Northwest’s Jesse Drummer doesn’t mind the spotlight that comes from playing quarterback. He lives for it.
“I like having everyone looking at me. If we win or lose, it’s because of me,” Drummer said. “When I played baseball, I also pitched. I always want the pressure on my shoulders.”
In his first season as a starter last year, the signal caller proved his wide shoulders could stand up to the burden. Drummer threw for 2,460 yards and 24 touchdowns while leading the Texans to an 8-3 season.
But Drummer wasn’t surprised by the numbers.
“It was kind of expected. We had a lot of weapons on offense,” he said.
As he starts his senior year, the Northwest signal caller has even larger expectations for himself.
“I want to be better and have better numbers,” Drummer said.
“I’m a lot more experienced. I’ve worked on my release. I’m quicker and have better feet.”
He is quick to point out that he’s not being selfish. It’s just what the Texans will need to compete in the tough 5-6A district with the explosive offenses at Denton Guyer, Denton Ryan and Keller Fossil Ridge.
“If we want to compete with those teams, we’ll have to move the ball,” Drummer said.
The ball should be in Drummer’s hands to make even more plays in the Texans’ new offense under coach Bill Poe, who took over for Bill Patterson in the spring. Poe was previously the offensive coordinator at Marble Falls, working with spread offense guru Todd Dodge.
Marble Falls averaged 480 yards on offense last year.
“It’s still the spread offense that everyone in Texas runs,” Drummer said. “The reads won’t change much. It’s the reads before the play that are different.
“It’s a more sophisticated offense.”
Along with Drummer, the Texans return his top weapon, Emmanuel Moore. Drummer also likes his options with a young cast of receivers.
“Emmanuel will have his touches,” Drummer said. “We have a lot of young guys that will need to step up.”
Based off his strong season last year, Drummer has received interest from Division I schools.
“I’ve talked to a lot of schools. There’s no offers yet. They are waiting to see what I do my senior year,” Drummer said.
Drummer believes he’ll be ready to handle the spotlight again and lead the Texans back to the postseason.
“I’m confident of having a good season,” Drummer said.
TEXANS BUILD UP
The Northwest Texans posted a second straight eight-win season to make a second straight trip to the postseason behind their explosive offense and solid defense.
But after all the success of the regular season, the year ended with the sour taste of a playoff exit in the first round for a second straight year to Arlington Lamar.
“It was heart-breaking,” said defensive back Savion James.
The Texans enter 2014 hoping to break through to the area round and build up last year’s 8-3 campaign.
“The past two years going to the first round makes us hungrier,” said wide receiver Emmanuel Moore. “We want to break another school record and go to the second round.”
The Texans’ path to the playoffs will be led by a new head coach.
Bill Poe, who spent last year at Marble Falls as the offensive coordinator, was hired in April to replace Bill Patterson, who was at Northwest five years before heading to Sherman.
Poe, who had a two-year stint at Longview Spring Hill as a head coach, said the foundation is in place to build upon at Northwest.
“We’re excited about the year. The last couple of years going 8-2, we’re looking to push forward and take the program to the next level,” Poe said.
“We’re excited about the potential of where we could go. But we can’t live on the successes in the past.”
Poe and his staff immediately went to work in the spring installing their offense and rebuilding a defense that graduated nearly everyone.
“The kids have been working extremely hard and have done everything we’ve asked,” Poe noted.
Offensively, the Texans return quarterback Jesse Drummer, playmaking receiver Moore and speedy running back Quentin Thorpe to work into Poe’s offense.
Drummer, who threw for 2,400 yards and 25 touchdowns last year, said he’s excited about the changes his new coach has made with the offense.
“Coach Poe is a big reason we’ll be more explosive and faster. His gameplans are crisp. I can’t wait to see how far we can take it,” Drummer said.
Defensively, James is one of two starters back. But the unit expects to come together and use its speed to contend with the explosive offenses in 5-6A.
“We’ve got a lot of guys stepping up,” said defensive end Ross Penney. “We’ve got a lot of young faces but we’re coming together and can be a force.”
The Texans start the season at home against Corsicana before going to AT&T Stadium to play Prosper. In week three, Northwest gets another shot at Arlington Lamar.
“There’s a lot of bad blood there,” Drummer said.
The Texans will step into 5-6A play Sept. 25 at Fossil Ridge. They then face defending state champion Denton Guyer. After a date with Keller Central, the Texans meet Northwest ISD rival Byron Nelson for the first time Oct. 17. They end with Timber Creek, Denton Ryan and Keller.
