For a third straight season the Boyd Yellowjackets begin the season against the Gunter Tigers.
But as the Yellowjackets venture into Grayson County Friday, they will be looking for their first win over the Tigers since 2011.
When Boyd and Gunter hit the field at 7:30 p.m., Boyd coach Brandon Hopkins expects few surprises.
“We’ve been playing them forever,” Hopkins said. “They will be very physical and get after it. They are throwing it more and will get in some spread sets. But they’ll run their tosses and smashes.”
Gunter opens the year as the favorite in the new 5-3A Division II after going 9-3 last season. The Tigers bring back Garrett Hunter, who rushed for 1,700 yards and 25 touchdowns last year, to run behind a physical offensive line led by Caleb Yates.
“They return a good back who had good yardage last year,” Hopkins said. “We’ll have to play hard and execute. Gunter is better than the two teams we scrimmaged. But I like where we are at.”
Offensively, it will be Boyd’s first game since the graduation of its all-time leading rusher Fino Cardona. Qualynn Wells will make his debut as the Yellowjackets’ feature back.
But Wells’ performance will hinge on how the Yellowjackets’ offensive line performs against Gunter’s strong defensive front seven, led by Spencer Lashley and linebacker Kevin Teems.
“It should be a heck of a test for our offensive line. We’re playing faster and more physical,” Hopkins said. “We have some long and rangy linemen who can pull but they are also not afraid to get down in the trenches and work.”
While wanting to win the opener, Boyd, which traditionally schedules tough non-district opponents, knows it’s what happens in district that matters. The Yellowjackets started 0-4 last year but rebounded to make the playoffs.
“We always schedule tough,” Hopkins said. “We know it’s only going to make us better. In ’06 and ’07, we lost (a combined) nine games but went to the quarterfinals and semifinals those years.”
BOYD (0-0) AT GUNTER (0-0)
7:30 p.m. at Tiger Stadium
Boyd: Harris Rating 198
Notable: Qualynn Wells rushed for 379 yards last year.
Gunter: Harris Rating 216
Notable: Gunter is ranked ninth in the Harris Poll in 3A Div. II.
Harris line: Gunter by 18