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Boyd Yellowjackets: Boyd reloads for playoff run

Boyd-Football

By Clay Corbett, ccorbett@wcmessenger.com

After advancing to the area round in 2012, everything is shaping up for Boyd to have another successful season in 2013.

Loaded with talent, the Yellowjackets have a shot at a district title and a deep playoff run.

Now in his second season as head coach Brandon Hopkins is more comfortable with his new job description.

“I wanted everything to be just right,” Hopkins said about his first year as head coach. “It’s so much easier now getting everything lined up.”

Hopkins, who is entering his 17th year at Boyd, is excited about the hand he’s been dealt in 2013.

All-everything rusher Fino Cardona (5’11, 185) returns to lead a talented backfield along with Garrett Ragsdale (5’9, 190) who takes over at quarterback.

“Playing middle linebacker and quarterback is a tough deal,” Hopkins said about Ragsdale. “Last year he had some injury problems, but we can’t have that this year – we’ve got to have him on the field.”

Ragsdale missed half the season in 2012 after suffering an injury in the opening scrimmage against Lindsay. He came back at linebacker to help the Yellowjackets reach the postseason.

Cardona had a tremendous junior season, leading the county with more than 1,901 yards rushing.

Hopkins will depend on those two senior leaders along with a great supporting cast to get Boyd back to the playoffs for the 12th consecutive season.

They will have a tough pre-district schedule to prepare them for a challenging district run.

After opening with Gunter, the Yellowjackets will take on Palmer, Godley and Sanger.

“We play tough people to get ready for district,” Hopkins said. “We’ve gone years where we won one or two games in the preseason and had a deep run in the playoffs.”

Boyd took on Bowie and Pilot Point in their first two league games last season.

“It’s a top-heavy district,” Hopkins said. “We’ve got a chance to be pretty good this year, and we are picked third in our district.

“That’s pretty fair because our district is so difficult all the way around.”

With the addition of a fourth playoff team, making the postseason is a little easier for the seven teams in District 5-2A. Hopkins welcomes the change.

“The cream is going to rise to the top,” Hopkins said. “If you’re not that good, you’re going to get weeded out in the first round. We were third in district in 2006 and went to the state semifinals.

“It’s all according to your district.”

VERSATILE ATTACK

Ragsdale, who has spent most of his career chasing down quarterbacks, gets to be one this year.

The senior has developed his offensive skills both as a backup and during 7-on-7 competition this summer.

“He did a good job in 7-on-7,” Hopkins said. “He’s getting all the main reps now, and I see he has a chance to be a great player back there. He’s not the tallest kid in the world, but he makes up for it with his work ethic.”

Ragsdale has lost 20 pounds since the beginning of 7-on-7 to trim up for this fall.

Blake McDonald threw for almost 1,200 yards last season, but Ragsdale won’t be asked to carry that heavy of a load. Boyd is loaded with speed and will keep the ball more on the ground in 2013.

“We are going to be a little bit more run-heavy,” Hopkins said. “We have four different options of kids that can really run. That is as deep as we’ve been around here.”

Hopkins’ challenge is trying to find enough touches for all the talent he has on the roster.

“Fino [Cardona] has got to get his touches,” Hopkins said. “We are going to throw the ball so our receivers get involved, too. It’s not the easiest thing to do, but a good dilemma to have.”

Sophomore Qualynn Wells (6’0 170) should be a key contributor, as his speed will be a headache for opposing defenses.

“People just can’t sell out on one guy,” Hopkins said. “We are going to get in a lot of two-back sets and put the defense in a bind.”

Along with that dangerous backfield, Boyd will field an experienced receiving corps. Chris Carmona is back after putting up nice numbers in 2012. Joesph Tate, Dalton Stidham, Austin Cozby and Cameron Schulte will all be threats downfield.

Up front, the Yellowjackets have the potential to be great, with four talented juniors anchoring the offensive line.

“It has the potential to be the best offensive line we’ve had since 2007,” Hopkins said.

Defensively, Boyd should be just as talented. Ragsdale solidifies the middle linebacker position, and Cardona and Carmona will start at the corners.

“The defense has a chance to be better,” Hopkins said.

Up front, Justin Milligan takes over for Adrian Nelson who graduated. Boyd gave up an average of 328 yards per game in 2012.

If it all comes together, the Yellowjackets should not only compete for a district title, but make a significant run in the postseason.

PROJECTIONS

District 5-2A Division I

1. Whitesboro – All-state running back Collin Kilcrease is back after the Bearcats’ second straight playoff appearance.

2. Boyd – The Yellowjackets have weapons all over the field and an emerging offensive line.

3. Pilot Point – The Bearcats will be looking to return to the postseason and have the experience returning to do so.

4. Bowie – The Jackrabbits have the pieces in place, especially at quarterback, to get back to the playoffs.

5. Callisburg – The Wildcats shocked people winning this tough district last year. District MVP Clay McKenzie is gone and possibly the playoffs.

6. Paradise – New head coach Scott Broussard has brought a lot of changes to the Panthers program, but will they take hold in time?

7. Ponder – The Lions have questions at most positions.

2013 SCHEDULE

Aug. 30 … Gunter … Home
Sept. 6 … Palmer … Away
Sept. 13 … Godley … Away
Sept. 20 … Sanger# … Home
Sept. 27 … Bowie* … Home
Oct. 4 … Pilot Point* … Away
Oct. 11 … Callisburg* … Home
Oct. 25 … Ponder* … Away
Nov. 1 … Paradise* … Home
Nov. 8 … Whitesboro* … Away

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

TEAM ROSTER

1 … Qualynn Wells … RB/DB … 10
2 … Xavier Kyle … WR/DB … 10
3 … Kasey Holden … WR/DB … 12
5 … Cody Jacobs … WR/DB … 12
7 … Jackson Basting … WR/DB … 11
8 … Triston Furgerson … TE/LB … 11
9 … Seth Wallace … QB/LB … 11
10 … Chris Carmona … WR/DB … 12
11 … Garrett Ragsdale … QB/LB … 12
12 … Shay Dodson … WR/DB … 12
16 … Dalton Stidham … WR/DB … 12
17 … Austin Cozby … WR/DB … 12
19 … Joseph Tate … WR/DB … 12
20 … Sonny McCarmack … RB/LB … 12
25 … Fino Cardona … RB/DB … 12
26 … Cameron Schulte … TE/LB … 12
30 … Justin Milligan … RB/LB … 10
33 … Nathan Thomas … K … 12
50 … Waco Holland … OL/DL … 12
51 … Hunter Woodruff … OL/LB … 12
52 … Cameron Clark … OL/LB … 11
55 … Sequoia Smith … OL/DL … 11
58 … Colton Batterton … OL/DL … 11
59 … Matt McConnell … OL/DL … 11
62 … Gunner Partin … OL/DL … 11
64 … Juan Vasquez … OL/DL … 12
66 … Lucas Sims … OL/DL … 11
67 … Ryan Reed … OL/DL … 12
78 … Dillon Rose … OL/DL … 11