By Bill McCaughey
For The Fort Bend Star
For the first time in his coaching career, Hightower Coach Padriac McGinnis will run a 3-4 defense (3 defensive linemen and 4 linebackers).
“We went and talked to several schools like Katy and Texas Southern that run a 3-4 to learn more about it. Before, we had big defensive linemen so the 4-3 worked for us.
This year we have smaller linemen but a great group of linebackers so it was the right thing to do,” McGinnis said.
Derrick McClendon is the leader of the linebackers and will play inside.
He is an all-district second team returnee. Next to him on the inside will be Quinton Sharkey who was an all-district first teamer at outside linebacker last year. On the outside will be Hassan Hypolite, an all-district first team safety last year. On the other side will be sophomore Christian Hood.
“We changed to a 3-4, which gives us another linebacker on the field which gives us more speed,” McClendon said. “With our linebacker speed, the secondary can play a cover four, because the linebackers can cover the short routes. That will really cut down the long plays.”
“I really think we have the best four linebackers in the state. McLendon is a leader on and off the field, and Hypolite is a great athlete, and will also play wide receiver,” McGinnis said. “Sharkey has proved himself to be all-district, and even though Hood is a sophomore, he is already the strongest player on the team.”
McGinnis also thinks highly of the secondary.
“We started three sophomores in the secondary last year and had a few bumps in the road. This year we are using that experience and are much better.
Isaiah Essissima is a big-time player. He will also get some time at wide receiver.,” McGinnis said. “Kobie Campbell is one of the best cornerbacks in the district. He runs a 4.4 and will also see some time at wide receiver.”
The offense starts with Devin McAdoo, an all-district second team returnee.
“McAdoo is the best running back you will ever see,” McGinnis said. “He is a homerun threat on every play, and he returns punts and kickoffs.”
McAdoo runs a 4.4 40, and is on the track team where he runs the 100, the 4×100, the 4×200, the 4×400 and competes in the triple jump.
“I like to run up the middle,” McAdoo said. “Once I see the gap, I just shoot through it.”
Anthony Williams, an all-district first team offensive tackle last year and a Howard University recruit, will anchor the offensive line.
Senior Donavan Newman and junior Brandon Smith are competing for the quarterback position.
“We will choose our quarterback before our first game,” McGinnis said.
Both the coaches and players have a confident attitude this season. All expect a good pre-district start.
“During pre-season, we need to find our playmakers and find what plays work in certain situations,” McClendon said.
“We get that down, and we will be hard to stop.”
“We have a different vibe this year,” McAdoo said. “We are a family.”
“I feel really good about this year. We have the lowest enrollment in our district, so we would compete in the Division 2 side of the playoffs,” McGinnis said. “I don’t want to sound too confident, but I think we can be in the Division 2 state championship game.”
Hightower will play Eisenhower at Thorne Stadium on Friday.