As the Pirates enter the second week of spring ball, head coach Bill Howard said he is “highly encouraged” by what he has seen so far.
Coaches are taking a slightly different approach to season preparation than they have in years past with the introduction of “crossover” training.
Players spend most of each practice sharpening skills in their primary position, but then add in prep time for a second position as well. For the most part, it’s just the logical move to other side of the ball. Linemen switch sides, linebackers turn into tailbacks, receivers step into the secondary, and vice versa.
Howard said, “When somebody does get hurt, or does get tired, or you need to rotate, your skill level doesn’t drop off as far. Building depth is important for a tough district and a long season, especially going into the playoffs.”
While the goal may be to build depth at all positions, there are subsidiary benefits.
“Offensive players get a better understanding of defense; defense gets a better understanding of offense. It gives the kids a good idea of what both sides are going through. I hope it’s making us a better team,” said Howard.
Preston Burnett, a junior who started in the secondary last fall, said the crossover training helps him identify with what his opponent is thinking, and he said it actually makes him a better player in his primary position.
In the end, Howard said, “We have a lot of kids who are going to be able to help us on both sides of the ball which gives us a lot more depth. I think we are going to be able to come out with 22 starters who don’t have to play both sides of the ball, but most of the backups will be playing both sides of the ball.”
Pictured: Ashlyn Pair, Emily Aldous
Wylie plays Frisco Wakeland in a regional quarterfinal match, at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 12, at McKinney Boyd HS. Tickets are $3 students; $5 adults.
Pictured: Pitcher Meagan Richardson
Wylie clipped Dallas Molina 15-0 in five innings in Friday's single game playoff. Serena Saldivar smacked a home run; Mary Stephens recorded a double. Meagan Richardson was the winning pitcher.
The Lady Pirates will meet Frisco Wakeland in the regional quarterfinals. The one-game playoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 11, at Lovejoy. Wylie will be visitors.
Tickets are $3 students, $5 adults.
In other playoff action, Rockwall walloped Seagoville 21-0, and McKinney defeated Hillcrest 17-0, 13-0 in a best-of-three series. Rockwall and McKinney will face off in the next round.
Pictured: Laurent Njiki, started all 10 games on o-line last fall
The Pirates return six starters on the offensive side of the ball, plus 10 others with varsity experience.
It starts up front with Laurent Njiki. The big offensive lineman, who will be a junior this fall, started every game on the left side in 2011. There will be some big shoes to fill on that line with multiple players moving into the college ranks, but a promising group of candidates are already lining up to grab a spot.
A receiving corps that returns five experienced athletes should be an area of strength. Freddy Gibbs, Alex Pina-Rhoden and Alex Wesley all started multiple games for the Pirates last season. Gibbs will be in his third year as a starter. All three have good height with long arms and good hands. Also in the good-hands category is Kalen Winkler, who had his share of minutes at receiver, while also serving as a solid punter and the holder on PATs. Throw in Leland Dotson who had significant reps at receiver as well.
Kameron Kelly, who enters his junior year in the fall, stepped in at quarterback for the Pirates last five games of 2011. Having come up from JV Black in his initial varsity appearance, Kelly led the Pirates to a near upset of Highland Park. Jacob Polvado will compete with Kelly for the starting role. In any case, both athletes will have a place on the Friday night grass.
Tailback Gary Bailey was used primarily as a second back last season but did get a share of starts at the position. He will compete for minutes with a very athletic group of newcomers.
Additional reports will be forthcoming as spring football progresses and things start to shake out for the fall roster assignments. Check back daily for the latest Pirates football news.
The Pirates defense returns six starters from the 2011 squad
Pictured: K.J. Rausaw works against an opposing o-linemen last fall
The Pirates will return six defensive starters from the 2011 squad.
Most of that experience is bundled in the secondary with Preston Burnett, Joseph Ewing, Jarell Brown and T’Kevian Rockwell coming into 2012 with significant varsity exposure. Three starters are lost to graduation, but because of the way the unit rotated players in and out during games last fall, there was plenty of time on the grass for the entire unit.
The defensive line will build around K.J. Rausaw who will earn his third varsity letter. Israel Acuay, who saw limited varsity action last season, could be a bright spot in the rebuilding process.
