Dobie hungry for playoff berth
By Jason McDaniel
New Dobie coach Jim Phillips recently asked his players to raise their hands if they'd been to the playoffs.
No one did.
That's because the Longhorns haven't made the playoffs since 2004 three years before the incoming seniors were in high school. But they're planning on raising their hands in triumph this season.
They're hungry," Phillips said. They want to get Dobie out of the bottom of the barrel."
It's not just wishful thinking either.
As a byproduct of the district shakeup with the latest UIL realignment, which jettisoned La Porte and Pearland, the Longhorns are picked to finish third by Dave Campbell's Texas Football magazine.
And that's an unusual position for a team that hasn't made the playoffs in six years, is coming off a 4-6 campaign and has a brand new coach.
There could be pressure if they let it happen, but pressure either busts pipes or makes diamonds, one of the two, so it's just how we handle it," Phillips said.
I expect to be in the playoffs. I've been out for two years (at Greenville) and I don't like it. I want to get back in there."
Phillips came out of spring practice feeling good about his team's playoff chances, and a good summer turnout only strengthened his belief that the Longhorns were just a play or two away last season.
Now they have to make those plays when it counts.
It takes time to get kids to understand how to finish games," Phillips said. They have to understand the fourth quarter is where you're going to win it. Just stay close until the fourth quarter and then win it in the fourth quarter."
Dobie will use a new spread option attack in its bid for a playoff return.
Phillips and new offensive coordinator Damion Judge spent the spring installing the offense, and Phillips says he has the right personnel for it, starting with returning quarterback Blake Jackson.
The junior was primarily a passer last season but has picked up the offense quickly and shown plenty of aptitude for running the ball.
Davion Hurst, Demarcus Boyd and Andrew Robinson will rotate in at running back behind Jackson, with Hurst also stepping out as a slot receiver, giving him plenty of options to run or throw.
Everybody's going to get a chance to run the ball, everybody's going to get a chance to play, and we'll just find out who has the hot hand that night," Phillips said.
Free safety Reggie Wilson leads the defense.
He loves the game, he's smart and he comes to play," Phillips said. I wish he was an inch taller because everybody in the country would be after him. He led the district in interceptions last year."
Other key returning players on defense include middle linebacker Juston Edwards and defensive lineman Cody Early, who's moving from tackle to end.
(Cody) is more active in space," Phillips said. And we have another kid named Justin Rice here, he played end, and (defensive coordinator Carey) Sink and I talked and decided to switch those two."
Phillips said his first priority when practice begins Monday is to make sure everybody who came out in the spring is back, then he plans to begin implementing his new offensive and defensive schemes.
The main is we're going to try to get our kicking game caught up," he said. I didn't spend a whole lot of time on our kicking game in spring so I really have to catch that up."
The new coaching staff will be focusing on how well players execute what they've been learning in Dobie's only scrimmage Aug. 20 at El Campo. It opens the season Aug. 27 with Alief Taylor.
We need to have some luck early and we need to keep as many people healthy as we possibly can," Phillips said.