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High School Football Preview: Playing in a tough district, Coyotes have some big shoes to fill

Rick Bailey,
The Anna-Melisa Tribune
Micah Ross (6) is expected to be a big-time play maker on defense as well as working on the offensive side of the ball at wide receiver for Anna High School.

ANNA - The Coyotes are facing another huge challenge for 2020 with the UIL realignment that placed them in one of the state’s toughest districts in 4A (I).

With six starters back on both offense and defense, head coach Jason Heath thinks that Anna has what it takes to get back in the playoffs this season.

Despite the level of competition, the Coyotes are confident that they can bring their best game to the field on Friday nights.

Heath is excited about the versatility he has been given to work with at the signal caller position.

“We have several players that will be able to line up and run our offense from under center. Jaden Adams, Josh Packard and Zachareus Gentry can all give us the playmaking ability we need to be successful.”

When asked about the early season, Heath commented, “After the first few weeks of practice, I think our biggest challenge is just inexperience at several positions, but feel that we are continuing to get better.

“One of the most positive things is the attitude of the team. You can tell they are glad to be back working and doing something they enjoy.”

The keys to the Coyotes’ success, Heath added, “are for our young guys to develop into the players we know they can be. Stay healthy and take each day as it comes. We have to keep getting better at the little things.”

Anna finished last season 5-5/2-4 (district) and will need their young players to step up to fill the big shoes left by last year’s graduating class.

Specifically, the Coyotes will need to replace Abner Dubar (Minnesota), Major Mosier and John Box, who were all team leaders.

Another big question for Anna will be the trenches on both sides of the ball. Their youth in several positions will be one of their biggest challenges, according to Heath.

The aforementioned quarterback trio of Adams, Packard (5-9, 165) and Gentry (6-1, 170) will take care of the signal calling.

In the trenches on the offensive side of the ball, Jay Heath (5-11, 240) and J.R. Box (6-1, 220) will be taking the reps trying to get the offense moving.

Jambres Dubar (5-10, 160), Arthur Nwokorie (5-10, 180) and Davonte Davis (5-9, 160) will try to fill the big shoes left by Abner Dubar in the backfield, when he left for the Big Ten.

Gentry will be filling one of the spots at wide receiver if he is not taking snaps under center. Micah Ross (5-8, 145), Colton Birdwell and Joey Montano will also fill roles in the receiving corps.

On special teams, Justin Amon will handle the kicking duties.

Defensively, the Coyotes will line up in a 3-4. Versatile Gentry had 42 tackles and 4 interceptions, so he will be a force on defense, but he may spend more time on offense helping fill the void left by Abner Dubar and possibly taking snaps under center.

Micah Ross had 49 tackles and 4 interceptions and is expected to be another big-time playmaker on defense. Nwokorie will also help lock down the defensive secondary for Anna.

Up front on the defensive line Christian Arrellano is expected to contribute. The Coyotes are still looking to fill other spots in the trenches.

Josh Packard and C.J. Miller will be lined up at linebacker spots on the defensive side of the ball.

The Coyotes will compete in the seven team District 5-4A (I), which looks to be one of the toughest in Class 4A (I). Opponents this fall will include Argyle, Paris, Kaufman, Carrollton Ranchview and Melissa.

The district’s reputation precedes itself as three teams, Argyle (2), Paris (14) and Melissa (19), are ranked in the Class 4A (I) pre-season top 20. Terrell and Kaufman also moved down from Class 5A (II) to join the district lineup.

The Coyotes wrapped up their second week of workouts and preparation with a good showing at Gainesville.

According to head Heath, “This first scrimmage against Gainesville saw us start off kinda slow but settle in on both sides of the ball. Getting to go against someone different than each other is always good. We have several things to work on and unlike years past, we don't get a second scrimmage to get another look at certain kids in certain spots. It is for real.”

The teams played one live quarter during which, according to Heath, “Our offense drove 75 yards to score a touchdown on the opening drive. We then gave up a touchdown to Gainesville on a fourth and goal from the 5 yard line.

“After a good drive stalled at the Gainesville 45, we punted. They then drove to mid field where we picked off a pass and returned it to about the 25 with under 40 seconds to go. We attempted and made a 30-yard field goal with no time left on clock. Final was 10-7.”

Zachareus Gentry (2) will be counted on heavily this season on both sides of the ball. Beside working at wide receiver/slot, Gentry may also be taking snaps under center as a signal caller for the Coyotes. He will also work in the defensive backfield and as returner on special teams.