Written by Corbett Smith
Spring football report: Can Hebron's all-district TE transition into elite QB?
How the 2010 season ended: Hebron's chance at a playoff bid ended when Flower Mound Marcus converted a two-point conversion with 58 seconds remaining in both team's regular-season finale, resulting in a 22-21 loss and a tiebreaker loss to Plano for the final playoff spot out of District 8-5A. Hebron finished the season at 6-4, 4-3 in district.
Key returning starters: Head coach Brian Brazil hopes that dynamic wide receiver Kiante' Griffin will be healthy for the 2011 season. Hobbled by injury last season, the 2009 district newcomer of the year (with 10 touchdown receptions) caught only 19 passes for 291 yards and a touchdown as a junior. Griffin -- who's committed to Baylor -- is expected to play a key role on offense and defense, splitting time as a wide receiver and defensive back. He's one of two players -- along with sophomore-to-be RB/S Jamal Adams -- that Brazil plans to give significant minutes on both sides of the ball. "If Kiante' has a great year, we're going to have a great year," Brazil said. "There's no doubt about that."
Hebron's running game should also be largely intact, returning junior-to-be running back Dezmond Wortham and three starters on the offensive line -- center C.J. Mexia, guard Cory Cotter and tackle Seth McBride. Wortham was second on the team in carries, with 100. There's not a lot of height for the projected line (only one player over 6-0), but Brazil said that he "likes that all of them will get after you." The defensive line returns experience as well, with defensive tackles Cameron Briscoe and Deatrich Wise, and nose guard Brett Vaughn.
Biggest questions facing team: How do you get Griffin the ball? If Hebron's most dynamic playmaker is a wide receiver, he's going to need help to make plays. Two-year starting quarterback Kyle Aubuchon, all-district in his senior season, was the pulse of the Hebron offense, leading the team with 2,177 yards passing and 945 yards rushing. Now that he's gone, the key to Griffin's aerial success this year will be all-district tight end Joe Farley. The 6-2, 215-pound Farley was the back-up to Aubuchon last season; in limited snaps, Farley went 6 of 6 for 99 yards and a touchdown. He was a starting pitcher on Hebron's district-winning baseball team, and Brazil said that the confidence he gained from his other sport has been significant. Farley had a good spring, beating two other candidates to be the de facto No. 1 heading into the summer.
Who will be the playmakers on defense? Hebron's two all-district performers last season, two-year starters cornerback David Jenkins and inside linebacker Weston Holloway, are both gone; Jenkins signed with LSU and Holloway with West Texas A&M. That leaves a leadership vacuum in the Hebron defense. Brazil is hoping to find more two-year starters at inside linebacker, moving three juniors-to-be (two of them running backs) off the JV roster to fill the absence of Holloway and two-year starter Marc Mexia.
Notables: Exactly how crucial are returning starters for a team's success? Sometimes, it's irrelevant, Brazil said. He talked about his 2007 squad, which returned only one starter. "I felt pretty good about that team," he said, explaining that he had a good mix of JV players and varsity back-ups at nearly every position. Brazil's faith was well-founded; Hebron went 11-3 that season, losing to Abilene in the 5A Division II Region I final. As the smallest member of District 8-5A, which has four of the largest schools in the state (Allen, Plano, Plano West and Plano East), Hebron is at a little bit of a disadvantage numbers-wise, having half the number of students to pull from.
He said it: "It's hard to know what other teams are going to put out there, but we know whoever we play, it's going to be tough every week." -- coach Brian Brazil
Spring football game info: May 26, at The Woodshed, 7 p.m.
Season Opener: at Colleyville Heritage, 9-2
Full regular season schedule:
Sept. 2: at Colleyville Heritage at 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 9: vs. Mesquite Horn at 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 16: vs. Stephenville at 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 23: at Flower Mound* at 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 30: vs. Plano* at 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 7: at Lewisville* at 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 14: vs. Plano East* at 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 21: at Plano West* (Clark) at 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 28: vs. Allen* at 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 4: at Flower Mound Marcus* at 7:30 p.m.
(* denotes District 8-5A game)