The best thing about this year for Willowridge is that it’s not last year.
The mold problem that forced the Willowridge students to attend classes at Marshall High School for the fall semester and the two-week distraction that was Hurricane Harvey are in the past.
“Just being back in our school building is awesome,” Willowridge head coach Richard Lazarou said. “No more mold. This year we go to school and we stay at the school for practice. Last year we had to take a bus from Marshall back to Willowridge. We didn’t get back until 3:15 and then we had to get everything done. We only left the fieldhouse before 7 p.m. once last year. Our whole seventh period was taken up riding a bus. It was crazy. I didn’t think it would be that big of a deal until we started doing it.”
Last year the Eagles kicked a field goal, their only field goal of the season, with no time remaining to beat Ball, a playoff team, and the team has used that as a springboard into this season.
“We had a great spring practice, a great summer, and this is the best fall camp we have had since I have been here,” Lazarou said. “The kids have been there every day, and everyone is paying attention.”
This year Willowridge will be playing a 3-4 defense.
“We are switching back to a 3-4 defense. Our front seven are experienced and good, and we may have the best safety in the city of Houston in Christian Carter. Our other safety is Thomas Carter and he can run with any receiver,” Lazarou said.
Christian Carter is a 6-foot 195 pound safety who runs a 4.5 40.
“I like to defend the run. Come down to the line and lay the hit. This is my first year playing safety. Last year I played quarterback and my sophomore year I played cornerback. I volunteered to play safety this year because I think it’s the best thing for the team,” Christian Carter said. “We have been working hard in practice and staying after to work on some things. This is going to be a good year for us.”
London Bennett will be playing nose guard in the 3-4 defense this season.
“I feel like nose guard is a better fit for me because I am stronger and can take on a double team. Depending on the defensive call, I may line up on one side of the center. I like being in the middle of everything,” Bennett said.
On offense, Vaughnte Frederick will be the Eagles quarterback. He has played other positions over the years, but he will focus on quarterback this year. He will have some targets that can stretch the field this year.
“We want to run about 60 percent of the time, and we do a lot of read options, so I will be running a lot this year. But I really like throwing the deep ball. Neville is only a sophomore, but he has scholarship offers from the University of Houston and Kansas. He is one of our best receivers. I like throwing to those tall receivers,” Frederick said.
Those tall receivers are sophomore Latrell Neville and junior Javion Chatman.
“Neville is a 6-foot 4-inch receiver for us and he can run. He can stretch the field for us. Chatman is an inside receiver who came up big for us in several games last year,” Lazarou said. “Senior Jhamarkus Harris, who has been a linebacker for us, will be our tailback this year.”
Coach Lazarou is looking forward to a great season.
“We have had great support from the administration, great coaches and great kids. That doesn’t happen very often. It’s pretty awesome,” Lazarou said. “A mentor once told me, if you like your team, you have a chance to be good. And I love this team.”
Week 1: Dulles
Week 2: @ Westbury
Week 3: Open
Week 4: Waltrip
Week 5: @ Sharpstown
Week 6: Marshall
Week 7: @ Northside
Week 8: Madison
Week 9: @ Milby
Week 10: Manvel
Week 11: @ Sterling