Water Valley Looks to Bounce Back Following Bad 2016 Season
WATER VALLEY, TX-- New Head Coach Keith Woolf makes the move from 11-man football to six-man, coming from 5A school Abilene Cooper. Woolf, who was hired in May, inherits a storied Wildcats program looking to forget their 4-5 record from a year ago and return to the top of district 8-1A D1.
"We've got good athletes," Woolf said. "We've still got good kids who work hard."
Water Valley returns 4 starters from 2016. A key contributor to the 2016 season, and a guy fans should expect to have another big year in 2017 is senior running back Jeremy Jackson. The 5-foot-9 senior rushed for 1,500 yards last year. "He's a difference maker," Woolf said. "He's so fast, he can take it to the house at any time." Jackson clocked a 4.6 second 40-yard dash time over the spring. His speed will be crucial to the Wildcats' success, especially in six-man football.
Any coach, however, will stress the importance of not being a one dimensional team, leaning on one player too much. "We've got to spread the ball around more," Woolf said. "We've got to get other guys involved." The task of spreading the ball around will be junior quarterback Manny Gamboa, with the graduation of Shiloh Hughes.
On the defensive side of the ball, senior nose-guard Eric Sharp will return after missing most of the 2016 season. He brings speed to the defensive line of the Wildcats and will be a big contributor throughout the season for Water Valley. "We're replacing some guys on the defensive front," Woolf said. "[Sharp] will be a big part for us. He'll lead us."
Even with the new staff, the Wildcats will implement pretty much the same defense from a year ago. "Not much has changed," Woolf said. "Our terminology will stay the same. We're going put our guys in a defense that's sound, but not change much."
Last year, the Wildcats were edged out by Veribest for the final playoff spot in a 105-60 loss in the final game of the year. This year, it seems as though district 8-1A D1 will come down to that final game between the two, once again. "We hope we're there at that point," Woolf said. "There's no doubt that will be a big game for us."
Water Valley can win the district title. They have the athletic ability, but the team chemistry will be paramount to their success in a competitive district. With where Santa Anna and Veribest are right now, Water Valley might be on the outside looking in come playoff time. Water Valley goes 6-4 overall, but narrowly misses the playoffs with a 1-2 district record. The Wildcats open up 2017 on the road at Knox City Saturday, September 2 at 12:30 p.m.