WCMessenger.com http://www.wcmessenger.com Wise County Messenger Online Edition Fri, 28 Aug 2015 14:47:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.3 Breaking News: Fire destroys Newark home http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/update/breaking-news-fire-destroys-newark-home/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/update/breaking-news-fire-destroys-newark-home/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 14:12:43 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=94623 At around 2:15 a.m. Friday a fire destroyed a double-wide Newark home located at 164 County Road 4875.

The home was occupied by five people — two adults and three children.

All five escaped the fire, but one child was flown to Parkland Hospital with 35 percent burns on his body.

“The adults pulled the 11 year-old out of the window,” Wise County Fire Marshal Chuck Beard said. “The grandfather received injuries, cuts and minor burns, but he was not transported.”

The names of the victims have not been released yet and the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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FRIDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL – The football season gets underway tonight for most Wise County teams. Alvord heads to Nocona. Boyd welcomes Gunter. Bridgeport travels to Mineral Wells. Decatur will play host to Springtown. Northwest will be in Corsicana. Paradise takes on Red Oak Life. Keep up with the action on our live blog at wcmessenger.com/scores. Chico will play Frost at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Bedford. Victory Christian opens the year at home at 9 a.m. Saturday against Trinity Christian.

LADY EAGLES WIN TWO – The Decatur Lady Eagles won their first two matches at the Leander ISD Volleypalooza Thursday. They will continue play at the tournament through Saturday. In other action, Boyd heads to Mineral Wells. Bridgeport will take on Trimble Tech. Chico plays Saint Jo. Northwest starts play at the Arlington Invitational. Paradise continues play at the Fort Worth Southwest Tournament.

RUNNERS TO HIT COURSE – The Paradise and Northwest cross country teams run today at the Cowtown Challenge in Haltom City. Victory Christian will be at the Carrollton Christian Academy meet. Saturday, Decatur, Bridgeport and Slidell will compete at the Marcus I Invitational at Denton’s North Lakes Park.

GAMES IN THE PARK – An outdoor games event will be held 9-11 a.m. Saturday at Kenny Renshaw Park, including kickball, volleyball, sack races, water balloon fights, father/son flag football, 3-on-3 basketball, frisbee, soccer and knockout. The event is free, but participants are asked to bring a canned good for WARM. Text 940-389-1952 or 972-989-6990.

CUB SCOUT ROUNDUP – Cub Scout Pack 115 Roundup is 6:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 31, at the Wesley Center of the United Methodist Church in Decatur. All new or returning boys in first through fifth grades interested in joining Cub Scouts are invited.

MEET THE TEACHER – Decatur High School will host Meet the Teacher night 6:30-7:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 31.

DINNER TONIGHT – Texas A&M AgriLife Extension – Wise County will host a Dinner Tonight Cooking School Thursday, Sept. 3, at Weatherford College Wise County. The program starts at 6 p.m., and includes demonstrations of easy and nutritious menus that can be prepared in 30 minutes or less. Goody bags, cookbooks and door prizes will be given away. To register, call the Extension office, 940-627-3341.

QUILT SHOW – The Wise County Quilt Guild will have a quilt show 2-6 p.m. today and 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Saturday at the Bridgeport Community Center, 1102 Lawdwin St. The theme for this year’s show is “Stitch in Time – A Gathering of Quilters.” There will be several vendors, as well as hourly door prizes, and the show will include a silent auction, a bed turning and a bake sale. Admission is free with the donation of two canned goods or a cash donation to benefit Wise Area Relief Mission.

VETERANS BREAKFAST – The Wise County Veterans Group will meet for weekly breakfast 8 a.m. Saturday at Stevens Street Grill in Bridgeport. Veterans from Wise and surrounding counties are invited.

NEW MINISTER – The Episcopal Church of Wise County has welcomed the Rev. Tony Hiatt and his wife, Lydia. Fr. Tony will celebrate Holy Eucharist every Sunday at 10 a.m. The church is located at 905 Church Street in Decatur. Call 940-222-8705.

FUNERAL – Graveside service for Harold Ray Crabtree, 79, of Boyd is 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Aurora Cemetery. Christian-Hawkins Funeral Home in Boyd is handling arrangements.

FUNERAL – Funeral for Doris Lucille Hoyl, 90, of Decatur is 2 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 1, at Coker-Hawkins Funeral Home Chapel in Decatur. Family visitation is 6-8 p.m. Monday at the funeral home.

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Electrical issues force office closing http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/update/electrical-issues-force-office-closing/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/update/electrical-issues-force-office-closing/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 17:36:09 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=94618 Due to electrical issues with an underground transformer, the Wise County Clerk’s office is closed for the rest of the day. Oncor Area Manager Sabrina Easley said the issue only affects the one office, and repairs are expected to take several hours.

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Thursday, August 27, 2015 http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/update/thursday-august-27-2015/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/update/thursday-august-27-2015/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 13:16:10 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=94614

TASTE OF WISE – The fifth annual Taste of Wise is 5:30-8 p.m. today at the Decatur Civic Center. The public is invited to sample food, drinks and appetizers. There will be live entertainment from local artists, plus door prizes. There will also be a $500 cash door prize. Admission is $5.

VOLLEYBALL TOURNAMENT – The Decatur Lady Eagles will start play in the Leander ISD Volleypalooza Tournament today. The Paradise Lady Panthers will be at the Fort Worth Southwest Tournament.

FLAG FOOTBALL – Bridgeport Youth Association presents Wise County Flag Football. Online registration at byasports.leagueapps.com. Registration fee is $75, and deadline is Sept. 4. Call or text Jared McComis at 940-399-7530 or Richard Vidal at 940-210-1817.

QUILT SHOW – The Wise County Quilt Guild will have a quilt show 2-6 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m-4:30 p.m. Saturday at the Bridgeport Community Center, 1102 Lawdwin St. The theme for this year’s show is “Stitch in Time – A Gathering of Quilters.” There will be several vendors, as well as hourly door prizes, and the show will include a silent auction, a bed turning and a bake sale. Admission is free with the donation of two canned goods or a cash donation to benefit Wise Area Relief Mission.

VETERANS BREAKFAST – The Wise County Veterans Group will meet for weekly breakfast 8 a.m. Saturday at Stevens Street Grill in Bridgeport. Veterans from Wise and surrounding counties are invited.

JUDGES NEEDED – The Bridgeport Volunteer Fire Department is looking for judges for their upcoming Barbecue Cook-off on Saturday, Sept. 12. Call BVFD Chief Terry Long at 940-210-9495 if you would like to judge one or two of these categories: beans, chicken, brisket or ribs.

PLANNED POWER OUTAGE – Oncor Electric customers living on Farm Road 51 north of Decatur to Greenwood can expect a power outage this afternoon. Oncor spokesperson Sabrina Easley said the outage will begin at 5 p.m. and likely last until 9 p.m. The outage will only affect Oncor customers, not Wise Electric customers living in the same area. For information, call 888-313-4747.

DURRETT RECEPTION – A come-and-go reception honoring Duane Durrett for his years of service at Weatherford College Wise County is 3-5 p.m. today at the WCWC cafeteria. Durrett is relocating to the Weatherford College campus in Granbury.

FREEDOM TEXAS – Freedom Texas will hold it’s monthly public meeting at 7 tonight in the meeting room at Pizza Hut, 601 S. Washburn St., in Decatur. This is a group that educates people about the sovereignty, security and self-sufficiency of Texas and promotes its eventual independence. Anyone who wishes to learn more about these subjects is invited. Contact Brenda Vaughn, 940-748-2535, or go to freedomtexas.org.

PUBLIC HEARING – Decatur ISD will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget and tax rate during the school board meeting at 5:30 p.m. today at the DISD Administration building, 307 South Cates. The district is proposing a budget of $38 million for the 2015-2016 school year and a tax rate of $1.33 per $100 valuation, a 4-cent increase. Following the public hearing, the board will adopt the budget and tax rate. The agenda also includes a year-end budget amendment and a superintendent report on class sizes/student counts and facility policy regarding custodial fees.

FUNERAL – Graveside service for Harold Ray Crabtree, 79, of Boyd is 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Aurora Cemetery. Christian-Hawkins Funeral Home in Boyd is handling arrangements.

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2015 Football Preview: Victory steps up to varsity http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/2015-football-preview-victory-steps-up-to-varsity/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/2015-football-preview-victory-steps-up-to-varsity/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 19:08:46 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=94612 In their first high school season, the Victory Christian Patriots posted an unbeaten 12-0 record and captured the Texas Christian Athletic Fellowship junior varsity title.

Now, the Patriots will make the jump up to compete on the varsity level in TCAF Division II District II.

“It’s going to be tough, but we’re ready,” said Victory running back Cole Reaves. “We’ve been training at JRobs and lifting weights.”

Victory coach and athletic director Joe Berry agrees it’s a jump up in competition for the six-man squad.

“We’re excited. It’s unchartered territory for us,” Berry said. “We don’t know what to expect. We played a few varsities last year, but 10 weeks of varsity action is different. It’ll be interesting to see how we respond.”

The Patriots start the season with 10 players and one senior. That senior – Dalton McPeek – is hard to miss, standing 6’5″ and 230 pounds.

He will play running back on offense and middle linebacker on defense.

Along with being a senior, he can provide leadership from playing previously at the varsity level for the Wise County Warriors.

He’s been impressed by the work of his fellow Patriots.

“We’re doing good. We have good teamwork,” McPeek said. “I like the way we are coming together.”

While the six-man game is wide open and offensive oriented, the Patriots hope to use their defense to turn some games in their favor.

“Defense is key,” McPeek said. “Anyone can score 100 points if they are good. With my brother (Gideon McPeek) at safety and me, we have a good core. We’re coming together.”

Berry said the Patriots’ defense carried the team at times last year. With the McPeeks, Victory will have Jackson Shriver back at corner along with Logan McNamara.

“People are not going to get away from us,” Berry said.

Offensively, Gideon McPeek is playing quarterback. In six-man, the quarterback cannot advance the ball past the line of scrimmage. It must be handed off to a back to advance.

Last year’s quarterback Justin McBride has moved to receiver.

“Justin is a good asset on the outside,” Berry said.

Reaves returns to the backfield after a strong year that included being named player of the game in the championship.

The Patriots start the season at home Aug. 29 against the Trinity Christian JV. Victory’s five-game district schedule begins Oct. 2 at home against St. Paul’s Prep – a state semifinalist last season.

VCA SCHEDULE

Aug. 29 … TCA JV … Here … 9 a.m.
Sept. 4 … Victory Life … Here … 6 p.m.
Sept. 10 … Rockwall Christian … Here … 5 p.m.
Sept. 17 … Open
Sept. 24 … Inspired Vision … There … 5 p.m.
Oct. 2 … St. Paul’s Prep* … Here … 6 p.m.
Oct. 9 … Faustina* (HC) … Here … 7 p.m.
Oct. 16 … Lakeland Christian* … There … 6 p.m.
Oct. 23 … Heritage Christian* … Here … 6 p.m.
Oct. 30 … Cornerstone McKinney* … Here … 6 p.m.

* TCA Div. II Dist. 2; HC – homecoming

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2015 Football Preview: Texans enter season hungry http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/2015-football-preview-texans-enter-season-hungry/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/2015-football-preview-texans-enter-season-hungry/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 19:08:12 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=94610 Northwest Cover

The Northwest Texans finished off the 2014 season with a 35-33 victory over Keller.

But walking off the field, the Texans watched Keller celebrate earning a playoff spot out of District 5-6A by virtue of a tiebreaker. The Texans fell two points shy of the needed four-point victory.

“It was difficult. I don’t like to talk about it,” said Northwest senior defensive back Savion James. “You win but it was like you lose.”

The win over Keller capped a 6-4 season for the Texans that included a four-game winning streak to close 5-6A play. But it was the three straight losses to start league play against Fossil Ridge, Guyer and Keller Central that kept Northwest from the playoffs.

“No doubt they are hungry,” said Northwest coach Bill Poe, who is starting his second season on the Texans’ sidelines. “They want great things to happen. We had a great [opening] week with good retention from last spring.”

The Texans’ three district losses were by 10 points or less, including a 28-24 setback against Keller Central. By the end of district, the Texans started pulling out those close games.

“When we reflect on last year, one thing we learned is that one or two plays here or there and it’d be a different result,” Poe said. “Every play, we’ve got to be at our best.”

The Texans return the bulk of their starters on each side of the ball. But the offense will be trying to replace their top three playmakers from a year ago – receiver Emmanuel Moore, quarterback Jesse Drummer and running back Quentin Thorpe.

Moore caught 93 passes for 1,291 yards and 19 touchdowns. Drummer threw for 2,573 yards and 28 scores. Thorpe supplied 1,156 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns.

With eight starters back on defense, the Texans expect the unit to be better. It will need to be as the Texans face two of the state’s top quarterbacks in Arlington Lamar’s Shane Buechele and Guyer’s Shawn Robinson.

In a loaded District 5-6A with Guyer, Ryan, Fossil Ridge and rival Byron Nelson, the Texans know there will be a battle every week to make the postseason. But that’s not the team’s only goal.

“We need to prove we can make the playoffs and go deep in the playoffs,” said senior Hunter Johnson, who is taking over the quarterback job.

There’s no doubt they have two points of motivation.

TEXANS RETOOL OFFENSE

Last season, Jesse Drummer and Emmanuel Moore formed one of the area’s top passing and catching tandem.

Quarterback Drummer connected with Moore 93 times for 1,291 yards and 19 touchdowns. Drummer threw for a total of 2,573 yards and 28 scores.

Now, Drummer is at Angelo State and Moore runs routes at the University of Kansas.

The Texans are looking to senior Hunter Johnson to take over for Drummer and a talented trio of junior receivers to fill the shoes of Moore and prove the cupboard is far from bare.

“We’ll feel the loss of E-man and Jesse, but we have all the faith in Hunter and the guys stepping in,” said Northwest coach Bill Poe. “There will be some different ways of doing things. There’s wrinkles we’ve added. Three of our four receivers are back, and overall as a unit we’re much further ahead.”

Johnson, who was reserve receiver last year, won the Texans’ quarterback job in the spring. So far, he’s turned in a solid fall showing off his ability to move the ball with his arm and legs.

“I’m slowly stepping into the role, but it’s going good,” Johnson said. “Jesse was such a great quarterback. I’m trying to step up and be a leader.”

Juniors Syrus Moore, Gavin Holmes and Emmanuel Ogunwolu caught a combined 81 passes last year for 808 yards and seven touchdowns. Syrus Moore hauled in 48 of those catches for 505 yards and five scores.

The Texans also graduated workhorse back Quentin Thorpe, who ran for 1,156 yards and 18 scores. Blake Ibarra and Deon Grayer take over the rushing duties. Ibarra rushed for 132 yards on 26 carries a year ago.

“We’re definitely deeper with Blake and Deon,” Poe said. “Both are strong and hard workers.”

The strength of the offense is up front on the line with big, 6’7″ tackles Matt Briggs and Darrell Simpson, along with guards Joshua Campbell, Talbot French-Folsom and Antonio Chavez and center Brandon Keck.

“It’s one of the bigger offensive lines we’ve had,” Poe said. “We’re looking forward to working with them. They are without a doubt the strength of the offense.”

The big line should give a new group of skilled players a chance to get comfortable, make plays and possibly approach the 411 yards average of last year.

DEFENSE RETURNS MAJORITY

Saveion James entered last fall as the lone experienced starter for the Northwest Texans’ defense.

The unit’s youth showed at times as it allowed 426 yards per game and three times gave up 40 points or more.

This year with eight starters back on the defensive side of the ball, James expects much different results.

“We’ll be a lot better,” James predicted. “We’re more physical. We also have better chemistry. No one wants to let anyone down.”

After a rough couple of games against the explosive offenses of Fossil Ridge and Guyer, Northwest coach Bill Poe points out the improvement the unit showed down the stretch in the Texans’ four-game winning streak to end the season.

“We got better. We’re very fortunate to have eight of those guys back,” Poe said.

James is part of a secondary with Tyler Weaver that is expected to be quick and challenge opposing passing games. James made 25 tackles and broke up five passes last year. Weaver made 24 tackles.

After starting last year at defensive end, Caden McDonald moved to middle linebacker, posting 56 tackles – four for losses – six sacks and picking off a pass. He returns alongside linebackers Willie Callum (81 tackles) and Liam Ryan, who is moving from the defensive line to linebacker.

“We’re looking really good,” McDonald said. “We’re more aggressive.”

Up front, senior TyVaughn Gamble (6’4″, 240) leads the defensive line. Gamble caused three fumbles with nine tackles for losses and two sacks last year.

“We’ve got bodies up front that can take on blocks and keep linemen off the linebackers,” Poe said.

The Texans’ defense will again face several tough challenges, including two of the state’s top-rated quarterbacks in Arlington Lamar’s Shane Buechele and Guyer’s Shawn Robinson.

Poe is confident his group can hold up to the challenge, especially after last year’s experience.

“When you’re young and inexperienced you overthink things and move slower,” Poe said. “Now, they are better at adjusting. It’s a matter of playing fast and making plays.”

2015 SCHEDULE

Aug. 28 … Corsicana … Away … 7:30
Sept. 4 … Prosper … Away … 7:30
Sept. 11 … Arl. Lamar … Away … 7:30
Sept. 19 … Open
Sept. 25 … Fossil Ridge* … Home … 7
Oct. 2 … Guyer* … Away … 7 …
Oct. 9 … K. Central* … Home … 7 …
Oct. 16 … B. Nelson* … Away … 7
Oct. 23 … T. Creek* (HC)Home … 7
Oct.30 … Ryan* … Away … 7
Nov.6 … Keller* … Home … 7

* Denotes 5-6A game; HC Homecoming

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2015 Football Preview: Panthers aim to take giant leap http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/2015-football-preview-panthers-aim-to-take-giant-leap/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/2015-football-preview-panthers-aim-to-take-giant-leap/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 19:05:40 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=94607 Paradise Cover

After a 1-9 season, it would be nice to say the Paradise Panthers are returning all of their starters with a season of experience, but that isn’t the case.

Losing running backs Austin Hogan, Chris Hill and quarterback Cash Preather, the Panthers are considerably green at key skill positions.

“We lost our skill guys,” coach Scott Broussard said. “You’re talking about three key skill guys right there.”

