History is, at times, a great way to predict the future. If history serves its purpose and accurately predicts the future this Friday night at Lumpkins Stadium, watch out football fans.
For the second consecutive season, the Waxahachie Indians open the football season with a non-district game against the state-ranked Everman Bulldogs.
Last year Everman, state-ranked then as well, slid past Waxahachie, 14-12, in a game that came down to special teams and defense.
The history of the Waxahachie-Everman game since David Ream has been at the helm for the Indians is packed full with close, down-to-the-wire games. Expect nothing different Friday.
Everman enters Friday’s game ranked No. 4 in the Associated Press preseason rankings in Class 4A and is a 17-point favorite in the Harris Poll. Waxahachie is not ranked in the top-25 in either poll and is not worried about preseason rankings.
“As far as rankings are concerned we do not put a lot of stock in that right now except that everybody knows Everman is pretty good,” Ream said. “Everman has a lot of good people back and an outstanding program. They were one game away from the state championship game last year and they are going to be a real test for us.”
Ream has his Indians ready for the test, a test Waxahachie knows will be one of the toughest of the season.
Since Ream took over at the helm of Waxahachie, the Indians are 1-4 against Everman. All five games have been extremely close. In 2005, the Bulldogs slid past Waxahachie 33-32. 2004 saw the Indians winning 14-10. Ream’s first two seasons in Waxahachie, the Bulldogs won both games by a combined nine points, 13-7 in 2001 and 27-24 in overtime in 2000.
“We’ve played them several times over the last few years and maybe three points has been the biggest difference in the game. It has been a good game for us to get ready. We have had them in our district before,” Ream said. “They are a well-coached football team and can do a lot of stuff offensively that can get us ready for the games further down the schedule. It helps us prepare for the rest of the year.”
Not only will Friday’s game be the first game of the season and possibly one of the best games of the season as it was last year, it will be the first varsity game played on the new turf surface at Lumpkins Stadium.
“We won’t see anybody any faster than Everman the rest of the year. It gives us a chance to see how we match up,” Ream said.
One of the strengths this season for the Indians is team speed. Friday’s game will pit two of the fastest teams in Class 4A against one another.
Both teams possess a very fast defense and playmakers on offense who can break a big play at any time.
On offense for the Indians, Venique Benton will start at quarterback while receiver and backup quarterback Sam Gagliano is expected to lead at least one series in each half from the quarterback position.
“Consistency. Making first downs is going to be the key on offense,” Ream said. “If we can make first downs we feel like we will make some big plays. The problem comes when we go three-and-out, three-and-out, three-and-out, we do not have a chance to make big plays. We feel like we can make some big plays.”
The big plays could come from the legs at the quarterback position as both players have the type of speed track coaches drool over. If the young offensive line provides the quarterbacks time to throw, there are several speedy options on the outside that might set the Indians apart from most teams.
Returning at the receiver position for the Indians is junior LaDarius Brown, Gagliano and newcomers Darrion Granger and Jumani Cox.
In the backfield the Indians will use a running back by committee system.
“LaJordan Easley and Oshae Cofer are going to get their carries, but both will start on defense and play most of the game defensively. We will have to spell them on offense. DQ Robinson will move in from receiver and get his carries this week too,” Ream said.
While the team speed is exciting and has looked good on the practice field, Ream understands that when the lights come on Friday it is a whole new ballgame.
“The kids have been practicing hard for three weeks and we have had a scrimmage but when the lights come on that first Friday night you can throw everything else out the window. Something is going to happen that you did not foresee or they did not foresee happening,” he said.
“We both run similar styles of offense, we both have an aggressive defense and we both have speed; no doubt it will come down to who makes the fewest mistakes,” Waxahachie offensive coordinator Terry Minton said.
Everman returns two running backs who combined for more than 900 yards last season, Corey Franklin and Reuben Fletcher.
The Bulldogs use a running back by committee game plan similar to Waxahachie.
“They are kind of like us,” Ream said. “Their tail back and running back is by committee. They have good athletes, as good as we will see, and they play both ways too. They want to spell them on offense just like we do. Their quarterbacks are always talented. This one seems to throw the ball pretty well.”
Expected to start at quarterback for Everman will be Robert Davis.
“Typically they have been a running team but they will do whatever it takes to move the football. Last year they threw the ball more than normal because we shut down the running game,” Ream said. “We feel like it is going to be a close ballgame. I think our kids are prepared for them and I know they will be prepared for us.”
Everman finished the 2008 season with a 14-1 record and are predicted to claim the District 8-4A title, according to Texas Football Magazine. Defensive end Aaron Bellazin is Texas Football’s preseason defensive MVP in the district.
“Coach (Dale) Keeling has been there for awhile and helped them become a powerhouse. They do not have a large number of kids. They are pretty comparable to us in the fact that they play a lot of kids both ways. They will test us and let us know what we need to work on for next week,” Ream said.
“I know we are ready for the game. We are ready to see where we are and get a starting point,” Ream said. “We are definitely not polished by any means in any part of the game. Our special teams is a concern. Last year that was the difference in the ball game as we got a safety after snapping the ball over the punter’s head. Special teams is probably going to make a big difference in the game.”
Waxahachie will have two new players in key positions on special teams. Taylor Brown will be the kicker on kickoffs, extra points and field goals while Steven Borden will be the starting punter.
Borden’s height, size and running ability will be key from the punter’s position as a wild snap could result in the difference in the game.
Brown and Gagliano are expected to return punts for Waxahachie and are sure to be in the mix on kickoff returns.
Last season Waxahachie scored on two field goals and one trick play against Everman. The two-point safety Everman picked up was the first two points of the game.
History says this will be a good game on Friday, arrive early.
Contact Chad at email@example.com or 469-517-1455.