KATY—The offensive line was a big question mark for Paetow coming into this season. The Panthers graduated five of six starters from the 2020 campaign.
As it turns out, however, it’s the biggest, strongest offensive line in the program’s four years of varsity play and a central reason the Panthers are 13-1 and in the Class 5A, Division I state semifinals.
“It’s the first O-line we’ve had that they’ve been in our offseason for multiple years,” coach B.J. Gotte said. “The physicality is one of the biggest things to get accustomed to moving up to varsity football. We finally have some size up front, and it’s been the difference in being able to take our game to the next level.”
The group is senior-heavy, led by 6-foot-4, 275-pound senior team captain and right tackle James Bailey. Senior Isaiah Villanueva (6-4, 265) is the other tackle. Senior Jeremiah Richard (6-2, 210) is the center. Senior Anthony Dorantes (6-1, 285) and junior Nicolas Lira (5-11, 230) are the guards. Senior Josh Prieto (5-10, 195) is the tight end, a position Gotte considers an integral part of the blocking up front.
“This year’s O-line hadn’t played together as much, especially compared to last year’s,” said Bailey, the lone returning starter. “But I think what’s key is each one of these guys has worked hard and stepped up to be what we are.”
The run game accounts for 66 percent of the Panthers’ offense. Paetow averages 270.3 rushing yards per game. Sixty-three of its 88 offensive touchdowns have come on the ground.
Senior running back Jacob Brown produced program single-game records of 346 yards and five touchdowns in the Panthers’ 35-12 regional final win over Hightower last week. The first thing he credited during postgame interviews? The O-line.
“From weights to reading keys, they’ve come a long way, and it shows,” Brown said. “It’s not just me out there getting 346 yards. It’s all of us.”
Brown is one of three Panthers who average at least 10 yards when they carry the ball, along with junior running back D.J. Johnson and senior receiver Kole Wilson on jet sweeps. Brown has 1,394 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns. Junior Damyrion Phillips, typically the No. 2 back, has 1,271 yards and 19 touchdowns, at 7.5 yards per tote.
“It’s awesome blocking for them,” Richard said. “When we get to the guy we’re supposed to and execute and then see them hit that hole and break for a 70-yard touchdown … that’s what we do. That’s us playing together. We all play selflessly, for the man next to us, and we do our jobs.”
Villanueva said this season has been a progression of “who we are and what we can do.” At the beginning of the year, there was a lack of communication as most of the linemen were still getting to know each other. The process of getting to know someone involves the maturation of trust, and that was lacking as well.
Eventually, the linemen bonded. As a result, calls and play improved.
“We’re really physical and we’re going to come after you,” Bailey said. “We’re going to use our speed and physicality to overwhelm you to do what we do. We know we have to play hard and play fast to make up for some things, and all of that put together makes us a unit.”
Gotte played the offensive line at Katy and coached at Katy. He brought some of Katy’s O-line schemes with him when he was hired to open the Paetow football program in 2017.
Gotte and offensive line coach Jamie Bridges teach it all: inside zone, outside zone, gap scheme, wide zone.
“We can go two-back, or we can spread it out,” Gotte said. “It is very intricate, a lot of different schemes. The flexibility is probably our most advantageous thing. We’re able to adjust what we do up front to fit the type of skill kids we have.”
While it obviously works, it doesn’t make for an easy learning curve.
“It’s a whole different offensive scheme,” said Villanueva, who transferred from Langham Creek last year. “It was something that totally blew my mind. It took me a minute to learn it. The key is to not take a block for granted and don’t make somebody else do your job. That’s something we all do real well. We do our jobs.”
Gotte raves about all his linemen but singles out Richard in particular. Richard is the “prototypical program kid,” Gotte said. Someone who has climbed the program ladder step by step and worked tirelessly to earn a starting role as a senior, overcoming a serious hip injury suffered the summer before his junior year along the way.
“To see him have success and hear other coaches across the district talk about how he stood out to them on video has been really cool,” Gotte said.
Villanueva and Dorantes are stepbrothers who moved in last year and played on the JV. Prieto was moved to tight end from fullback out of need this season and has responded with crucial big plays in the passing game.
Lira will be the lone returning starter next season.
“It’s been a crazy journey,” Villanueva said. “It was a bunch of guys who had never played together. But we worked really hard in the offseason because we understood what we could do if we came together and played as one.”
