By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports
Life Waxahachie will deploy an entirely new offensive playbook in 2020 following a change in head coach during the offseason.
Micah Stanley, formerly the Mustangs’ offensive coordinator, replaced Heath Blalock as the Life Waxahachie head football coach in December. He will bring with him a more spread offense, leaving the flexbone in 2019.
Blalock had served as the head coach of the Mustangs since 2014, compiling a 34-30 record with four playoff appearances in 2014, ’16, ’17 and ’19. Stanley has been with the Mustangs for the past six seasons, including the last four as the offensive coordinator.
Stanley has since added Josh Pulattie and Brandon Blanchard to serve as the offensive and defensive coordinator, respectively.
“We are going to be a team trying to prove ourselves in the toughest district in Class 4A Division 1,” said Stanley of District 5-4A Division I. “We believe we have a good team with a lot of talented athletes, and if we can put that together and gel as a team, then we believe we can have a successful season.”
The Mustangs finished 2019 with a 7-4 overall record, which ended with 50-20 loss against (7-5) Palestine in the 4A Division II bi-district round.
Life Waxahachie returns 11 starters from last season’s team, but only 14 varsity lettermen in total.
The Mustangs graduated SirMichael Veasley, a 2019 KBEC Sports All-Ellis County first-team selection, Gage Mayfield, Jonah Lacross (OT), Trenton James (OLB) and Robert Williams (CB).
Veasley accounted for 1,382 rushing yards and 23 total touchdowns, while Mayfield recorded 913 passing yards, 959 rushing yards, 371 receiving yards and 24 total touchdowns. James led the Mustang defense with 91 total tackles (3 INTs) and Williams grabbed a team-best five interceptions (10 pass-deflections).
Life Waxahachie does return seven defensive starters, headlined by safety Jalen Mann, who recorded 53 total tackles, one interception and four pass deflections in 2019.
Defensive tackles Anthony Barnes (27 tot tkls, 3 TFL) and Xavier Gipson (30 tot tkls, 3 sacks) also return for the Mustang defense.
Chris Gillespie (13 rec, 355yds, TD) and Kendal Barnes (6 rec, 132yds, TD) will certainly help spread out the new-look Mustang offense.
Mustang followers should also keep their eyes on a pair of sophomores, Jonah Neal (OT) and Sevin Butler (OLB), and freshman athlete Kaden Mayfield. If Kaden can grow into the type of all-around athlete and competitor that his older brother, Gage, was for the Mustangs, the program will be in good hands.
DISTRICT AND BEYOND
The Mustangs will face quite the task, week in and week out, once District 5-4A play begins — especially with Waco La Vega. The team at DCTF has already penciled in La Vega to win its second state title in three years, having just missed the opportunity to win back-to-back state championships in 2019.
We have no reason to disagree with that assumption. As for the final district standings, it’ll be tight with any one of the remaining five teams every bit capable of filling in the final three playoff spots.
Dave Campbell’s Texas Football predicts District 5-4A Division I to finish:
1. Waco La Vega
3. Midlothian Heritage
6. Life Waxahachie
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith