A new system with an old-school look is what Les Goad brings to the table as he begins his first year at the helm of the Hays Rebel football team.
What he also brings is a philosophy he hopes can energize a program that reached the playoffs last year, but yearns for more.
Focusing on intangibles such as dependability and enthusiasm is part of what Goad is looking for as he tries to develop a state of confidence and intensity for the 2018 campaign.
“Those are the qualities we are trying to establish within these young men, and every great athletic program I’ve been a part of, those are things that you see,” Goad said. “Besides learning to play the game of football, those are things they can take with them in life.”
On the field, one of the new facets will be Hays’ utilization of the Slot-T formation on offense, which focuses on a complex rush attack and ball control.
Goad said senior quarterback Xavier Martinez, senior center Brandon Garcia and senior tight end Bayler Jordan have taken on a major leadership role heading into the season.
“All of those guys are the backbone returning from last year’s team,” Goad said. “They are the ones that everybody looks too.”
Hays’ run-oriented offense calls for at least three running backs on the field at the same time; Goad said the Rebels would be able to go two-deep at the halfback, fullback and tailback positions.
The starting unit will feature senior Martin Shoemaker at fullback, senior Sam Scott at tailback and junior Xavier Green at halfback. Senior Nathan Tate returns from injury to compete at the halfback position, while seniors Nash Danford and Devin Hines will provide depth behind Shoemaker and Scott respectively.
“We feel like right now we feel pretty confident with these guys as far as their potential,” Goad said about the running back group. “I know that this is new to all of them, but I do feel like we have some depth there.”
Through the air, Jordan as well as wide receiver Riley Shelton are expected to be pivotal factors for the Rebels.
On defense, Hays will operate out of a 4-4-3 base scheme, which will focus on getting after the quarterback and stopping the run. Goad named senior middle linebacker Michael Mireles as being the leader in the middle of the defense.
“We are an attacking style defense,” Goad said. “Speed is the name of the game. We’ve got to attack and swarm the football and just be a fast and physical defense.”
The anchor could be Hays’ defensive line, which returns a handful of experienced players from last season.
Seniors Jamison Eddleman, Aiden Fitzgerald and Hamid Julbe guard the front line. Mireles, along with senior free safety Jaidon Bialaszewski will lead the defensive backfield.
While the Rebels have high expectations for their personnel, Goad said the ability to improve as they move forward is also critical.
“Another thing is we want to earn the respect of our opponents as being a very physical team that’s very disciplined and plays the game with great intensity,” Goad said.
Hays will open the regular season Aug. 31 on the road against rival San Marcos. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.