With that said, Broussard has faith in younger players to step up now that their opportunity has arrived.

Darian Sotomi returns after leading the team in receiving, and he will transition to more of a backfield role.

Kash Helton and Bradley Young will also hold a lot of value for the Panthers’ “Wing T” offense that puts such an emphasis on running the ball.

The Panthers would also like to throw the ball more often, something they didn’t have much success with last season.

Broussard will be taking over the defense and he wants his 4-2-5 scheme to be a net that doesn’t allow big plays.

“We’re excited about the kids, and we’re trying to keep it simple for them,” Broussard said. “We should have a lot of kids flying around with a lot of quickness.”

Last year, most teams sped past the Panthers. The team finished with a single win.

That came as a 42-14 victory over a depleted Jacksboro team that also struggled.

Paradise averaged just 15.1 points per game in 2014 and allowed opponents 29.5 points.

The Panthers were shut out by both Breckenridge and Bowie, and lost four one-possession games to Henrietta, Krum, Ponder and Boyd.

A few moves in the right direction and the team could be a lot closer to a winning season.

Two of the real positives for the Panthers are their offensive and defensive lines.

“We’re losing some guys off of the offensive and defensive line, but we’re pretty deep there already,” Broussard said. “We’re losing two seniors, but we had quite a few juniors last year that can fill the role.”

Paradise’s opponents are the same as last season, beginning with a home game against Live Red Oak, followed by a road game at Henrietta.

Home games against Jacksboro and Alvord bracket a road game in Krum, completing the pre-district schedule.

The Sept. 25 game against Alvord will be the Panthers’ homecoming.

Paradise’s first 4-3A action will be at Ponder, followed by another road game at Breckenridge.

The Panthers’ first home district game will be against rival Boyd on Friday, Oct. 23.

A road game against Brock and a home game against Bowie will close out the Paradise regular season.

PANTHERS REVAMP OFFENSE

Coming off a one-win season in which the offense averaged just 15.1 points per game, the Panthers have spent the offseason trying to improve.

Though Paradise doesn’t run a “quick-scoring” offense like many of the spread systems that are currently in vogue, the Panthers hope to add more passing to keep defenses guessing.

“One thing we worked on really hard is throwing the football a little bit,” coach Scott Broussard said. “We ran the ball really well, but it was tough once defenses found out we couldn’t throw out of it.”

Cameron Chasteen, Tucker Edwards and Ty Valentine create a healthy competition for the Panthers’ quarterback job.

According to their coach, the two players who don’t win the starting job will find a valuable place elsewhere on the offense.

Quarterback isn’t the only position that Paradise will need filled.

The loss of Austin Hogan and Chris Hill leaves a considerable void at the running back positions that are crucial in getting the “Wing-T” system off the ground.

To fill those roles, last season’s leading receiver, Darian Sotomi, will spend more time in the backfield alongside Kash Helton and Bradley Young.

Offensively, Broussard feels most comfortable with the line.

“I’m expecting big things out of guys like Tanner Edwards, who started on our offensive line last year,” he said. “Kaleb Conner is another guy who should contribute a good deal to our offensive and defensive lines. Both of those guys will play on both lines.”

The Panthers’ other strength is the intangible sense of togetherness that Broussard said is noticeable in workouts.

“The biggest strength I see right now is camaraderie and work ethic,” he said. “They’re one of the closest-knit group of guys I’ve seen. They push each other and they’re not afraid of hard work. I think that will go a long way to help us this year. They have very positive attitudes.”

Meanwhile, Broussard believes the biggest knock on the 2015 team is something that can be overcome.

“Our size will be a challenge again,” he said. “We’re not very big with our skill kids. Again, I feel like what we lack in size we make up for in strength, heart and desire.”

PANTHERS CHANGE SCHEMES

The Paradise defense allowed 29.5 points per game last season and lost defensive coordinator Steven Grisby who accepted a head coaching job in Roby.

Head coach Scott Broussard has taken over the defense, and he wants to incorporate different personnel groupings to the base 4-2-5 scheme.

“We’ll play some games where we look like a ‘Split-6′ and drop into a 3-4,” Broussard said. “One of our biggest things is not giving up big plays. We’d love the three-and-outs, but not giving up the big score is a priority.

“We just want to get the football back into the hands of our offense.”

The Panthers have some experience on the defensive side at all three levels.

Defensive end Seth Grammer was a second-team all-district selection last year, as was linebacker Hunter Anthony. Grammar had four sacks with his 56 tackles. Anthony added 73 tackles and a fumble recovery.

Darian Sotomi will headline a secondary that hopes to force a lot of turnovers against pass-heavy teams. Sotomi was an all-district and All-Wise selection last year and picked off a pair of passes.

“We’ve got several people like Ty Valentine. He’s very smart and hard-nosed. He doesn’t mind coming up and hitting you,” Broussard added. “Derek Conner will play a big role as a lineman on both sides of the ball. I feel like we’ve got guys coming back from last year that can really contribute.”

Of all three position groups, Broussard expects the line to lead the defense, making things easier for the linebackers and secondary.

One thing stacked against Paradise is the level of competition. Broussard knows his defense will have to prepare every week for a strong opponent.

There are no flies on the Paradise schedule.

“Life Red Oak is a good team,” Broussard said. “Henrietta’s always tough. Coach [Brian] Hodnett does a great job with Jacksboro and they’ll be better.

Krum went two rounds in the 4A playoffs last year. Coach [Pete] Hart always does a good job with Alvord and we struggled with them last year.”

He said that Ponder has been playing good football, and Breckenridge, Brock, Boyd and Bowie are always good.

Speaking from experience, Broussard cautioned, “We’ll have to be consistent and play well each week.”

2015 SCHEDULE

Aug. 28 … Life Red Oak … Home … 7:30
Sept. 4 … Henrietta … Away … 7:30
Sept. 11 … Jacksboro … Home … 7:30
Sept. 18 … Krum … Away … 7:30
Sept. 25 … Alvord (HC) … Home … 7:30
Oct. 2 … Open
Oct. 9 … Ponder* … Away … 7:30
Oct. 16 … Breckenridge* … Away … 7:30
Oct. 23 … Boyd* … Home … 7:30
Oct. 30 … Brock* … Away … 7:30
Nov. 6 … Bowie* … Home … 7:30

* Denotes District 4-3A Division I game
HC Homecoming

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2015 Football Preview: Eagles motivated for title chance http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/2015-football-preview-eagles-motivated-for-title-chance/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/2015-football-preview-eagles-motivated-for-title-chance/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 19:04:13 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=94604 Decatur Cover

Hanging in Cole Vaughan’s bedroom is the front sports page of the Messenger depicting him on his knees on the field after the Decatur Eagles’ overtime loss to Graham in the regular-season finale.

“Every day I look at that. I don’t ever want to feel that way again,” Vaughan said.

The loss to Graham that kept Decatur from celebrating a 4-4A Division I title was followed by more heartbreak the following week when Stephenville came from behind to beat the Eagles in four overtimes to end the season.

The frustration of those two losses gives the Eagles plenty of fuel to head into the 2015 season.

“Anytime practice gets hard, I remember that feeling,” said Decatur senior wide receiver and safety Ryan Durdon.

But the two losses in back-to-back weeks to the 4A Division Region I finalists – Graham and Stephenville – did not spoil the Eagles’ first season under new head coach Mike Fuller. They finished 7-4 after installing a new offense and defense and replacing big-time offensive weapons.

And after a rough start against Springtown, the Eagles bounced back to play a pair of preseason top-5 teams past 48 minutes.

“Any team should be better at the end of the season. We play so many guys both ways that it takes twice as long to get everything in,” Fuller said. Heading into a second year with the same coaching staff and not having to rush to install new systems, the Eagles are hoping to hit the ground running.

“They were new last year. We’re more mature and understand what needs to be done,” Durdon said.

The Eagles return major cogs on both sides of the ball. The offense brings back 1,100-yard rusher Payton McAlister and 900-yard receiver Durdon. The defense brings back six starters, including all-district linebackers Mason Baur and Vaughan, and Brandon Garza, Jorge Martinez and Durdon to the secondary.

But the Eagles do have major question marks. They must find a playmaker at quarterback to replace Wise County Offensive Player of the Year Justin Myers, along with rebuilding the offensive line.

Decatur must travel another rough road, facing five 2014 playoff teams in the first five weeks – Springtown, Alvarado, Iowa Park, Ranchview and Bridgeport.

Like last year, the Eagles face their two biggest challenges in 4-4A I in the final two weeks – a trip to Gainesville and a date at home against preseason No. 7 Graham.

But well before the Eagles can think of playing for a district title, Fuller points out they have a lot of work to do.

“I expect us to give great effort,” he said. “We have playmakers. It’s a matter of them all being on the same page. We need to get better focusing on each play.”

As the Eagles painfully learned last year, the whole season can be determined on just one play.

WEAPONS RETURN FOR EAGLES

With the District 4-4A Division I title on the line against Graham, Payton McAlister ran for 89 yards and a touchdown and hauled in five passes for another 183 yards and four scores.

It was an impressive night for the then-sophomore Decatur running back, considering he was playing with a hip injury that forced him out of action all spring. Now McAlister expects to build on the breakout year that featured his 1,172 yards rushing and 37 catches for 684 yards and once again be a major cog for an explosive Decatur offense.

