Midland High Had A Fantastic 2016, Now To Keep Up The Momentum

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Photo via James Durbin, Midland Reporter-Telegram

 

Editor’s Note: This was written before the retirement of Craig Yenzer, Midland High’s head coach. They will be hiring a new coach shortly. (12-16-17)

A 9-3 season isn’t exactly what many top schools around the state would call an amazing season. However, with most things, we have to take things into context, and we should do so with the Midland Bulldogs. Let’s take these things into account when we’re looking forward to 2017:

  1. Their only regular season losses were to DeSoto and San Angelo Central, two extremely good teams.
  2. Their playoff loss was by a mere 7 points to Arlington Bowie, which is a pretty good team in their own right.
  3. They were 20 points away from winning their first outright district title since 1951.
  4. Quarterback Jackson Anuszkiewicz set Midland High single-season records.
  5. They were never really out of any of their games, and the eventual state champions (DeSoto) needed a two minute drill drive to beat them.

All of these things are really good, and I mean really good, especially for a team that doesn’t have as big of a trophy case as crosstown foe Midland Lee or historical titan Odessa Permian.

Now, head coach Craig Yenzer and the Bulldogs will get a chance to reload, as many of the teams in district are losing impactful senior starters, San Angelo Central being the biggest of note.

KEY LOSSES

DE Dillon Springer, RB Ricky Hubert, QB Jackson Anuszkiewicz

Losing Anuszkiewicz will hurt, he’s a consistent guy who delivered the rock to all of Midland’s playmakers efficiently.

Springer might be the biggest loss on the entire team. The senior played the game with a nasty streak, a mindset that gave the Bulldog team some toughness in closer games.

Ricky Hubert was a do-everything guy for Midland. If you’re a unanimous First-Team All District pick, it’s pretty clear what you can do on the field.

KEY RETURNERS

CB Jacoby Thornton, LB Smith Essman

If Midland is going to be the same force it was, it’ll have to rely on its defense more next year. They return Essman (2016’s second leading tackler) and Jacoby Thornton, a ballhawk who now has experience playing against the highest competition.

It’s not a question of “does Midland return talent?”, they do, just not a lot of it. The Bulldogs are losing a whopping 51 seniors heading into the 2017 system.

THE VERDICT

There’s a lot to like with Midland. They completely revamped their offense last offseason, and it paid huge dividends. Now we see which was more important to their 2016 success: the dearth of seniors on that team, or Yenzer’s revamped scheme. This isn’t meant to diminish what these seniors or Yenzer did this year, merely an observation that the 2017 team will be different, perhaps lightyears different than 2016.

I don’t think we can completely factor out the impact that 51 seniors have on a football team. Midland won’t exactly struggle with the have-nots of the district, but they’ll likely be picked by most to lose to a rebuilding San Angelo Central team and a Odessa Permian team that’s returning an absolutely stupid amount of players.

Midland will be good. But losing that many seniors plus other teams in district with more returners could spell tougher times for the Bulldogs in 2017.

 

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