HUGHES SPRINGS, Texas – There’s no panic in Hughes Springs after a rare losing record in 2018, and that wouldn’t have happened if the Mustangs hadn’t made the playoffs.
The Mustangs finished 5-6 last season. Hughes Springs should be better this fall with seven offensive starters back, and six returning on defense. The bad news is Atlanta, Jefferson and Mount Vernon are once again picked as the top three teams in District 7-3A Division I.
“I think Atlanta is top dog; Jefferson may have dropped off a bit,” said veteran Hughes Springs coach Chris Edwards. “I just don’t know if they’ve dropped off enough for us to catch them. Mount Vernon is a big question mark. Obviously, they’ve got a good coach (Art Briles). They’ll be in a new system, and have a totally different approach.”
Edwards reported his starting numbers at 60. That’s varsity and jayvee, meaning the Mustangs will likely be playing several kids both ways as usual.
“Five of our returning starters go both ways,” said Edwards. “We’re working on our depth, trying to create some. That’s a tall order.”
The Mustangs’ coaching staff has immigrated some of Pleasant Grove’s offense into their slot-t. No pun intended, but Edwards has the horses to field a pretty potent offense in 2019.
Mustangs’ offense has weapons to run
Most of the offensive line returns, including Jace Ratley (5-10, 210), Gustavo Soto (5-10, 190), Tanner Byrd (5-11, 200) and Hudson Brabham (6-2, 220). Sophomore Mikey Lanier (5-11, 220) is expected to contribute in the offensive line.
Tight ends Collin Cook (6-1, 190) and Patrick Boyd (6-0, 200) complete an impressive wall to run behind. Edwards also has his son Caden Edwards (6-0, 185) lined up at tight end. Quarterback Andrew Gaul (5-11, 180) returns, as does running backs Isaiah Bolden (5-9, 185), Trayvonn Kennedy (6-3, 220) and Devin Flournoy (5-11, 175).
Bolden ran for 715 yards and nine touchdowns last year. Kennedy contributed 380 yards and six touchdowns, while Gaul rushed for 394 yards, while throwing for another 367. If the Ponies are going to copy Pleasant Grove they’ll have to open up and throw the ball a bit more.
Ratley, Bolden and Tyson Daingle (5-11, 185) head a physical defensive unit. All three are playing both ways. Soto and Boyd will also line up on both sides. Nacorey Lee (5-8, 190) will play in the defensive line, too.
“A big key for us defensively is the front eight. Six of those kids are returning starters,” said Edwards. “We’re not big, but we’re athletic, and can run a bit. Our kids know how to tackle, and they’re scrappy. I think they’ll be better than last year.
“We’ve been blessed, making the playoffs ten of twelve years. We always want to do more, but it would be pretty arrogant to say we’re fighting for the top spot. At the same time we don’t want to set limitations. We feel like if we do out and execute, it will give us a chance to win every game.”
Hughes Springs kicks off the season against Hamshire-Fannett.