“I’m fully healthy,” McAlister said. “It’s a big difference.

“This offense is very capable of being very good. We just have to figure out the quarterback.”

The past two seasons, the quarterback play for the Eagles has been key. Grayson Muehlstein led Decatur to the third round of the playoffs in 2013, throwing for 3,079 yards and running for 1,462.

Last season, Wise County Offensive Player of the Year Justin Myers accounted for 38 touchdowns, throwing for 2,305 yards and running for 1,313.

Senior Jake Kemp entered the fall as the only signal caller with experience, seeing limited action behind Myers last year. He is locked in a battle for the job with juniors Tyler Ticknor and Parker Hicks.

Entering the team’s first scrimmage, Decatur coach Mike Fuller said the Eagles needed more consistency from the quarterback job to take advantage of the team’s playmakers.

“We have to have a quarterback to get the ball to them,” Fuller said.

The quarterback who steps forward to win the job will have a talented cast around him, including senior Ryan Durdon at receiver. He caught 57 passes for 900 yards and 10 scores last year. If Hicks doesn’t win the quarterback job, he and Drew Redwine will join Durdon on the outside to add depth to a dangerous group of receivers.

“We’ll be just as explosive, maybe even more,” Durdon said.

The Eagles must rebuild the offensive line that returns one full-time starter from last year – Terry Lee Hogan at right guard. Adrian Cantu is taking over at center. Nate Watkins and Zane Hickey are working at the tackles. Justin Callahan and Kyle Barnett are battling for the other guard spot.

“We need to work on our technique. As smart as they are, that won’t be a problem,” Hogan said. “We’re acting as a family and everyone is taking care of each other.”

EAGLES DEFENSE LOOKS TO MAKE SIGNIFICANT STRIDES

With a chance to secure wins against Graham and Stephenville at the end of the season last year, the Decatur Eagles defense couldn’t get the stop.

Both opponents tied the score on their final possessions to force overtime in victories.

“Those last two games against Graham and Stephenville were heartbreaking,” said Decatur senior linebacker Cole Vaughan.

Returning six starters on defense, the Eagles expect to be better than last season. Decatur allowed 416 yards per game – an average that ballooned primarily due to the 620 yards allowed against Graham and 530 in the four-overtime game with Stephenville.

“We definitely should be competing at a higher level,” Vaughan maintained.

He and fellow linebacker Mason Baur return to the heart of the defense. Vaughan led the Eagles with 117 tackles, earning first-team 4-4A Division I and Wise County Defensive Player of the Year. Baur recorded 83 tackles, including 12 for losses and five sacks.

They will be joined by Tyler Ticknor, who is also competing for the quarterback job. Sophomore Josh Sij will also see time at linebacker.

The back end of the Decatur defense returns Jorge Martinez and Brandon Garza at the two corners and Ryan Durdon at safety.

Garza had three picks last year and knocked down another eight, earning all-district. Durdon and Martinez were also all-district selections, adding a combined three interceptions.

“[The secondary] could be really good. We all have experience and a good connection since we’ve played together,” Garza said.

Dru Anderson, Trey Wadlington and Drew Redwine add depth to the talented secondary. Payton McAlister, who will be a workhorse on the offense, may also see time in the secondary.

Last season, the Eagles held opponents to 189 yards per game through the air and five teams under 150 yards.

Several players from the Decatur defensive line rotation graduated, including those who combined for nine sacks a year ago.

Samuel King, Hunter Brandon and Leighton Brooks are working along the line. Decatur coach Mike Fuller said some members of the offensive line could help along the defensive front, going both ways.

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2015 Football Preview: Dragons hope to end drought http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/2015-football-preview-dragons-hope-to-end-drought/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/2015-football-preview-dragons-hope-to-end-drought/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 19:03:09 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=94601 Chico Cover

After a six-win, four-loss 2014 season, the Chico Dragons have a lot of reasons to be hopeful, and one large reason to be motivated heading into 2015.

Despite finishing the season with a winning record, Chico met Valley View for the final game on the schedule with their playoff hopes still in limbo.

Heading into the game, the Dragons had a 1-3 district record, while Valley View stood at 2-2.

A Chico win would push each team into a tie that would be decided by total points scored in district play.

The Dragons needed a 16-point victory – but only managed to win by seven.

“That was pretty crushing,” standout center Tyler Melton said. “It was more bitter than sweet, even though we won. It has definitely motivated us during the offseason.”

After the season, Stephen Carter resigned as the head coach and many in the senior class worried about who would take over the program in their final year.

At a public hearing during a summer school board meeting, Melton and Jaston McBee were among several student athletes who pleaded with the trustees to make offensive coordinator Lane Wilson the new athletic director and head coach.

After a closed session, the board agreed to promote Wilson, giving continuity to a team already on the verge of reaching the postseason.

“That was really touching,” Wilson said. “Those kids supported me because they know I’ve got their backs.”

Adding to Chico’s postseason dreams is a UIL’s change that will allow 2A football districts to send four teams to the playoffs, as opposed to three, as in years past.

“We’ve got our goal and now they’re taking four teams,” Melton said. “How can you not get in?”

The final mystery heading into the Chico season was solved when McBee took charge over the vacant quarterback position.

With that in place, skill players like Cameron Weatherly and Kalan Johnson should be able to shine in the wide-open Chico offense.

Though much has gone in Chico’s favor, it won’t be a cakewalk for the Dragons to reach their goals.

Bells and Alvord highlight a competitive schedule that will force Chico to be at it’s best every Friday, and at least one Saturday.

The Dragons’ season begins 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 29, under the big bright city lights of Pennington Field in Bedford against Frost.

DRAGONS TO USE SPEED ON DEFENSE

Chico defensive end Cody Armstrong and his fellow linemen are excited about the season.

“I hope to get to the quarterback a lot,” Armstrong explained. “It’s just about squeezing everything inside. We get through the hole pretty fast. We’re a pretty good group.”

Armstrong averaged four tackles a game last season and hopes for even more opportunities in 2015.

The defensive line of the Dragons should be a strong unit, with good size and quickness.

The Dragons also return star linebacker Garon Davis, who finished the season with 89 tackles and a sack.

Though Davis received a lot of individual praise for his play alongside his now-graduated brother, Hagen, he is focused on the team.

“We should be a good defense this year,” Davis predicted. “We’re a team. We just want to win ballgames.”

The Dragons are changing defensive schemes this year.

After their scrimmage with Millsap, head coach Lane Wilson said that he was impressed with the units play.

“I think they’ve done a good job of trusting their reads and assignments,” Wilson said. “That can be a difficult transition for players.”

Standout safety Kalan Johnson is still getting used to the new scheme.

“There’s a lot of new stuff to learn,” he said. “It’s a whole new defense.”

Johnson is one of the most important players in Chico’s defensive backfield.

He averaged 4.8 tackles a game last season, with a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

Johnson’s speed is unquestioned.

As the fastest man in Chico history – Johnson holds the school record in the 200-meter dash – there shouldn’t be an opposing receiver that the senior defensive back can’t keep up with down the field.

MCBEE TAKES OVER AT QB

With the return of starters at running back, offensive line and receiver, one of the bigger questions facing Chico’s high-powered offense that averaged 43 points was who would play quarterback.

After losing Jericoe McGuire to graduation, it seems that Jaston McBee has taken to the position nicely.

“Jaston is doing a lot better throwing the ball and reading the defense,” receiver Cameron Weatherly said. “He’s stepped up a lot.”

Though it hasn’t been easy, McBee is making strides to know the offense by heart.

“It is taking a lot of work,” McBee said. “Practice makes perfect. I’m still working on getting everything down mentally.”

Despite knowing that he will have to improve, McBee is confident in what the offense can do with a talented group of play makers.

“We’re going to be good at both running and passing,” he said. “We have good skill positions. We’re a spread offense that can attack defenses in multiple ways.”

Among Chico’s skill-position players is Kalan Johnson, a returning starter with blazing speed. Johnson owns the school record in the 200-meter dash.

“He had almost 900 yards rushing in five games,” head coach Lane Wilson said. “We used him more as a receiver earlier in the year and later found out that he could run. He was a diamond in the rough.”

Weatherly is a valuable target in the passing game.

The tall junior considers himself a possession receiver who can get open against smaller defensive backs.

At the point of attack, Tyler Melton will headline a crew with a lot of potential, but is still pretty young overall.

“They just need some time,” Wilson said. “They’ll learn to be more physical as we get into the season. We can’t get pushed back off the line of scrimmage.”

Melton was an all-district center for the Dragons last season, and he uses his mind to get an edge on defenses while making all of the line calls.

“Understanding the offense is probably my greatest strength on the offensive line,” Melton said. “I enjoy the mental part and take a lot of pride in it.”

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2015 Football Preview: Bridgeport raises expectations http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/2015-football-preview-bridgeport-raises-expectations/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/2015-football-preview-bridgeport-raises-expectations/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 19:02:13 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=94598 Bridgeport Cover

After finishing the season with an 8-4 record that included a playoff victory, expectations are high for the Bridgeport Bulls.

Adding credence to those expectations is the fact that the team is returning 14 starters to the roster, including eight on the defensive side of the ball.

