Like a well-oiled machine, the Angleton Wildcats just keep on churning out good football teams, year in and year out. That won’t change this year as the Wildcats once again have a good crop of players who can take them back to the postseason.
With only seven starters returning, Angleton isn’t as worried because the Wing-T offense allows them to use a variety of players at different positions.
“The system has been in place for nine years now, and we don’t try to reinvent the wheel. We tweak things here and there to improve each year,” Angleton second-year head coach Jason Brittain said. “When we tweak, we do it according to the players we have. Our program is the program, so the players know what to expect from when they show up to when they leave or go to practice, meetings to games and scrimmages, so there isn’t too many surprises for them. They can just go out and play.”
It has been the multiple formations and shifts under the Wing-T, combined with different personnel groupings, that keeps opponents off balance.
Returning three starters on offense, the Wildcats have a new starting quarterback with the graduation of Seth Cosme.
“Losing him was a big deal,” Brittain said. “But last year, he had a high ankle sprain the entire year and had minimal reps in practice. So Justus (Mayon), our starting quarterback now, got all of those reps in practice last year. … He had to run the whole playbook last year in practice to make sure starters were ready for Fridays.”
At 6-foot-3, 180 pounds, Mayon has a different skill set and build than Cosme.
“He had a growth spurt a few years ago and is taller than what Seth was, so he can see downfield a bit better,” Brittain said. “With that we will be able to use more of our drop back game more often because of his height and ability to see over linemen.”
One of those returning starters is senior Jordan Scott Jones, who accumulated more than 1,200 yards on the ground.
“It was another huge year for him,” Brittain said. “But Jordan has been on varsity since his sophomore year. He is a talented kid and the way he runs the ball, which is hard and tough, is exactly what we want our program to be. So his running style embodies what our program is about.”
A slew of help will come Jones’ way with a rotation of guys like Jose JoJo Rodriguez, Cameron Stone and Trayvon Smith with others in tow.
J.T. Anderson also moves up from the junior varsity to take over at fullback.
If there are questions on this team, it is up front with a young offensive line.
“We replaced quite a few but what we have right now, the potential is there,” he said. “With the offensive line it takes a bit longer to get going, to find right mix of kids and it always takes a few weeks to figure that out. We know we are going to find what we need by that time and should be peaking at the right time.”
Co-offensive line coaches Roberto Espinosa and Derek Stubblefield will be in charge of making that happen.
“Our offensive line play is complicated with the style of offense that we run because they have so many different things to learn,” Brittain said. “It takes time to find that right mix and find out what their strengths and weaknesses are. By the time district is here they are hitting their stride.”
Some of those blockers up front are split tackle Jayson Rouse (6-4, 225), Josh Mulcare (5-9, 280), Ethan Wilson (6-2, 225), Armand Dudley (5-8, 260), Sammy Zapata (5-9, 185), Ernest Cotten (5-11, 260) and Sergio Cantu (6-3, 255).
Bryce Ripple (6-1, 175) takes over at tight end and Christian Parkins (5-9, 160) assumes one of the wideout spots for the Wildcats.
Ren Rice (6-1, 175) will be one of the defensive ends with Landris White (6-0, 210) on the other side.
“We are actually returning quite a few up front because we had two defensive tackles who were co-starters last year,” Brittain said. “So we feel like we have three of the four up front in reality.”
Rodriguez will plug in at middle linebacker after a monster season last year and Cayden Dozier, who played a few games in the secondary last year moves up to the weak side linebacker.
“JoJo has always been a real good football player and last year he was what we thought he would be,” Brittain said. “He is one of those players that is not the biggest, strongest or fastest, but he knows how to play the game of football.”
Angleton will play Austin Fairchild at safety, who’s been on varsity since his sophomore season and two returning starters at cornerback, Stone and Smith.
“Our kids understand our system and have been in it for a long time, it is very multiple and there are a lot of things that they have to know in order to function in it,” Brittain said. “We tell them that we have to be able to do all of these things so opponents will not be able to game plan against us.”
Christian Cortez and Jesus Fernandez will be the kickers with Mayon handling the punting duties.
“We know we have a good football team, we know that our schedule is going to be tough every week,” Brittain said. “But we also know that we need to take care of things that we can take care of and just worry about today and the task at hand, we are good.”