NEW BOSTON, Texas – A high school football team’s improvement is usually measured by its wins. That wouldn’t necessarily be a fair way to grade New Boston this fall.
New Boston’s second-year head coach Justin Waltz says the Lions are much better in 2019. But the number of wins may not tell the real story.
“I think we can win,” said Waltz, who was as frustrated as anybody with the Lions’ 0-10 season in 2018. “We have an offseason under our belt. The kids are stronger, and older. We had every sophomore up for the program last year. Those guys got varsity experience. I think we’ll be much improved.”
The first evidence of proof is New Boston’s numbers. The Lions had 63 players show up for football. That’s 20 more than last year.
Waltz is convinced his team has improved enough to challenge for a playoff berth. That fact speaks for itself, considering the overall strength of District 7-3A Division I.
“This district is loaded top to bottom,” said Waltz. “I inherited a pretty tough schedule. It’s not an easy schedule at all with Paul Pewitt, DeKalb, Daingerfield and Carlisle. Then we’ve got Atlanta, Jefferson, Mount Vernon, Hughes Springs, Hooks and Redwater. We need to win early to gain some confidence. It’s something we’ve lacked, but one early win could change a lot.”
New Boston hires veteran coordinators
Eighteen of 26 lettermen return for the Lions, including six starters on both sides of the ball. Like everyone else in 3A, Waltz suspects several will have to play both ways.
New Boston’s defensive unit may have to carry the team early. The Lions have a new defensive coordinator in Michael Mason, a long-time assistant at Daingerfield. The offensive coordinator is Jamey Thomas. Waltz is counting on their experience adding up to different results in 2019.
Like many other teams in Northeast Texas, New Boston is emphasizing a methodical ground game from the wing-t formation. Kyle Atkinson and Tyler Strain are competing for the starting job at quarterback. Trecyn Thomas, Kevon Thompson and Brian Reid will be toting the pigskin.
Up front on offense the Lions don’t have much depth. Thompson, Cody Rutherford, Matt Dunn, Angel Recendiz and Tre Lewis-Colber figure in the picture.
Defensively, Waltz believes his squad is solid everywhere. There is a lack of depth at linebacker, where he’s got Trent Graham and Reid back. Strain and Deundre Haywood-Jones will provide leadership in the secondary. Graham was the Lions leading tackler last season.
“Everything seems to be going well right now,” said Waltz. “We’re a whole lot better than last year. The kids are more enthusiastic, but you never know until you play somebody else.”