WDMA Prop C

Building blocks for the 2016 football season are beginning to take shape

by | May 13, 2015 | Sports

By Greg Ford

Sports Editor

[email protected]

 

WYLIE — The building blocks for the 2016 football season are beginning to take shape at Wylie and Wylie East.

For the last few weeks, both the Raiders and Pirates have spent time at spring practice, where the respective coaching staffs are working to fit the proper pieces into place for the fall.

At East, the focus is on building depth and working in a new offensive scheme.

“We look right now for the first year to have a decent amount of depth,” East head coach Joe Lepsis said.

One reason for that is because of the Raiders’ small senior class, which resulted in 27 returning varsity players, as well as the opening of spots on the roster.

Specifically, Lepsis wants to build depth on defensive side, a place where the Raiders haven’t had in the past; many players often went both ways (offense and defense).

Offensively, East has always shown the ability to move the pigskin, and will likely do so again in 2015.

Back on that side of the ball will be the likes of quarterback Braden Shewmake, running backs Eno Benjamin and Malik Dean, wide receivers Justin Bailey, Aubrey White (also a running back) and Jared Wyatt, along with four offensive lineman.

The lone difference will be at offensive coordinator, where veteran coach Shawn Purcell takes over the reins. Under him, Lepsis noted, the Raiders will still run a spread offense, but will use new terminology and attack opposing defenses in a different manner than in past seasons.

“Every day on offense (in practice) is a good day,” Lepsis said, “because it’s another day learning the terminology.”

 

Wylie

The No. 1 thing Bill Howard and his staff are doing right now is evaluating talent.

“We’re giving the kids an opportunity to perform and they get opportunities in different groups,” he said. “We want to see how they do. We have a lot of scrimmages. We scrimmage almost every day as part of the practice … The key to a young guy developing is doing reps, getting more reps and being successful in those reps.”

While that’s going, the staff is also examining who is going to be the 2016 starters and building depth.

Nine offensive starters return from 2015, when the Pirates advanced to the area round. However, quarterback is not one of them, as the graduating Carsen Cook will have to be replaced.

Currently, Emilio Ames, the back up last season, is the front runner for the job, one to which he brings good size (6-4, around 200 pounds) and a solid arm.

“At this stage of his career, he probably has the best command of our offense,” Howard said.

Other vying for time at signal caller are Travis Price, Stacy Connors and Mike Messer. Also, Howard noted, safety Parker Hawkins can play at signal caller if need be.

“Every position is open, even though we return nine starters on offense,” Howard said. “We’re trying to build depth, and defensively, there are battles going on for corner and safety positions and the defensive line.”

One player expected to step up as a leader will be inside linebacker Lorenzo Keck, with the outside positions likely to be manned by returners Max Lopez and Nathan Weisser. Also back are defensive lineman Taylor Green and Ryan Beattie, the latter of whom was the Class 5A state wrestling champion at 220 pounds. Evan Bailey is back at cornerback in the secondary.

“With those six guys coming back, and with a whole slew of guys who got playing time last year, I feel pretty good about (the defense),” Howard said.

Note: Wylie’s spring practices will conclude Monday, June 1 with the “Night of Champions” at Wylie Stadium. The spring game kickoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

 

0 Comments

Related News

Wylie preaches competition in spring practices

Wylie preaches competition in spring practices

With the thunderous sound of shoulder pads colliding, the sidelines erupt with cheers and talk at the Wylie football practice. Jason Nwokedi read the play from his safety position and snuffed out the screen pass, knocking wide receiver Chris Lewis back behind the line...

read more
Raiders ready to rumble in 6A

Raiders ready to rumble in 6A

The Wylie East Raiders football team is hitting the ground running in the offseason, looking forward to big changes. The major change at Wylie East is the move up to 6A sports starting in the fall. Moving into District 9-6A with Wylie and Garland ISD, the team is...

read more
Pirates lose in regional quarterfinals

Pirates lose in regional quarterfinals

It was the end of the line for the Wylie Pirates softball team, who were swept in the regional quarterfinals by Waco Midway. The Pirates (14-0, 31-11) struggled in game one of the series Friday night at Midlothian High School, losing 11-1. Wylie started the game...

read more
Pirates win two medals at state

Pirates win two medals at state

The Wylie Pirates took home some silverware at the track and field state championships on Saturday. Competing in three events, Wylie had two medalists on the day. Nathanael Berhane started off the day with a personal record in the 3200, placing third overall...

read more
Popelka has sights set on state

Popelka has sights set on state

Logan Popelka is heading to the UIL track and field state championships for the second straight season, but things are different this time around. Last season, Popelka was strictly a short-distance runner. Competing in the 100m and 200m for the Pirates, he qualified...

read more
Pirates lose to Tyler Legacy in bi-district round

Pirates lose to Tyler Legacy in bi-district round

The Wylie Pirates gave Tyler Legacy all it could handle in the bi-district round of the state playoffs, with the three-game series coming down to the final inning. Unfortunately for the Pirates (11-3, 16-15-1), they fell short in three games, losing the final game 2-1...

read more
East loses in three games

East loses in three games

After a strong game one performance, Wylie East couldn't close out the series on the road, losing in three games. The Raiders (10-4, 17-11-1) won the opening game at home Friday night over Frisco Independence, but lost games two and three. The loss eliminates East in...

read more
Wylie comes back to beat Temple in three games

Wylie comes back to beat Temple in three games

Game one didn't go as planned for the Wylie Pirates softball team. Taking on Temple in the area round of the state playoffs, No. 7 Wylie (14-0, 31-8) came back to win games two and three on Saturday night to advance to the regional quarterfinals for the second...

read more
Playoff dates set for Wylie, Wylie East

Playoff dates set for Wylie, Wylie East

UIL baseball and softball playoff schedule for the weekend of Friday, May 6. Bi-district baseball Wylie Pirates (11-3, 15-14-1) vs. Tyler Legacy Game 1: 7 p.m. Friday at Wylie Game 2: 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Tyler's Mike Carter Field. Game 3 (if necessary): Immediately...

read more
Berhane, Popelka qualify for state

Berhane, Popelka qualify for state

Wylie High School will send two participants down to Austin for the UIL Track and Field State Championship. After winning the District 9-6A and Area meets, the Pirates finished fifth overall at the Region II meet at Waco Midway on April 29-30 with 36 points. The boys’...

read more