The Boyd Yellowjackets start the season with only one senior.
Their overall numbers are down and they will rely on several young players. Boyd graduated its leading rusher, passer, receiver and tacklers.
As the 2016 season begins, the Yellowjackets recognize the challenges, but they are not preparing to use them as excuses. They are instead using them as a rallying cry as they bid for the program’s 14th straight trip to the playoffs.
“We’re working really hard. We’re one of the hardest working and most motivated teams,” said Boyd junior Garrett Moran. “We have a lot of young guys. We just have to outwork everyone.”
Boyd coach Brandon Hopkins has seen that drive this fall as he begins his fifth season as the head coach of his alma mater.
“They are hard workers,” he said. “They are not worried about the numbers. They are just ready to play. I love that dedication. They know they are the underdog with the numbers situation and only returning four guys off last year’s team.”
The one senior is Texas State commit Reece Jordan – the all-state center that will anchor the Yellowjackets’ offensive line from right tackle this season. Jordan graded out at 95 percent last year on the line. He will also play defensive end where he made 63 tackles, including 10 for losses last year.
“Reece is a good leader,” Hopkins said.
Jordan will lead an offensive line that the Yellowjackets hope is a strength.
The Yellowjackets return the District 4-3A Division I Offensive Newcomer of the Year in Moran. Boyd will try to put the ball in his hands in a variety of ways as receiver, running back and even quarterback.
“We’ll get more creative,” Jordan said. “We don’t have the workhorse we have in the past. Garrett will get a lot more touches.”
Defensively, the Yellowjackets will be depending on a big line to get a push in their 4-2-5 scheme.
The Yellowjackets will also have a big linebacker group in Logan Graham and Dylan Couture.
Moran leads a quick but inexperienced secondary.
The Yellowjackets will not face the heavyweights in predistrict they have the past few seasons – Pottsboro, Gunter and Bridgeport. Boyd will face Lake Worth, Holliday, Tolar, Henrietta and Jacksboro in non-district.
“We scheduled differently,” Hopkins said. “Hopefully we can keep healthy and, by district, have a better feel for our identity. This year, we can’t afford injuries.”
Boyd kept District 4-4A Division I mates Bowie, Ponder, Breckenridge, Brock and Paradise. Boyd went 2-3 against the group last year to earn the fourth playoff spot out of the league that included state champion Brock.
“It’ll be a challenge,” Hopkins said. “But I like our chances.”
JORDAN REMAINS IN CLASS BY HIMSELF
Reece Jordan is truly in a class by himself.
The all-state center and standout defensive end returns to the lineup as the Boyd Yellowjackets’ lone senior this season.
It’s a new role for Jordan as the team’s elder statesman with several young players around him.
“The past years I’ve always been the younger guy, even last year when we had 20-something seniors,” Jordan said. “This year, it’s just me. So, I’ve got pretty big shoes to fill.”
Jordan is more than capable of living up the billing as a two-way standout.
Last year as the Wise County Lineman of the Year, Jordan graded out at 95 percent as a center. On defense, he made 63 tackles – 10 for losses – and recorded two sacks.
Last year, he rarely left the field.
“It’s hard to find a break sometimes,” Jordan said. “The only time I get a break is kickoff and kickoff return. Most of the time I’m on the field.”
Defensively, opposing teams tried to run away from Jordan, who disrupted plays with his strength and quickness.
“It’s cool a lot of teams plan around you and run away from you, but you don’t get all the tackles you want,” Jordan said. “It’s kind of an honor almost.”
While enjoying playing defense, his forte is offense. He received offers from several Division I schools to play center. He’s given an oral commitment to Texas State.
“It’s not a glorified position,” Jordan said. “When someone see someone score they don’t think, ‘oh it must have been the offensive line that helped him score;’ they think he’s a playmaker. But that doesn’t really bother me.”
This season, the Yellowjackets will utilize Jordan’s size and quickness at right tackle.
At 6’3″, 270 pounds, Jordan is not just a big kid on the line. His quick feet allows him to play center in basketball.
Boyd coach Brandon Hopkins pointed out that Jordan played quarterback in middle school. This summer he lined up at receiver during 7-on-7.
“I’m a big kid but I’m still athletic,” Jordan said. “It helps me on the offensive and defensive line to be able to move. This year in 7-on-7, I played Y. I had probably the second most catches.”
In his final season, Jordan expects the Yellowjackets to rally and make a 14th straight trip to the postseason due to the work of the younger players.
“They seem motivated,” Jordan said. “They’ve worked harder than any group I’ve been around in a long time.”
Sounds like they are following their senior’s lead.
YELLOWJACKETS IN A CAPSULE
2015 Record: 4-7, 2-3
Head coach: Brandon Hopkins, fifth year at Boyd (20-26)
After a 45-7 loss in the District 4-3A Division I opener last year, the Yellowjackets rebounded to secure their 13th straight playoff berth. Heading into 2016, the Yellowjackets bring back just one senior and four players. But the expectations remain for Boyd to make it to the playoffs. It will be a challenge in a league that includes defending state champion Brock.
