The Wylie Pirates enter their spring workout season with plenty of expectations.
Of course, when you finish a year 8-4, win a playoff game and lose to the eventual state champions, it’s easy to get excited for what could lie ahead. The Pirates did not have a traditional spring schedule this season after several coaches moved on for promotions and new opportunities, giving Wylie time to regroup and evaluate their latest crop of talent for the 2023 season.
Not only did Wylie have a successful varsity season in 2022, but they’re also looking at a junior varsity team that finished 9-1 as well. With the wave of young talent stepping in, head coach Jimmy Carter is embracing the expectations.
“You always want to set the bar higher as you enter each new season,” Carter said. “We want to do well, but we also know that everyone else is also out there working hard and trying to get better as well. We know what we’re capable of and we got to go out and play the ball games.”
Wylie got it done last season on the defensive side of the football, allowing just 17 points per game throughout the season. With a projected five starters returning and several other players who played important roles in the success of the defense, Wylie expects they could have a similarly dominant defense in 2023.
“We got a core group of kids, with three defensive linemen who played a lot and a leader in Austin Fabian at the linebacker spot,” Carter said. “You always want to have a good offense, but defenses win championships. We’re going to play hard and get after it all the time.”
Offensively, Wylie got better throughout the year and enters 2023 with optimism with the return of starting quarterback Jagger Bale, 9-6A’s newcomer of the year, along with productive wide receivers Jackson Draper and Martaveion Sanders. With that group in the fold, a more complete Wylie roster could battle for a district title after finishing one game behind Wylie East in 2022.
“We got a little bit of a core group coming back,” Carter said. “We’re able to work during our athletic period and retained a lot from last year. They’ve done a good job of learning and helping the young kids get the terminology down.”
Bale has established himself as a team leader on the offensive side of the ball entering his junior year. Carter and the Pirates coaching staff have put a lot on his plate to help a younger offensive line that is replacing multiple starters, and he’s risen to the occasion.
“We got a little bit of confidence at our skill spots, but we’ve got some younger offensive linemen,” Carter said. “Jagger said something during practice today and we had to stop and slow it down a bit for our offensive linemen to understand, but once we worked through it they got it right away. A couple of them are not quite there yet, but having a quarterback who started all of our games last year and is a good leader goes a long way.”
While spring comes to a close, Wylie is eager to prepare for August and the fall camp. Without spring ball, they’ll work quickly to continue to establish chemistry with a new-look offensive line and fill in any further questions on their roster on the defensive side as well.
“Especially on the offensive line, losing 3-4 key guys and starters,” Carter said. “We have to answer some questions quickly and some of those could’ve been answered in spring ball. We would’ve liked that, but that wasn’t in the best interest of the kids with the lack of coaches.”
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