The Travis Tigers will continue the fast-paced play they have become known for since Trey Sissom became head coach.
“The fast pace of play is in our DNA. We are not going to change that,” Sissom said.
Sissom has some talent returning on offense. Wide receiver Parker Washington and running back Kaelen Shankle return, as well as Arjei Henderson, a unanimous selection as an all-district first team wide receiver.
“Offensively, we have some great kids coming back. Arjei Henderson, an Oklahoma recruit, will play receiver, but we will also get him the ball in other spots. We will be very versatile in our schemes and in what we do,” Sissom said.
“It seems like it’s going to be a good season. We just need to get it underway,” Henderson said. “This year we have some plays for me to take some direct snaps and run some plays out of the backfield. I am excited to see those plays being called. We have a lot of good defensive backs in our district, so I really need to prepare during the week. I really respect their talent. At the end of the day, you just play football and hope to beat them.”
A good offense requires a good offensive line, and Travis has one.
“When you look around the district, the successful teams have really good offensive lines. Everyone in our district is going to have great skill kids. But winning is a matter of what you have upfront,” Sissom said. “Justin Gwalchmai is one of our senior captains. He will be a three-year starter for us and he is probably one of the best centers in the entire state. He sets it off for us. He is the kid that has been in there and leading us upfront the past two years. We are expecting another great year out of him.”
“I have played center pretty much my whole career. I started on varsity as a sophomore and am now a senior. I am glad the coaches put their trust in me as a 205-pound sophomore. I weigh 240 now,” Gwalchmai said. “A good center doesn’t have to be big, because I am not the biggest. But you have to have technique, speed and quickness. You have to have footwork, and a lot of smarts. The center calls the line plays. You have to be able to handle the pressure. We have a good line this year. We have some big guys who just want to hit everything and score touchdowns.”
Because of the fast pace of play, the Travis defense will be counted on to play a lot of plays.
“We know our offense is going to put up a lot of points, so that means our defense will be out on the field a lot. That gives a lot of kids opportunities. We know it’s going to take a collective effort on the defensive side. Because of our fast-paced offense, we may only play 13 to 14 players on offense. But because the defense is on the field a lot, we may play 20 to 25 defensive players,” Sissom said. “Leading our defense is Felix Etugbo, defensive end, and Zach Zimos, an all-district second team safety last year. There is not a better player and a better kid than Zach. Since last season, Zach has gotten bigger, stronger and faster. If you can improve in those three areas in one summer, we expect some really big things from him.”
Zimos has committed to play for Arkansas next year as a linebacker.
“I will be playing middle linebacker this year. I am really excited about playing the mike spot and calling out the plays. My sophomore year and most of my junior year, I played safety. At the end of last season, I played outside linebacker. This year, being in the middle is something new for me,” Zimos said.
Week 1: Hightower
Week 2: Foster
Week 3: @ Spring
Week 4: Open
Week 5: @ Elkins
Week 6: Dulles
Week 7: @ Austin
Week 8: @ Ridge Point
Week 9: Clements
Week 10: @ Kempner
Week 11: Bush