Midland Lee Working To Return To Upper Tier In West Texas

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Photo by James Durbin/ Midland Reporter-Telegram

In the 80s and 90s, Midland Lee was a prominent program both in West Texas and the state as a whole. Move ahead to the 2010s and the Rebels haven’t been able to find that same success, only making the playoffs once in the last seven seasons.

Last season, the Rebels had a new head coach in Clint Hartman after James Morton left for the Eastland job. Midland Lee only finished 3-7 this season, but they were in playoff contention before a loss to Wolfforth Frenship in their second to last game of the year. Hartman told the Midland Reporter-Telegram that his team “fought their tails off”, particularly the seniors.

As the Rebels get set for 2017, they’ll have to replace some key weapons, but Hartman is maintaining a positive attitude about the direction of his team.

Key Losses

QB Sema’J Davis, WR/S Taye Britt, LB Dustin Hunt

In that aforementioned senior class, Hartman will have to find a replacement for his quarterback Sema’J Davis. The dual-threat quarterback made his mark on the football field for the Rebels, finishing with 2,700 yards and 26 total touchdowns. His ability kept Midland Lee in a lot of games and the quarterback for next year will have some big shoes to fill.

Taye Britt started out at receiver with a bang this past season, finishing with over 200 yards receiving and took back the opening kickoff of the season for a touchdown against El Paso Coronado. Per Will Korn, Britt moved over to the defensive side of the ball after injuries depleted the Rebels. His versatility made him a great player to watch and a tough cover for everybody else.

Dustin Hunt was one of the team captains this past season and was a member of the District 2-6A second team. The outside linebacker missed some time with injuries but his leadership was always present on the field and as Hartman praised how much Hunt and the rest of the seniors have meant to the program.

Key Returners

RB Josh Traylor, WR Grant Brown, WR Colby Standard, DL Isaiah Nunez, LB Kougar Rodriguez

One of the breakout stars for the Rebels in 2016 was rising junior running back Josh Traylor. Along with Davis, Traylor provided a spark in the backfield, rushing for 1,087 yards and eight touchdowns. Regardless of who is under center for Midland Lee next year, look for Traylor to carry the Rebels and be a focal point of the offense next season.

With Taye Britt moving on, the next leading receivers Brown and Standard will be called upon more to provide a complementary passing game to Midland Lee’s run first offense. They got a small taste of that after Britt moved over to defense but they’ll be called upon more so next year.

On defense, the Rebels will have their two leading tacklers back in linebacker Kougar Rodriguez and defensive lineman Isaiah Nunez. Rodriguez led the team with 58 tackles last season, recovering two fumbles and grabbing an interception.

Nunez was right behind him with 55 tackles but led the team with 10 tackles for loss. Those two will have to provide stability for the front seven and make plays to lead the Midland Lee defense. If they do that, the Rebels have a chance to improve next year.

Verdict

The Rebels are in a challenging district with Midland High, Amarillo Tascosa, Wolfforth Frenship, and San Angelo Central all returning some talent. Arch rival Odessa Permian should also be healthy and ready to go for 2017. Another year under Clint Hartman should see some improvement for the Rebels and they’ll be in it for a playoff spot like last year, but it’s going to be tough to break through in District 2-6A.

 

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