HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL

McNeil playmakers ready to step up for Mavericks in difficult district

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The mindset at McNeil isn't about replacing people.

This year's version of the Mavericks are trying to do their own thing.

"People did their thing, and now it's our turn," senior running back Winston Hutchison said. "We always practice that as a team. We want to have everyone here all the time and work on getting the plays down together."

McNeil finished last year 3-4 in District 13-6A and 4-6 overall. The Mavericks didn't make the playoffs, but it was still an improvement in head coach Howard McMahan's third year at the helm after a winless season in 2017.

The losses are massive, especially on the offensive side of the football.

Senior quarterback Zane Kampfer threw for 2,705 yards and 25 touchdowns with just seven interceptions last year. And receiver Jordan Kerley caught 75 passes for 1,185 and 12 touchdowns. Kampfer is now at Texas Lutheran while Kerley is at Arizona State.

Hutchison was the leading rusher for the Mavs last season, carrying the ball 160 times for 1,026 yards and 12 touchdowns. He had six games with more than 100 yards on the ground.

"I'm looking forward to playing as a team again," Hutchison said. "It's a team sport and I love to play with all my teammates. We have a lot of people that are all in. It's awesome seeing everything show up and do the team thing."

Malik Gordon was the No. 2 receiver (725 yards, seven touchdowns) and Blake Henke was third in line with 469 yards receiving and five touchdowns for the Mavericks last season.

McMahan played to his strength last season on offense, thawing the ball more times (319) than rushing attempts (268). Those numbers might not be skewed like that this year with Hutchison taking on more of a leadership role.

"I think it can be different," Hutchison said. "We have some new players coming in and we're going to try to be just as fun as last year."

Defensively, the Mavericks were tied with Round Rock for the third-worst defense in the district, allowing 36.75 points per game. That's still an improvement from the 2017 season when they allowed 48 points per district contest.

"I'm looking forward to showing everyone that we can make playoffs and we can do well in this district," senior defensive end Chase Cook said. "I have trust in our coaching staff and our team. We're always kind of the underdog no matter what game we're playing in."

Joining Cook on the defense will be the likes of Keegan Patty, Cody Davis and Cameron Bui.
The Mavericks begin the regular season with a trip to Del Valle before hotting Glenn - which won District 13-5A, DII last season - in the first two games of the season.

"We're coming together really well and we're playing fast and physical," Cook said. "The only thing I care about is the end score. The people that do have the playing time give the younger guys tips and reps and just work hard during the offseason and be ready for week one against Del Valle. We're a lot more ready than a lot of people think we are."

There are many ways to measure success, especially in a tough district like the one the Mavericks are about to take on. But playing on Thanksgiving is always a goal, no matter the opponent.

"First thing is playoffs," Hutchison said. "But I want to be a better teammate. Last year I was a little quiet but I want to help other people get their dreams and get their goals. I'm working on being more vocal. Being a senior, I feel it's my duty and I want to do it. Everyone being so excited for the season, it brings it all out."

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