In sports, the high of one season can quickly be replaced by the valley of a struggle.
Waltrip head coach Wayne Wheeler knows that all too well and is attempting to right the ship to help the school return to the postseason. In his first year leading the Rams after taking over for Todd Wright, Wheeler’s struggled to a 3-7 finish in 2018 on the heels of an 8-1 season – a natural byproduct of growing pains in a high-turnover sport.
“We were just young and inexperienced across the board last year,” Wheeler said, noting only four seniors played a significant role and two new coordinators were broken in. “But a lot of our kids got the experience and cut their teeth last year in a tough season and district. It’s not new to us anymore.”
Among the returners looking to lead the charge into 2019 is senior quarterback Jonah Brooks, who threw for 21 touchdowns and while pacing District 11-5A in passing yards.
“He’s starting to take command of the position,” Wheeler said. “He’s got the foundation for a great season and he’s starting to believe in himself.”
Aiding Brooks in that regard will be receiver Orvis Fowler, a 6-foot-2 senior who has gotten scholarship offers from Baylor and Texas Southern. He was a unanimous first-team all-district selection last season while leading 11-5A in yards, receptions and touchdown catches.
The biggest question marks are on the offensive front, according to Wheeler. Joel Rodriguez will move from offensive tackle to center, while the rest is a mix of unknowns fighting for notoriety.
“There were a few things we weren’t able to do last year that we’ve done in the past because of the inexperience,” Wheeler said. “You’ve got to be able to block up front to do anything you want to do. Having experience allows us to do more and get more creative.”
On the defensive side, senior Daelon Lewis, an outside receiver the last two years, will be playing some outside linebacker this year, while Randy Campos will move from defensive end to inside linebacker.
“When the ball is snapped, he flies to it,” Wheeler said of Campos. “Having that kind of energy is always a boost for any team. Then, having that threat (like Fowler), a quarterback with confidence and a way to shore up the middle of our line gives us a fighting chance.”
Waltrip kicks off its season with a home tilt against Bridgeland on Aug. 29.