By Tom Behrens
The Taylor Mustangs, under head coach Trey Hermann, ended the season at 4-6 with no trip to the playoffs last year. The year before the Mustangs went two games deep before losing to Cy Woods, 63-17. They were expecting more last year.
Any time you’re making a run for the playoffs things have to fly your way. “We caught the injury bug early and often last year,” said Hermann. “Camron Horry, tight end, was out for about three games after the Katy game which made it difficult for us to run our tight end based offense. There were times we played third string guys as opposed to starters. A couple of the key injury losses came in our offensive line. Nothing serious, but ankles and things like that.”
“The kids battled hard,” continued Hermann. “We were in a lot of the ball games. It wasn’t like we were getting blown out, but we didn’t take care of business and finish the game. That was one of the things we put an emphasis on in the off-season.”
Another thing was improving leadership and communication between the players on the field.
Hermann explains that he and the coaches were not satisfied with athletes who they held high expectations, but everything went in a different directions. “We had plenty of kids saying the right things, but not necessarily doing the right things. During off-season we were making sure they knew we were holding them accountable. They have done a good job with that during the off-season.”
Another change was in strength and conditioning. “During off-season we didn’t let our kids put their weights on the bar. They had to tell their partner what they wanted on the bar, forcing them to communicate. That way we kept a pretty high tempo, pace, communicating under a little bit of pressure.
“It’s one thing for me and other coaches to get on them; it’s another thing for them to do it to each other. We saw it carried over to spring where they did a real good job of talking to each other on the field. A bonus was also increased body strength.”
Keys to success for Mustang success in 2016: the Taylor offensive line, from tight end to weak tackle averages 295 lbs. “We are rather large this year which will hopefully be an added benefit to us. We want to be a run based offense; in order to do that we have to establish the line of scrimmage.”
The defensive line is bigger. “Typically the last two years we had an average of about 200-210 lbs. This year our max is about 260. Our tackles are anywhere between 215-240 and both of our nose guards are 250 lbs or more.
“For us (with our run based offense) we have to win in the trenches.”
Ethan Beek is a returning 1,000 yard rusher. “I think he will be a phenomenal running back this year. He did a great job as a junior, and he is only getting better. I’m looking for David Perkins to have a breakout year at quarterback. He playing well is going to be key for us. People won’t be able to put 8-9 guys in the box.
Also the Mustangs have some receivers who will run down the passes to catch the ball. “It really helps to not be one dimensional.”
Taylor’s first game is against Foster; first district game is Katy. “We get the luck of the draw every year.” Taylor played Katy in their first district game last year, losing 41-3. “That’s alright. We have to play them, and they are the best. So if you want to be the best you have to play the best.
“I think our kids are excited about the season,” concludes Hermann. “We had a lot excitement two years ago. I know they were a little disappointed on how things worked out last year. They are excited about getting things back on track this season.”