Preseason questions: Two-way troopers

Guyer's Thabo Mwaniki (30) tackles a Keller Central Charger during a game last season at C.H. Collins Stadium. Maegan Puetz/For the DRC

Guyer’s Thabo Mwaniki (30) tackles a Keller Central Charger during a game last season at C.H. Collins Stadium. Maegan Puetz/For the DRC

The Guyer Wildcats are set to begin fall practice on Monday, and with days to go before that early morning practice comes, we’re going to take a look at five preseason questions/things to watch for in the upcoming season.

Guyer is set to open their 10th regular season in program history on Aug. 28 in the re-opening of Allen Eagle Stadium against the three-time defending Class 6A Division I state champion Eagles. Before that, the Wildcats scrimmage Euless Trinity and have a lot of practices leading up to that.

Question: The Wildcats have a history with two-way players, even though it isn’t something that is too prevalent at the state’s largest classification. Josh Stewart was one of the best players in the state while starring at cornerback and wide receiver for Guyer before going on to Oklahoma State and then the Tennessee Titans. The Wildcats will rely on a couple of more two-way stars this year. Can they hold up?

In 2010, when the Wildcats advanced to the Class 5A Division II (now known as 6A) state championship game, they did it with a couple of studs going both ways at wide receiver and cornerback. It all started with Stewart, who racked up nearly 1,000 receiving yards with 10 touchdowns despite not playing on offense until the fifth game of the season. On defense, he racked up 85 tackles, broke up 12 passes and had seven interceptions. For good measure, he added a punt return touchdown.

They also had Quint Gardener, who missed several games due to injury but had 544 receiving yards with six touchdowns to go with 29 tackles, five breakups and four interceptions and was huge in the postseason on defense.

Will they have anyone like Stewart this year? If they do, look out. But even if they don’t, they’re going to have a couple of players who will seeing lots of action at wide receiver and in the secondary. Defense will be priority for cornerback Brandon Daniel and safety Thabo Mwaniki, but they’ll get on the field on offense in what Guyer coach John Walsh calls “money time.”

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Former Guyer, Oklahoma State WR Josh Stewart declares for NFL draft

Oklahoma State wide receiver Josh Stewart, a former Guyer standout, celebrates his first-quarter touchdown in the Cotton Bowl between Oklahoma State and Missouri at AT&T Stadium on Friday. Stewart, a junior, declared Tuesday for the NFL draft this spring.

Josh Stewart has heard a lot of opinions about his NFL draft prospects recently, but on Tuesday he said the only one that matters is his own as he officially declared for the upcoming NFL draft following his junior season at Oklahoma State.

Stewart played his final college game on Friday in the Cotton Bowl at Arlington’s AT&T Stadium and scored a 40-yard touchdown before leaving late in the game with a concussion.

On Tuesday, he had hired an agent and declared for the draft, more than week prior to the Jan. 15 deadline for underclassmen to declare. He is the 17th underclassman wide receiver to declare for the draft. Last year, 29 receivers were selected over the three-day, seven-round draft.

“I’ve talked with a lot of people, and everyone has their own opinions and at the end of the day it had to be for me and my family,” Stewart said. “That’s what I felt would be best and the decision I’d be happy with. That’s really all that matters, and that’s what it came down to. I’m willing to take whatever comes. I’m excited for the chance to live out my dream. It’s going to be a good journey.”

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Former Guyer strength coach not forgotten by Stewart

Former Guyer and current UT strength and conditioning coach Bryan Kegans (left), shown here in a 2005 file photo during his playing days at Texas Tech, blocks former Oklahoma and Lake Dallas standout Dusty Dvoracek. Kegans recently moved on from Guyer to accept an assistant strength and conditioning job at Texas.

We’ve known around these parts for quite some time that Guyer’s strength and conditioning program was on and poppin’, as the kids like to say.

Whether it’s Jerrod Heard, and J.W. Walsh before him — quarterbacks power-cleaning more than 300 pounds — or heck, even Heard’s backup, David Haynes, or whether it’s former tackle Patrick Morris’ gargantuan feats in the weight room before earning a full ride to TCU, the weight room at Guyer has been a competitive place for quite some time.

And depending on who you ask, the strength of the program, in the trenches especially, has been a key part of its success over the last five seasons.

A lot of that success has had to do with former strength and conditioning coach Bryan Kegans, a rarity at the high-school level for being solely in charge of strength and conditioning and not a position on the football staff. He started his stint at Guyer as an offensive line coach as well as strength and conditioning but over his final couple of seasons moved strictly to strength and conditioning.

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Josh Stewart vs. Eric Ward: Media Day Style


Oklahoma State wide receiver and Guyer-ex Josh Stewart, left, and Texas Tech wide receiver and former Wichita Falls Rider standout Eric Ward are the top two returning wide receivers in the Big 12.

The two top returning wide receivers in the Big 12 entering the 2013 season both have ties to this area.

Obviously, Oklahoma State star Josh Stewart starred at Guyer for three seasons and helped lead the Wildcats to their first state championship game appearance in 2010 before breaking out last season for the Cowboys and posting 101 receptions, 1,210 yards and eight touchdowns (seven receiving).

Eric Ward was battling Stewart in high school as a standout receiver at Wichita Falls Rider, the cream of the District 5-4A crop back then with Ward and Michigan-bound quarterback Shavodrick Beaver.

In 2008, when Guyer was starting its rapid ascent to Texas High School Football powerhouse status, Stewart was a diminutive sophomore cornerback and Ward was a beastly wideout committed to Oklahoma before his last-second flip to Texas Tech. Continue reading

Stewart, Walsh earn Big 12 accolades

Oklahoma State receiver Josh Stewart, right, dives in for a touchdown against West Virginia on Nov. 10, in Stillwater, Okla. Stewart, a former Guyer standout, scored three touchdowns in the Cowboys' 55-34 win.

Things are going pretty for Guyer High School football right now, as the Wildcats are in the Class 4A Division I regional final on Saturday and two of the program’s more successful alumni were honored on Big 12 all-conference teams on Wednesday.

Oklahoma State sophomore Josh Stewart was named to the first team of the Associated Press Big 12 team after finishing in the top-10 nationally in receptions (96) and top-20 nationally in receiving yards with 1,154 while adding seven touchdown receptions during the regular season.

His former, and current teammate J.W. Walsh was named the Big 12′s Offensive Freshman of the Year (not a raunchy joke-telling freshman) on the Big 12 coaches’ team after leading the conference in pass efficiency, throwing for 11 touchdowns and three interceptions while finishing third on the team in rushing and scoring seven times on the ground in nine games this season.

Walsh took over for an injured Wes Lunt against Louisiana-Lafayette and lit up the Cajuns before making three straight starts. His starting run came to an end when he broke his leg against Iowa State but still managed to throw for 400 yards and finish the game.

Local fans will be able to see Stewart and Walsh in the Heart of Dallas Bowl, which will be played at the Cotton Bowl against Purdue on New Year’s Day at 11 a.m.