With a talented, veteran group dropping in classification, many observers felt 2014 would the Timberview football team’s year. That year ended in just the second round of the playoffs in a bitter 17-13 loss to eventual state champion Ennis – a team the Wolves defeated during the regular season. But don’t tell the team that 2015 can’t be its year, especially after a solid spring.
There was little question about what Timberview needed to address in spring ball. Graduation losses left the cupboard just about bare both in the defensive secondary and on the offensive line.
“We had a necessity to find some kids who can step up and play at the caliber that our kids in this program are used to,” Wolves coach James Brown said.
All four starting defensive backs from 2014 are gone, and Brown knows a solid secondary is a must in a district that can throw it around. You won’t hear Brown call this an area of weakness despite all the new faces. Some of the faces actually aren’t so new, just in new places.
“We moved some kids around into different spots, like from cornerback to safety or from wide receiver to corner,” Brown explained. “We may have actually improved at the corner position in length and speed.”
“We really felt like we found the physical tools,” he continued. “I think they got to where they need to be mentally to understand the game. Spring ball and practicing is always different from Friday night, bur for four weeks they got to go against a guy like [starting quarterback] Devin Williams and a bunch of receivers that came back for us, so I really felt like they got better on the back end.”
The other major void – offensive line – suffered the loss of several guys who had started together for three years.
“We’re going to miss the talking and communication that happened with last year’s group,” Brown said.
But the reworked offensive line has a number of positives, none more important than a stable of returning skill position players highlighted by quarterback Williams.
“The skill positions were pretty much set, so it was a lot of review [for them], Brown said. “We took advantage of the fact that Devin and those guys really have a good grasp of the offense. It allows us to make more calls and checks at the line of scrimmage to get us out of plays and get the offensive line into better situations.
“We’re so simple in what we do offensively, the guys up front only have to know four or five things. If they can get that down they’ll be fine,” Brown added.
It’s not all new for the Wolves. There are still plenty of returning lettermen, and a few key ones shifted around a bit in the spring. The most notable may be Michael Badejo moving from defensive end to the “Will” linebacker spot, and Craig Jim Lawson from weak to outside linebacker.
“As quick as we thought about it, it really turned our heads that we probably should have been doing that for three years,” Brown said of those position shifts. “We solidified some things with those two moves.”
Brown also pointed out a couple of guys who surprised him during the spring. Jakwan Felder is a junior who fills an outside linebacker/safety hybrid role. The coach was also impressed with sophomore Tre Davis, who moved from wide receiver to cornerback.
Not so surprising was the performance of the offense.
“You could see through the spring that the command of the offense from the skill positions was really good,” Brown said. “We were able to make huge leaps on the offensive line because of that.”
Like most other programs, the offseason concluded with the spring game. The coaching staff was satisfied with what it saw, but the game was primarily icing on the cake.
“We got what we wanted out of the four weeks prior to the spring game,” Brown said. “We got everything we needed to see. The offensive line got the reps they needed to get better. The secondary saw the things they’re going to see throughout the course of the season. Most of the teams in our district do similar things to what we do offensively, so it’s really good for our defense to see that.”