Junior High football ready for success
By LAUREN JETTE
While the Liberty Hill Panthers have been hard at work preparing for their upcoming football season, junior high players will soon take to the field to start laying the foundation for the future of Panther football.
Junior high players will learn the same offense and defense the high school runs, said junior high coordinator Tommy Foster.
“We run the basic offense and defense that the high school runs exactly,” Foster said. “Same rules, same routines, which is probably why we’re so successful (overall) as a program.”
Foster is no stranger to this style, having been a player and then a coach under head coach Jerry Vance.
“I learn new stuff everyday, but I think I’ve got a pretty good grasp on it,” he said.
“We try to keep it simple for our guys. It’s definitely complex for someone coming from a different offense or defense, but our kids do a real good job buying in to it. The talent has bought in to this system, so the kids are excited and they want to learn and we do the best we can to teach them.”
Players will get an idea of what high school practices feel like once they get started.
“We put them through a pretty tough practice once we get in the pads,” Foster said. “We do the same drills as the high school does. We have the five coaches break the kids into different groups that they either try-out for or we think they’re best at and we just try and develop athletes at that position.”
The junior high coaches understand that what they do with these players lays the groundwork for the future of Panther football, Foster said.
“I do the secondary, I do the same drills that Coach (Danny) Duncan does,” Foster said. “Mine are more simple, I don’t get into as much depth as he does, but I try to give them that base and that’s what every single one of our junior high coaches does for their position.
“They give them those basic drills to make them successful, so that we get together as a team and we play as one unit, instead of playing as individuals and that’s really the Liberty Hill way.”
The expectations for the junior high teams are no different from the expectations for the high school teams.
“District championships, always,” Foster said. “That’s what we strive for, but we take it one game at a time, try and run the system the way it’s supposed to be run, make sure all of our kids get playing time, and of course we want to win every game. At the end of the season, we want to call ourselves district champions.”
Teams will open the season on Sept. 10 against Brownwood and will play Marble Falls and Burnet before enjoying an open week before district starts.
District games include Borne, Canyon Lake and Fredericksburg. Since there are only three teams in the district, the Panthers will play two games against Fredericksburg and Canyon Lake, Foster explained.
As always, the start of the football season is an exciting time, no matter what level of play.
“It’s always so exciting getting a new batch of kids,” Foster said. “They grow so much from seventh to eighth grade. They get so much better and so much more confident. A lot of them do the summer PAC, so they get bigger, faster and stronger, so it’s always a lot of fun to see how we’ve developed and see what we can do.”
Foster will coach the eighth grade defense while Coach Josh Curtis will handle the offense this year.
Coach Danny Knowles will guide the seventh grade offense and Coach John Mason will lead the defense. Coach Andy Passwater will help out where needed, Foster said.