Northeast Tarrant

Grapevine program has ‘good vibe’ after return to playoffs

You won’t see a lot of long faces around Grapevine’s football program. Randy Jackson’s first year yielded some hope and a postseason berth.

And while 3-8 will be the 2014 season’s record, excitement about the offseason begins. The Mustangs lost to Wichita Falls Rider, 35-21, in the Class 5A Division I Region I bi-district round this past Thursday at Justin Northwest.

Grapevine fell behind, 35-0, before making things interesting with a 21-point fourth quarter. Freshman quarterback Alan Bowman threw for 207 yards and a touchdown.

“Our program has a good vibe to it,” Jackson said. “I really believe that. We met with the players [last Friday] and told them the playoff experience is something what we want to have every year. I feel good that the seniors went out on a pretty good note. What we want is a relevant playoff program.”

Grapevine had been expected to make the playoffs, given that it was playing against some weaker Fort Worth ISD teams in District 6-5A. However, that job became a lot more difficult when senior quarterback Sam Barry missed the last seven games with a knee injury.

For Bowman, he had to learn on the fly. He finished the season throwing a 1,750 yards with 12 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Bowman impressively completed 67 percent of his passes. But he won’t be treated like a newbie in the offseason.

“It’s going to be less physical and more mental with him,” Jackson said. “He’s got some great intangibles. He’s not going to be a sophomore. He’s going to be a player with one year of varsity experience.”

About the offseason

Grapevine will also have a pretty solid running duo between juniors Jacobi White and RalphLauren McCauley. The two combined to rush for more than 1,100 yards.

But the offseason will offer a different intangible. Jackson wants every member on his team to participate in wrestling. This is a fairly new idea for Jackson. He started it during his offseason in his only year at Plano East. Jackson thought the sport would teach a little more about competing, but even more importantly, to learn how to gain leverage. The offensive and defensive linemen are expected to attend workouts three days per week. The skill players are expected to go twice per week.

“Wrestling is probably the hardest sport I’ve ever seen,” Jackson said. “You get down and dirty and learn what it means to stay in it on every moment. I think that’s going to help our kids.”

Colleyville Heritage wrap

A difficult match-up for the Panthers against Cedar Hill proved to be just that. The reigning state champion Longhorns rolled up 586 yards of total offense and ran away from the Panthers, 50-26, in the Class 5A Region I Division II bi-district round this past Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

Considering that new Colleyville Heritage coach Darren Allman didn’t arrive until early May, he and his new staff were trying to put together a cohesive program with very little time. There was virtually no offseason and a condensed spring schedule.

Nevertheless, the Panthers (5-6) found a way to get to the postseason. They finished fourth in District 7-6A at 3-3. Plus, the season saw the emergence of a healthy Demarco Corbin. Bogged down by injuries the last two years, Corbin finished his career in style rushing for 1,035 yards.

Now, a comprehensive offseason program can begin. Several priorities for the coaching staff will be developing a new quarterback, with Clayton Oliver and Trevor Anderson graduating, forming an entirely new wide receiver corps, and preparing Jamarie Williams as the primary running back. Williams rushed for 425 yards.

Plus, the defensive line will miss the likes of Maxx Crosby and Jason Williams. Spring workouts will likely begin in either late April or early May.