WILLIS — If everything goes according to the plan of new Willis head coach Michael Wall, Wildkats offensive lineman King McGowen’s prophetic preseason words will ring true in 2018.
“Be ready for this year,” McGowen said during the first week of fall practice. “It’s not like last year. We finna put on a show.”
In mid-August, before Willis was even in full pads, the Wildkats were already running their new spread offense at a fast pace, just the way Wall wants it.
“We’re a hit-the-gas-pedal type of offense,” Wall said. “That’s what we want to do. We want to put as many (points) up on the board as we can. We run a hurry-up, no-huddle, multiple formation. You’re going to see a trick play every week and you’re going to see an exciting offense. Our kids, I think, like it because everybody has a chance to touch the ball.”
Wall comes from Lake Travis, where he was the offensive coordinator for the last four seasons. The former Tulsa quarterback was on the staff that beat The Woodlands for the title in 2016 and also won three state titles with the Cavaliers as a position coach in the late 2000s.
Willis was 2-7 last season and has not won an outright district championship since 2002. Wall hopes to turn the program into a perennial winner.
“I believe in setting goals high and attainable,” he said. “I think winning a state championship is high, very high, but somebody’s going to win it.”
In District 8-5A (Div. I), the Wildkats will face tough competition in 2018. The new district features a defending state champion, College Station, and a school expected to compete for a state title this season, Lufkin. The competition also includes Caney Creek, Magnolia, Magnolia West, Tomball and Waller.
“It’s new learning for me from everywhere,” Wall said. “I’ve never coached against these defensive coordinators or offensive coordinators. Part of that’s good, too, because they don’t know me. We’ve got our work cut out every week and we don’t take anyone lightly.”
As spring practice gave way to the summer and fall, the Wildkats were absorbing their new schemes — the fast-paced offense and a hybrid 4-3/4-2-5 defense.
Senior JerMichael Dickerson will be the signal caller for Willis. He’s happy to have the opportunity to share the ball with his teammates.
“I’ve really enjoyed it,” Dickerson said. “There’s not so much pressure on me and it’s getting other people exposure. I like it.”
Both Dickerson and McGowen, at quarterback and left tackle, figure to be leaders for the Wildkats in 2018. The seniors have liked the new energy and higher expectations brought by Wall and his staff.
“They’ve brought a winning passion, a winning spirit with them,” McGowen, an SMU commit, said. “We want to be here now and it’s feeling way better. It’s been great so far.”
Coming off of a 2-7 season and entering an even tougher district isn’t exactly the best recipe for success, but Wall is excited to the start the process of building Willis into a winner.
“It’s a work in progress for everybody,” Wall said. “We’re always learning - coaches are learning, I’m learning, the kids are learning. The energy’s been good and the want-to has been good. We’re always learning, always adjusting and trying to get a little better every day.”
2017: 2-7 (1-6 District 20-5A)
Head Coach: Michael Wall
Returning Starters: 4/4
Five Key Players (2017 stats)
JerMichael Dickerson, Sr., QB/ATH
King McGowen, Sr., LT
Davonte Nephew, Sr., ATH
Trevion Jones, Sr., WR/KR
Keenan Shedd, Sr., DT
Friday, Aug. 31, vs. Huntsville, 7:30 p.m., Berton A. Yates Stadium
Thursday, Sept. 6, at Lake Creek, 7 p.m., Montgomery ISD Stadium
Friday, Sept. 14, vs. New Caney, 7:30 p.m., Berton A. Yates Stadium
District 8-5A (Div. I)
Friday, Sept. 28, vs. Lufkin, 7:30 p.m., Berton A. Yates Stadium
Friday, Oct. 5, at Magnolia West, 7:30 p.m., Mustang Stadium
Friday, Oct. 12, at Magnolia, 7:30 p.m., Bulldog Stadium
Friday, Oct. 19, vs. Caney Creek, 7:30 p.m., Berton A. Yates Stadium
Friday, Oct. 26, at College Station, 7:30 p.m., Tiger Stadium
Friday, Nov. 2, vs. Waller, 7:30 p.m., Berton A. Yates Stadium
Friday, Nov. 9, vs. Tomball, 7:30 p.m., Berton A. Yates Stadium