What You Need to Know: Haslet Eaton

Braswell High School football players on the school's first ever football practice

It’s finally here! After years of planning, preparing and eventually building Denton’s fourth high school, Braswell, the Bengal football team is prepping to play its first opponent — also in its first year playing a varsity schedule — Haslet Eaton.

After 18 practices, a couple of scrimmages in the mix, and three days of classes, coach Cody Moore, his staff and the rest of the Bengals are ready to kick off their inaugural season tomorrow.

The Game: Braswell (0-0) at Haslet Eaton (0-0), Thursday, 7:00 p.m. at Northwest ISD Stadium

What happened last week: Braswell scrimmaged Grapevine Faith and Eaton squared off against Midlothian Heritage for its final tuneup. During the live quarter portion of the scrimmage, Braswell’s defense flew to the ball carrier, played physical and recovered two fumbles. Its largest concern was the lack of pressure applied in the backfield. Faith ball carriers burst through the Bengals’ interior defensive line, oftentimes untouched until they got to the second level of the defense.

Moore said his defense played phenomenal, and hopes it continues against Eaton.

What to expect: Two teams trying to find a rhythm on both sides of the ball. Between Braswell’s hurry-up offense and Eaton relying heavily on its running back, Titus Swen, it’ll all come down to what team can execute. Braswell hopes to execute its offense in order to give its defense ample rest to prepare for Swen. The offense must move the ball, and recently, it hasn’t shown it can very well. Expect Eaton to spread the wealth, but also give Swen his touches in the running and passing game. The sophomore tailback currently holds an offer from SMU. He could see between 20 and 30 touches a game, so the Braswell defense will have to key on him.

Final say: It sounds simple, but with two teams never taking a varsity snap, I think the team that scores first will have the upper hand from kickoff to the final whistle blow. It’s a jump on ‘em early or not at all bout.

Prediction: Braswell 14, Haslet Eaton 10

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.

 

Football: A Long Time Coming…

Braswell High School football players on the school's first ever football practice

As coaches, players and athletic trainers drove to C.H. Collins Athletic Complex early Monday morning, the lights of the stadium were lit, and for a second, it seemed like it was just hours before a Friday night kickoff.

However, the players that would take the field in an hour had never taken a snap with each other.

Braswell High School, the Denton school district’s newest high school, held its first practice where they’ll host opponents this year.

“It’s been a long time coming, and I don’t know about y’all but I have chill bumps,” Braswell athletic director and head football coach Cody Moore said to a room full of 72 juniors and sophomores.  “What better atmosphere to practice in than C.H. Collins?”

Unlike most programs beginning practice today, Coach Moore and his staff have to start from scratch. That means Moore had to address his team with a 15-slide PowerPoint presentation on what it means to be a man, student and a Braswell Bengal — in that exact order.

“It’s going to be a grind,” Moore said. “It’s part of the process. We as coaches have absolutely no idea what any of you guys in this room can do on a football field, but we’re going to find out these next few weeks.

“Everyone is going to work offense and defense. I don’t care if in the past you’ve played one position your whole life. I need to see where each and every one of you will succeed to ultimately do the same on the football field on Friday nights. Nobody decides what we’re going to be but us.”

The cards are against the Bengals, and they’re well aware of it. They’re a new program. They’re pulling kids from multiple schools who have never played together before. They didn’t get the chance to have spring ball, among many other negatives the naysayers will indicate throughout the season.

There are a lot of unknowns with this program, but Monday’s practice was a small step in the right direction to a product the coaching staff and the team can be proud of.

O’Neal hopes for physical defense

Defensive Coordinator Bryan O’Neal, who has had a longstanding friendship with coach Moore, is optimistic about the players he has lining up on his side of the ball. His priority is communication, and good communication means they’ll be closer to becoming the physical defense O’Neal wants later down the road.

“We just want to be able to communicate what we want to do on both sides of the ball without having to think about it,” O’Neal said. “We’re going to make communication second nature. Alignment and hustling on and off the field is the only bar we’re aiming to set. We’ll figure out the rest of it as we go.”

The Bengals will run everything out of a base 3-4 scheme, hoping to confuse spread offenses by plugging the middle, while also keeping an extra linebacker to block the passing lanes.

“We’re obviously at square one with our scheme, and getting that taught [to the players],” O’Neal said. “With all the intricacies, how we communicate, to down to what the positions are called; it’s just a lot of square one stuff, but fundamentally, just in terms of football, we took a step in the right direction.”

Quarterback Questions

Coach Moore coached quarterbacks at Rockwall, and throughout practice it was evident his eye was on the position.

There are a lot of athletes who claimed themselves at the quarterback position on Day One, but Moore has no idea who will take the first-team reps when the Bengals scrimmage Fort Worth Western Hills in two weeks.

“We’ve got some guys who can throw the ball, but in our offense it’s all about execution,” Moore said. “We believe this scheme has some promise if the guys buy into it.”

During the 2014 season, under coach Moore’s direction, Rockwall posted record numbers, earning the No. 1 spot in Class 6A in the state with 548.7 yards per game.

“It’s proven,” Moore said. “The guy under center plays a big part in the success of it.”

JIMMY ISBELL can be reached at 87-781-0379 and via Twitter at @Jimmy_Isbell12.

Motivation Begins

Denton High School football players hit the field before sunrise on the first day of fall practice

As much as Monday represented the official start to a new season for the Denton Broncos, it was also head coach Kevin Atkinson’s first opportunity to motivate his entire team in a several months.

The night before the start of practice Atkinson can never sleep. Unable to go to bed until after midnight with a 3:30 a.m. wakeup time, he is like a kid on Christmas Eve, too excited for the day ahead.

