By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports
Write it in stone: The Midlothian Heritage Jaguars will be in the postseason.
The 2020 Midlothian Heritage Jaguars will look to build on a program-best 2019 playoff run under a new offensive coordinator and without one of the state’s top wide receivers.
Heritage will, however, return quite a bit — including 11 starters — from last year’s squad that finished with a 9-5 overall record after bowing out to perennial power Carthage in the fourth round of the 4A Division I playoffs. The Bulldogs went on to win the 4A Division I state championship — their seventh in program history.
As for the Jaguars, the fourth-round appearance marked the deepest postseason run in the program’s short history. If there are any hopes of a repeat performance this season, Heritage will have to quickly learn to move the football without the services of all-everything wide receiver Jay Wilkerson (1,262 rec yds, 27 total TDs) and quarterback Cade Sumbler (2,582 passing yds, 513 rushing yds, 38 total TDs).
The Jaguars will also be without Konner Jones-Searcy, the 2019 KBEC Sports All-Ellis County Defensive Player of the Year. Searcy recorded 146 total tackles with three fumble recoveries while captaining the Jaguars’ defense last season. He will continue his football carer at Midwestern State University, while Wilkerson is at Washington State University and Sumbler plans to play baseball at Oklahoma State University.
Rest assured, though: Head coach Lee Wiginton will have plenty of talent at his disposal in 2020.
“We are very excited to have this opportunity to play the game we love,” Wiginton said. “We are challenging ourselves to cherish every second of this season, build lasting relationships, and set the bar higher.”
Wiginton enters the season with a 43-10 record at Heritage and 140-82 overall.
The Jaguars’ coaching will likely lean on their returning backfield talent and experience on the defensive side of the ball for success in 2020. They also enter ranked No. 12 in Class 4A Division I, according to Dave Campbell’s Texas Football.
Noah Gray, a 2019 KBEC Sports All-Ellis County second-team recipient, will spearhead the Jaguars defense following his 135 total tackles and eight tackle-for-loss during his junior campaign. He’ll be joined by Greg Johnson (73 tot tkls, 2 INT), Scott Ellis (48 tot tkls, 3.5 sacks, 7 TFL) and Travis Buckley (51 tot tkls, 3.0 sacks, 9 TFL).
Heritage faithful should also keep an eye on sophomores Damian Alexander (6-2, 220lbs, DE), Sir Luke Tante (6-1, 230lbs, DT) and Kaden Brown (6-1, 165lbs, safety).
On the offensive side of the football, the Jaguars return key backfield pieces in Latray Miller (844 rushing yds, 7 TDs) and Cullen Stone (843 rushing yds, 232 rec yds, 21 total TDs). The two currently carry offers from Ohio Northern and East Texas Baptist University, respectively.
Haydon Wiginton will also look to fill a portion of the void outside left by Wilkerson. The senior wide receiver caught 52 passes for 786 yards and seven touchdowns in 2019 and currently holds an offer from Southwestern Assemblies of God University.
It should also be noted that the Jaguars’ offense will be under a new offensive coordinator after Cooper Crowell departed in late April to become the head football coach North Lamar High School. Heritage has since added Brock Rumfield and Austin Skinner to its offensive coaching staff.
DISTRICT AND BEYOND
The Jaguars 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