Alvord Bulldogs: Ready to pounce on playoff spot

Alvord-Football

By Clay Corbett, ccorbett@wcmessenger.com

A rash of injuries and a difficult schedule kept Alvord from having the season they’d hoped for in 2012.

This year should be different.

With a lot of talent at the skill positions, an experienced quarterback and a developing offensive line, the Bulldogs have a good shot at changing their fortunes this time around.

“I like where we are right now as compared to this time last year,” head coach Curtis Enis said. “Defensively we look really good. If we have a weakness there it would be in the front four.

“There is still competition going on for those spots.”

Getting off to a good start and staying healthy will be key for the Bulldogs. They won their opener last year, but dropped the next seven games.

“Millsap was our only preseason win last year,” Enis said. “Then we lost a tough game to Ponder and then Joe [Randall] gets hurt against Krum.”

The schedule this year pits them against Krum, then Bowie and Gunter before they open district against Nocona.

Enis feels that tough stretch will prepare them for a difficult matchup against Jacksboro.

“Jacksboro is better than everybody else in the district,” Enis said. “I think after Holliday, it’s four teams fighting for two spots. I don’t think there is a field goal difference between the rest of us.”

The Bulldogs ended 2012 on a two-game win streak but finished fourth, on the outside looking in on the playoff picture.

The UIL changed that this offseason, making the top four teams from each district through Class 2A eligible for the postseason.

“It’s great to get a fourth team in, as tough as our district is,” Enis said. “If we could just get in I think we could make a run.”

When three teams advanced, it provided a bye week for the district champions. The addition of a fourth team means everyone plays every week in the postseason.

“As a football coach I would rather we go with two or four,” Enis said. “I don’t want to sit – I want to keep playing.”

The Bulldogs haven’t won a district title since 1999 and last made the postseason in 2010.

THE BIG PICTURE

Coming into 2013 there were a lot of question marks surrounding the Bulldogs – but those have been answered quickly during two-a-days.

Alvord has found a quarterback in Cassidy Patterson, and Joe Randall’s return at running back gives the Bulldogs a one-two punch.

Randall rushed for 1,085 yards and 10 touchdowns in limited playing time as a sophomore. With the emergence of Patterson, Randall should be even more explosive in 2013.

“Joe Randall looks really good,” Enis said. “Last year he had that thumb injury, and it held him back a little bit. He’s moving great right now.”

“He’s [Patterson] come 100 miles since last season to 7-on-7 and another 100 miles from then to two-a-days,” Enis said.

Patterson stepped into the starting role after Jordan Locklear went down to injury halfway through last season. With the experience of last season and his hard work in the offseason, Enis said he’s a totally different quarterback.

“This year he knows it’s his huddle,” Enis said. “He’s a confident kid this year.”

Nate Skelton, a former college quarterback, has been added to the staff to work with quarterbacks and the results so far look promising.

“Cassidy is a good pocket quarterback,” Enis said. “We are going to try to use that skill. He’s going to know real quick where his receivers will be and where his hot reads are.

“I feel confident he’ll get the ball to the guys out in space.”

Alvord’s offense plans to be more versatile in 2013. Look for the Bulldogs to run out of the shotgun and open things up for all their skill kids.

“Last year, if we passed, it was mainly play-action to protect Cassidy,” Enis said. “It is more of a spread offense now. There will be a lot of motion and we want to get the ball to the kids out in space.”

Jaylon White, Andrew Walter, Keelan Nivens, Troy Morales and Jonathan Musgrave are a few of the players to keep your eye on.

“We have a lot of kids who can make plays,” Enis said. “The one I’m most impressed with is Jonathan Musgrave. He’s going to be huge, giving us a threat on the outside.”

The one question mark remaining for both the offense and the defense is the guys up front.

A couple of line positions are still up for grabs. Although the number of linemen is down, Enis is impressed with how the group has improved.

“The offensive line has come a long way,” Enis said. “We are not real big, but we have the ability to be quick and athletic.”

If Evyn Beasley is cleared to play before the opener it will be a huge boost to an already improving offensive line.

Defensively, the Bulldogs return experienced players at the linebacker and secondary positions.

Defensive coordinator Pete Hart is back for his second season, and Enis likes what he sees on defense so far.

“They are flying to the ball and doing what they are coached to do,” Enis said.

The Bulldogs expect to feel much better after Week 10 this year – hoping to reach the playoffs for the first time in two years.

PROJECTIONS

District 5-2A Division II

1. Jacksboro – With a lot of experience returning, the Tigers are the team to beat in this district.

2. Holliday – Despite a new coach, the Eagles have enough athletes returning to be dangerous.

3. Wichita Falls City View – The Mustangs should be improved with numerous players returning on both sides of the ball.

4. Alvord – A more versatile offense with an emerging quarterback should equal a postseason spot for the Bulldogs.

5. Nocona – After a history-making season with a senior-laden team, it may be too tough for the Indians to rebuild quickly.

6. Henrietta – The Bearcats averaged 8.9 points per game last season. The defense will probably have to carry this group.

2013 SCHEDULE

Aug. 30 … Millsap … Away
Sept. 6 … Ponder … Away
Sept. 13 … Krum … Home
Sept. 20 … Bowie# … Home
Sept. 27 … Gunter … Away
Oct. 11 … Nocona* … Home
Oct. 18 … Holliday* … Away
Oct. 25 … Jacksboro* … Home
Nov. 1 … Henrietta* … Away
Nov. 8 … City View* … Home

All games at 7:30 p.m.
# homecoming game
* district game

TEAM ROSTER

2 … Kyle Dunn … WR/DB … 12
5 … Ryan Villareal … QB/DB … 11
7 … Keelan Nivens … RB/DB … 12
10 … Cassidy Patterson … QB/LB … 11
12 … Jaylon White … WR/DB … 10
16 … David Gallagher … RB/LB … 12
17 … Jonathan Musgrave … WR/DB … 12
22 … Troy Morales … RB/LB … 11
24 … Andrew Walter … WR/DB … 11
25 … Joe Randall … RB/DB … 11
28 … Damon Ledet … RB/LB … 10
29 … J.D. Griggs … WR/DE … 12
34 … Brett Martin … WR/DB … 11
38 … Bobby McKinnon … WR/DB … 11
40 … Jose Luna … WR/DB … 10
50 … Kevin Baker … OL/DL … 12
51 … Tyler Griggs … OL/DE … 10
52 … Joe Talamantes … OL/DL … 10
53 … Hayden Tillison … OL/DL … 11
54 … Evyn Beasley … OL/DE … 11
56 … Bryce Bull … OL/DE … 10
66 … Marc Cruz … OL/DL … 12
74 … Colby Windham … OL/DL … 12
76 … Jaxson Williams … OL/DL … 10
82 … Lane Peace … WR/DE … 12
88 … Heath Walker … WR/DB … 11