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The Willis Wildkats could have been called the Cardiac Kats in 2016 for their propensity of playing games until the last minute.

Willis won three of its last four games late, clinching the fourth playoff spot from District 20-4A in the process. There was a 44-41 win at Tomball Memorial, a 50-43 win over Brenham, a10-7 loss to district champion Magnolia and 17-14 win at Waller.

The win over Memorial gave Willis the edge for the final playoff spot.

The Wildkats then got mauled by the Timberwolves of Cedar Park, 49-14, in the Class 5A bi-district round.

So how close were the offense and defense last year in those tight games? Willis scored 274 points on the season while allowing 271. The purple and white finished the year with a 7-4 record, including a 4-3 mark in district.

Coach Audie Jackson’s program has made the playoffs two straight years after missing it each of the previous three.

Key Losses

LB Jonathan Jones, LB Tavion Brooks, OL Jimmy White

The Wildkats lose some beef on the offensive line in the departures of Jimmy White (6-2, 300) and Ben Bankston (6-1, 270).

Jonathan Jones and Tavion Brooks — both first-team players in all-district — were the quarterbacks of the stingy defense from their positions.

Key Returners

QB Ty Bachmann, ATH JerMichael Dickerson, DE Bralyn Richardson, DB Jarrod McHenry

Bachmann returns as signal-caller after having a year under his belt. Dickerson, the district’s newcomer of the year as a sophomore last fall, does everything. He’s lined up at quarterback, running back and receiver. He’d probably fill the water bucket and drive the bus if coach Jackson would let him. Richardson and McHenry will help bolster the defense although both are youngsters.

Kick return specialist Maik Johnson was named special teams first-team all-district last year as a freshman.

The Verdict

There’s a festive atmosphere at Berton A. Yates Stadium on Friday nights in Willis. It’s always tough to play there, and having the student section on the track near one end zone can make it especially tough on opponents.

The Wildkats will have some firepower returning on offense and a bend-but-don’t-break defense. They should be able to score just more than they allow. But that’s how you win games, right?

The non-district schedule includes MacArthur, Houston King and Huffman Hargrave. After a bye week, District 20-4A starts Sept. 29 at Tomball. The Huntsville Hornets come to Willis on Oct. 6, and then the Wildkats begin last year’s crazy stretch with Magnolia West, Memorial, Brenham, Magnolia and Waller.

Willis has what it takes to make a third straight playoffs, and now it’s just a matter of execution.


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