By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports
The Indians are set to begin year two under head coach Todd Alexander and will do so with experience to boot following a 1-9 season that saw as many as six sophomores and three juniors start on the defensive side of the ball in 2018.
The Indians offense is also now under a new play-caller, as Zac Harrell departed to become the head football coach and athletic director at Athens High School. Harrell, an Ennis graduate and son of hall-of-fame coach Sam Harrell, was named one of Dave Campbell’s Texas Football’s 40-under-40 best young football coaches in the Lone Star State.
Justin Lozano will move from his role as the quarterbacks’ coach into the position as the offensive coordinator. Lozano is in his 14th year as a high school coach and second with Waxahachie. The Indians defensive unit is also now under the coordination of Matt Cochran following the departure of former DC Jeff Berry. Cochran
Leading that offense will be dual-sport athlete Campbell Sullivan, who has verbally committed to Division-I Dallas Baptist University to continue his baseball career.
Sullivan began the 2018 season in a rotation under center but transitioned to the outside as a wide receiver following injuries to himself and the receiving corps. He certainly has the arm and speed to be one of the top signal-callers in District 7-6A, especially with all-everything wide receiver Josh Stearns out wide.
Sullivan pulled in 25 passes for 308 yards and three touchdowns during an injury-plagued junior season. He also rushed 37 times for 173 yards and two touchdowns and completed 6-of-his-8 passes for 142 yards and two scores to no interceptions.
Stearns has several Division-I offers — including one from Houston Baptist University that will reunite him with his brother, Jerreth — and became a human highlight reel in 2018. He accounted for a team-best 39 receptions for 557 yards and seven touchdowns, while also rushing for 138 yards and one score on 27 carries.
DJ Hollywood, a senior quarterback, will back-up Sullivan to start the season after he tossed for 1,490 yards with 16 touchdowns to 10 interceptions on 108-of-204 passing (52.9 percent) in 2018.
Any offensive success will likely be dependent on the play of the Tribe’s offensive line, which will be without since-graduated LaDarius Henderson, who is a freshman offensive tackle at Arizona State University.
The defensive unit is led by a host of junior DBs — namely Preston Hodge, BJ Hawkins and Quincy Johnson — but will have to prove itself quickly. That group helps comprises the seven returners for the Tribe on the defensive side of the football. The Indians also return five starters on offense and 19 total lettermen.
Only Mansfield Summit (7 on offense, 6 on defense) returns more starters than Waxahachie or Cedar Hill (7 on offense, 5 on defense).
During 7-6A action, Waxahachie will have to contend with Dave Campbell’s Texas Football preseason all-state honoree Courtland Ford (OL) and Cedar Hill, which enters the season ranked No. 15 in the DCTF poll. Fellow district foes DeSoto (16), Mansfield Lake Ridge (40) and South Grand Prairie (47) are also ranked inside the DCTF 6A top-50.
One potential first-round matchup could also pit the Indians against District 8-6A front runner and state runner-up Duncanville, as well as DCTF preseason all-state players Ja’Quinden Jackson (ATH) and Chris Thompson (DB). The possibility of facing a perennial power like the Panthers makes it even more important for the Tribe to find a way into the third spot or better in 7-6A.
Dave Campbell’s Texas Football predicts District 7-6A to finish:
- Cedar Hill
- Mansfield Lake Ridge
- South Grand Prairie
- Mansfield Summit
- Grand Prairie
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith