When you lose 17 players to graduation it's fair to assume you're going to need some new names to step up in replacement of those players.
In Palestine's first and only scrimmage this year against Wills Point there appears to be some new stars rising through the ranks of the Palestine roster.
After months of not being able to compete against any opposing teams around the University Interscholastic League Circuit, Palestine players got their first crack at it Thursday in a win over Wills Point.
The Wildcat defense, which lost a pair of all-district and all-state players, held them to two first downs. It was defintely something refreshing to see for head coach Lance Angel.
“I was impressed with the discipline and aggression of the defense,” Angel said. “Everybody hit correctly and ran to the ball. We moved the ball efficiently on offense.”
Jakaryon Conley, who has assumed the duties of lead back, bursted out for a long touchdown run for the Wildcats. He enters his senior year ready to take over for former running back Jeremiah Davis.
Coach Angel stated how great of a job he did carrying the ball Thursday and how physical his offensive line was at the point of attack.
“We were the more physical team,” Angel said.
Physicality was undoubtedly the recipe for the Wildcats success. Their bruising style helped push them to the regional round for the first time since 2004. It allowed them to control clock and tempo throughout the season.
Evem with the impressive evening, what still remains is the quick turnaround from first scrimmage to opening kickoff coaches now have to deal with in the COVID-19 era.
“Having only one scrimmage is big for those first year varsity guys,” Angel said. “Getting that experience is key. We had to remind ourselves it's been six months since any of our kids had competed representing Palestine at any sport. It was good to get out and get back into it.”
Asode from Conley, Dominique Milton, Dawaylyn Lewis and Elvin Calhoun were forces upfront on the defensive line.
Sophomore Taj'Shawn Wilson also showed flashes as one of Palestine's ball carriers this year. Junior Jarrod Walker appears to have a solid beat on the starting quarterback role, though no official decision has been made from coach Angel.
The Wildcats open their season Friday on the road against former district opponent Van Vandal. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.