.

Mack said she was emotional while telling her players on Thursday but let them know she’d still be a part of their lives as a teacher at the school. She also said she would step away and let her former assistant, Erin Harden, run the program the way she sees fit.

“It was a hard thing to do,” Mack said of breaking the news to Guyer’s players. “There were a lot of tears and hugs and well-wishes between the kids and myself. That was pretty tough. They at least know I’m on campus still and I’ll still be a part of their lives.

“But I’m also going to step away and let [Erin] Harden do what she needs to do the program and allow her to run it her own way without me interfering.”

ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872 and via Twitter at @aboedeker.