RED OAK — If the best things come to those who wait, then Travis Wallis might be in for the greatest day of his life come Saturday night.
Wallis, a senior quarterback for Red Oak, will earn his first varsity start at SMU’s Ford Field for the 10th annual Tom Landry Classic. The Hawks will play state-ranked Highland Park at 7:30 p.m.
“I’m excited. It feels good to become the starter and hopefully things go well,” Wallis said.
After a lengthy preseason battle between Wallis and junior James Satterwhite, Red Oak coach Mike Shields tabbed Wallis as the man who would go under center to start the season.
Shields believes Wallis’ ability to be a multi-dimensional player gives the Hawks their best chance to be successful.
“(I like his) handling of the offense, if you would put that overall. His running is real good, it gives us an added dimension,” Shields said. “We feel great about both of them and I’d feel just as happy with James being in there but, like at every position, you’ve got to make a decision I guess on somebody. (Offensive coordinator Don) Waddle and coach (David) Young, the quarterbacks coach, decided it was Travis and we’re going to go with it right now.”
Shields hasn’t entirely closed the door on Satterwhite saying both players will be evaluated throughout the season to make sure the right man is under center.
Running back Kentrell Holmes called the offense “solid” with Wallis calling the signals and hopes his leadership will lead the team to play a flawless game.
“We’re getting it done. We’re working hard on our side of the ball. We’ve got the game plan ready for it,” Holmes said. “Travis has been good.”
Though he is new to the starting role, Wallis will get plenty of help from a veteran group of offensive players. Seniors like offensive lineman Colby Houston and Holmes and junior wide receiver Ishmael Harrison will provide plenty of protection and security against a highly touted Highland Park team. The Scots only return two starters from last year’s defense that helped the team finish with an 11-2 record. Highland Park will also be without preseason district offensive MVP Luke Woodley who is suspended following a DWI charge over the summer.
Those losses could be Red Oak’s gain as the team will get a chance to face the Scots at less than 100 percent. But still, the idea of opening the season in front of 20,000-plus fans is enough to make Wallis a little uneasy.
“My offensive line does a great job blocking and they make it happen. My receivers run under balls and make me look good,” Wallis said. “It’s a little nervewracking but it’s going to be fun. We’ll get after them and try to win the game.”
While Wallis settles in and tries to handle the load, Shields is hopeful other players will follow his lead. Only 28 players on the Hawks’ 58 players are seniors, making the coach a worried about what kind of reaction his players will have to playing in a game of this magnitude.
“Yeah, (I’m) real worried. Number No. 1 how we’ll show up and a No. 2 how you take on a team like Highland Park,” Shields said. “It’s good for these kids because some of these kids haven’t played in a setting or venue like that. It will be exciting for them.”
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