Returning starter Keith Lilly is the lone remainder among a linebacker corps that graduated three multi-year starters. Zach Myers, a returning letterman, gathered some Friday night experience last year as well.
Check back tomorrow for information on returning players on offense.
Spring Football is now underway. UIL allows Class 4A and 5A schools to conduct 18 practices over a period of 30 consecutive days in the spring. Visit this site regularly to get the scoop on how the Pirates are coming together and getting ready to make a run at the playoffs in 2012.
UIL has released the wrestling realignments for 2012-13.
Wylie dives into District 9 with just a couple of familiar foes in the new mix. With this realignment comes a major shift in UIL policy. In the past, Classes 4A and 5A have been lumped together into geographic bundles; however, with this new alignment comes a split between classifications.
That means Wylie will no longer face those large-enrollment Class 5A schools at the district and regional levels. The Richardson schools and Dallas Jesuit, formerly district-mates with the Pirates, have been slotted into a Class 5A district along with several Dallas ISD schools. In addition, Allen and the Plano schools won’t pose the roadblocks to state qualification they have been in the past.
Wylie, Wylie East and Highland Park are the only remnants from the old District 18. Those three will now be joined by Elkhart, Henderson, Lancaster, Lovejoy and McKinney North in District 9. Wrestling season begins the first week in November.
Pictured SS Megan Slocum, DH Maddy Cook
Wylie will face Dallas Molina out of District 11-4A in the second round of the playoffs.
The single game will be played at 7:30 p.m., Friday, May 4, at Berkner High School (1600 E. Spring Valley Rd, Richardson, 75081).
Tickets are $3 for students and $5 for adults.
Playoff shirts are available for $10. Email head coach Heather Damron at email@example.com to reserve one.
Former Pirates standout Chris Givens, a 2008 Wylie graduate, was selected by the St. Louis Rams with the first pick of the fourth round, chosen 96th overall.
Givens declared for the draft following his junior season at Wake Forest University. According to the WFU website, Givens "finished his 36-game career among Wake Forest's all-time receiving leaders with 163 career receptions (fourth in school history) for 2,473 yards (third) and 21 touchdowns (tied third)."
According to some scouting reports, Givens is expected to provide the Rams with a "legitimate vertical threat" on deep throws from QB Sam Bradford.
In the NFL combine in February, Givens 4.41 in the 40-yard dash was among the best for wide receivers.
Noble Nwachukwu punched his ticket to the state track and field meet in the discus with a throw of 157-feet, 4 inches. He was the runner-up in the event at the Region II meet.
Azuka Akozar hurled the shot 53-feet, 3-inches in Friday's Region 2 Track and Field Meet at UTA setting a new WHS record and qualifying for state. He finished second overall in the event. Field events for Class 4A teams at state are slated for May 11.
District 10-4A fared pretty well against their District 9-4A counterparts with three of four teams advancing into the next round.
Wylie dusted up Frisco (1-0, 17-5) and will face Dallas Molina in the area round. Playoff information will be posted here as soon as it becomes available.
District champ Rockwall beat Frisco Centennial (14-3, 9-1) and will face Seagoville in the next round. McKinney overcame a game-one loss to get past Carrollton Creekview (0-3, 2-1, 6-2) and draw Dallas Hillcrest for second-round action. McKinney North's season ended with losses to Frisco Wakeland (11-1, 17-1).
Pictured third-baseman Serena Saldivar
The Lady Pirates advance to the area round of the playoffs after nipping Frisco 1-0 in Friday's game one at home, and then routing the Lady Raccoons 17-5 in five run-ruled innings at their place Saturday.
Wylie scored six runs in the top of the first inning including a two-run homer by Maddy Cook. They extended their lead to 10-2 after three innings and sealed the deal with seven runs in the fourth. Mary Stephens connected with a two-run blast for Wylie's final run scored. Meagan Richardson was the winning pitcher.
Wylie will face Dallas Molina or Dallas Bryan Adams depending on outcome there.
Further details will be posted as soon as they become available.
First Teamers are Seth Hiddink and Keanan Craighead for the boys; Shelby Valdepena and Sydney Cook drew first-team honors for the girls.
Second-team recognition went to Lauren Story, Sarah Helfrich and Evie Osbourne on the girls side; Tanner Douthit and Alvin Manrique were so honored among the boys.
Addie Ault and Erica Hiddink garnered honorable mention.