With all that said, new skill position players and a lack of depth are two of the biggest concerns for the Bulls heading into the 2015 season.

Bridgeport began 2014 with an overtime loss to Mineral Wells, but the team regrouped in an overtime win over Boyd a week later.

That win was the first in a three-game streak that also saw the team taking close victories over Godley and Burkburnett.

A 28-13 win over Krum was bracketed by losses to Decatur and Celina in the fifth and seventh weeks of the season.

Following the loss to Celina, Bridgeport went on their best run of the season – a four-game winning streak over District 3-4A Division II rivals Aubrey, Anna and Bonham before defeating Ferris 35-14 in the bi-district round.

The Bulls return running backs Brazier Talley, Grayson Mathes and Eathan Anderson along with receiver Keenan Holdman.

Those four amassed 1,592 rushing yards in 2014, and Holdman added 872 receiving yards with 14 touchdowns.

The offense also brings back veteran offensive linemen Blake Boyd, Tyler Banner and Nate Ramirez.

Reggie Lane, Chance Pierce, Anthony Ortiz, Jacob Roberts, Chase Williams, Lane Morrow and Dillon McAllister will all return to a defense that allowed 30.5 points per game.

Coach Danny Henson said that despite the stats, the defensive unit was strong and should be even stronger in 2015.

“When you have an offense that doesn’t put a lot of importance on time of possession, it can hurt defensive stats,” Henson said. “With a quick-scoring offense, the defense typically spends a lot more time on the field. That unit came up very big for us, especially down the stretch.”

During Bridgeport’s four-game winning streak, the Bulls’ defense allowed just 12 points per game, 18.5 points fewer than the season average.

BULLS BRING BACK EXPLOSIVE OFFENSE

The Bridgeport offense of 2014 averaged 414.3 yards per game, scoring 35.9 points behind a balanced attack.

The Bulls gained 225.5 yards through the air last season and managed another 188.8 yards on the ground.

“Our passing game should help our running game,” coach Danny Henson said. “Likewise, our running game should help our passing game. They should open each other up.”

With offensive weapons like Keenan Holdman, Brazier Talley and Grayson Mathes returning, the Bulls should continue their success moving the ball.

Holdman was a breakout star receiver for the Bulls as a junior, racking up 872 receiving yards and 14 receiving touchdowns, along with 206 rushing yards and five touchdowns on the ground.

“Keenan was our most explosive player,” Henson said. “He’s got the most quickness and the most speed.

“This year he’s not a rookie to football like he was last year, and he’s showing it. That one year of experience has made a big difference for him.”

Talley is coming off a 765-yard rushing season in which the running back scored nine touchdowns, and Mathes posted 438 yards and three touchdowns as a sophomore in 2014.

“They’re very similar runners,” Henson said. “They have different body types, but there is really no drop-off when either of them are in the game. Eathan Anderson is another guy who can do a lot of good things for us.”

The Bulls look for Corbin Coleman to replace Trey Cook at the quarterback position.

Last season Cook posted a 111.7 quarterback rating, throwing 27 touchdowns and just six interceptions.

With limited opportunities, Coleman completed 18 of his 36 pass attempts for 169 yards.

“He’s done great so far,” Henson said. “He does a lot of things we like. He can make plays with his feet and get out of trouble. We’re excited about what he brings.”

The Bulls’ spread offense is largely based on completing short throws, getting the ball to playmakers in open space quickly.

“It’s a pretty comprehensive passing game,” Henson said. “Each year you have to adjust to the type of players you have. We’re still adjusting to what players do best and where they fit.”

The Bulls have already been hurt by injury, losing all-district receiver Chayton Stotts to a torn knee ligament.

Stotts finished last season third on the team in receptions.

Bridgeport also must overcome an inexperienced offensive line.

To help the young players up front, Henson is installing the offense incrementally, perfecting the base before moving on toward the more advanced aspects.

EXPERIENCE TO PAY OFF FOR BULLS

The Bridgeport defense should be improved with the return of eight starters.

Regi Lane led the team with 86 tackles as a sophomore, and he looks to have an even better season this year.

According to his coach, Lane doesn’t have the physical tools that typically go along with a star linebacker, but his feel for the game is unquestionable.

“He made a lot of tackles last year,” Coach Danny Henson said. “He was just a sophomore. He was undersized and not the fastest, but he just knows how to play the game really well.

“He just goes out there and plays the game and his position. He’s great at film study, and he has a lot of the intangibles that make him a great linebacker.”

Chance Pierce will lead a defensive line after a phenomenal junior season in which the defensive end posted a team-high 12 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

“He’s got a lot of strength and quickness,” Henson noted. “He’s not huge, but he has good size. It makes him a dynamic player. We hope to be good enough on the back end of the defense to help him make more plays.”

After playing cornerback his junior season, Dillon McAlister will make the position change to outside linebacker.

Lane Morrow will join McAlister at the outside linebacker spot.

Morrow recorded 28 tackles last season with two behind the line of scrimmage.

On the back end of the defense, last season’s Defensive Newcomer of the Year, Abe Huerta, returns alongside Chase Williams at the two safety spots.

Huerta had 72 tackles, two interceptions, three passes defended and a forced fumble in 2014.

Casey Riggs will take over a starting role at cornerback with backup experience from a season ago.

Although the defensive stats from last season don’t look strong, Henson said it has a lot to do with how the offense played.

“There were times when the defense held on to a lot of games for us,” he said. “The stats can be deceiving. If a program runs a really fast-paced offense that tries to press the issue and doesn’t have time-management as a priority, defensive stats usually struggle.”

Henson also said that the defense should be better after playing so many sophomores last season, gaining valuable experience.

The defense allowed 30.5 points per game on the season but tightened up during district play, giving up an average of 12 during the late-season, four-game winning streak.

2015 BRIDGEPORT SCHEDULE

Aug. 28 … Mineral Wells … Away … 7:30
Sept. 4 … Boyd … Home … 7:30
Sept. 11 … Godley … Away … 7:30
Sept. 18 … Burkburnett (HC) Home … 7:30
Sept. 25 … Decatur … Home … 7:30
Oct. 2 … Open
Oct. 9 … Krum* … Away … 7:30
Oct. 16 … Celina* … Away … 7:30
Oct. 23 … Aubrey* … Home … 7:30
Oct. 30 … Anna* … Away … 7:30
Nov. 6 … Bonham* … Home … 7:30

* Denotes District 3-4A Division II game
HC Homecoming

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2015 Football Preview: Jackets aim for extended tour http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/2015-football-preview-jackets-aim-for-extended-tour/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/2015-football-preview-jackets-aim-for-extended-tour/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 19:01:13 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=94595 Boyd Cover

After a slow start to 2014, the Boyd Yellowjackets worked themselves back to a familiar spot – playing for a league title in the final week of the regular season.

“The last three years we’ve gone into the last game with a chance to win the district title but haven’t got it done,” said Boyd coach Brandon Hopkins. “We’d like to have Brock here with a chance to win a district title [this year].”

And to bring home the 4-3A Division I title, the Yellowjackets must improve off last year’s 5-7 finish that included overtime losses to Bridgeport and Ponder. Four of their five other losses – the lone exception Brock – were by two scores or less.

After some early-season heartbreak, the Yellowjackets rebounded with a comeback win over rival Paradise and then upsets of Breckenridge in district play and Brady in the bi-district round.

“We came back and ended up making the playoffs,” said Boyd senior linebacker and running back Justin Milligan.

The Yellowjackets expect lessons from those close losses will help them entering this season.

“We’ve put in a lot of time and effort in the weight room and in two-a-days. Everyone is pushing each other,” said senior quarterback and defensive back Clay Barnett. “We know every run, every ball matters.”

The Boyd offense will be under Barnett’s leadership for a third season. The signal caller is coming off throwing for 1,324 yards and 16 touchdowns and rushing for another 1,136.

The Yellowjackets will be trying to replace the 1,800 yards and 17 touchdowns that Qualynn Wells provided out of the backfield. Boyd is looking for Milligan, who was limited to 22 carries by injuries, to provide the bulk of those yards.

The offense is also retooling a line that lost four starters around all-state lineman Reese Jordan.

Defensively, the Yellowjackets return three experienced linebackers and several playmakers in the secondary. The defensive line around Jordan is being rebuilt.

Throughout the roster, the key for the Yellowjackets is keeping everyone on the field.

“We’ve got to stay away from the injury bug,” Hopkins said. “We don’t have a lot of depth.”

The Yellowjackets do have 18 seniors to lean on. Their experience will be needed to run a gauntlet of a schedule that features eight playoff teams from last year – seven advanced past the first round.

But after big tests against Gunter, Pottsboro, S&S and Krum, Boyd faces a District 4-3A Division I slate that is expected to be tougher.

“Breckenridge is bigger and stronger. Brock is No. 5 in the state to start the year,” Hopkins said. “Bowie has a lot of kids back. Paradise will play us tough no matter what, and Ponder beat us last year. We have to be ready to play.”

But a 13th straight trip to the playoffs and more is definitely not a stretch.

“We can make a good run with this team. We just have to stay healthy,” Hopkins said.

BOYD PLANS TO ADD AIR TO OFFENSE

The Boyd Yellowjackets posted a lot of yards and points last season.

