North Central Texas Academy’s six-man football fortunes may turn out to be strong again in 2014, but not everything is in place yet for the Pioneers.
Jared Dodson, valuable on offense and defense, is expected back at quarterback – where he earned honorable mention all-state honors – as well as being a valuable asset at safety but is still recovering from a knee injury.
The Pioneers were 7-5 last season when they reached the state quarterfinals in the playoffs. They compete in Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools Division 3, District 2.
NCTA was ranked No. 6 in the state in the TAPPS preseason poll.
“Our kids love that stuff,” head coach Kirby Rasco said. “We’re picked to win our district. The district is evenly paired. It’s going to be a fight every week.”
Longview Trinity, Brownwood Victory Life, Fort Worth Covenant Classical, Richland Canyon Creek and Heath Fulton are the other teams in the district.
“We beat Longview in the first round of the playoffs, 54-8,” Rasco said.
Heath Fulton is ranked No. 5 in NCTA’s division.
Dodson, who passed for 1,800 yards, may be sidelined until the start of district play.
“We’re going to miss him,” coach Rasco said. “He’s a smart kid, and fast. He needs some live action. Once we get him back, it will be a whole different team.”
A freshman who recently transferred back after living in Alabama for a while, Nash Siachetema, could be a valuable asset at quarterback as well. But, as a freshman, it will be a “big step” filling Dodson’s shoes, Rasco said.
Senior running back Tyler Hoskins was a second-team all-state performer a year ago with almost 2,000 yards rushing. He earned district offensive MVP honors.
“We’re going to have to rely on him,” Rasco said. “He’s a fast kid.”
Matt Torres will provide help at fullback and tailback, and is a “punishing” blocker. He missed five games last year with an ankle injury.
Senior Cole Rasco plays fullback and end on offense. As a receiver the past two seasons, Rasco was first-team all-state as a sophomore and second-team last year as a junior.
“We’re staying pretty much the same on offense,” Rasco said, noting that their offensive scheme is called either J-bird or the J-gun. The popular alignment features an unbalanced line, with the center on one end.
Senior Jon Durant will contribute at guard, and Josh Oma will be counted on at center.
“We’re young and inexperienced in some positions,” coach Rasco said. “This time last year, we were farther along offensively, but that doesn’t mean we’re not going to get there.”
Rasco said he hopes that the Pioneers’ quickness can cause chaos for opposing offenses.
Three solid performers form the core of the defense, which played well at times last season according to Rasco.
Seniors Tyler Hoskins and Cole Rasco along with junior Matt Torres can all play multiple positions.
Rasco can play cornerback, defensive line and safety. Hoskins can be utilized in several spots – either safety, cornerback or middle linebacker.
Beyond those starters on defense, there are question marks.
“We’ve got three kids that are going to have to step up,” Rasco said. “We’re going to play a bunch of kids. Our goal this year is to play better defense, for sure.
“Six-man football is a defensive coordinator’s nightmare. I think every six-man coach wants to play better defense.”
Durant has quickness at either linebacker or on the line. Also in the defensive mix will include sophomore Josh Oma at either middle linebacker or on the line. He played some last year.
Another sophomore, Quintin Felton, didn’t play in 2013 but could see playing time on the line or at cornerback.
“I’m pleased with our defense,” Rasco said. “We’re just striving to get a little better.”
The Pioneers will have to find a new punter and kicker because of graduation losses.
“Cole (Rasco) and Oma are going to be able to kick,” Rasco said.
The coach playfully added, “I set a goal every year to not to have to punt.”
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Date Opponent Time
Aug. 29 at Kopperl 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 5 Blum 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 12 at Evant 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 19 Open
x – Sept. 26 McKinney Cornerstone 7:30 p.m.
y – Oct. 3 W.F. Notre Dame 7:30 p.m.
* Oct. 9 Richardson Canyon Creek 7 p.m.
* Oct. 17 at Brownwood Victory Life 7:30 p.m.
* Oct. 23 at FW Covenant Classical 4:30 p.m.
* Oct. 31 Longview Trinity 7:30 p.m.
* Nov. 7 Heath Fulton 7:30 p.m.
* TAPPS Division 3, District 2 games.
x – Homecoming.
y – At Mineral Wells.