Finally, his alarm rings and Atkinson gets in a 45-minute workout full of running and weight lifting before he has his breakfast protein shake and heads up to the Denton High School field house, where he plans for the morning ahead and writes a to-do list for after practice.

This habit of his has been entrenched in him for a long time – a routine similar to the foundation he and his coaches are trying to instill in their young team that it will need to have complete grasp of by the first game of the season.

Often times throughout practice, Atkinson takes time to huddle the team and spend a few minutes motivating them and Monday was no different.

“I just told them that we just have to keep getting better, pay attention and have a lot of effort,” Atkinson said. “Those types of things are kind of laid out in the offseason, but you have to always coach effort I think, especially this day and age. Some people say you shouldn’t have to coach effort. It’s hot and you have to get up here early, so you have to motivate them a little bit.”

Atkinson made it clear to his team that self-motivation never stops and stressed just how important the process is to the end goal.

He also told a small story as the group of intently-listening players leaned forward in excitement and encouragement.

“There’s an old Indian story about a little brave that comes up to his chief all concerned and he says, I have two dogs barking in my head. One is barking the right thing to do and one is barking the wrong thing to do. The chief said we all have two dogs barking in our heads. The brave said, which one wins and the chief said the one that you feed the most,” Atkinson said.

A lot of learning on the first day of practice is sink-or-swim to Atkinson. Some kids catch on faster than others, but it’s up to the coaches to gauge where each player is and modify their approach.

As much as the pain of last season’s playoff loss to Aledo still haunts them and as ready as they are to get pads on at the end of the week, it’s natural for some players to be chomping at the bit and impatient.

“It is frustrating,” senior linebacker Eric Borst said. “You’re antsy because we expect to go to the playoffs now after going the past two years but it’s good to learn the basics, especially for the people not practicing religiously, they kind of forget the basics and how to make a tackle so that when we get back to the playoffs those mistakes don’t come.”

“It’s definitely a race. When we’re going through this, all we want to do is put pads on and hit and do our thing.”

For senior offensive lineman Grant Polley, who recently committed to Colorado, fundamentals still are fun to him.

“The basic stuff is the best stuff.” Polley said. “That’s your foundation and that’s what you always rely on when you play. I’m glad they are switching it up some. We’re going to get a lot out of it and switch it up from the daily grind we’re used to.”

With padded practices beginning Friday and the Broncos’ first game against Lake Dallas on August 26th, there isn’t time to waste according to Atkinson.

“I talked to them today about how everybody that is taking the practice field this Monday or next Monday around the state has aspirations of a state championship in December,” Atkinson said. “We have to match our work ethic with our dreams, otherwise what are you doing. Are you just dreaming or you actually matching the work to reach those dreams?”

PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873 and via Twitter at @PatrickHayslip.

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.”

Former Aubrey kicker hits it big on Twitter

Former Aubrey kicker Evan Moore is now at Texas, and is going viral with his 60-yard field goals. David Minton/DRC

Former Aubrey kicker Evan Moore is now at Texas, and is going viral with his 60-yard field goals. David Minton/DRC

I can readily admit Evan Moore got a raw deal from the Denton Record-Chronicle as a standout high school kicker for Aubrey a couple of years ago.

That’ll happen when you’re overshadowed by a district rival who sets the national record for most field goals in a season, which is exactly what former Argyle standout Cole Hedlund did before heading off to Arkansas. Before that, it was Cole’s older brother, Chad, who stole the kicking spotlight in the area.

But Moore isn’t doing too badly for himself, either, and on Tuesday the Texas sophomore made waves on Twitter when he did this…

If you notice, these aren’t the normal videos you see of kickers in pregame “hitting 60-yarders” off a tee. Nope, no tee here. Just a holder off a flat ground — 60 yards one way, and then 60 back the other.

Pretty impressive stuff from one of many successful kickers the area has produced in recent years.

Guyer’s Mallory commits to Tulane

DRC_GageMallory-web

The upcoming senior class at Guyer added another big Football Bowl Subdivision commitment late Monday night when offensive lineman Gage Mallory verbally committed to Tulane.

Mallory chose the Green Wave over offers from schools such as Fresno State, Air Force and Louisiana-Monroe. The first day a Class of 2017 recruit can sign a national letter of intent is Feb. 1.

“I have family close to the [New Orleans] area,” Mallory said of what drew hi

m to Tulane. “And the coaches there push you to do your best. I have worked with them before, and I know what to expect. The best thing of it all is I’ll get a world-class education.”

Mallory has played left tackle for Guyer in his two years as a starter, and although he projects as a guard at the next level, Guyer coach John Walsh said he believes the 6-3, 270-pound Mallory could play anywhere on the line.

“Gage brings a very athletic option up front for us,” Walsh said. “He has and will play all over the offensive line for us. He is great at getting to the second level and pulling.

“Tulane is getting a very good football player.”

Mallory said he thinks he can make an impact sooner rather than later, no matter where it is on the offensive line.

“I’ll most likely be playing guard, but I can play anywhere,” Mallory said. “I know what it takes to be great. Guyer got me ready for anything. I can take on any challenge and come out on top.”

Mallory is the third Guyer player in the Class of 2017 to commit to an FBS program, following tight end Brian Polendey (Miami) and safety Bryce Jackson (Northwestern). Former Guyer quarterback Shawn Robinson is a TCU pledge but transferred to DeSoto in April.

Mallory said he was happy to have the recruiting process behind him less than two months before the Wildcats open their season against Mansfield Lake Ridge.

“Even though the recruiting process was fun and interesting, I was always focused on getting better with my team,” he said. “This just helps me buckle down even more and get better during the summer.”