High School Football

Countdown to kickoff: Birdville will rely on senior leadership

Quaterback Clayton Beeter, left, and lineman Jared Hocker help lead an experienced Birdville offense.
Quaterback Clayton Beeter, left, and lineman Jared Hocker help lead an experienced Birdville offense. Special to the Star-Telegram


District 8-5A

Last season: 4-7 (4-2 District 6-5A)

Key players: QB Clayton Beeter (6-1, 190); RB Isaiah Weatherspoon (5-8, 165); WR Chris Tucker (6-1, 180); WR Xavier Beasley (5-8, 180); WR Colby Feris (6-1, 170); OL Jared Hocker (6-5, 290); OL Trevor Shelton (6-3, 305); OL Trent Martinez (6-0, 270); DL Jeremy Stevenson (5-11, 215); LB Hunter Wageneck (6-0, 210); LB Andrew Rangel (5-10, 180); LB Caleb Cantrell (5-11, 205)

The big picture: Birdville, which has made the playoffs 11 of the past 12 seasons, looks to continue its run with a strong offense that returns nine starters including senior quarterback Clayton Beeter, who threw for 1,788 yards and 13 touchdowns. “He was a smart kid last year and he had a great, tremendous off-season. He’s throwing the ball really well right now, making good decisions and has a better grasp of the what we’re trying to do offensively and just has a year of maturity,” coach Lon Holbrook said. Senior running back Isaiah Weatherspoon (392 rushing yards, 3 TDs) could be in for a big year with four returning offensive linemen including first-team all-district nods in seniors Jared Hocker (Texas Tech commit) and Trevor Shelton. All of Beeter’s receivers from last year also return including Chris Tucker (437 yards, 3 TDs), who averaged 19 yards per reception, and Xavier Beasley (400 yards, 3 TDs). The offense averaged 328 yards and 26.5 points per game, while the defense allowed 25.2 points. Only five defensive starters return, led by senior linebackers Hunter Wageneck (86 tackles) and Andrew Rangel. They were both first-team all-district selections in 2015. “We worked really hard this off-season, getting stronger and getting faster, and just becoming better as a team. Defensive guys are flying around, hitting hard and just being more aggressive,” Wageneck said. The Hawks open with Keller Central before meeting playoff teams Burleson Centennial and Saginaw Boswell, which knocked them out in the first round in a 36-33 thriller.

Quotable: “Senior leadership will be the key. When we got in the off-season, we talked about it at the end and came back and discussed it to start this year off. Senior leadership or just leadership in general is such a big deal and these guys know that. We got a bunch of great character kids that are going to work hard and do all the extra intangible things that you ask them to do so [that] leadership will be key.” — Coach Lon Holbrook

“We have a lot of players that will stick out as leaders, me being one for the offensive line, our quarterback Clayton Beeter, as well as our defense. We have Hunter Wageneck, he’s a great leader and I think since we have a lot of seniors that all have returned since freshman year, we’ll have a good year just based off relationships we’ve made.” — OL Jared Hocker

“This year we have a lot of starters returning on offense and we’re really buying into the brotherhood mentality, being a family and doing stuff with each other all the time, becoming a real brotherhood so when we get on the field, we know we have each other’s back and we’ll be able to play as a unit.” — QB Clayton Beeter

Notable: Holbrook has been at Birdville since 2000 — the school opened in 1999 — and enters his second year as head coach after being promoted from offensive coordinator in February 2015.