Fans got their first taste of the 2018 Wildcat football team Friday—well, at least the Air Canadian squad.
Quarterback Casen Cavalier led his squadron of receivers to Dumas for a seven-on-seven tournament hosted by the Demons. For the first time in two years, the Wildcats were without star outside receivers Kelton King and Matthew Lynch, the latter of which was spotted on the sideline, coaching his former teammates.
The transition was rough as the Wildcats opened the tournament with a loss to West Texas Stinnett. Canadian struggled to move the ball under tight coverage and physical defense by the Comanches.
“It was an eye-opener,” said Cavalier. “We can’t underestimate anyone, no matter who we’re playing. We just didn’t play as well as we should have.”
Despite the shortcomings on the scoreboard, there were some bright spots for the new-look Wildcats—including a diving catch by sophomore Twister Kelton, an uncontested deep touchdown for senior Trent Evans, and an end-zone interception by junior Jack Koetting.
“We had quite a few young kids come with us like Gary Anderson, Twister Kelton, Reagan Cochran, and Hayze Hufstedler,” said Cavalier. “All of them did a great job. I can’t remember too many times where Twister wasn’t open. Reagan’s going to be a pretty good defender. Gary played some pretty good corner when Garrison came out. Hayze is really fast, and he’s a good running back. We’ve got good talent coming up.”
The Wildcats second game ended up being a big win over 4A Dalhart.
“That game was a lot of fun,” said Cavalier. “Winning’s always fun. We threw for a lot of yards that game.”
Canadian wrapped up the tournament with a loss to 6A Tascosa.
“We could have competed with Tascosa a lot better than we did,” said Cavalier, “But there were several throws that I just didn’t make.”
Wildcat fans shouldn’t worry though. Seven-on-seven drills are just a small part of the football puzzle with the Wildcats missing key facets of their game, including a strong running game, physical lines, and a cunning defensive scheme.
“Coach Koetting always says that you can’t take seven-on-seven, do really well, and think you’re going to do really well in football,” said Cavalier, “or play really bad and do really bad in football. It’s a whole different thing when you put shoulder pads on and actually have people trying to tear your head off.”
Nobody does that better than the Wildcats who held opponents to 153 yards per game last season.
Fans can expect the Wildcats to be no less powerful and quick in 2018 as summer workouts, now in week three, have averaged anywhere between 45-60 athletes per session. Cavalier expects those numbers to taper as families leave for vacation, but the Wildcats will return in time for their July 9-10 team camp, The System, at West Texas High School, in Stinnett.
Photos by Peyton Aufill
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