Sometimes, it’s just about finding a way to get yourself in the playoffs. That was the story of the Lake Highlands Wildcats in 2016 as they secured the final playoff spot out of District 9-6A. They finished 3-8 overall; more importantly, they finished 3-4 in district play and beat the team they ended up tying for fourth with in Richardson Berkner.
The Wildcats do play a tough schedule again in 2017 and the question is, do they have enough to break through and snag another playoff spot in a tough District 9-6A at the top?
RB Jordan Sutton, WR Drew Delaney, S Davion Nolen, DT Arthur Anderson
While it was a relatively young team on offense, the Wildcats do have to replace their leading rusher in Jordan Sutton. Sutton was a big time producer in 2016, rushing for 1,425 yards and 17 touchdowns. When breaking in a sophomore quarterback, you need talent around him to give him a chance to develop and that’s what Sutton was in 2016.
As for the receiving core, Drew Delaney is also gone from the Wildcats in 2017. Delaney’s stats may not be eye-popping (31 catches, 323 yards, 2 TD), but having a number of multiple targets is crucial for a young quarterback and Delaney was that for head coach Lonnie Jordan.
Nolen and Anderson were key members of the secondary and defensive line respectively. They were both first team All-District selections in 2016 and the two key members will have to be replaced.
QB Jakson Thomson, RB Corey Fulcher, WR Zyrion White, LB Terrance Clark
Starting quarterback Jakson Thomson will have a full year of starting experience under his belt. He finished his sophomore season throwing for 1,364 yards and eight touchdowns. He should feel more comfortable in Lonnie Jordan’s system and he will be a major key for the Wildcats in 2017.
What helped Thomson in his development was having Jordan Sutton in the backfield and he’ll have another good running back in Corey Fulcher taking on the full-time load in 2017. Fulcher did a good job spelling Sutton last season (527 rushing yards, 7 TDs) but he also became a favorite target in the passing game for Thomson (29 catches, 293 yards). He’ll be another crucial cog in the Wildcats’ offense.
Finally, Zyrion White might see his numbers go up as well. The leading receiver for the Wildcats made big plays in the passing game (25 catches, 525 yards, 5 TD) and will be expected to be a top target again next year.
On defense, linebacker Terrance Clark returns after being named first team All-District in 2016. If the Wildcats want to get back to the postseason, he’ll be a big part of that challenge on defense.
This is a Wildcats team that were a better team than their record indicated. They did lose a number of close games early but were able to find enough to get that last playoff spot. Getting back to the playoffs will definitely be a challenge with Coppell, Dallas Jesuit, and Dallas Skyline all at the top of the district. That said, this is a team that will be right there in the mix for the postseason.
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