The Yellowjackets graduated a three-year starter at quarterback along with their top rusher and receiver.
Boyd does bring back two solid building blocks – Wise County Offensive Newcomer of the Year Garrett Moran and Lineman of the Year Reece Jordan.
Jordan, an all-state center, is moving to right tackle to anchor an offensive line that coach Brandon Hopkins said can be a strength of the team.
The line will include Dylan Couture at left tackle, Logan Graham and Alex Silva at the guards and Cruz Montes at center.
“We’re solid there. We have good size with Reece at 275 and everyone else at 220 to 235 and can move,” Hopkins said. “We just don’t have much depth.”
Sophomore Kody Risenhoover will step in at quarterback. He got the majority of the snaps during the summer during 7-on-7.
“He’s very accurate, has a good arm and makes good decisions,” Hopkins said. “He’ll have to make a lot of decisions on the fly. But after 7-on-7 this spring and summer, it’s an easy transition.”
In the backfield, he’ll be joined by Boone Eustace, Caleb Rodriguez, Casey Reynolds and on occasion Moran.
Hopkins said they will not have the workhorse they have in recent years with Fino Cardona, Qualynn Wells and Justin Milligan.
“It’ll be running back by committee,” Hopkins said.
The Yellowjackets will be trying to get the ball into Moran’s hands in a variety of ways at running back or receiver. He finished last year with 415 all-purpose yards.
Kolby Miller, Bryan Couture, Tyler Morris and Chris Karcher will line up at the other receiver spots.
“We have some good guys that can catch,” Hopkins said.
Like the offense, the Yellowjackets hope to start up front and use their size to create plays.
Reece Jordan and Alex Silva man the defensive ends spots with Cruz Montes and Kaleb Brown at the tackles in the 4-2-5.
“We have good size up front,” Hopkins said.
The Yellowjackets turn the heart of the defense at linebacker over to a pair of sophomores, Logan Graham (5’11”, 220) and junior Dylan Couture (5’11”, 230).
“We’re making the defense easy to understand,” Graham said. “The 4-2-5 fits us good. We have some fast guys outside.”
In the secondary, Moran returns at safety to play center field. He’ll be joined at safety by Casey Reynolds and the speedy Caleb Rodriguez.
Tyler Morris and Chris Karcher are manning the cornerback spots.
“Our secondary keeps working at disguising things,” Moran said.
With low numbers and one senior, the Yellowjackets must find a way to stay healthy. Any injuries could quickly derail the season. Boyd will need to develop quarterback Kody Risenhoover and keep the ball in playmaker Garrett Moran’s hands. The Yellowjackets should be in contention for third or fourth in 4-3A Division I to get the program’s 14th straight playoff berth.
2015 BOYD RESULTS
Gunter 30, Boyd 14
Bridgeport 55, Boyd 41
Pottsboro 54, Boyd 14
Boyd 40, S&S 10
Krum 20, Boyd 17
Bowie 45, Boyd 7
Boyd 28, Ponder 7
Boyd 21, Paradise 14
Breckenridge 49, Boyd 7
Brock 68, Boyd 7
Wall 56, Boyd 6*
2016 BOYD SCHEDULE
Aug. 26 … Lake Worth …
Sept. 2 … @ Holliday …
Sept. 9 … Tolar …
Sept. 16 … @ Henrietta
Sept. 30 … @ Jacksboro
Oct. 7 … Bowie*
Oct. 14 … Ponder*HC
Oct. 21 … @ Breckenridge*
Oct. 28 … Brock*
Nov. 4 … @ Paradise*
HC Homecoming, * 4-3A I game
BOYD YELLOWJACKETS 2016 ROSTER
3 … Lee Crohan … WR/DB … 11
5 … Koby Miller … WR/DB … 10
7 … Caleb Rodriguez … RB/DB … 10
8 … Casey Reynolds … WR/DB … 11
9 … Tyler Morris … WR/DB … 11
10 … Kody Risenhoover … QB/DB … 10
14 … Brian Couture … WR/DB … 9
16 … Gabe Gauna … TE/LB … 11
17 … Cris Karcher … WR/DB … 10
20 … Garrett Moran … WR/DB … 11
21 … Boone Eustace … RB/DB … 10
25 … Michael McCarmack TE/LB … 10
30 … Mark Trammell … WR/DL … 11
46 … Daniel Lacey … WR/LB … 10
50 … Reece Jordan … OL/DL … 12
51 … Logan Graham … OL/DL … 10
55 … Brodie Fitzgerald … OL/DL … 10
58 … Dylan Couture … OL/LB … 11
59 … Matt Oldham … OL/DL … 10
60 … Alex Silva … OL/DL … 11
62 … Cruz Montes … OL/DL … 11
64 … Jacob Landry … OL/DL … 11
66 … Jorge Estrada … OL/DL … 11
67 … Riley Tackett … OL/DL … 10
70 … Jacob Herring … OL/DL … 10
75 … Caleb Brown … OL/DL … 11
77 … Garrett Sherman … OL/DL … 11