First victory eludes Bulldogs

D.J. Shafer/Game Day Photos 

New Waverly running back Nathaniel Duncan carries the ball during a game against Trinity last year.

A rocky 2018 season ended on a high note for the New Waverly Bulldogs. Now, with a bevy of starters returning, they will attempt to keep headed in the right direction.

New Waverly lost its first nine games last year before storming back late in the season finale, beating Kountze on a last-minute rushing touchdown from then-freshman quarterback Sebastine Amaro — one of 17 returning starters for the Bulldogs. With summer training underway, New Waverly head coach Dean Schaub is optimistic about his team’s potential to turn a corner in 2019.

“We’ve had several kids come out that are putting in work every day,” Schaub said. “We have basically an entire team returning, which is good. We have nine (returning starters) on offense and eight on defense.”

The Dogs will still be young, with only four seniors currently on the roster — Jacob Abraham, Khristian Rodriguez, Mario Chavez and Kaden Hammack. All of these seniors are expected to play major roles, potentially on both sides of the ball.

While New Waverly is light on seniors, a deep and talented junior class has helped to provide veteran leadership — and a positive outlook moving forward.

“They have great chemistry, and our younger kids really look up to them,” Schaub said. “I think our strength is going to be our juniors. They play every sport together, and they’ve been successful together … Next year, were going to have the numbers that I want. If you can graduate 20 seniors a year, that’s what you want to do.”

The Bulldogs have brought in a new offensive coordinator in Rodney Morphew, who arrives at New Waverly from Grandview. Schaub notes that the Dogs still plan to run a run-pass-option based offense, which gels with a dual-threat behind center in Amaro, as well as returning junior skill players in running back Nathaniel Duncan and receivers Jacob Kutchey and Ty Elder.

“It was a no-brainer,” said Schaub of the decision to have Amaro run the offense. “A lot of the decision-making will be in his hands. If it doesn’t look good, we’ll run the ball. If it looks good, we’ll throw it. We’re going to balance ourselves out. Sebastine has an arm, but he also has a high football IQ for a sophomore.”

As New Waverly attempts to rebound in 2019, here’s a look at two games that could shape how the Bulldogs’ season plays out:

September 13 vs. Leon

While New Waverly’s early-season matchup with Leon will not have any bearing on the team’s playoff hopes, it could say a lot about how the year will play out. By this point, the Bulldogs will have already faced four opponents — two in scrimmages and two in non-district matchups — and should be starting to develop their identity on both sides of the ball.

Leon is a class below New Waverly, but could prove to be one of the Dogs’ most formidable tests before league play gets underway. The Cougars are coming off a 2018 season in which they finished second in District 9-2A Division I on their way to winning a bi-district title.

The Bulldogs will be looking for revenge when the two squads meet on September 13, after falling 48-0 in their meeting last year.

October 18 at Anderson-Shiro

Once again, the battle for District 12-3A Division II’s four playoff berths appears set to follow a similar format — Newton and Corrigan-Camden at the top, with New Waverly, Anderson-Shiro, Hemphill and Kountze battling for the final two spots.

Newton is coming off back-to-back state championships, while Corrigan went three rounds deep into the playoffs last year. But, while these two figure to remain at the top of the district standings, the rest of the league seems to be wide open. If New Waverly is able to pick up a win over Anderson-Shiro on October 18, it would put the Dogs in prime position to secure one of the district’s postseason spots.

Although the Fighting Hawks won 28-0 when the teams met last year, the Bulldogs did force three first-half turnovers and held their opponent to a scoreless tie until the 6:20 mark of the second quarter. New Waverly was also without Amaro, who was sidelined with an ankle injury during that game.

Below is a look at the 2019 New Waverly football schedule:

new waverly football schedule