Colleyville Heritage football fans want to know. Well, they have been wanting to know for the last five months.
Who is this team’s starting quarterback when the Panthers open the 2017 season at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Aledo? Is it senior and program staple Landry French? Is it Dallas Bishop Lynch move-in senior Jagger LaRoe?
Well, head coach Joe Willis is going to take this drama as far as he can go ... literally.
“It might come down to what I see in the warm-ups right before the game,” Willis said. “What I don’t want to do is let them feel like they have it won. I want this to be a competition even into the season.”
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Regardless of who starts, that doesn’t mean the other is banished to the sideline. Going back to his days at Cedar Park, Willis has used more than one quarterback. He could use more on certain scenarios.
There are packages designed for sophomore Drew Sanders and senior Caleb Murphy. Creativity and physical play are a must for the Panthers if they are going win in a building where the Bearcats are 57-3 all-time.
We’ve been watching film and studying our game plan all week. We’ve been preparing for Aledo since our season ended.
Caleb Murphy, one of the Panthers’ quarterbacks
The Panthers took the lessons from the disappointing 41-36 loss to the Bearcats in 2016 opener. Aledo sealed it with an interception in the closing seconds.
That’s why Willis scheduled Aledo. He wants his program to aspire to greater things and not settle for just making the postseason. There was a payoff in 2016 when the Panthers finished 10-4 and advanced to the Class 5A Division I Region I championship before falling to Denton Ryan.
“The experience of playing Aledo really helped us,” Murphy said. “They can compete with a lot of 6A teams. They are so disciplined.”
Because the Bearcats have options with the passing game led by Oklahoma commit Jeffrey Carter and senior Hunter Rosson, that has caused Willis to perhaps sacrifice a little with his running game with Murphy.
Standout corner and SMU commit Marcus Mosley moved to Brownwood earlier this summer. Willis needs the best he can get in the back line. Murphy played defensive back last year. It’s expected he will spend more time back there Friday. However, Murphy is expected to be the lead running back for the duration of the season.
“What disappointed me last year [against Aledo] was our pass defense,” Willis said. “That’s just not us. We gave up too many big plays. I want our secondary to be able to handle all of the challenges that are coming our way. Aledo is a great test.”
Sanders’ versatility should be on display. He can play tight end, defensive end, linebacker and quarterback, which is what he did when he was at Lake Dallas. Murphy calls him a “freak of nature” because much of what he does comes naturally to him.
There’s also going to be demands placed on the Panthers’ defense when facing sophomore running back Jase McClellan. The Oklahoma commit finished with 1,527 yards rushing.
However, Willis has liked what he has seen from his defensive front including freshman Gavin Byers. At 6-4, 230, Byers has the potential to plug the middle and force more plays to the outside. Defensive end Thomas Chapman followed his impressive spring with an equally solid fall camp.
“We’ve been watching film and studying our game plan all week,” Murphy said. “We’ve been preparing for Aledo since our season ended.”
NOTE: Colleyville at Aledo can be heard on KTFW 92.1 FM. The pregame show begins at 7 p.m.