While the University Interscholastic League took care of any quarterback controversies the Weatherford Kangaroos might have had among their fans, first-year head coach Billy Mathis said there never was a controversy in his mind.
He admits it would have been nice to have the throwing arm of sophomore Ken Seals to go with the running ability of senior Corbin Campbell. But Seals, a transfer from Azle, lost his appeal to the UIL recently and must play at the junior varsity level this season before being eligible for the Kangaroos varsity in 2018.
"Corbin's been our starter since the day I got here," Mathis said. "Corbin's been a leader of this group of seniors.
"Quarterback-wise it would have been nice to get him (Seals) eligible, but that's the verdict. You take it and you move on. The worst part is how it crushed Ken, but he's still going to be very much a part of our system."
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Junior quarterback Deandre Curry is also vying for playing time in the coming season after being moved up from the junior varsity.
Mathis said the loss of the appeal by Seals, while tough, is a learning experience for everyone in the program. Many thought because his mother teaches in Weatherford and the Weatherford ISD offers classes he was seeking that aren't offered in Azle, the UIL would see differently than the District 3-6A Executive Committee.
They didn't, to the surprise of a lot of folks, including Mathis.
"Every day I talk to kids about facing adversity. Are you going to cry or move forward and do something positive?" he said. "I've got to practice what I preach."
Campbell passed for over 800 yards and six touchdowns with three interceptions in five games last season. He also rushed for a couple touchdowns.
"Corbin is a very productive quarterback," Mathis said, adding that Campbell's leadership has been on display as he stood beside his new teammate Seals.
"Through all of this he's been one of the most selfless kids out here," Mathis said. "That's one of the reasons he's so well-respected among his peers."
Mathis added that neither Campbell or his teammates let the appeal be a distraction.
"People asked questions, but it was never a distraction. The kids worked their tails off this summer," he said. "The kids never brought it up, it was mostly adults. Of course his teammates wanted him eligible, but they were busy working and getting ready for the season."
1. We had a total of 210 from 9-12 graders show up.
2. No one moved in or out who was key.
3. Not yet. We do have some who had a great summer and I am hoping they step up.
4. One of the toughest in the state.
Head coach: Billy Mathis.
2016 record: 2-8, 1-5 in District 3-6A.
Returning starters: 4 offense/8 defense.
Offensive players to watch: Senior QB Corbin Campbell (802 yards passing, 6 TD, 3 int.; 2 rushing TD), senior WR London Williams (42 catches, 526 yards, 2 TD, first-team all-district), senior OL Jared Ford (6-4, 300 pounds, second-team all-district).
Defensive players to watch: senior LB Cody Henderson (6-0, 227, first-team all-district, 36 tackles), senior LB Ethan Irsik (5-10, 202, second-team all-district, 31 tackles).
Notable: Weatherford hasn't had a winning season since 2005 and hasn't reached the playoffs since 2007.
Coach Mathis' thoughts: "We are doing our best to make sure these young men are reaching their full potential. I am just doing what I have always done, and that is work hard and treat these boys like they are my own."
Head coach: Steve Wood.
2016 record: 16-0, 7-0 in District 6-5A, Class 5A Division II state champions.
Returning starters: 3 offense/5 defense.
Offensive players to watch: Sophomore running back Jase McClellan (1,527 yards rushing, 20 TD, second-team all-district), senior WR Hunter Rosson (51 catches, 930 yards, 13 TD, first-team all-district), junior OL Truett Knox (6-2, 260, first-team all-district).
Defensive players to watch: Junior DE Colt Ellison (6-3, 231, district defensive newcomer of the year, 90 tackles, 10 sacks), senior DL James Williams (5-11, 290, first-team all-district, all-state honors from two groups, 107 tackles, 8 sacks), senior linebacker Aaron Hale (5-10, 201, second-team all-district, 116 tackles).
Notable: Aledo has won six state championships in an eight-year span. The Bearcats have also not lost a district game since 2007, a streak of 68 straight wins.
Coach Woods' thoughts: "Expectations are high and the guys expect a lot from themselves. Our kids expect to win each time they take the field. The district should be very competitive. Boswell and Northwest are going to be good, Brewer is going to be better than people think, and Eaton will have their first senior class."
Head coach: Chad Worrell.
2016 record: 13-1, 5-0 in District 4-3A Division I, Region I finals.
Returning starters: 3 offense/5 defense.
Offensive players to watch: Junior QB Tripp Jones (second-team all-district), junior OL Sage Boleman (6-0, 225, first-team all-district), senior OL Jayton Hallmark (6-0, 195, first-team all-district).
Defensive players to watch: Junior LB Zakk Young (5-8, 185, district newcomer of the year, all-state honors from two groups), senior DL Skylar Collier (5-9, 165, first-team all-district, all-state honors from two groups).
Notable: The Eagles are 41-3 in the three seasons since they became eligible for a University Interscholastic League state championship, and this includes winning a state title in 2015 with a 16-0 record. They did lose a key offensive cog, however, when fullback Matthew Gray (1,032 yards, 8 TD) moved to Weatherford in the offseason.
Coach Worrell's thoughts: "Our district is consistently the toughest in the region. I don't see anything different this year. Breckenridge and Bowie are both well-coached and bring back a lot of experience. Coach Gage at Paradise is a hall of fame coach, who has some really good talent returning as well. We try and focus on the little things and believe winning comes when you do those little things right. We won't be as deep As we have been in the past, so we have to stay healthy. Our young kids will have to grow up in a hurry."
Head coach: Jacob Johnson.
2016 record: 3-7, 0-5 in District 5-3A Division II.
Returning starters: 9 offense/8 defense.
Offensive players to watch: Junior TE Gage Schade (2 catches, 34 yards, second-team all-district), senior OL Miguel Aguilar (6-0, 245, second-team all-district).
Defensive players to watch: Junior LB Ricky Bottorff (5-9, 175, second-team all-district, 30 tackles, 1 int.), junior LB Colton Cotton (5-11, 160, second-team all-district, 19 tackles, 2 sacks).
Notable: The Bulldogs are seeking their first winning season and playoff berth since going 8-3 in 2009.
Coach Johnson's thoughts on the season: "We feel we have the opportunity to break through and continue building on the success we had last year. Staying healthy is going to be key."