Pictured Senior first baseman Mary Stephens
The Lady Pirates wrapped up second place in District 10-4A with a 12-2 record.
Wylie draws Frisco, the No. 3 seed out of District 9-4A, in the bi-district round. The first game in the best-of-three series will be played Friday, April 27, at Wylie. Game time is 7 p.m.
Game two is slated for noon Saturday at Frisco. If necessary, Game three will be played at 7 p.m. Monday at Allen HS.
Head coach Bill Howard and the Wylie Pirates would like to thank the community for their support of another successful Pirates’ Lift-a-Thon. Our players and coaches work hard to put a winning program on the field year in and year out, and having the interest and support of our super fan base provides an added element of motivation. We hope everyone will make plans to get an early look at the 2012 Pirates during the annual Spring Game scheduled for May 24 at Wylie Stadium. Varsity game starts at 6 p.m.; JV plays at 5 p.m.
Freshmen golfers Carsen Cook and Brandon Morgan earned top team awards at Thursday's Golf Banquet.
Cook, who also earned second-team all-district honors, was named Scoring Champ.
Morgan was recognized as Most Improved.
On the girls side, senior Ashley Bowden was honored as Scoring Champ and Haley Chaplain was named Most Improved.
Junior linebacker Zach Myers (seated) turned in the best effort at Thursday's Pirates Lift-a-Thon with a bench press of 330 pounds.
Other Pirates with lifts of 300 pounds or greater were (standing, left to right) junior Alex Garza, junior Gabriel Imo, junior Charles Okpoko, freshman Brody Wright and sophomore Laurent Njiki.
Marc Minter, a member of Team Impact, was the guest lifter for Thursday's Lift-a-Thon. The strongman raised 470 pounds on behalf of the cheerleaders as part of their fundraising efforts. He narrowly missed on a 500-pound attempt.
Minter, who spoke to the assembled athletes after the event, shared tips on building physical strength and building character. Minter is a high-level grappler and a current competitor on the North American World's Strongest Man circuit.
For more information on Team Impact, go to www.team-impact.com
The University Interscholastic League has released the 2012-13 realignment for soccer. Wylie has been placed into District 21 with Wylie East, Lovejoy, Royse City and Quinlan Ford. While many districts are comprised of eight teams, D-21 will make do with five teams for the girls while there will be only four district teams for the boys (Quinlan Ford does not currently have a boys soccer program).
Pictured Christian Salas, soccer player and Pirates backup kicker
Several football standouts qualified for the Region 2 Track and Field Meet out of the District 10-4A meet held April 11-12 at Wilkerson-Sanders Stadium.
Sophomore T'Kevian Rockwell placed first in the 100-meter dash (10.46) and anchored the second-place 4x200-meter relay team.
Junior Preston Burnett placed second in the 100-meter hurdles (15.09) and narrowly missed qualifying for regional in the 300-meter hurdles.
Senior defensive linemen Noble Nwachukwu and Azuka Akozar earned their medals in throwing disciplines. Nwachukwu placed second in both the discus (151-07) and shot put (48-03), while Akozar placed first in shot put (49-04).
For complete district meet results for girls and boys teams, click here.
A trio of freshmen football players - Carsen Cook, Brandon Morgan, and Blake Shapiro - competed in the recent District 10-4A tournament at Waterview Golf Club. Cook led the team with an opening round 74. He finished 18th overall with a two-day total 153. Morgan shot an opening round 79.
The Pirates will participate in four 7-on-7 State Qualifying Tournaments:
Saturday, May 26 ~ Frisco Liberty
Friday, June 1 ~ Mesquite
Friday, June 15 ~ Wylie
Saturday, June 23 ~ Rockwall
The state championship for qualifying teams is scheduled for July 20-21 at Texas A&M University.
Pictured WR Cody O'Briant
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Pictured DB Alex Menchaca
Kicker Seth Hiddink will be among 58 North Texas scholar-athletes honored by the National Football Foundation Gridiron Club of Dallas during an April banquet.
According to an NFF press release, honorees were judged on “athletic accomplishments, performance in the classroom and commitment to the community.”
The selection committee included coaches, teachers, administrators and business leaders from the North Texas area. During the banquet, one individual will be named the club's top scholar-athlete, claiming a $2,500 scholarship to continue his education.