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Fall Sports Preview: Mustangs expand offense, should compete for playoff spot
Mustang Head Coach Carlton McKinney looks on as members of his Nixon-Smiley football team hustle through morning two-a-days.
NIXON -- The Mustangs definitely turned a major corner in their football program last year, but if Nixon-Smiley wants to stay in the hunt this year, they are going to have to continue finding ways to improve.
Competing in District 15-2A DII, the Mustangs return seven starters on offense and seven on defense, numbers Head Coach Carlton McKinney is happy about. His team went 5-5 on the season last year, and was 3-3 in district play, picking up several big wins.
When it comes to his players, McKinney said he expects to see big things from Logan McMain, Miguel Hernandez, Rudy Acevedo, Warren Lopez, and Garrett Earlywine. He is also expecting players like Tristan Newman, Victor Evans, Rio Rodriguez, and Nick Pena to step things up for Nixon-Smiley.
McKinney admitted he has a number of players returning at key “skill” positions, and will also have experience back on the line.
“That helps to advance the offense,” he said. “They understand why they are doing what they do.”
The Mustangs will look to expand their offense this year, and McKinney said his team will throw some additional formations at opponents. Nixon-Smiley is changing some things up, and McKinney said his team will be looking for a more balanced attack, throwing the ball more than they have in the past. He also acknowledged that Nixon-Smiley has been a bit “one-dimensional” in the past, and said his team plans to break away from that this season.
The Mustangs will have some flexibility in the backfield this season, something they haven’t always had in the past. McKinney said that if his team stays healthy, it should be pretty good this season.
The Mustangs will have to deal with some changes to the district this year, including games with a few teams that will require traveling long distances. McKinney believes Poth will once again be the team to beat, and he said he also expects Stockdale and Karnes City to be “strong” and to “pose a threat.”
“You can never count anyone out,” McKinney said. “There is no one on the schedule to overlook, and four or five teams all have a shot at the district title.”
McKinney feels his team is one of those with a shot this season, but cautions his team against feeling as though they “have arrived.”
“We have a long way to go and we have to continue getting better,” he said. “I expect that to happen as the year goes on.
“Our greatest strength is that the players and coaches all have a great attitude,” McKinney added. “An example being that every player made every practice during the first week of two-a-days this year. That’s a first since I have been here. But these kids are excited and want to be a part of this. Success breeds success.”
The Mustangs will open their season in Flatonia, and then play down in Three Rivers. Nixon-Smiley will play its season home-opener Friday, Sept. 14, against Yorktown. After enjoying a bye week, the Mustangs will begin district play Friday, Sept. 28, at home against Karnes City.
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