REDWATER, Texas — No matter the outcome of the game, the Dragons are looking to be the best versions of themselves that they can be.
"The kids have goals of getting faster, stronger, earning a starting role, winning district, and winning state," Redwater head coach Tommy Graf said. "The kids want to win every game that they play. Our goals are to be competitive, push for a district title, and win playoff games. Those goals never change.
"My expectations are that each kid will give their best every day. I want them to be accountable and show up for their teammates. I want everyone to be accountable, even coaches. I don't need a kid to be as good as the next kid; I just need the kid to give 100%. I tell them to be impressionable and to give everything that they've got. If they are giving everything they've got, then we can live with the results."Gallery: Texarkana Gazette's 2019 Football Edition
The Dragons will return with their Flexbone offense. Junior Preston Davis and sophomore Malcom Brown are competing for the starting quarterback position. Last season, Davis suffered a season-ending injury in a scrimmage and missed the entire season. Brown was moved up from the junior varsity last year because of depth issues.
"Preston and Malcom are both very athletic, have great arms, and have worked really hard," Graf said. "They push each other and so it's good to have them competing."
Senior Garrett Johnson saw playing time at running back and quarterback last season and is back to be one of the primary running backs for Redwater.
"Garrett is a great team player and is a leader," Graf said. "I am blessed to have a kid like Garrett, and he brings out the best in everyone around him."
Nick Fernandez will get carries this season as will full back Matt Williams. The Dragons have some younger players in sophomores John Collier and Kaleb Narens at full back.
"John is a really physical kid," Graf said. "John and Kaleb are looking solid at full back. We're young, but we're excited about the younger kids."
Redwater is mainly a run team but have the capability of throwing the football. Davis and Brown have strong arms and can throw down field. Senior Nick Long looks to be the big target for the Dragons' quarterback. Long played just basketball as a junior but is looking to make his mark in his senior year at receiver.
Noah Fernandez will play at tight end as well as senior Landon McLeod.
"Landon has given us some looks at tight end, and we are excited to work with him," Graf said. "He's a big kid, and he is looking good. Once he learns the plays and gets comfortable with it, I believe he'll give us some time at tight end."
Nick Parker started at tackle last year and is being worked at center and tackle. Carlos Rojas started at guard last season. Rojas and Parker are the two main returners for Redwater on the offensive line. Players are competing for the other positions on the line as spots are worked out.
Redwater runs a 4-3 defense and runs multiple looks out of it.
Williams, who had 55 tackles last season, returns as a linebacker, Davis will contribute on defense, Rojas played defensive tackle a season ago, Johnson will get playing time in the secondary, Noah Fernandez started at defensive end last year, and Brown has experience at cornerback.
"We are young, but we returned four players on defense," Graf said. "We aren't returning a lot of players on either side of the ball."
Graf says that one of the greatest strengths of the offense is familiarity. The Dragons have been running the same scheme for about 12 years.
"Our kids understand terminology and schemes," Graf said. "Last year was a rough year with injuries and with moving into a different district. We had made the playoffs for eight years in a row. We're hoping to get back to that, but it's not going to be an easy road. We're excited about our kids, and they have been working hard. If they continue to do that, then good things will happen."
Williams has experience at kicker for Redwater last season. Davis and Brown both punted a year ago, and one will earn the starting role.
PUNCTUALITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY
"I have been pleased with the kids' efforts and attitudes," Graf said. "They are coming into practice and being accountable."
Aug. 30, at Waskom
Sept. 6, Tyler Grace Community
Sept. 13, at Paul Pewitt
Sept. 20, at Bishop Gorman
Sept. 27, x-at Atlanta
Oct. 4, x-Hooks
Oct. 18, x-at New Boston
Oct. 25, x-Hughes Springs
Nov. 1, x-at Mount Vernon
Nov. 8, x-Jefferson
x-Denotes 7-3A game
All kickoffs at 7:30 p.m.
— SCHOOL: Redwater
— 2018 RECORD: 1-9
— HEAD COACH: Tommy Graf
— YEARS AT SCHOOL: 12th
— COACHING STAFF: Nathan Turner, def. coordinator; Stuart Proctor, off. coordinator; Brandon Martindale, secondary/off. line; Robert Bennett, receivers/def. ends; Colton Jackson, running backs/linebackers; Aaron Clevenger, off. line/def. line; Roman Johnson, junior high head coach; Will Thompson, junior high def. coordinator.
— LETTERMEN LOST/BACK: 20/12
— STARTERS BACK: 4 offense, 4 defense
— PLAYERS TO WATCH: RB/DB Garrett Johnson, OL/DL Nick Parker, OL/DL Carlos Rojas, DB/C/QB Malcom Brown, LB/FB Matt Williams, DE/TE Noah Fernanez, QB Preston Davis.
— TOP NEWCOMERS: FB/DL John Collier, OL/LB Easton Minter, FB/DB Kaleb Narens, WR/DB Nick Long, RB/DB Silas Cowgill.