The Pilot Point Bearcats are poised for a breakout year according to Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine.
The Bearcats, led by quarterback Jacob Pitts, are ranked 20th in the state by the magazine’s scribes and are picked to finish second in their district behind No. 6 Brock.
Boyd and Whitesboro are also expected to fight for playoff spots in the district.
“I usually don’t put too much stock into rankings,” Pilot Point coach Danny David said. “They are good for selling magazines and newspapers, but they really don’t mean anything. It’s sometimes fun to see your team up there, but it’s how you finish the season that means something.”
David is excited about the direction his team is headed, and he says they have a lot of tools to be a good team.
“We look good on paper,” he said. “But we don’t play the games on paper.”
Brock won the district last year and got to the state semi-finals. Boyd, Whitesboro and Pilot Point all tied for second. The tie-breakers had the Bearcats go into the playoffs as the fourth-place team in the district.
“Brock has been really good the last few years, but they lost a lot of players,” David said. “They will still be a solid, well-coached team. Boyd beat us last year, and Whitesboro, even though they have a new coach, has a history of winning the last few years. Those kids still know how to win.”
David knows it will be a tough district schedule. But, he also knows his team has plenty of tools to compete for the district crown.
Pitts will be under center for the third year as he leads the Bearcats into the season. The magazine has picked Pitts as their pre-season pick to be the districts offensive MVP.
“He can run and he can throw,” David said. “This just shows how much respect he gets from the other coaches in the district.”
Offensively, Pitts will lead a talented group of skill players onto the field.
Also returning for the Bearcats is last year’s leading running back Javon Bruce, as well as their leading wide receiver Javin “Bam” Bruce.
Complementing those players will be Jabari Anderson at the other wide receiver spot, and the Cox brothers, Aydon and Jay. Aydon will be the tight end while Jay will see time at running back.
“We have some talent, and we also have some depth,” David said. “We are going to try to spread the ball around some more to take advantage of what the defense gives us. We feel like we have play-makers at every position. With Jacob being a dual threat, we can be versatile and get the ball downfield in a lot of ways.”
Up front, the Bearcat offensive line will be key to Pilot Point’s success. The players are young, but they are big and strong.
“They will make us great or make us average,” David said. “If they can block, give just a little bit of extra time to make a play, then we will have a chance to be really, really good.”
David says the coaching staff will try to have the linemen play only on offense to help them stay fresh.
“We are kind of inexperienced there,” he said. “We have two seniors, a few juniors and some sophomores on the line. They move pretty good; they just need more reps and practice time to get better and better each week.”
As high as David is on his team’s offensive potential, he says “ultimately, defense wins championships.”
The Bearcats return eight starters on the defensive side of the ball.
David says his defense could be really good this year, and it all starts with Connor Lynch.
The senior middle linebacker has been a four-year starter for the Bearcats. He had 108 tackles last year for Pilot Point.
Javon Bruce is another starting linebacker that will bring speed and experience to the position.
The skill players on offense will also play in the defensive secondary. Pitts and Bam will be at the corners with Max Hollar and Anderson at the safety position.
“We have a lot of talent, athleticism and speed in our secondary,” David said. “Hollar is probably the fastest guy on the team. Most of our depth in the secondary are juniors that played on the JV team last year. They are good athletes but lack the experience that the seniors have.”
On the defensive line, David says his team will have to wreak some havoc on the inside to help his secondary be successful.
“A lot of teams are playing the spread offense now,” he said. “They throw the ball a lot. If we can make them get rid of the ball before they want to, keep our guys from having to cover that extra second or two, it will help us be successful.”
Wreaking the havoc on the line for the Bearcats will be the Cox brothers and Ish Harris. The trio will rotate in at the defensive end position. Their size and quickness should help set the tone as they come off the edge.
David knows his team will have to play well to capture the district crown and even better if they are to advance in the playoffs. But, he says there are no excuses.
“If you are going to be the state champion, you have to beat them all anyway,” he said. “Whether you beat them in district, in bi-district, or in the championship game, it does not matter. You just have to beat them if you want to be the best.”