Big Willis Style

New coach brings multi-faceted offense with him from Waco High

Junior Desnerian Willis is a two-way starter for the new-look Bulldogs at fullback and linebacker. Junior Desnerian Willis is a two-way starter for the new-look Bulldogs at fullback and linebacker. As a long-time assistant at Waco High, Keith Willis was privy to a roster full of talented players that could do just about anything on the field.

When Willis took the job at Marlin last spring, he envisioned that type of capabilities at his new stop.

"The complexion at Marlin and the complexion at Waco High are very similar," Willis said. "The learning curve won't be very big."

Willis is convinced that the Marlin program can return to its previous stature of domination, perhaps even a state championship.

"I think that's the prize. You work toward a prize, and the prize is a state championship. I want to try to mobilize the community toward that."

The Bulldogs played in the Class 3A state championship game in 2003 and made it as far as the regional finals in 2006.

That year, Willis and Waco were playing in the Class 4A state championship game, which they lost to LaMarque.

Willis spent 12 years at Waco High under Coach Johnny Tusa and was also the head track coach.

He replaced long time head coach Jerry Malone who was 130- 58 in 16 seasons, but slipped to 5-5 in 2007 and 3-7 last year.

The new coach has compared a couple of his new players favorably with the level at his old stomping grounds: new quarterback Fred Fondon and running back Lee Diles (6-0, 189).

Marlin will have a chance to break in its new offense and young players in a friendly environment as the Bulldogs play four of their first five games at home at Legion Stadium.

Friday's home game will be their third straight.

Willis' blueprint for success has gotten off to a tenuous start and his players have had trouble grasping the new system.

The Bulldogs have not fully acquainted themselves with the scoreboard as of yet, losing by a combined scored of 88-27.

Marlin opened the season against the No. 2 ranked team in Class 3A, Waco LaVega, and were whipped 47-0.

Last week against another Class 3A school, Waco Connally, the Bulldogs were felled 41-27 and allowed Connally running back Reggie Richardson to pick up 262 yards rushing.

Junior LeRaven Clark graded out the highest among Tiger linemen against Lampasas. Junior LeRaven Clark graded out the highest among Tiger linemen against Lampasas. Marlin has only 10 seniors on the roster and only four of them have cracked the starting lineup.

Willis will be sending six sophomores and a freshman out on the field Friday night.

"I like what Coach Willis is doing over there," said Rockdale Coach Jeff Miller. "They are very much improved and doing things right.

"They are doing nothing but getting better every time they step on the field. They are going to be a dangerous team by the end of the season."

"I feel like there's already some things they've done very well," Willis said. "At the same time, I see some areas where change needs to take place. I'm excited to be an agent of change.

"We will start showing them something."

TIGER TRACKS

• Lost in the offensive shuffle of last weeks' victory over Llano was the fact that Joe Sanders ran for a touchdown, threw for a touchdown and caught a touchdown, which is the rarest of feats in the game of football and probably the first ever for a Rockdale player.

• The Tigers are 5-7 in home openers in the past 12 years and 3-1 under Jeff Miller. They are also 8-3 at home in the past two seasons.

• According to Texas High School Football, Friday's win was the 450th in Rockdale history.

• With his game winning extra point Friday, Waylon Boyd is now 52-of-54 on extra points and has converted 33 in a row.

• A strange call from the officiating crew Friday night. On a play that was clearly a Badger fumble that Rockdale recovered, the crew huddled and decided that the play would be nullified and played again despite the fact that the side judge had thrown his bean bag which signifies a fumble.

• Senior linebacker Shane Barcak (shoulder) was the only Tiger to sit out Friday and he will be out at least two more weeks.

• District 24-3A went 5-2 last week with Caldwell's 69-22 crushing of Shepard.

• Former Rockdale coach Robbie Clark and his Midlothian team fell to 0-1 after losing their season opener 30-24 to Keller. Clark is 11- 20 in his fourth season.

THE STARTING LINEUPS
ROCKDALE OFFENSE MARLIN DEFENSE
No. Pos. Player, Ht.-Wt. Class No. Pos. Player, Ht.-Wt. Class
18 QB Joe Sanders, 6-2, 190 Sr 8 DE DeWayne Tyler, 6-0, 180 Jr
22 RB Greg Chelf, 5-7, 150 Sr 75 DT Nate Thomas, 6-4, 250 Jr
31 WR J.B. Debault, 5-11, 175 Sr 27 DT Andre Washington, 6-3, 230 Jr
9 WR Justin Elliott, 6-3, 180 Sr 35 DE Wilford Sanders, 6-0, 185 Jr
8 WR Brandon Gibbs, 6-1, 170 Sr 7 LB Andre Lowe, 5-11, 200 So
88 WR Derrick Mynar, 6-4, 205 Sr 42 LB Devince Bateman, 6-2, 190 So
62 LT LeRaven Clark, 6-6, 230 Jr 12 LB Desnerian Willis, 5-9, 190 Jr
71 LG Sal Bishop, 6-4, 250 Jr 10 LB Allen Brown, 6-2, 190 Sr
50 C Patrick David, 6-0, 235 So 9 CB Chris Battise, 6-0, 175 So
64 RG Clemente Diaz, 5-11, 235 Sr 2 CB Kevin Murphy, 5-9, 175 Jr
76 RT Dillan Schnerr, 6-4, 250 Jr 21 S Devon Weatherspoon, 5-11 So
ROCKDALE DEFENSE MARLIN OFFENSE
71 NG Sal Bishop, 6-4, 240 Jr 6 QB Fred Fondon, 5-10, 175 Jr
62 DL LeRaven Clark, 6-6, 230 Jr 1 TB Lee Diles, 6-0, 189 Sr
77 DL Logan David, 6-4, 300 Sr 12 FB Desnerian Willis, 5-9, 190 Sr
88 LB Derrick Mynar, 6-4, 205 Jr 11 X Ronnie Owens 6-0, 175 So
34 LB Anthony Montoya,5-10, 200 Jr 7 Z Andre Lowe,5-11, 200 So
9 LB Justin Elliott, 6-3, 180 Sr 71 LT Josh Blann, 6-3, 265 Sr
6 LB Derek David, 6-3, 225 So 74 LG Odell Woodson, 6-0, 185 Sr
8 CB Brandon Gibbs, 6-1, 170 Sr 55 C Jonathan Martinez, 6-0, 220 Jr
31 CB J.B. Debault, 5-11, 175 Sr 75 RG Nate Thomas, 6-2, 230 Jr
15 S Tyler Wright, 6-3, 180 Jr 60 RT Desmond Womack, 6-1, 230 Fr
2 S Casey Burrough, 5-7, 160 Jr 10 TE Allen Brown, 6-2, 190 Sr


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