VYPE DFW Private School Preseason Female Basketball Player of the Year: Brooke Dial of Parish Episcopal presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors
With basketball season already underway, we have seen plenty of great athletes beginning to make their mark this season. One of those athletes has been Brooke Dial from Parish Episcopal who recently won the VYPE DFW Private School Preseason Girls Basketball Player of the Year Fan Poll presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors. VYPE DFW was able to catch up with Dial in regards to her time thus far with Parish and what her expectations are for the season and the rest of her future:
Eyes on the Prize
The junior small forward makes sure to keep her priorities in line all year long- to include during the off-season- in order to remain at the top of her game. "[During the offseason] I continue to workout, train, read, and motivate my teammates," Dial told VYPE in an exclusive interview. "I watch film from last year to see what I have to work on to improve." While staying on her game, Dial is sure to head into each new season with a great mindset. This season her mindset is to put her team first. "Do what I can and be there for my teammates and my team- to help out as much as possible."
With a mindset like that, it's not too difficult to be successful, but is there an overall secret to being successful in the TAPPS world of high school basketball? "Honestly, constantly being in the gym. Even when I'm not working out, I'm there watching games," she told VYPE. As far as an overall team success- the only secret is being cohesive as a team, says Dial. "Teamwork makes the dream work. It's about how close all of us are- we hang out outside of basketball and we have a respect for each others game. We also know our role."
Making memories while setting goals
With the season well underway, Dial has an idea of what she want the rest of it to look like. "[My goals this season are to] continue working to get better, improve my mid-range jumper, help with the overall success of the team, and hopefully get some offers," Dial said. With a team-first attitude and the ability to stay focused, Dial also has an idea of what the team would like to accomplish this season: "to get better together and win as many games as we can. Of course- win state."
As a junior, Dial has made many memories so far. One of her favorite memories comes from her very first year with the Panthers. "My favorite memory is making first-team All-District my first year at Parish Episcopal," Dial said before adding that another favorite memory she has with the team is "making it to the second round of playoffs."
A Bright Future
There's no doubt that Dial has a bright future ahead of her. Although she is currently not committed to a college program, she hasn't ruled out the possibility of playing basketball at the next level. "I am looking for a program to better develop as a player, where the team is like a family, everybody likes everybody, and I can feel comfortable as well as be myself."
Dial plans to major in kinesiology as she hopes to one day become a physical therapist.
Who is your favorite professional sports team?
"Portland Trail Blazers."
Who do you look up to as an athlete?
If you could go to dinner with one person (dead or alive) who would it be?
"Steph Curry and family."
For all the ways you love to play, Academy Sports and Outdoors makes it easier than ever to gear up and have fun out there! Get free shipping on your favorite brands at academy.com or get free curbside or in-store pick-up at your Academy store. Gear up this Winter at Academy Sports and Outdoors.
BREAKING: UIL Releases Conference Cutoff Numbers for Reclassification and Realignment, and what this means
The University Interscholastic League (UIL) posted their official release on Twitter Wednesday morning to announce the 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 UIL Reclassification and Realignment Conference Cutoff Numbers and Preliminary Enrollment Figures. With the realignment, it's possible that you may see a shift for some of your favorite Texas high school sports teams. The numbers for the realignment and reclassification are listed below:
Enrollment Figures and Division Breaks
⚠️ OFFICIAL RELEASE ⚠️
Football Conference and Division Cutoff Numbers for the 2022-2023 & 2023-2024 UIL Reclassification & Realignment
🔗 https://t.co/NsGjaWA6kV pic.twitter.com/dxTjzmXvUK
— Texas UIL (@uiltexas) December 8, 2021
Class 6A: 2225 and up
Class 5A: 1300-2224
Class 4A: 545-1299
Class 3A: 250-544
Class 2A: 105-249
Class 1A: 104.9 and below
With these numbers, the division breaks within the classifications are:
1A-D2: 59.4 and below
What This Means:
For some schools, this means some shifting around. A look at some of the changes that comes with these numbers would include:
Manor heads back to 6A
Harker Heights becomes the only Killeen ISD school in 6A
Royse City and North Forney will move to 6A
El Paso Hanks, Parkland, Crosby, Aledo, and Ysleta move to 5A-D1
Lubbock High, Argyle, Melissa, Austin LBJ, and Amarillo Palo Duro to 5A-D2
San Antonio ISD schools are all 5A-D2
El Paso Austin, Bowie, and Irving move to 4A-D1
There will likely be more to dive into over the coming weeks. VYPE will keep a close eye on realignments and reclassifications.
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