As long as he is running the Colleyville Heritage football program, interim head coach Judd Thrash wanted to make the final two weeks of the spring football season as normal as possible.
With Darren Allman moving on to Carroll, Thrash had to take the reins quickly. The Panthers finished their spring season last Tuesday with their spring game at Heritage Middle School.
“When Darren left, we really didn’t have to do too much when we took over,” Thrash said. “There wasn’t a transition. All we had to do is just get organized with the spring game. I put in extra hours to make sure this would happen the right way.”
For now, the Panthers are running their offense out of an up-tempo spread formation and basing the defense on a 4-2-5 look. There seems to be some optimism because this team could be stronger than the 2014 squad that went 5-6.
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While there are some questions regarding the receiving corps and certain spots of the secondary, the Panthers appear to be flush with the defensive line as well as at quarterback.
The spring game drew plenty of attention from Division I schools. Coaches from San Diego State, Houston Baptist, Rice, SMU, Fresno State, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Texas, North Texas, Columbia, Texas State and Houston attended.
About the quarterback, offense
While Clayton Oliver and Trevor Anderson have graduated, the program got a lift when Grapevine Faith quarterback Camden Roane transferred in January for his junior year. He has the size (6-2, 195) and is a left-hander with a quick release.
The other candidate is senior Jacob Sheppard (5-10, 175) who was on the junior varsity in 2014. While no decision has been made on a starter, there doesn’t seem to be any rush, either. Thrash said both he and offensive coordinator Justin Feaster like what each brings. Sheppard has the ability to make plays when nothing is available and is considered a great leader.
“Both of those guys are great guys,” Thrash said. “We have the advantage of two guys who can lead our team.”
At running back, senior Jamarie Williams (6-0, 185, 4.5) has matured to where he should be considered the primary ballcarrier. The change-of-pace back could be Mario Ortiz, who comes up from the junior varsity.
“I think he can tote the load,” Thrash said. “He can go 20-plus carries. But the key for our offense is to get 80 plays or more. We’re going to be more wide-open.”
In their defense
Should the Panthers remain with a 4-2-5, there are plenty of defensive linemen, led by senior tackle Keandre Johnson (5-9, 235). There are other options in junior twins Travis and Gordon Richards, along with seniors Logan DeBelle and Karel Prazak. In a change, senior Trevor West was moved from offense to defense.
“I feel really good about where we are there,” Thrash said. “We’ve had great success. I feel like this unit has a chance to be one of the best in the area.”
Names of note
A couple of other defensive names to watch will be cornerback Reid Harrison-Ducros and safety Jordan Porter. Porter hasn’t played football since junior high because he has been in hockey. Thrash likes his raw ability. Linebacker Pelini Nau (5-10, 185) can play either outside or inside.