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Wylie East ready to prove doubters wrong again

by | May 18, 2023 | Sports

Wylie East’s first season at the 6A level was a monumental success on the gridiron.

Projected as one of the lower seeds in District 9-6A before the season, the Raiders won the district title, winning their first nine games of the year. While the team dropped its final two games, they set the standard Wylie East head coach Marcus Gold wants to play at every season.

“It’s an entirely different team,” Gold said. “This is team 14. Last year was team 13 in Wylie East history and we lost some key pieces last year. Terrell Washington Jr. was the player of the year. That’s a big piece to replace. There will probably be people who don’t project us to finish well again and we don’t care. Can you be consistent and work the same? That will help us do whatever we can.”

Indeed, Wylie East is tasked with replacing several key players from last season’s team, including Washington Jr. as the 9-6A MVP, Jaedon Hubbard and Maddox Fuller at quarterback, Tristan Lee at running back and Anthony James and Robert Ngasoh on the defensive line. All of those players were key to the team’s success, but several players waiting in the wings, and young starters returning in 2023, show plenty of potential.

“We’ve got some good players back in the fold,” Gold said. “Michael Henderson, Rome Jeffers, those guys are starters coming back and going to do big things for us next season.” 

Henderson and Jeffers made several standout plays for the Raiders when they hosted a 7-on-7 camp last Thursday, May 11, with Royse City, Princeton, and Community high schools. Against Royse City, Henderson caught two touchdowns, while Jeffers had one score and a turnover in the game.

“7-on-7 isn’t football as much for us,” Gold said. “I told the guys in the huddle after that football practice is in the mornings and that’s when guys will get evaluated. Out here, we want to see guys working hard on the field, catching footballs, and competing well and we’ve done a good job of that.”

Throwing the ball to their playmakers were two new quarterbacks for the Raiders varsity team. Howard Fisher returns for his junior year after competing for the job in 2022, while Ethan Hall moved into the area over the offseason and has shown flashes to the coaching staff in early workouts. Both players will get a chance to earn minutes and start for the new year, with coach Gold expecting the job to be up for grabs into the regular season.

“We like what both quarterbacks can come in and do for us,” Gold said. “Howard is going to get his first taste of Friday lights, so that’s always a new experience, while Hall has come in and worked hard to learn the offense and made some impressive throws. Both kids have a lot they bring to the table and threw the ball well.”

As the team goes through their summer workouts and prepares for fall camp, several positions are up for grabs heading into the season. With Gold and the Wylie East coaching staff evaluating talent, the players are showing a willingness to compete early in the spring which bodes well for the new season.

“One of the things that we’re looking for is that a handful of positions are open into next season,” Gold said. “We have a good crop of players returning that are starters and were ready for them to take the next step, but once we get a piece in there we want to build team chemistry, scheme and find those players in the spot to succeed. Right now is just about finding those guys who are ready to compete right now.”

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