The Yellowjackets averaged 28 points and 394 yards behind the running tandem of Qualynn Wells and Clay Barnett and the contributions of a variety of receivers.

As the Yellowjackets start the 2015 campaign, they will once again build around the dual-threat Barnett at quarterback, who will be working with only four other returning starters.

Barnett, who is starting his third season as the Boyd signal caller, is coming off a year in which he threw for 1,324 yards, ran for 1,136 and accounted for 28 touchdowns (16 passing, 12 rushing).

“He’s definitely got the offense down,” said Boyd center Reese Jordan. “He’s been a good leader.”

Barnett will not have last year’s 1,800-yard rusher Wells in the backfield with him. Instead, he’ll be handing the ball to Justin Milligan. The senior was limited to just 22 carries last year after breaking his collarbone.

Milligan knows he must remain healthy to help the Yellowjackets reach their potential.

“Staying healthy has been a big factor since my freshman year,” he said. “I’ve played running back my whole life. Qualynn took over last year, but before that, we split carries. I know I’m capable of a big season. The whole team is. We should go far.”

Boyd coach Brandon Hopkins believes Milligan can shoulder the load in the running game along with Barnett.

“He’s going to be a 1,000-yard rusher. He and Clay can both be,” Hopkins said. “He’s got to stay healthy. I’ve talked with him about that.”

To help Milligan, a linebacker on defense, stay fresh, the Yellowjackets will look to throw the ball more.

Boyd brings back Xavier Kyle on the outside, who caught 43 passes for 789 yards and five scores last year. The Yellowjackets’ other options in the passing game include Dalton Lyon, Dylan Powers on the outside, Preston Montgomery and Garrett Moran in the slot, and 6’5″ tight end Judd Smith.

“Our passing game will be a lot better,” Kyle said. “But we can still run the ball.”

But the success of the Boyd offense will hinge on the development of a new offensive line around their returning all-state center – Reese Jordan (6’4″, 260).

The line is breaking in four new starters and will not have much size. Colton Bruce and Dayton Colbert are working at the guard spots and Alex Hames and Austin Sparks the tackles.

“We’re all gelling together,” Jordan said. “There’s a lot more based on pulling and quickness. We have to play on our quickness. They are hustling and going 100 mph.”

Moving swiftly, the Yellowjackets must avoid shooting themselves in the foot and the costly turnovers from last year. Boyd lost 26 – 18 interceptions and eight fumbles. The Yellowjackets finished minus 15 in turnovers.

The offense has an added weapon on drives stalling in an opponent’s territory with kicker Spencer Pellegrini, who made 27 of his 35 point-after attempts last year along with a 28-yard field goal.

If the Yellowjackets play another string of close games, Pellegrini may be called on more.

JACKETS FACE TOUGH TASKS

Battling injuries from the start of the season, the Boyd Yellowjackets defense struggled during the team’s 1-4 start.

The Yellowjackets gave up 407 yards per outing through non-district, playing at one point without their three starting linebackers.

But down the stretch during their run to the playoffs, the Yellowjackets’ defense improved, holding five of their final seven opponents to under 300 yards. For the season, teams averaged 341 yards against Boyd.

With seven starters back and several other players who stepped on the field, the unit expects to be improved in 2015.

“We expect to be 10 times better,” said Boyd senior middle linebacker Adam Harkness. “We’ve worked hard all offseason. We feel we can do it.”

Harkness made 74 tackles in his first season in the middle of the defense.

“Last year helped very much. I’ve come a long way from last year,” Harkness said. “This is a big year. Everything is coming easier. I feel more confident and am getting my reads faster.”

Justin Milligan, who will also start at tailback for the Yellowjackets, will be at one of the outside linebacker spots. Dayton Colbert and Colton Meadows are battling for the other spot.

Behind the returning pair of all-district linebackers – Harkness and Milligan – the strength of the defense could be a talented, quick and athletic secondary.

Troy Thompson and Xavier Kyle man the safety spots with Garrett Moran and Preston Montgomery as the cornerbacks. Kyle and Montgomery each had picks last year for a secondary that helped hold opponents to 133 yards per game through the air.

“There are little new assignments, but it’s the same secondary with Garrett coming in,” Kyle said. “We’ll be in good shape. There’s some pressure on us, but we can handle it.”

Up front, the Yellowjackets expect to get pressure from their two big defensive ends – Reese Jordan (6’4″, 260) and Judd Smith (6’5″, 210).

“Both can move,” said Boyd coach Brandon Hopkins.

Colton Bruce, Dakota Partin, Cade Capps and Braden Thomas will rotate into the two tackle spots.

Along with avoiding injuries, the Yellowjackets’ defense will need help from an offense that put them in a bad spot with 26 turnovers last year.

“What hurt us were the turnovers and not stopping people on third and fourth downs,” Hopkins said.

2015 BOYD SCHEDULE

Aug. 28 … Gunter … Home … 7:30
Sept. 4 … Bridgeport … Away … 7:30
Sept. 11 … Pottsboro … Home … 7:30
Sept. 18 … S&S … Away … 7:30
Sept. 25 … Krum (HC) … Home … 7:30
Oct. 2 … Open
Oct. 9 … Bowie* … Away … 7:30
Oct. 16 … Ponder* … Home … 7:30
Oct. 23 … Paradise* … Away … 7:30
Oct. 30 … Breckenridge* … Away … 7:30
Nov. 6 … Brock* … Home … 7:30

* Denotes 4-3A Division I game
HC Homecoming

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2015 Football Preview: Bulldogs bid to stay at top http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/2015-football-preview-bulldogs-bid-to-stay-at-top/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/2015-football-preview-bulldogs-bid-to-stay-at-top/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 19:00:23 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=94592 Alvord Cover

The 2015 Alvord Bulldogs will have some new faces after losing 15 seniors from the 2014 team that finished the season 7-4, with a perfect 5-0 district record in 5-2A Division I.

Among the seniors who graduated, Alvord needs to find replacements for all-state running back and linebacker Joe Randall, quarterback Cassidy Patterson and defensive end Mason Clower.

Despite the turnover in personnel, the newest version of the Bulldogs is loaded with experience from players like all-district linebacker/running back Damon Ledet, Connor Patterson and Jaylon White.

The Bulldogs play the same opponents from last season, and the toughest test may come from Muenster, ranked No. 8 in 2A Division II; or from Leonard, who beat Alvord 49-6 a season ago.

Last year, Alvord beat Nocona in a 38-8 romping before losing three straight to Grapevine Faith Christian, Leonard and Muenster. The team regrouped for six consecutive wins before a loss to Crawford in the bi-district round of the playoffs ended their season.

The Bulldogs allowed 27.2 points per game last year while scoring 29.8. Despite the small margin between points allowed and points scored, the average difference in each game was a massive 33.4 points.

In fact, the closest game Alvord played in was a 21-point loss to Muenster.

The Bulldogs averaged 107.7 yards on the ground during losses, but posted 287.1 rushing yards in victories.

Bringing more balance to the attack will be key for new offensive coordinator Jeffery Alexander, who will likely move Damon Ledet from fullback to tailback and let Connor Patterson take over the role of quarterback left by his brother.

As a sophomore, Patterson was used almost entirely on the defensive side of the ball, collecting 46 tackles.

Ledet carried the ball in short-yardage situations as a fullback, averaging 3.8 yards per run, but he is ready to prove that he can take over as the lead back.

“We’ve got a whole new offensive package coming in,” head coach Pete Hart said. “Of the six coaches on staff, we’ve got three new faces. We’re replacing quite a few seniors so there are a lot of differences in the team.”

The Bulldogs will run a “Multiple I” offense that is more of a pro-style set with the ability to move players into different formations.

Defensively, the Bulldogs will be similar to last year with the return of head coach Pete Hart and defensive coordinator Chris Staley, utilizing four linemen and three linebackers in most packages.

“We’re more of a 4-3 defense. The non-district schedule will have us in a lot of 4-3 to stop the run,” Staley explained. “We’ll jump into a 3-4 against Grapevine Faith, but Muenster and Paradise will be smash-mouth football, so we’ll stay in that 4-3 to keep seven guys in the box with ‘cover 2′ or ‘cover 4′ behind it.”

Staley said that Jonah Hancock, Jaylon White and Ledet will play crucial roles as leaders on the defense as well.

NEW COACH ADAPTS TO TEAM

Alvord’s new offensive coordinator Jeffrey Alexander doesn’t want to complicate things for a Bulldogs offense that averaged 361.6 yards per game and 33.3 points.

“The terminology that I’m familiar with will change a little bit, but it’s going to look very similar to what it was last year,” Alexander said. “It’s a ‘Multiple I’ offense, which basically means that the formations can vary tremendously. We’re trying to keep things as consistent as possible because they had a lot of success last year, and there’s no sense in coming in and trying to change it.”

Still, Alexander will have the task of replacing the 196.1 yards and 2.9 touchdowns that all-State running back Joe Randall averaged during his 2014 senior campaign.

To help in the running back department, Alexander will look to senior Damon Ledet, whose offensive experience is limited, but who has shown his athleticism entering his fourth season on the varsity squad.

Last year, Ledet had 49 tackles as a star linebacker for the Bulldogs. This season he says he’s ready to take on the extra workload of being the team’s starting running back.

