Saginaw Boswell is stuck in the middle. The Pioneers have made the playoffs the past four seasons, and the second round in three of those appearances. But in each area round game, they have hit a wall.
“We want to get to December,” Boswell coach John Abendschan said. “We’ve got to get past the second round.”
The Pioneers finished spring practice Thursday with their annual Blue-White game. It was the end of what was a teaching-intensive spring because Boswell’s 8-4 team loses 45 players to graduation.
The Pioneers’ 2013 season included wins over Birdville to open District 6-4A and a 42-7 victory at Wichita Falls Rider in the first round of the playoffs. Abendschan called the win over Rider “pivotal,” as Boswell enters District 5-5A.
“We’re going to be in [Rider’s] district, and we can say this is the type of game that needs to be played,” he said.
Jordon Cox has solidified himself as the starting quarterback, taking over for Drew Bicknell. Wideout Chandler Freeseman and nose guard Dominic Hill also had notable spring practices.
Now, the challenge will be pushing toward another playoff berth, hopefully one that ends around Thanksgiving or later.
“It’s a mindset,” Abendschan said. “You’ve got to have that mindset that you’re going to win, that you’re going to find a way to win. You’re not going to find a way not to lose.”
Euless Trinity was six seconds from stopping DeSoto in the Class 5A Division I quarterfinals in December. A late touchdown ended the Trojans’ upset bid. But Trinity coach Steve Lineweaver has made enough deep playoff runs to know that close doesn’t count.
“We designed a lot of our off-season to address some of the things that occurred in that [DeSoto] game, that had we done them with a little more diligence, we could’ve won,” Lineweaver said. “But we’re not playing horseshoes. It doesn’t matter how close we get. We learned that the little things matter.”
Lineweaver said spring standouts on offense included offensive lineman Patrick Vahe, a Texas commit, and Markis McCray, a “speedster” who should fill in at running back for Isaac Ellsworth. On defense, free safety T.J. Kautai and defensive end Tipa Galeai have stepped up.
Unlike most area schools, Trinity doesn’t have a built-in summer workout program. Lineweaver will make the weight room available in June and July, but it’ll be up to the players to stay conditioned.
“Anything they do in the summer, it’s their own idea,” Lineweaver said. “We’re trying to grow them up. We tell them when it’s going to be open. We don’t call them if they don’t come.”
Seeking an identity
Over the off-season, Arlington Martin coach Bob Wager gave O’Shea Jackson a homework assignment. Jackson, the lone returning starter from last year’s defensive line that featured Division I players Myles Garrett and Justin Hollins, had to write an essay on leadership. The two-page paper Jackson handed in was just what Wager was looking for.
“It was beautiful,” Wager said. “He quoted Muhammad Ali and Tom Landry and talked about what it means to be the man and be a leader.”
Jackson has stepped into a leadership role this spring, Wager said, along with senior safety Trip White, who added 15 pounds over the winter and shaved a tenth of a second off his 40-yard dash.
Jackson and White join impact players Josh Watson (linebacker), Nic Smith (running back) and Eric Walker (quarterback), as returning starters on a team that lost to DeSoto in the third round of the playoffs last year.
White was the first pick among coaches for the staff’s annual draft for the spring game, which is at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
“Individually, [the spring game] is a chance for guys to leave a mark. They’re all still fighting for jobs,” Wager said. “We need to find what our identity is. We’re trying to establish dominance at the line of scrimmage and have great fundamentals. And then play like our hair is on fire.”
Class 4A Division II state champion Aledo returns quarterback Luke Bishop, receiver Ryan Newsome and running back Jess Anders, among others on offense. But finding the right mix on defense has been a primary focus for the Bearcats, who finished spring ball Friday with a morning scrimmage.
Aledo returned one starter — cornerback Johnathan Durham — on a defense that graduated 18 starters and backups. Coach Tim Buchanan said Isaiah Mallory moved from running back to cornerback, across from Durham. Buchanan also tabbed defensive tackle Jack McAdams as a spring standout.
“They understand that to win, you have to have good senior leadership,” Buchanan said. “Everybody looks at that 2013 state championship as a group of seniors. These juniors have something to prove.”