Photo via Joseph Nguyen, TexasHSFootball.com

 

Denton Guyer was quickly added to the name-brand recognition tier of Texas High School Football when they won two state titles within ten years of opening their school. Their back-to-back runs included title victories over Northside Brennan in 2013 and Georgetown in 2012, two teams that are not to be trifled with.

With success comes more students, and with more students comes realignment, and with realignment comes a whole new host of challenges. Guyer is still at that top tier in Texas High School Football, but it’s fairly clear that the top tier has divisions too. The 2016 Guyer team was a perfect example of this phenomenon – they were excellent in just about every single way, but couldn’t find a way to translate that excellence into wins against traditional 6A powers.

Guyer thrashed just about every single team they met, outside of DeSoto, Allen, and Cedar Hill, and they lost to DeSoto and Allen by considerable margins. This was a season of “what could have been” for the Wildcats, as they watched former quarterback Shawn Robinson take a stupidly talented DeSoto team to new heights and a brand new shiny ring for the trophy case. Next year, Guyer will have a new bevy of challenges, as they find themselves once again down a phenomenal offensive skill player due to transfer.

Key Losses

RB Noah Cain, RB Myron Mason, TE Brian Polendy, DB Bryce Jackson, OLB Gio Williams

There’s certainly room for many more names here, Guyer loses a lot. This was a senior class that produced a lot of consistent starters, especially on the defensive side of the ball. I could have gone with Thabo Mwaniki here, the Wildcats will miss his hard hits and his presence on offense. I also could have gone with Baily Blackney, I truly think he’s one of the most underrated pass rushers in this class, and he’ll be a steal for whoever he signs with.

However, all of these young men were overshadowed by a decision, a decision that has become more and more commonplace for young, stud athletes these days: a transfer to IMG Academy, from sophomore stud Noah Cain.

Without Cain, Guyer will lose a metric ton of explosion. There are many running backs who are made by their offensive lines, who live by the ability to not be touched for the first five yards of their run. Noah Cain has the elusive ability to make his offensive line look better, at least at the high school level. Guyer’s running game was devastating in 2016. Losing Cain is a huge blow.

Key Returners

WR Donovan Greenhoward, QB Luke Stillwell, T John Lanz, DT Arian Bhat, SS DeRay Darthard

There isn’t any doubt about who’s calling the shots for this Guyer team: it’s Luke Stillwell. Having Stillwell back, along with a good chunk of that offensive line, will pay some serious dividends down the road for the Wildcats. Stillwell’s ability to run the read option gives him more than a small chance to succeed, if anything, it might just be Guyer’s biggest weapon heading into 2017. When he’s passing, he’ll be looking for Donovan Greenhoward, who can turn on the jets in the open field.

Ultimately, the success of this team will have to at least partially come from the defensive side of the ball. Guyer loses a lot of seniors there, but they’ll return Arian Bhat, the big man in the three-technique tackle spot, which should help ease the transition up front. Darthard will have to step up in a huge way in the secondary, as that might be the most depleted part of this Guyer team.

The Verdict

Guyer will come into 2017 with some expectations, because that’s the norm for name-brand teams in Texas High School Football. However, those expectations shouldn’t be too high, as they haven’t necessarily proved that they can beat those other big name-brand teams.

When you combine their 2016 success against good teams with what they’re losing, I think Guyer might have a bit of a down year in 2017. They won’t miss the playoffs, they won’t have a losing record, but the bar in Denton Guyer has been set so high that anything outside of at least a trip to the 4th round seems like a disappointing season. Guyer loses a lot, too much, and I think we’ll have to wait longer if we’re waiting for them to win another title.

 

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