Abilene Wylie Hopes To Ride Defense Back To State Title Game

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Photo via Kristen Taylor, TexasHSFootball.com

 
The current batch of juniors and seniors at Abilene Wylie got a taste of Jerry World and the state title game experience last year. The Bulldogs clawed their way to the championship game in 2016, only to see it come to an end at the hands of Carthage.

And in 2017, if the Wylie defense has anything to say about it, there could be a rematch. But a lot of things would have to happen in all the 4A Division I brackets.

Wylie went 12-2 last season, losing its only regular-season game in non-district to a Lubbock Monterey team that went three rounds deep in the 5A playoffs. Though offense was the catalyst to a Wylie team that posted 44 points a game, the defense returns key players from a unit that allowed only 14.3 a game.

The Bulldogs have made the playoffs every year since the 1994 season — 23 seasons in a row. With only a five-team district, making it 24 in a row shouldn’t be a problem. The run to its second state title in history will then lie in the hands of a defense, which will have its hands full in the Region I bracket.

Key Losses
RB Brooks Pepper, QB Zach Smith, LB Braydon Ward

Pepper was the District 3-4A DI Player of the Year while Zach Smith was the Offensive MVP. Smith was one of the leaders of the tenacious Bulldog defense.

Key Returners
DT Ryan Hamar, TB/WR Cason Grant, LB Anthony Guerrero

Hamar (6-3, 220) has good size for a defensive lineman, and the fact he also plays tight end shows he has speed to get around the block or off the edge on a good offensive tackle. Guerrero is a good-looking linebacker at 6-2, 210, and he’ll be joined at the backer spot by Josh Goodnature.

The Verdict
Wylie has a peculiar schedule with two open dates — one the week before district and another the week before the season finale. Sometimes that happens in five-team districts.

The Bulldogs open the season with home games against Vernon and Monterey before three straight road games at Vernon, Argyle and Brownfield. The Argyle game is significant as the two missed their game last year, and Wylie beat Argyle out of the playoffs. The Sept. 22 game will be Argyle’s home opener.

Wylie opens district Oct. 13 against Brownwood, travels to Big Spring, gets Snyder at home and travels to Stephenville.

It’s not really a question if Wylie will be back in the playoffs, the question will be its opponent. Region I in 4A DI has become as competitive as any other region, even those pesky East Texas regions.

Possible teams in the path could include Pampa, Levelland, Andrews, Brownwood, Argyle and Decatur. Should they make it to the state semifinal, a hungry and angry Kennedale team could be waiting for revenge.

Wylie will once again be salty and they should be the proverbial team to beat in Region I.

 

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