Kyle Cooper is excited for the season to begin.
The Gatesville head coach is not sure if he will feel the same way, however, when he completes his district schedule.
During realignment, the Hornets were plucked from Waco-based District 19-3A and inserted into Central Texas’ 8-3A. Not only does the move entail an overall change in offensive philosophy from a collection of spread-based teams to a more ground-oriented style, but the championship pedigrees remain rich.
“I don’t know if it is out of the frying pan and into the fire or vice versa,” Cooper said. “Obviously, the district we are going into has a very storied history. When you talk about Brownwood, there is none bigger as far as the state of Texas and high school football.”
But tough competition is something the Hornets have grown accustomed.
Excluding its own state championship in 2000, Gatesville’s old district was comprised of two former state champions — China Spring and Lorena — and was responsible for sending three teams to a state title game since 2006.
Despite coming off a disappointing 2011 season, the Hornets believe they are prepared to produce the program’s second state title.
“We’ve dreamed of a state championship since we were in the seventh grade,” quarterback Cole Edmiston said. “I seriously think we have the potential to do it, and I believe everybody else on this team thinks that too, and when everybody believes that, good things will happen.”
Highlighted by Edmiston, who accumulated more than 1,000 passing yards and almost 700 rushing yards along with 18 touchdowns last year, a total of 13 starters return, allowing the Hornets to simply pick up right where they left off.
“We have 30 seniors on the team this year, and we’ve been together for so long it just comes natural,” offensive lineman Trevor Barton said.
Gatesville was just 1-4 in district, finishing the season with a 4-6 overall record.
“It left a bitter taste, obviously,” defensive back and receiver JD Nolte said. “I really want to do something this year. It has really sparked a fire in me.”
Along with Nolte, senior linebacker Elijah Crosby will spearhead the defense as it adjusts to stopping the run-based attacks commonly found in District 25-3A.
“We have to work on tackling and getting off the blocks,” Nolte said.
Offensively, the team is looking to develop into a balanced unit capable of using a strong rushing game behind Edmiston and junior running back Jake Kee or a pinpoint aerial attack with receivers Tyler Jaynes, Danny Byrd, Colton Williams, Matt Wallace and Nolte to chip away at defenses.
“Playing 7-on-7 together helps a lot with the (timing between the) receiving corps and the quarterback, and we’ve been doing some really good things lately,” Byrd said.