In its scrimmage at Leo Buckley Stadium on Friday, Harker Heights lined up across from a New Braunfels Canyon team that had practiced all of nine times under first-year head coach Joe Moczygemba after former head coach Matt Elliott resigned July 21.
As extenuating as the circumstances were for Canyon, Heights was familiar with what the Cougars were experiencing — that was Heights last year.
Now, however, after its first full offseason under second-year head coach Jerry Edwards, the Knights are settled as a team and ready to prove that they are better than the 2-8 record they finished with last season.
“It’s completely different,” senior quarterback Troy Smith said. “This is an entirely new ball game.
“What I thought in my mind of Harker Heights football from last year to this year is on a so much different level than last year. We’re actually a real, complete team. Everybody on the team loves each other.”
The Knights have looked improved on the field also, most recently outscoring Canyon 14-0 in the live portion of the scrimmage Friday. The Knights also scored the lone touchdown between the teams in the controlled portion of the scrimmage.
Defensively, Heights didn’t allow the Cougars to cross midfield in the live portion of the scrimmage.
And yet the Knights feel they can be better.
“We were far from perfect today,” senior running back Josh Ellis said.
Not only that, but the offense was effective with Smith, one of the best rushing quarterbacks in District 12-6A, prohibited from running by the Heights coaching staff.
Because of that, the Knights believe that Friday was just the tip of the iceberg.
“This is just the foundation,” Ellis said.
Yet Heights continues to buy in off the field as well, which is where the shift first started the Monday after a season-ending loss to Copperas Cove last year.
And the Knights haven’t abandoned that mentality the entire offseason.
“Nobody’s late. Everybody is a part of this,” Smith said. “Everybody’s on board with what we’re trying to get done.”
So while Heights saw a bit of itself when it stared across the line at Canyon on Friday, the Knights were also able to see how far they’ve come since this time last year.
And they believe the results on the field will be different this fall as well.
“It’s a new culture,” Ellis said. “We’re not the same Heights everybody is used to seeing.”
Now, it is finally time for the Knights to prove it.