“It’s a very tough league,” Poe said. “You’ll have to put the work in on a weekly basis.”
At the end, the Texans hope to get what they crave most – a chance to bring home a playoff win.
“Everyone wants another shot. We’re hungry from the kicker to the quarterback,” said linebacker Jay Franich.
Aug. 29 … Corsicana … Home … 7:30
Sept. 6 … Prosper# … Away … 8
Sept. 12 … Arlington Lamar … Home … 7:30
Sept. 19 … Open
Sept. 25 … Fossil Ridge* … Away … 7
Oct. 3 … Denton Guyer* … Home … 7
Oct. 10 … Keller Central* … Away … 7
Oct. 17 … Byron Nelson* … Home … 7
Oct. 24 … Timber Creek* … Away … 7
Oct. 31 … Denton Ryan* … Home … 7
Nov. 6 … Keller* … Away … 7
# Game at AT&T Stadium
* Denotes 5-6A game
1. Denton Guyer – The defending state champions lost a dynamic leader in Jerrod Heard but the Wildcats look to have another Division I prospect at quarterback with Shawn Robinson. The Wildcats also return eight starters on defense.
2. Fossil Ridge – The Panthers bring back eight starters on offense, including running back Keshawn Mitchell.
3. Northwest – The Texans return some of the best skilled people in the league with quarterback Jesse Drummer and receiver Emmanuel Moore. Northwest’s young defense will need to grow up quickly.
4. Denton Ryan – For the first time since 2000, the Raiders will have a new head coach as Joey Florence moves into the AD role at Denton ISD. Ryan returns just one defensive starter.
5. Byron Nelson – Moving up to 6A will be tough on the Wildcats but the Northwest ISD school brings back a 1,000-yard back in Courtney Miles.
6. Keller Central – A veteran quarterback in Jake McClurg will help in a tough league. Like much the district, the Chargers must rebuild defensively.
7. Keller – The Indians are looking to fill two of the hardest roles on a team – quarterback and middle linebacker.
8. Keller Timber Creek – If quarterback Anthony Millsap continues to develop after throwing for 981 yards and 12 touchdowns last year, the Falcons could move up in the league.
Northwest 49, Grand Prairie 23
Northwest 49, Grapevine 14
Northwest 21, Midlothian 16
Northwest 31, Keller 17
Fossil Ridge 28, Northwest 10
Northwest 48, Haltom 14
Southlake 63, Northwest 14
Northwest 49, Timbercreek 10
Northwest 42, Richland 14
Northwest 26, Keller Central 22
Arlington Lamar 36, Northwest 29
Final record – 8-3
2 … Walker Nickens
3 … Jay Franich
4 … Blake Ibarra
5 … Willie Callum
6 … Antonio Dukes
7 … Savion James
8 … Austin Penny
9 … Chris Hamilton
10 … Tyler Norton
11 … Ross Penny
12 … Ian Ntiranyuhura
13 … Ben McClanahan
14 … Hunter Johnson
15 … Austin Navarette
16 … Jesse Drummer
17 … Ryan Johnson
18 … Andrew Wilson
19 … Carson Lane
20 … Emmanual Moore
21 … Emmanual Bradly-Moore
22 … Austin Cratty
23 … Syrus Moore
24 … Justin Butler
25 … Ridge Hamilton
26 … CJ Muldrow
27 … Carson Hickman
28 … Tanner Savoy
29 … Tyler Weaver
30 … Michael Phillips
31 … Zach Hendricks
32 … Quentin Thorpe
33 … Nick Adams
34 … Randall Johnson
35 … Blake Smith
38 … Richard Farrell
40 … Tucker Clark
44 … Caden McDonald
45 … Nathan Palacio
49 … Liam Ryan
50 … Jacob Dusak
51 … Dustin Maclin
52 … Blaine Harris
55 … Brandon Keck
57 … Sabastian Reyes
59 … Nathan Graeve
62 … Dilan Potter
63 … Ryan Niedermeier
64 … Andrew Hice
65 … Kyle Fryer
66 … Isaac Marchant
70 … Corey Billings
71 … Brando Fryer
72 … Gerardo Resendiz
74 … French Folsom
75 … Gabriel Gomez
76 … Bryan Woody
77 … Matt Briggs
78 … Cole Gerreck
79 … Micah German
80 … Michael Baisley
83 … Emmanuel Ogonwolu
84 … Michael Phillips
86 … Michael McGee
87 … Colton Boyd
88 … Jordan Ames
89 … Soren Campbell
90 … Luis Laureano
97 … Corey Mallon
99 … TyVaughn Gamble
The Northwest offense piled up 34 points and 380 yards per game last season as the Texans rolled to an 8-3 season and a second straight trip to the playoffs.
