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Special Section

2011 SPORTS PREVIEW: Hornets look to maintain district supremacy

2011 SPORTS PREVIEW: Hornets look to maintain district supremacy
Joe Clark of East Central makes his way back to the sideline after running for a touchdown during the Hornets' scrimmage with Floresville.

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Wilson County News
August 25, 2011
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EAST CENTRAL -- Since Hornet Head Football Coach Robert Walker arrived at East Central six seasons ago, he has been working hard to build a program of excellence -- and it’s showing. The Hornets have made marked improvements each year under Walker, and have been on the cusp of greatness. While Walker is the first to admit there is still a lot of work to be done, he is looking forward to an even better season in 2011.

Last year, the Hornets finished the season with an overall record of 8-3. They had a solid 8-2 record through the regular season, and were unbeaten by District 28-5A opponents en route to a district championship. The Hornets suffered a tough loss in the first round of the playoffs, though, and it was a bitter way to end the season. Still, Walker and the Hornets held their heads high.

“Last season meant a lot,” Walker said. “It wasn’t an easy season -- there were a lot of injuries -- but we could see the team’s philosophy taking hold. The kids were really finding success with everything we were teaching. When that happens, everything is a little better -- the wins feel a little sweeter.”

But that was last year, and what the Hornets did then won’t mean much to their opponents come time for the kickoff. The Hornets have to produce again this season, and there will be some big shoes to fill.

“We had a tremendous senior class last year,” Walker said. “They will be missed.”

One of the biggest gaps to fill will be at the quarterback position. Eddie Lopez led the Hornet offense last season with more than 1,500 yards through the air, and that won’t be easy to replace. Gant Kiolbassa and Moses Rymers led the defense in 2010 before moving on to play college football. Their loss will certainly be felt as well.

Still, the Hornets will return a total of 32 lettermen, including seven returning starters on offense and seven starters on defense. Walker said that is a better returning corps than that to which he is accustomed.

On the offensive side of the ball, Walker expects another big year from junior running back Chris Armstrong. He is also looking for Andrew Tercek and Cole Franckowiak to come up big on the offensive line.

Over on defense, Walker said the players to watch include Nick Coleman, Austin Jupe, Dean Koenning, Carlos Mora, and Braedon Robinson.

Overall, the Hornets should have greater speed on the field this year, and Walker feels that his players are “bigger” than they have been in the past.

When it comes to the “game plan,” Walker said there aren’t any major offensive or defensive changes expected this year.

“We will try to continue in the right direction,” Walker said, “[and] get better at what we do.”

As the team gets rolling, Walker’s early focus will be about building confidence in his team and finding leaders.

“Leadership isn’t something you just roll out of bed and do,” he said. “Our senior leadership was such a big part of our success last year, and we need it again this year.”

So what does this all mean to the Hornet fans? Well, things are looking good, and this could be another breakout season for the “black and gold.”

Hornet fans will need to keep their schedules flexible this season, though. While the majority of games will still be played on Friday night, East Central will play once on Thursday night, and has three games scheduled on Saturdays.

The Hornets will begin their 2011 season this Friday night, as they host the Boerne Champion Chargers in Hornet Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

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