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Friday Night Lights: Starting a new streak – Boyd aims for playoff return

By Richard Greene | Published Wednesday, August 29, 2018
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Boyd

Heading into last season, the Boyd Yellowjackets had nowhere to go but up.

Coming off an 0-10 season that snapped a 13-year playoff streak, the Yellowjackets needed to pump some success back into the program. The Yellowjackets did just that, winning two of their first three games and ending the regular season with a victory over rival Paradise to get back into the postseason. With a 40-21 loss to Comanche in the 3A Division I Region I bi-district round, Boyd finished 3-8.

“Teamwise, we were much improved,” said Boyd coach Brandon Hopkins. “It was a good year for us. We had a lot of kids that didn’t know what it was like to win. The senior class had never won a game before. Three wins was a good accomplishment for that group.”

Entering 2018 and his seventh season as the Yellowjackets’ head coach, Hopkins believes the program is continuing an upward trend. Several young players, including three freshmen, received significant playing time last year.

“Everything is trending up,” Hopkins said. “The freshman and sophomore classes have been good classes for us. We had three freshmen that were big impact players for us last year, and they are now a year older.”

The offense will be directed by a three-year starter in quarterback Kody Risenhoover. He will have a pair of dangerous weapons on the outside in Koby Miller and Brian Couture.

Defensively, Wise County Defensive Newcomer of the Year Nick Taylor returns as a sophomore second-year starter at middle linebacker to spearhead a unit that is short on size but should have speed throughout.

While the Yellowjackets expect to continue improvement, they find themselves in one of the best leagues in 3A Division I. District 4-3A I includes state finalist Brock, Whitesboro, who went three rounds last fall, and playoff teams Bowie and Pilot Point. Paradise and Ponder fill out the seven-team league.

“Districtwise, it’s just as hard, and we’re adding another school,” Hopkins said. “Brock went to the title game and will be better. Whitesboro went three rounds, and Pilot Point is much improved.”

Hopkins points out that if you do make playoffs out of the league, a tough District 3-4A I opponent awaits in bi-district – Wall, Breckenridge, Eastland, Clyde, Jim Ned or Early.

“Region I is tough,” Hopkins said.

The Yellowjackets expect to find their way back to the postseason and continue a new playoff streak.

“We want to get into the playoffs,” Risenhoover said. “We want to get some momentum early and keep it going into district.”

BOYD YELLOWJACKETS IN A CAPSULE

2017 Record: 3-8, 1-4

Head coach: Brandon Hopkins, seventh year at Boyd (23-44)

OVERVIEW

Boyd rebounded from an 0-10 2016 season, going 3-8 and scoring a huge win over rival Paradise in the district finale to make the playoffs for the 13th time in 15 seasons. The Yellowjackets look to be even better in 2018, returning six starters on each side of the ball and 18 letterman.

OFFENSE

The Yellowjackets averaged 270 yards last year. Boyd returns three-year starter Kody Risenhoover and a pair of talented receivers in Koby Miller and Brian Couture to pair with Boone Eustace out of the backfield.

“We have a lot of returning starters,” Risenhoover said.

Risenhoover threw for a career-best 1,746 yards last year, completing 137 of his 256 attempts with 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

“Each year, he has better numbers. We look for him to improve even more this year,” said Boyd coach Brandon Hopkins.

Risenhoover’s top target was Miller, who had a knack for getting open. He hauled in 50 catches for 700 yards and 11 touchdowns. Couture added 33 catches for 535 yards and three touchdowns.

“We have two outside receivers that caught nearly 85 balls,” Hopkins said.

He pointed out that Nick Taylor and Dawson White will help in the passing game at tight end and inside receiver spots.

Eustace, who was the Yellowjackets’ second back last year, will get the bulk of the carries. He rushed for 280 yards on 58 carries.

Up front will be the question mark for the Yellowjackets. Guard Bartolo Guevara and center Jacob Herring are the most experienced players on the line.

“We don’t have a ton of linemen. We are converting some of our skilled guys,” Hopkins said.

DEFENSE

The Yellowjackets allowed 335.5 yards per game last year, including giving up 434 total yards in consecutive weeks against Brock and Breckenridge.

With six returning starters, including sophomore linebacker Nick Taylor, Boyd expects to be improved defensively.

“Defensivley, we’ll be as fast as we’ve been since I’ve been here,” Hopkins said. “We have a bunch of sub-4.8 guys.”

Taylor made 124 tackles last year at middle linebacker as a freshman to earn district and county defensive newcomer of the year.

“He’s lost 30 pounds and picked up half a second in his 40,” Hopkins said.

Allen Gaught, Hunter Nash and Caleb Rodriguez are expected to be at the other outside linebacker spots.

Boone Eustace leads a talented and speedy secondary with Brian Couture and sophomore Caleb Armijo.

On the defensive line, sophomore Bartolo Guevara returns after making five tackles for losses and getting in on 60 stops a year ago.

“Bart is a force. He squats 650 pounds and has the ability to make things happen inside,” Hopkins said.

The Yellowjackets are moving several linebackers to defensive end to get more speed on the outside, including track star Caleb Rodriguez.

OUTLOOK

The Yelllowjackets will be improved thanks to returning experienced players on both sides of the ball. But in an extremely tough 4-4A Division I with returning state finalist Brock and perennial playoff teams Whitesboro and Pilot Point, just making the playoffs would be an accomplishment. The Yellowjackets will need to win their first two 4-3A Division I games against Ponder and Paradise to have a shot for a postseason. Boyd ends the regular season with league favorites Brock and Whitesboro.

Record prediction: 6-4 overall, 3-3 in 4-3A Division I for fourth place

2017 BOYD RESULTS

Boyd 26, Lake Worth 23
Holliday 49, Boyd 7
Boyd 21, Tolar 14 (OT)
Henrietta 48, Boyd 35
Jacksboro 28, Boyd 13
Bowie 34, Boyd 20
Ponder 26, Boyd 20
Breckenridge 49, Boyd 14
Brock 59, Boyd 7
Boyd 29, Paradise 13
Comanche 40, Boyd 21

2018 BOYD SCHEDULE

Aug. 31 … Nocona
Sept. 7 … @ Holliday
Sept. 14 … @ Lake Worth
Sept. 21 … Howe
Sept. 28 … @ Ponder
Oct. 5 … BYE
Oct. 12 … Paradise
Oct. 19 … @ Pilot Point
Oct. 26 … Bowie
Nov. 2 … @ Brock
Nov. 9 … Whitesboro

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