With several key pieces back in place, many Texans feel it can be even more explosive this season.
“This offense can be way better,” said senior receiver and UNT commitment Emmanual Moore.
The offense will change slightly as new head coach Bill Poe plans to install the up-tempo spread attack he ran as offensive coordinator last year at Marble Falls under coaching legend Todd Dodge.
Through spring workouts and the start of fall workouts, Poe has been impressed with the development of the unit.
“It can be very productive,” he said. “With Jesse Drummer, Emmanuel Moore and Quentin Thorpe, there’s three skilled people that are solid and know how to make plays.”
In 2013, his first year as the starting quarterback, Drummer threw for 2,407 yards and 24 touchdowns. With that experience and after a strong offseason, he expects to be even better this year.
“I’ve worked hard in the offseason. I’ve gotten stronger and quicker with my reads,” Drummer said. “This system also makes me better.”
Along with a strong arm, Poe loves the intangibles that Drummer brings to the spot.
“He’s a leader on the field and the ultimate competitor,” Poe said. “He has a passion and love for the game.”
Moore was Drummer’s top target last year, making 58 catches for 1,071 yards and nine touchdowns.
“He’s a great receiver, one of those guys that rarely lets the ball touch the carpet,” Poe said. “He’s got tremendous hands and good speed. He’s a playmaker in space.”
In the backfield, Thorpe returns after rushing for 432 yards and five scores in 2013.
“He’s capable and very explosive. He can go north and south and east and west,” Poe explained.
Up front, Northwest has Matt Briggs and French Folsom at the tackles. Dustin Maclin and Ryan Niedermeier man the guard spots and Corey Billings is at center.
Poe said the line is coming along and learning the Texans’ zone blocking assignments.
“They can become a great unit. They understand what we want,” Poe said. “We’ll use a lot of zone blocking inside and outside. We’ll have about four running plays that we’ll hang our hat on. The pass protection takes a lot of time to get down.”
But the Texans don’t expect many stumbling blocks with the tools they have at their disposal.
The Northwest Texans’ defense did enough in 2013 to support its explosive offense during an 8-3 campaign.
The Texans allowed more than 23 points just three times – all losses – while competing against some of the area’s top offenses.
But as Northwest starts the 2014 campaign, it returns just two starters.
“That’s a weakness – our inexperience,” said coach Bill Poe. “But we’re filling in spots, and under defensive coordinator Bobby Allison they’ve started to jell.”
And with speed throughout the defense, many players believe they can match last year’s performance.
“We’re working. The defense has good playmakers,” said returning cornerback Savion James, the veteran leader of the secondary.
“Savion is a great player to have back,” Poe said. “We feel confident he can cover man-to-man to be a shutdown corner.”
CJ Muldrow and Emmanual Bradly-Moore will handle the other corner spot. Walker Nickens, Antonio Dukes and Austin Cratty are working at safety.
“We have good cover skills and speed,” James said.
In the front seven, the Texans don’t have a lot of size. Caden McDonald and Ross Penny will get the start at the defensive end spots outside of tackles Luis Laureano and Liam Ryan.
“We’ve got a lot of guys stepping up,” Penny said. “Our speed will make a difference.”
At linebacker, Jay Franich and Willie Callum lead the group. Callum had 47 tackles a year ago.
Franich expects the defense to be able to show many different looks and put pressure on opposing offenses.
“We’re going to come at people with a lot of fronts,” he said. “Our ends are fast. What we lack in size, we’ll make up for in tenacity.”
Poe explains the Texans’ priority will be slowing down the run along with keeping the ball in front of them in the passing game. That will not be an easy task against 5-6A foes from Denton Guyer and Keller Fossil Ridge with their explosive offenses.
“We will be tested. It’s a very tough road ahead of us,” Poe predicted.
But it’s a challenge the Texans look forward to and believe they have the players on the defensive side of the ball to pass.
“We’ve got a lot of young faces, but we’re coming together,” Penny said. “As a team, we can be a strong force.”