Countdown to kickoff: Joshua Owls

Posted Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014  comments  Print Reprints

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District 8-5A

Last season: 0-10 (0-7 in District 8-4A)

Key players: QB Cayden Chambers (5-11, 170), LB Justin Miller (5-11, 210), OL Kyle Stenson (5-11, 265), RB Ray Ariola (5-11, 210), RB Jare Isreal (5-9, 190), TE Isaiah Brown (6-2, 274), LB Nathanial Rutherford (6-2, 226), DB Lane Yancy (5-9, 175), DE Nick Tarver (5-11, 170).

The big picture: It’s been 17 years since the Owls played in the postseason, but coach Mike Burt insists the program is closer to breaking that string. Joshua was 57 seconds away from at least one victory last season, but lost to Fort Worth South Hills. The two schools will kick off the season, and Burt said getting off to a good start will validate the work put in. “We’re working hard for something, having that success is very important,” he said. “This was our first year to have spring ball because we came so late in 2013. I felt like we really didn’t have a handle on our players and probably had them in positions that should not have been.” Fast-forward a year and the Owls have a different look. Slotback Cayden Chambers moved to quarterback and impressed in spring ball by what Burt called, “taking command of the offense.” Burt said Chambers offers Joshua’s offense the chance to work better out of its multi-formation, tight-end base offense. Chambers’ move has allowed some additional speed to get on the field for the Owls. On defense, defensive end Nathaniel Rutherford has moved to middle linebacker and gives the Owls a taller and faster group. With 4.7 40 speed and a quick move off the ball, Rutherford and Justin Miller are expected to help give Joshua a stronger pass rush.

Quotable: “It’s really been an unbelievable work in progress. I was very pleased with our spring effort simply because we were much more physical. Our workouts were much harder, and we were able to identify some guys on defense and offense where we could put them in and positions to be successful. I felt like we had some kids in the wrong spot last season.” — coach Mike Burt

“Having that taste of being winless and letting it slip through our fingers a couple of times is really motivating. The team is almost all seniors so we’re ready and not scared of Aledo or anyone that we’ll face. The sky’s the limit this year, and I couldn’t ask for anything more than being a part of this team.” — wide receiver Clayton Campbell

Notable: Wide receiver Clayton Campbell runs a 4.6 40, but also runs the 300-meter hurdles. At last year’s district track meet, Campbell was about to pass the race leader coming out of the curve when he said he clipped a hurdle and lost his balance. Campbell did a forward roll, stayed in his lane and managed to finish the race in third. “I was pretty embarrassed actually and then as the week went on I had a lot of coaches and others telling me it was the most heart of anyone they had seen race. I felt a bit better after that.”

— Kevin Casas

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