“I think I’m ready,” Ledet said. “I’ve prepared my body to play both ways and worked really hard over the summer. I look forward to it.”

Though Alexander wants to make the offense familiar to his new players, that doesn’t mean he will stick with one way of doing things.

The coach prides himself on his ability to adapt to personnel and team strengths.

“I’m not one of those guys that comes in and says, ‘This is what I’ve done and this is what we’re going to do.’ No, we’re going to do what our kids can execute the best to give them the best chance to win,” Alexander said.

The Alvord coaches are taking it slow as the offense learns to execute the new playbook – perfecting one play before moving on to the next.

Alexander declined to name a number of points or yards he would like the offense to accumulate. He just wants the team to play sound football and take care of each possession.

“The No. 1 goal is the win,” he said. “Early on in the season the goal is to eliminate mistakes and turnovers. There have been statistics done at every level of football from high school all the way up to the pros that (prove) turnovers lead to losses.”

BULLDOGS HOPE TO STAY STINGY

Alvord’s Defensive Coordinator, Chris Staley doesn’t like the bend-but-don’t-break moniker, but he admits it applies to his defense’s playing style.

“I hate to say it, but that probably fits us pretty well,” Staley said. “We want quarterbacks to throw short routes underneath, and we want to come up and make a lick on receivers and force them to line up and do it again.”

The Bulldogs hope to limit plays over 10 to 12 yards to just once or twice a game.

Staley wants to force opposing offenses to run enough plays that they’ll make a mistake on which Alvord can capitalize.

Turnovers are another big part of the Bulldogs’ plan.

Last year, the defense forced 21 turnovers with eight interceptions and 13 fumble recoveries, and Staley would like to see even more.

“We’ve got to do a better job of setting the offense up to score,” Staley said. “With a new offensive coordinator in here early on, we’ve got to help out and really put them in good position to have success.”

The 2014 Bulldogs allowed opponents to score 27.2 points per game, but held teams to just 14.7 points in wins.

Defensive back Jaylon White will lead a group of fresh faces in the secondary.

“He’s our only returner,” Staley said. “He’s got good speed and good range. We’ll need his help more stopping the run, but I don’t have to worry about him in coverage because I know he won’t let anything behind him.”

White will be joined in the defensive backfield by Allen Campbell, whose 2014 season was cut short.

“He broke his wrist on the first play of last season, so he never stepped foot on the field after that opening kickoff against Nocona,” Staley said. “We hope he can come in and help us out this season.”

Jonah Hancock will anchor a defensive line that needs to re-tool after losing Mason Clower and Brett Martin, who combined for seven of Alvord’s 10 sacks in 2014.

“Hancock was an all-district selection for us last year,” Staley said. “He’s got a big body, and he fills the gap well. He doesn’t get moved backwards, and he can draw double teams up front. He’s also tall and has the ability to knock down passes.”

Damon Ledet adds a veteran presence at linebacker.

Ledet was named the Defensive Newcomer of the Year in 2013 as a sophomore and won all-district honors again last season, finishing second on the team with 49 total tackles.

2015 ALVORD SCHEDULE

Aug. 28 … Nocona … Away … 7:30
Sept. 4 … Grapevine Faith … Away … 7:30
Sept. 11 … Leonard … Home … 7:30
Sept. 18 … Muenster … Home … 7:30
Sept. 25 … Paradise … Away … 7:30
Oct. 2 … Open
Oct. 9 … Trenton* … Away … 7:30
Oct. 16 … Blue Ridge* … Away … 7:30
Oct. 23 … Valley View* (HC) Home … 7:30
Oct. 30 … Chico* … Away … 7:30
Nov. 6 … Bells* … Home … 7:30

*Denotes 5-2A Division I game
HC Homecoming

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2015 Football Preview: Bringing rock, football together http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/2015-football-preview-bringing-rock-football-together/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/2015-football-preview-bringing-rock-football-together/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 18:59:30 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=94589 Fall Sports Cover

Under the bright lights on fall Friday nights in Texas, high school football players are not just student athletes. They truly become a town’s rock stars for 10 autumn nights.

So with this year’s Wise County Fall Sports Preview we’ve decided to bring together the world of music and football, using our local rock stars to recreate iconic album covers from the Beach Boys, Beatles and Prince to the soundtracks of “Saturday Night Fever” and “Urban Cowboy.”

The marriage of rock-n-roll and football is not a far reach.

Each game, quarter and in some instances a snap of the football becomes a team’s equivalent of scoring a chart-topping single.

Some of those singles – like a win in the Battle of Big Sandy or battle of Texas 114 neighbors Paradise and Boyd – will stay with these bands of football teams forever.

But each track is working toward the eventual goal of bringing home a golden football in place of a gold record like the Alvord Bulldogs did in 2014, winning the District 5-2A Division I title.

The main goal of every team is to continue their tour past early November and earn extra sold-out dates in the playoffs. Alvord, Boyd, Bridgeport and Decatur look to extend their tours again to the playoffs, while Chico, Northwest and Paradise will try to earn a spot on the main stage after last season serving as the opening acts.

The process of writing a masterpiece of an album or season does not happen overnight.

Like Decatur coach Mike Fuller pointed out last year, artists don’t just pick up a guitar and play. It takes time, practice and maybe even a few early setbacks before becoming proficient. Early flops don’t mean the whole season or album won’t eventually score success. Boyd proved last season a couple of early stumbles don’t stop you from playing two rounds deep in the playoffs.

But, like seeing your favorite artist or band, the show every Friday night will provide memories that will last a lifetime.

Special thanks to Peter Franco, Joe Duty, Travis Lisle, Brenda Jewell, Ray Cornelison Jr. and A Ray of Flowers, Freedom Power Sports, Decatur Fire Department and Decatur band for their help and contributions in bringing the recreations to life.

Now, let’s rock!

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Truck rolls over, driver uninjured http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/truck-rolls-over-driver-uninjured/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/truck-rolls-over-driver-uninjured/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 18:16:27 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=94583 An 18-wheeler rolled over Sunday while exiting U.S. 81/287 North to get to U.S. 380 in Decatur.

Lonnie Phipps of Rhome was traveling northbound on 287 about 6:45 p.m. when he took the U.S. 380 exit and rolled the tractor-trailer on the sharp curve leading to 380.

Rollover

ROLL-OVER – Lonnie Phipps of Rhome rolled his 18-wheeler over while trying to exit U.S. 81/287 North to get to U.S. 380 in Decatur. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Decatur Police Officer Victor Monjaraz said Phipps was not seriously injured. “He was doing OK when I got on scene,” Monjaraz said. “He was standing up with a couple of lacerations on his face. He had already contacted his supervisor and wife on the phone when I arrived.”

Phipps was transported by Wise County medics to Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

The exit and on-ramps at the U.S. 81/287 and U.S. 380 interchange have been the site of numerous roll-overs.

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Budget revised, Sheriff’s Office gets money for raise http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/budget-revised-sheriffs-office-gets-money-for-raise/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/budget-revised-sheriffs-office-gets-money-for-raise/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 18:15:42 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=94580 Officers in the Wise County Sheriff’s Department enforcement division could see a pay increase in fiscal year 2016.

County commissioners Monday revised the proposed budget, halving the number of precinct inmate work crews to free funds for the raise at the request of Sheriff David Walker.

Jailers currently oversee four inmate crews, one for each county precinct, but that number will be reduced to two. Two jailers overseeing crews will be moved into unfilled positions in the county jail.

“That creates approximately $100,000 for the sheriff to be able to give a $1 per hour pay increase,” County Judge J.D. Clark told commissioners.

Walker first proposed the idea at last week’s budget workshop and asked for a $1.25 per hour raise for the 60 employees in the enforcement division, which would have cost about $186,000.

The sheriff said although the amount is less than requested, it will go a long way toward helping retain officers and recruit experienced officers.

“We won’t be able to give across the board raises,” he told the Messenger Tuesday.

Walker said the $100,000 will be distributed between the different units within the enforcement division with some money going toward raises distributed throughout the year and some to be used as needed to attract experienced applicants.

“We talked to (County Auditor Ann McCuiston) about using money out of our non-personnel fund, but as she said, that’s a risky way of doing it not knowing if it’s going to be there the next year,” he said in Monday’s meeting. “We’re going to work with whatever you guys decide to do.”

The issue led to a heated discussion at last week’s meeting, but by the end of talks this week, commissioners unanimously approved the reassignment of funds.

Before the vote, Precinct 3 Commissioner Harry Lamance expressed concern about sharing two crews. Currently each precinct has access to a work crew every week, but as proposed for next year, two precincts would share one crew.

“What if we want to do it, but don’t want to give that up? Where would you pick that money up?” he asked Clark.

Lamance asked how it would work when the jailers overseeing the crews are on vacation and one precinct gets the crew for only a few days, while the next precinct may get the crew for an entire week.

“I don’t want it to be aggravating against two people,” he said, in reference to his fellow commissioners. “I’m all for the boys getting a raise. You can’t pay them enough in my opinion.”

Lamance, who is a retired police officer, said he probably wouldn’t get into law enforcement today because over the years it’s become more dangerous. At one time he worked for the Wise County Sheriff’s Office, and he also served as Boyd police chief.

