It's Iowa Park vs. Holliday in season opener
by Kevin Hamilton
The 2018 high school football campaign begins tomorrow night for the Iowa Park Mean Green with a tough challenge expected from a veteran Holliday Eagles team.
Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. in Hawk Stadium.
Friday is also Senior Night at Iowa Park High School. Starting at 6:30, 12th graders in football, cheerleading and band will be recognized.
Former IPHS graduate Frank Johnson, now in his sixth year as head coach at Holliday, is tasking his Eagles with a chance at redemption after they were knocked off by the Hawks 21-7 last year.
Johnson’s quarterback son, Jett, suffered a torn ACL early in that game, and spent the rest of the season on the sidelines as Holliday captured a District 5-3A DII title, and ended the season 11-2 with their only other loss of that year against Gunter in the regional round.
According to Head Hawk Aubrey Sims, the Eagle quarterback spent a lot of time in the weight room in the offseason, and looked impressive in one of Holliday’s recent scrimmages.
“I’m happy for him,” Sims said. “It’s the kid’s senior year. But that game last year, their center broke his leg, the quarterback gets hurt, it’s raining. That was a tough game for them to finish out. I don’t take a whole lot of stock on what went on last year, as far as winning or losing. To me, that was a tough game for them. That hurt them the whole season. That’s what we don’t want ... we just want to get out of the game healthy. We both do.”
Asked for his impressions on tomorrow’s matchup, Sims said “What a great first game,”
“They are as good as they’ve been since we’ve played them. Almost their whole defense is back. Offensively, they execute. They have so many kids returning. They know what they are doing. I don’t know how it is going to end up, but it is going to make us better.”
The Eagle backfield will be missing top flight runningback Justin Jones (now at Midwestern) but returns fullback Tristin Boyd, who rushed for 976 yards last season.
Also returning for the Eagle offense is tackle Jake Turner, guard Tanner Bayard, and center Blake Linemann.
Bayard, an all-state defensive end, will anchor the Holliday defense along with Turner at nose guard, Brandon Pettigrew at defensive end, Crue Jackson at safety, Chase Borchardt at cornerback, and linebackers Johnson and Boyd.
Also returning is kicker Grayson Germany.
“I feel like it is going to come down to who turns the ball over, and penalties,” Sims said of tomorrow’s game. There are going to be a handful of big plays where one team’s going to make it and one ain’t.”
The Mean Green hosted Henrietta Thursday night in the one and only scrimmage for the Hawks prior to tomorrow night’s opener.
Sims said a lot of good things came from that scrimmage.
“We saw a lot of good things, and got a lot of kids in there that we are still looking at and weren’t sure about ... and some kids that just moved in, some that haven’t played football in a while,” he said.
“We got exactly what we wanted out of the scrimmage,” he continued. “We got out of there healthy. We didn’t run a whole lot of stuff, but it was good.”
In the live quarter between the Hawks and the Bearcats, Henrietta scored first on a defensive mistaked, according to Sims. “The offense went right down the field and scored, so I thought that was a bit of poise, nobody hitting the panic button. And that’s what you should have when you have a lot of kids returning. They realize there is a lot of game to play and you don’t freak out after one (score). I didn’t see that, so I thought that was good.”
A number of returning Hawk starters didn’t participate in the scrimmage, including four-year and two-way starter Jeremiah Stanley, Brendin Fallon, Joe Bever, and Reid Lalk.
Sims said all will be in uniform against the Eagles.
Asked what the keys are for a Hawk victory against Holliday, Sims replied “We can just not turn the ball over. Without a doubt, the team that takes care of the ball, that is going to be a huge factor.
“Special teams,” he continued. “The one thing neither one of us have done live yet. Making sure you’ve got 11 guys out there, and them knowing what to do. Lining up right. We’ve got some rule changes. For both of us, it’s the first time to do it. We’ve got to make that happen.
“And the third one, for me, is just execution,” Sims said. “We’ve just got to go out and do what we work for. Offensively and defensively, we need to play to our potential. We are going to have to play to that level, or they will.”
Offensively, the Hawk line will be a strength with Nolan Clark at center, Stanley and Austin Childs at guard, left tackle Ryder Roberts, and right tackle Russell Price.
“We have five guys up front that have been there, done that, that I feel should be really solid for us” Sims said. “Three of those five are seniors, and I just have high expectations for the line.”
Wyatt Edwards returns at tight end, Chris Dickens at H-back, Kaden Ashlock at inside receiver, Kase Johnson at outside receiver, Trent Green at quarterback, and Fallon at running back.
“Brendin started a few games for us last year, and had a huge game against Mineral Wells,” Sims noted. “That was just one of those things where he was behind Billy (Pearson). This is his year to prove it, let him do his thing, and turn the key over to him.
“So having all those guys right there, that is going to be huge.”
Sims added that move-in Cody Coheley will be a solid backup at receiver and quarterback, and Slayton Ochoa will be utilized at receiver.
“I think we’ve got some weapons,” Sims said of the offense. “I think this year we can be more 50-50, my goal is, running and passing.”
On defense, linebackers Creed Wells and Zane Petering return, with Fallon and Kaden Teafatiller also playing at linebacker.
Ashlock returns at free safety, and Stanley at nose guard. Edwards, Dickens and Joe Bever will bring experience at defensive end. Joe’s brother, James, will also see action at that spot.
“He (James) is one of our best pass rushers,” Sims said. “So if you get those two Bever boys on each end, I’ve watched them play together, it’s like they feed off of each other.”
Cy Lalumia will start at outside linebacker along with Coheley. Ochoa and Walker Bird will start at cornerback.