Rodney Webb took a second and laughed when he thought back on his first game as Guyer’s coach last season.
The Wildcats were on the road against Hebron, unveiling Webb’s up-tempo, high-octane offense for the first time.
But through one quarter, Guyer had only run six offensive plays, going three-and-out on its opening two drives.
“I remember standing on the sideline thinking, ‘Here’s this new coach who brought this up-tempo offense. It’s going to be this yards and points machine,’” Webb said with a laugh. “We were through a quarter, and at that pace, were going to run 24 snaps for about 42 yards of offense and no points.”
The Wildcats’ offense finally got going, of course, rolling up 547 total yards in a 56-33 rout.
And even though Guyer went 11-3 and advanced to the Class 6A Division II semifinal last season, Webb is well aware the Wildcats’ offensive hiccups were never completely resolved.
That is, until now.
With a full offseason, spring and fall practices under their belt, Webb said there is no doubt Guyer is more polished and comfortable heading into its season opener on Thursday night against Hebron.
“I laugh when I look back at what we weren’t able to really do last year at all, but especially early in the year,” Webb said. “I just think, ‘How did we go out and play a game?’ I don’t know how I didn’t hyperventilate before kickoff. And we’re certainly further down the road this year.”
Guyer returns several key contributors on both sides of the ball but will be debuting a new starting quarterback in Jackson Arnold.
The junior has been patiently waiting in the wings since being forced into the 2019 6A Division II state title game as a freshman. Arnold will have a slew of returners around him that should help ease his transition, including running back BJ Phillips and receivers Jace Wilson, Grayson O’Bara and Brody Noble.
Defensively, the Wildcats feature multiple Division I-caliber players, including North Texas commit Vincent Paige, Pitt commit Marquan Pope and four-star prospects Peyton Bowen and Ryan Yaites.
“Offensively, I think the biggest strength is going to be our balance,” Webb said. “I think we really have the ability to be close to 50/50 in terms of production [running and passing]. The ways we can get the ball to all parts of the field, I think we’ll be more diverse this year. Defensively, I think our strength is going to be our speed. Every one on our defense can run.”
Guyer’s defense will be tasked with slowing down Hebron starting quarterback Jacob Buniff and leading receiver Takoda Bridges.
Buniff threw for 162 yards and a touchdown in last year’s game, while Bridges caught six passes for 51 yards.
“[Hebron] won the state 7-on-7 championship bracket,” Webb said. “They went down there and went undefeated over the course of two days, so clearly they have some skill kids that can play.”