By Michael Sudhalter
The Cougars, who finished 1-9 last season, never got completely got away from running the Triple Option, but this season, they’ll line up under center.
Kempner fifth-year head coach Darrin Andrus is optimistic that the Cougars – who have 18 starters (nine on each side of the ball) will bounce back this season and build on the victory they earned over Clements in last season’s finale.
Kempner will open the season on Friday at Pasadena Rayburn, a squad that finished 1-9 last season, and then they’ll host Clear Falls a playoff team in 2013 – on Sept. 4 at Mercer.
The Cougars will face Clements in both teams’ 6A-23 district opener on Sept. 11 at Mercer.
“It’s huge, and that’s what we’ve been talking about since we beat Clements in the last game of the year,” Andrus said. “Anytime you play with sophomores and juniors, you’re going to struggle. Dave Campbell’s (Football Magazine) didn’t give us much of a chance this year, but I know these kids have worked hard. 6A-23 is going to be tough. Hightower is always a good program, Travis will be back, and we’re getting the three Alief schools.”
The Cougars will have a quarterback competition on their hands with incumbent senior Tanner Schuetz competing with Davin Scott, a Bellaire High transfer.
Andrus said Schuetz, who’s also an all-district baseball player, will play in the defensive backfield if he’s not the starting quarterback, and Scott will be a starting receiver if he’s not the signal-caller.
One player who will definitely benefit from the Triple Option is senior fullback Nick Anderson, who rushed for nearly 300 yards in the victory over Clements.
Senior wide receiver Brenden Nagel, along with Colby Bryant, will be the team’s leading receivers.
Andrus said the offensive line will make up for quickness, in what it lacks in size. Senior Brian Thorpe, Joseph Pernales and Warren Smith all have experience on the O-line.
Jordan Ward, a receiver last season, has moved to the defensive backfield and is a Division I prospect.
The defensive line has experienced some injuries, but they’ll be strong if they’re healthy.
The linebackers will be led by Jonathan McKinney and Justice Brown.
The Cougars have added two new coordinators ‚Äì defensive coordinator Ricky Stade from Houston Westside and co-offensive coordinator Bobby Irvin from Katy Morton Ranch.