DISTRICT 18-3A PREVIEW
Taylor has been sinking into the football abyss for half-a-dozen years. For Caldwell, its latest transgression could be called a blip on the radar screen.
Either way, both programs hope a shot of new blood will change the fortunes of the football programs as we bear down on the 2012 football season.
The new coaches will join a newly aligned District 18-3A where Rockdale, Navasota and Caldwell will welcome newcomers Taylor and Madisonville.
Kenneth Gilchrist takes over for Chance Locklear after one 1-9 season, while Rusty Purser grabs the headset from the departed Rick Cobia who left for Cypress Springs after a six-year losing streak in which the Ducks went 19-42.
Gilchrist was at Whitney, while Purser comes from Borger.
Football notwithstanding, it is family considerations that bring these coaches to their new destinations. Both are homecomings of sorts.
“For me it was nothing to do with Whitney,” Gilchrist told Lone Star Gridiron. “It had everything to do with family.
“My kids are getting to the age that it would be nice for people who watched me play football and sports to be able to watch them,” he said.
“We have several family members who live within 30 minutes of Caldwell, so the opportunity to be closer to our family was very appealing to my whole family,’ Purser told the Borger News.
Gilchrist was the defensive line coach and special teams coordinator at Cameron from 2004-2007. From 2002-2004 he was the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator at Hempstead.
Gilchrist was 11-19 at Whitney in three years and inherits a team that is coming off its worst season since 1998.
The 6-foot-5 Gilchrist, who was an offensive lineman at Cisco Junior College and Louisiana Tech, knows what it takes to succeed in a big way.
He was on the Lake Travis staff when the Cavaliers won their first of five state championships.
Caldwell is 1-11 in its last 13 games and hasn’t made the playoffs in two years.
However, the Hornets return 17 starters and an experienced receiving corps.
The line is well represented by two-way specialist, senior Juan Nunez.
Gilchrist must address the defense immediately after allowing 44 points a game last season.
The Hornets are well ahead on defense with eight starters returning, including their entire linebacker crew. Junior Tanner Luna, senior Antwan Heath and senior David Smith.
Caldwell was last in offense and defense in district play, averaging just over 200 yards of offense while giving up 400 on defense.
In Purser, Taylor gets a coach who accepts nothing less than championship trophies. Borger has captured three straight district titles with a 20-14 mark, including a sparkling 11-1 ledger in league play.
Purser is an offensive minded coach and will bring a new look to the Duck offensive scheme.
After slugging it out in the Slot- T under Cobia for the past couple of years, Purser has plans to open things up a bit to run a combination of the Multiple-I and the Pistol formations at opponents.
The Pistol is similar to the Shotgun, but still allows for a running game rather than just all-pass, all the time.
“I’ve done some things in the Spread, but I really like the Pistol formation because of all the flexibility it allows our offense,” Purser said. “The blocking schemes stay the same from the Multiple-I base we run, but it allows our quarterback to spread out the field and use different formations to make the defense prepare for more things.”
The Ducks naturally relied heavily on their rushing attack in 2011 and lost their top three rushers and 1,400 yards to graduation.
Most of the new responsibility will fall upon senior quarterback Jeremy Snyder who ran for 467 yards and five touchdowns in 2011.
Tight end Dantrel Hargers (6- 2, 215) will also be integral to the new look.
Only six other starters return, the least number of returnees in the whole district.
Only one team in Class 3A can claim the first-team all-state quarterback and that team is Navasota.
Senior Kadarius Baker (5-10, 175) joined the long list of standout Rattler quarterbacks and took it to the next level, throwing for 3,074 yards and 40 touchdowns last season in leading Navasota to another district title and an 11-2 mark.
Baker’s top target Solomon McGinty also returns after catching 69 of Baker’s aerials for 1,342 yards and 17 touchdowns. Austin Collins complemented McGinty with 60 grabs for 892 yards and 13 scores.
Defensively, Navasota is led by senior all-state defensive end Jake Bauer who registered 107 tackles and 13 sacks.
Navasota is loaded at linebacker with senior tandem Will Imhoff (163 tackles) and Jaylyn Minor (142 tackles). Imhoff was the district defensive MVP in 2011.
Senior defensive back Xavier Creeks (4 INT) and junior defensive tackle Jordan Wells provide stability.
With 13 returning starters, most at skill positions, the Rattlers are a pre-season top 10 team that District 18-3A will be chasing.
Youth and inexperience told the Madisonville story in 2011 with quite a few sophomores finding themselves in the starting lineup.
With a season under their belts, the young Mustangs will be more experienced this time around. Senior Ryan Clever (5-9, 175) split time at quarterback last season after an injury, throwing for 385 yards for a team that relies on its ground game.
Junior athlete Caleb Peveto (5- 9, 165) could also see some time under center when he’s not lined up at receiver.
The Mustangs lost their top rusher from last season in Anthony Manns and must find a go-to guy out of junior Damien Whaley (6-1, 225) or junior Dantae Crist (5-11, 215) who had a combined 419 yards last year.
Experience in the interior line is a plus for Madisonville heading into 2012 with seniors J.R. Gibson (6-3, 205), Ethridge Brooks (6-0, 215), Ben Bickham (6-0, 245), Julio Camarena (5-10, 235) and Jorge Rosas (5-10, 245).
Here’s how experts see the District 18-3A race shaking out in 2012:
FIVE TO WATCH
James David, Jr., LB—Rockdale. Already has an offer from Oklahoma and is the preseason defensive player of the year. Called a ‘player to watch’ by Texas Football.
Kadarius Baker, Sr., QB— Navasota. First-team all-state quarterback after throwing for 40 touchdowns and 3,100 yards.
Ethan Brinkley, Sr., QB— Rockdale. The poised lefty is on line to become the Tigers’ all-time leading passer and is a legitimate DI talent.
Jake Bauer, Sr., DE—Navasota. Pre-season all-state selection who made 117 stops along with 13 sacks in 2011.
Solomon McGinty, Sr., WR— Navasota. Was the main benefactor of Bakers’s aerial show with 69 catches for 1,342 yards and 17 touchdowns.