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Fall Sports Preview: Hornets prepare for district title defense, return experienced team
Members of the East Central coaching staff review a morning practice with several members of the varsity football team.
EAST CENTRAL -- The East Central Hornet football team has made tremendous strides over the past few years. The team has won the district title two years running, and returns a roster capable of doing it again. While this year’s team may be one of the best in black and gold since Robert Walker took over seven seasons ago, the road to a state title is riddled with challenges.
East Central has a good number of kids returning from last year’s team, and Walker said that each of them has worked hard to get ready for the season. The team didn’t hold spring workouts last year due to a conflict with spring track and field, so the Hornets worked on their own over the summer, and have had an extra week of workouts this fall.
East Central enjoyed a good run last season, finishing the year in the playoffs with an overall record of 8-4. The Hornets also won the 28-5A title with a district mark of 5-0.
The Hornets return a large number of varsity lettermen in 2012, including a total of 14 starters -- seven on each side of the ball. This year’s players to watch include Austin Jupe, who has a verbal commitment to Baylor; Andrew Tercek, who has committed to Boise State; and Chris Armstrong and Matt Coleman, who have also received collegiate attention, though neither has committed to a school just yet. Other players Walker said to keep an eye on this season include quarterbacking brothers Christian and Jeremy Jones; defensive linemen Trenton Massengale, Santos Dominguez, and MacNeal Price; linebackers Cody Schautteet, Dennis Chavez, David Clay, and Caid Franckowiak; and guys like Alec Gonzales, Mark Alarcorn, Fabian Mata, Vernest Dotson, and Dustin Toscano.
The Hornets will play a new and difficult non-district schedule this year. East Central has played the same teams for the last four years, and Walker felt it was time for a change.
East Central has won its district the last two years, but doing it again will be harder this year, as the Steele Knights join District 28-5A. The Knights are the state runners-up from last year, and won the state title two years ago. Steele replaces Highlands in the district, as the Owls fall down to Class 4A and compete against fellow San Antonio ISD schools Brackenridge, Burbank, Edison, Jefferson, and Lanier. Walker said he expects every team in the district to be better than it was last season, and knows this season will be more challenging than ever. Still, Walker likes the addition of Steele to the district, and said it will bring “even more respectability to the district.”
“Everyone will pay attention to 28-5A,” he said.
The Hornets have a lot going for them as they move into the season. Walker believes the team’s greatest strength is in its leadership. He has that big group of returning lettermen, and the Hornets have 16 wins in the past two seasons. Many of the seniors played as sophomores, and the team has good strength and speed.
If there is a weakness, Walker said it would be in their lack of depth at some positions.
“We are good at what we have, but we just aren’t as deep as we’d like to be.”
Walker intends to work on that issue by getting playing time for some of these kids early. He fully expects that everyone will have “good experience” by the time district play begins.
Once into district play, the Hornets will participate in several Thursday night games, including three in a row, two of which will be broadcast on television’s Thursday Night Lights.
As for season goals, Walker admitted there are lots of little goals the team and players have, but said their main goal is to play for a state championship.
“We want our journey to end in Dallas,” Walker said, “but we can’t lose sight of the stops along our journey. We will not look past any team or any game. We have to keep the team focused.”
East Central opens its 2012 season on the road Friday, Aug. 31, against John Jay High School. The Hornets will then play their home opener Friday, Sept. 7, against Marshall. Kickoff for both games is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
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