NEW WAVERLY — Optimism is in the air as New Waverly approaches the upcoming football season, with a deep returning class, a pair of coaching additions and several breakout candidates keeping the Bulldogs confident they can bounce back in 2019.
New Waverly won just one game last year amid a 1-9 campaign, something that has driven the team all offseason long. Head coach Dean Schaub notices something different about this group, which returns essentially all of its key pieces.
“We know the kids are hungry,” the coach said. “They've shown it since their last game. ... We don't have to prod them to go hard this year, which is nice.”
“I don't ever want to lose again,” added sophomore quarterback Sebastine Amaro. “I'm going to try my hardest to keep getting us wins and wins and wins.”
But while it may have been a source of motivation, the Dogs have put last year in the past with the season opener at Austin St. Andrew’s Episcopal looming next week. For now, the team — well aware of the danger of getting too far ahead of themselves — is focused on the basics.
“I believe if you can take care of the little things, big things are going to happen,” Schaub said. “We don't talk about scoring every play. We talk about first downs, because naturally that's going to put you in the end zone.”
This focused approach paid off last weekend when the Bulldogs scrimmaged Tarkington. Facing a team that held New Waverly to zero points and a pair of first downs during their exhibition match last fall, the Dogs delivered two touchdowns and 14 first downs in this year’s meeting.
Helping spur the offensive success is a pair of new coaching additions in offensive coordinator Rodney Morphew and offensive line coach Marcus Gordon. Morphew arrives at New Waverly after more than a decade at Grandview — last season’s Class 3A Division I champion — while Gordon is a former Sam Houston State and Grambling player that has displayed a knack for connecting with players.
“Our RPO offense is exactly what they did,” Schaub said. “We really lucked out getting Coach Morphew. What he's bringing to the table is invaluable.
“It's the same thing with Coach Gordon, our offensive line coach. He played at Grambling and Sam, so he brings good playing experience. He's young ... so they're excited that he's leading them.”
There have also been changes for the Bulldogs behind the scenes.
“Growing up and maturing,” said junior linebacker and fullback Brennan Harrell of the biggest difference from last season. “That's not an excuse, but it helps a lot to have one more year under our belts.”
While New Waverly will rely heavily on a deep junior class and up-and-coming underclassmen, they also have senior leadership provided by Jacob Abraham, Khristian Rodriguez, Mario Chavez and Kaden Hammack. These four are all slated to play key roles, and are determined to leave the program on a positive note.
“Not having a season like last year,” answered Abraham when asked what he’s looking forward to most about 2019.
New Waverly will face Centerville at home on Friday in its final preseason scrimmage. The varsity team is scheduled to take the field at 6:30 p.m.