Lamance asked Precinct 2 Commissioner Kevin Burns, who was vehemently opposed to the idea last week, to explain what it was like many years ago when there were only two crews.

“You’ll use precinct employees to fill potholes,” he said, “which we already do.”

Precinct 4 Commissioner Gaylord Kennedy pointed out that Sheriff Walker was elected to run his department, and if reorganizing the inmate work crews was what he wanted to do, then commissioners should go along with it.

“He has his budget, and if that’s what he has to do, then I think that’s the way we should do it,” Kennedy said. “We can share. If there’s going to be two work crews out there, one week you get it, one week I get it.”

He noted there is no money to pull from elsewhere to cover the raises. Clark added that the money shouldn’t be taken from other departments that have already made cuts.

“It’ll make us have a little more work,” Kennedy said. “It’ll take some of our guys that are skilled guys, a maintainer operator or backhoe operator, and we’ll have to have them do potholes occasionally.”

Clark reminded commissioners the work crews could be reorganized again next year, and that things may change between budgets.

Burns said the county needs to be more careful with how it spends revenue related to the oil and gas industry.

“What we’ve got to look at is philosophy. Any money that comes in from something oil-field related, that’s volatile like that, needs to go into infrastructure, rolling stock,” Burns said. “It cannot go into salaries because when it changes, you have to fire people.

“We’ve been asleep at the switch and allowed a lot of this money to go into salaries,” he said. “And it’s really hard to take that out.”

Commissioner Kennedy chimed in, saying “we’re all guilty of that, even personally.”

“You have to be aware that if (revenue) goes down more,” Burns said, “next year no one is untouchable. We will have to fire people, and services will have to be suspended.”

Precinct 1 Commissioner Danny White wanted to remind people that one reason the raise was on the table was in an effort to retain employees.

“It’s not just about the pay raise,” he said. “It’s about trying not to have to send other people for training and costing us overall more money than what this pay raise will cost.

“I would like to know next year if this has helped us any because that was the purpose of having this discussion anyway.”

Burns said Wise County can’t compete with neighboring areas with a more diverse and robust economy.

“The Metroplex is always going to be there, and they’re always going to pay more,” he said, a point with which Sheriff Walker agreed.

“But if we can compete with Decatur, Bridgeport and Boyd, then that will help us a lot,” Walker added.

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Alvord ISD faces budget deficit http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/alvord-isd-faces-budget-deficit/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/alvord-isd-faces-budget-deficit/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 18:14:46 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=94578 Alvord Superintendent Dr. Randy Brown proposed Monday a 2015-16 budget with a $450,000 deficit.

In his first week on the job, Brown said much of the budget legwork was done by former Superintendent Bill Branum and interim Superintendent Lloyd Treadwell.

Brown told the board that the budget is a conservative estimation.

“This is not something that anybody likes to see, but we’ll chip away and hopefully have a balanced budget in the future,” Brown told the board. “This is a lean budget. We’re trying to be conservative, almost pessimistic.

“I would rather come back with good news saying, ‘we’re better off than we thought’ rather than coming back with bad news,” he said.

One of the “good news” items that could help the budget is the impact of aid received from the federal government for the Lyndon B. Johnson National Grasslands.

Because the grasslands are owned by the federal government and non-taxable, the school district receives PILT (payment in lieu of taxes) dollars.

Last year the district budgeted $150,000 in PILT money and received $431,000.

Though the grasslands aid was budgeted at $200,000 for this year, if the district receives the same amount as last year, it would almost eliminate the deficit.

The most notable difference from last year’s budget is the $587,836 less the district is expected to receive in state revenue.

Last year the district received approximately $1.7 million from the state, but this year it will be closer to $1,147,551, according to Brown.

“Changes from the last legislative session are still up in the air,” he said. “We want to focus on what we can control with this budget.”

Brown also mentioned that the fund balance will be around $4 million.

The Alvord School Board will meet Monday night to consider adopting the budget.

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Oncor plans power outage Thursday http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/oncor-plans-power-outage-thursday/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/oncor-plans-power-outage-thursday/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 18:14:17 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=94576 Oncor customers living along Farm Road 51 North of Decatur to Greenwood can expect a planned power outage 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday.

This outage will affect only Oncor customers, not Wise Electric customers living in the same area. For information, call 888-313-4747.

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Chico School Board to hold meeting http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/chico-school-board-to-hold-meeting/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/chico-school-board-to-hold-meeting/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 18:13:51 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=94574 The Chico School Board will hold a special meeting Monday, Aug. 31, to discuss several pressing matters in the district including: elementary staffing and student counts, a special committee to review the softball and baseball fields, middle school project delivery method and 2014-15 budget amendments. The board will also consider adopting the 2015-16 budget.

The meeting is 5:30 p.m. in room 150 at Chico Elementary.

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Cost of insurance, water increasing, but not tax rate http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/cost-of-insurance-water-increasing-but-not-tax-rate/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/cost-of-insurance-water-increasing-but-not-tax-rate/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 18:12:52 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=94572 The City of Decatur knew it had two big challenges ahead when putting together the 2016 fiscal year budget: the anticipated increases in health insurance and water costs.

Since the last council meeting, those bigger numbers have been delivered.

City Finance Director Brad Burnett jokingly began his presentation at Monday’s budget and tax rate public hearing by saying the increases would require a 10-cent increase in the tax rate.

“And I’m joking,” Burnett said, causing relieved laughter from council members.

Actually, Burnett said he’s recommending the city keep its current tax rate of 70.3 cents per $100 valuation.

Joe McFadin with the Wellspring Insurance Agency delivered the health insurance news to the council. He explained that the city’s insurance provider, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, initially presented renewal pricing that would increase the annual costs by 59 percent.

“We had pretty large claims for this year,” McFadin explained. “In fact, our claim rate ratio was 130 percent. It is a comparison of claims paid in by Blue Cross versus the premiums we paid in. Blue Cross paid out nearly $400,000 more than we paid in for premiums during this plan year.”

Wellspring sought other bids, but those came in even higher.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been up against something like this,” he said. “In past years, we’ve had some pretty high increases, but we’ve always been able to go out to market and somebody come in and says we can help you. That didn’t happen this year at all.”

He recommended staying with Blue Cross Blue Shield’s triple option arrangement, and by amending the plan options, the increase could be less severe.

“We amended our policy, and our base policy this year will be what our buy-down policy was last year,” Burnett said. “We have a buy-down policy and a buy-up policy also this year. Overall, it increased our budget about $87,000. I had enough money in the budget to cover that.”

The city also was recently notified of an increase in cost of raw water from Tarrant Regional Water District. The city will pay approximately $60,000 more this year.

City Manager Brett Shannon said the city pays close to $1.09 per 1,000 gallons of water, and the proposed rate is around $1.24.

The city’s budget includes a 2 percent increase in water and wastewater rates, which is expected to generate an extra $50,000 to help cover the increased cost of water to the city.

Overall, the $14.3 million budget is mostly the same as last year, Burnett said, and includes a 2 percent cost of living raise for employees.

No one from the public spoke during the hearing.

In other business, the council awarded bids for health, dental, vision and long term disability insurance as recommended by Wellspring.

Council member Jay Davidson also said he would like a member of the city council to take his seat on the Texoma Area Paratransit System board of directors when his term expires Nov. 1.

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No change in Northwest ISD tax rate http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/no-change-in-northwest-isd-tax-rate/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/no-change-in-northwest-isd-tax-rate/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 18:12:20 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=94570 Northwest ISD taxpayers will not see their tax rate increase in 2015-16.

Northwest school board members approved a tax rate of $1.4525 per $100 evaluation Monday night – the same as 2014-15. The breakdown of the rate is $1.04 for maintenance and operations and 41.25 cents for debt service.

Northwest ISD Chief Financial Officer John Graswich told trustees that the maintenance and operations rate has been at $1.04 for the past five years.

“We’ve been sitting there for a long time,” Graswich said.

The tax rate supports the $388.898 million budget approved by trustees in June. The average home value in the district grew substantially from $205,419 to $222,885. The average taxable value after the current homestead exemption is $205,573, and that figure is expected to drop by another $10,000, with the new law increasing the exemption taking effect.

The district’s tax roll is $12.5 billion.

The district added to its debt, selling $75 million in bonds Aug. 18 from the 2012 bond package, but its debt service tax rate is not expected to change. The district previously refunded some outstanding bonds and could possibly look to refund more in October, according to Graswich.

The sale on Aug. 18 was made at a finance rate of 4.067 percent – which was below the projected rate of 4.4 percent.

“It was a very successful sale,” Graswich told the board. “It was approaching the lowest rate ever of 3.9 percent.”

He said the lower rate represents a savings of $6.8 million for Northwest ISD.

After the sale, the district has $55 million of unissued bonds from the $255 million 2012 bond program. The district has another $45 million left from the 2008 $260 million bond program.

Graswich said the most recent sale was made to take advantage of the market and the state’s announcement that it would help offset money loss with the new homestead exemption for any debt on the books by Aug. 31.

“We usually do our sales in August,” he said. “The scale of this one was a touch larger to take advantage of the market and the legislation.”

In other business, the district announced it would not pursue building the transportation complex in Rhome after not receiving variances from the city.

The district is now looking to expand its existing facility at its central campus.

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