By Dave Wagner
High school football practice begins today in Texas, and the three area programs have something in common:
All are trying to improve on 4-6 records from 2002.
David Wood begins his eighth season at Muleshoe, which went to the Class 3A semifinals three years ago but is coming off its first sub-.500 campaign since his first year in 1996.
Despite their struggles last fall, the Mules squeezed out a District 2-3A berth in the playoffs by winning a tiebreaker for second place after finishing 3-2 in the district. The Mules open at home on Aug. 29 against Seminole.
“I think we’re going to be better this year,” said Wood, whose team returns eight starters on offense and nine on defense. “We were real young last year — and we’re still real young. But we have some guys with some pretty good varsity experience.”
Brownfield won the 2-3A title last season, but Wood said Littlefield may be the team to beat this year.
“They’re just always going to have a good team; they’re well-coached and well-disciplined,” he said. “I really think we’re all pretty even, but we seem to play good when the district games come around.”
Third-year Farwell coach Jacob Thompson said the Steers should be competitive but may have less depth than a year ago when injuries devastated the squad.
“I felt like we were a better team than our record showed,” Thompson said.
In addition to graduating 13 seniors, Farwell lost five prospects who moved away, Thompson noted. Most were off the Steers’ 9-1 junior varsity squad and would have been candidates to move up this fall.
“I think we can be real good,” Thompson said. “Injuries really depleted us last year and we had to play some young kids. We probably threw them into the fire a little early, but I think we may gain a benefit this year for that experience.”
District 3-1A includes only five teams this year, with Kress playing an “outlaw” six-man schedule due to lack of numbers. The other five teams, though, should be competitive, according to Thompson.
He noted that the Steers, whose team will go twice in the mornings this week, lost a number of games last year despite outgaining the opponent. Farwell’s opener is Aug. 29 at Plains.
“A huge focus for us this year from day one is the turnover ratio,” he said. “We feel like if we can control (that), we’ll be fairly successful.”
Former Clovis High quarterback Kent Torbert takes over at Bovina, after assisting Bruce Scroggins in 2002. Torbert said the Mustangs return five starters on both sides of the ball.
“We’re going to have to replace some good seniors,” he said. “We’re going to be awfully young again.”
Bovina opens on Aug. 29 against Texico at home. Wolverines coach Mike Prokop faced a former fellow CHS assistant last year in Scroggins; this year, he takes on a former high school teammate from the mid-70s in Torbert.
“Pro and I have been to war before,” Torbert said. “It’ll be fun.”
Competing with Farwell in District 3-1A, Torbert also sees a competitive race.
“I’d have to pick (defending champion) Nazareth,” he said. “Springlake-Earth will be good again, and Farwell will be too. It’s going to be tough. You feel like whoever gets out of this district will have a chance to play for a while (in postseason).”