SALADO — Having called two-time defending state champion Cameron Yoe its district mate the past two seasons, Salado is no stranger to a stiff schedule on the gridiron.
But head coach Brent Graham admitted that jumping up a classification, as the Eagles will do next season, presents a different obstacle than competing in one of the toughest 2A districts in the state.
“Moving up a classification is definitely going to be a huge challenge for us,” Graham said.
Salado is already back to work this offseason as it prepares to compete in District 11-4A, Division II next season.
The district will include Caldwell, Giddings, La Grange and Smithville, all of which competed in Class 3A the past two years.
But Salado feels up to the task after
facing 3A competition in nondistrict last season and taking on a rugged district schedule.
“I think that it’s helped get to where we need to be today and knowing the level of competition we need to play,” Graham said.
One aspect the Eagles know they must improve is on defense.
In nine losses last year, the Eagles allowed an average of 47.4 points per game.
They know that can’t continue if they hope to improve on their 1-9 finish.
“Even though offenses are prolific and everybody scores points, I think it still comes down to playing defense,” Graham said. “Last year, we could hang points on people, but we couldn’t slow people down.
“So, this year, we’ve got to change that. So that’s what we’re looking forward to.”
The Eagles also are trying to make progress without spring football.
While its time is limited, Salado is doing everything in its power to make sure it is bigger, faster and stronger by the time it steps up in classification.
“You’ve got to be very organized with your athletic period and get everything you can out of every single second. Our kids know that,” Graham said. “We’re constantly in transition. We’re flying around and we’re trying to maximize our efforts there. So that part of it’s been good.”
In the end, the Eagles are not only excited for the chance to improve heading into next season but also to tackle the challenge that a step up in classification will present.
And knowing what lies ahead of them has the Eagles eager to take advantage of every opportunity to improve this offseason.
“The expectation has been set. I think that the bar is raised. It’s time for us to get it on in the fall, and I think we know that right now is the time,” Graham said.
“Every day we’re depositing something. So we’re trying to put as much in the bank as we can right now.”