Home | Sports | Football | No. 41 Waxahachie football poised to put 6A on notice behind experienced defense, offensive playmakers

No. 41 Waxahachie football poised to put 6A on notice behind experienced defense, offensive playmakers

By Travis M. Smith | Ellis County Sports

Head coach Shane Tolleson will lead a suddenly experienced and battled-tested Indian team into year two of his program with expectations at a 10-year high.

Tolleson and the Tribe finished 10-3 (5-2 in District 11-6A) in 2022, eventually bowing out to Westfield in the third round of the 6A Division I playoffs. 

The opening-round playoff win against Temple (30-21) marked the first-ever victory for the Indians in the state’s highest classification. They then defeated Rockwall (31-25) before falling to Westfield (10-7).

The Indians will have to replace key contributors, however. Those graduates include, among others, cornerback Calvin Simpson-Hunt (Ohio State, TSWA 6A 1st team All-State), wide receiver Keith Abney (Arizona State TSWA 6A 2nd team All-State), running backs Iverson Young (Montana) and Jayden Becks (Missouri State), La’Markus “Speed Bump” Reed (Colorado Mesa) and quarterback Roderick Hartsfield Jr. (Alcorn State). 

Even with those departures, Waxahachie still returns 5 offensive starters, four defensive starters and 28 lettermen, with more than a half-dozen already holding DI or DII scholarship offers — the beauty of building a deep program.

According to Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, defensive end Jermy Jackson Jr. is a crucial cog in the Indians’ defensive machine that limited opponents to 19.4 points per contest. Jackson (6-2, 195) was named to the DCTF Class 6A Preseason All-State team and recently committed to Texas State University. He recorded 15 sacks, 24 tackles-for-loss and 45 total tackles as a junior. 

Junior defensive tackle Jacob Ervin (6-0, 290, 2 sacks, 7 TFLs), outside linebacker Garren Mason (6-1, 195) and corner Eli Thompson (6-0, 180) also return to help Jackson anchor the Indian defense. 

Though Tolleson is the mastermind and play caller behind the defense, the retention of defensive coordinator, sounding board and offseason guru Eugene Rodgers was vital for the Tribe. Rodgers is recognized across the state as one of the absolute best in planning and executing offseason strength-and-conditioning programs. It only takes one look at this year’s Tribe to see why — these boys won’t be bullied on the football field.

First-year offensive coordinator Scott Reynolds is tasked with rebuilding an offense that averaged 33.9 points per game and will be without its top 3 rushers in 2022 (Becks, Young and Hartsfield). 

He will, however, have the services of senior quarterback Ramon McKinney Jr., who is arguably the most explosive player in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex…maybe the state.

McKinney is a true dual-threat quarterback that can hit a full sprint on his second step while also possessing the arm strength to sling a left-handed pass on target 40 yards downfield. Despite splitting time with Hartsfield in 2022 and often receiving far fewer snaps, McKinney finished the season with 10 total touchdowns and 899 total yards. He took significant postseason snaps and has since added the needed weight to sustain the weekly grind against 6A defenses.

Junior wide receiver Trenton Kidd (213 yards, 3TD) returns as McKinney’s primary threat on paper. 

6-foot-3, 180-pound freshman JaQuan Snell will also line up at wide receiver and safety for the varsity. Yes, that’s a Class of 2027 cat with the speed (11.2 100M) and size to play football at the 6A level. He has already garnered interest from the likes of Auburn and UTSA.

DCTF projects Waxahachie to finish third in 11-6A for the second consecutive season, behind defending state champions No. 1 Duncanville (6A DI) and No. 3 DeSoto (6A DII). The Eagles will undoubtedly welcome the Indians back to the 6A postseason, as Waxahachie and cellar-dwelling Skyline are the only two programs larger than DeSoto. If neither makes the postseason, the Eagles would jump up to 6A Division I and into the same bracket as Duncanville. 

The DCTF staff also predicts both Duncanville and DeSoto to repeat as 6A state champions in 2023. Waxahachie enters the season ranked No. 41 in the DCTF 6A rankings.

ECS prediction: The Indians defeat DeSoto for the first time since 2005 and finish second in District 11-6A with a 9-1 regular season record. 

UP FIRST

Waxahachie will travel a few miles east to open the season against the rival Ennis Lions in the 102nd Battle of 287. Need a preview and all of the details? Click it. 

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Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith

tsmith@elliscosports.com

About Travis M. Smith

Travis M. Smith is the owner and content director of Ellis County Sports and has over a decade of award-winning sports coverage. He most recently served as the digital sports director for KBEC 1390AM/99.1FM. He is the former managing editor of the Waxahachie Daily Light, Midlothian Mirror and Glen Rose Reporter.

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