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Red Oak football to feature skill players, speed in 2023 season

By Travis M. Smith | Ellis County Sports

Wishbone, flexbone or turkey bone — the biggest bone to pick in District 4-5A DI is with the projections by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football.

Midlothian and Red Oak were selected to finish third and fourth in 4-5A, respectively. Lake Belton (8-3, 6-2 in 4-5A) is projected to win the district crown, while Killeen Shoemaker (8-3, 6-2 in 4-5A) is projected second.

Shoemaker lost to both Red Oak (38-35) and Midlothian (32-37) in 2022. Lake Belton narrowly escaped Red Oak (48-47 OT) and then fell to Shoemaker (34-33) and Midlothian (39-37).

Red Oak was amid an odd fumbling of the head coaching position, which ultimately landed in the more-than-capable hands of Melvin Robinson. Midlothian, meanwhile, was in year one-and-a-half of moving further from the flexbone to a more spread offense.

Red Oak enjoyed quite the bounce-back season and postseason run in 2022.

The explosive Hawk offense entered its area round championship against Abilene averaging 44.4 points per game and having just upset perennial power Denton Ryan, 29-28, in overtime behind a furious second-half comeback. 

Injuries quickly mounted in the second-round contest, though. Abilene ran away with the 35-0 victory behind 495 yards of total offense to the Hawks’ 84. 

The Hawks have won 9 or more games four times since 2018, topping out with an 11-2 mark and a 7-0 district run under now-Lovejoy head coach Chris Ross. The one outlier season (2-8) came in 2021 when former-head coach Tony Holmes took over the program well into the summer and following Ross’ departure. 

The key to what has unquestionably become the “golden years” of Red Oak football is simple — the Hawks can scoot

Red Oak is blessed with speed in its skill position. And there might be none faster than sophomore Brayden Robinson. 

Robinson helped the Red Oak 4×100-meter relay team to a 5A state title in 2022. The group’s 40.29 tied for the sixth-best in the nation. 

Robinson also helped the Hawks’ 4×200-meter relay to a fifth-place finish (1:26.65) and placed 5th overall in the 100-meter dash (10.47) at the UIL state track-and-field championships. 

Robinson finished his freshman campaign with 30 catches for 523 yards and a team-best 9 touchdowns. The Class of 2026 prospect already holds standing offers from over two dozen Division-I programs, including Texas A&M, TCU, Texas, Oregon, Tennessee, Auburn and others. 

Senior wide receiver Rodney Malone Jr. (5-11, 165) was also a member of the two Red Oak relay teams and will return to help Robinson, junior Taz Williams Jr., senior Chris Martinez and tight end Arvis Battle.

Williams Jr. is a 6-foot-1, 180-pound wide receiver and cornerback that led the Hawk receiving corps in 2022. He pulled in a team-high 31 passes for 582 yards and 5 touchdowns. Martinez accounted for 215 yards and 2 touchdowns on 12 catches, while Malone added 7 catches for 47 yards. 

Reggie Moody Jr. will be the man behind center for the Hawks after transferring to Red Oak from Mansfield Legacy during the spring semester.

While leading the Broncos, Moody completed 106-of-his-195 passes (54.4%) for 1,282 yards and 8 touchdowns to 6 interceptions. Legacy struggled mightily in the 6A “District of Doom” that features both 6A state champions in Duncanville and DeSoto, along with Waxahachie, Mansfield and Cedar Hill. 

Moody will look to best the production of Jaylon Robinson (Southeastern), who threw for 1,743 yards and 22 touchdowns to just 6 interceptions in 2022. 

The Red Oak defense will see quite a few new faces, though most all saw varsity action in 2022. 

The Hawk secondary will have to replace the production of its three top defenders from a season ago, most notably University of Texas safety Warren Roberson (13 pass deflections, 2 INT). 

Zachary Smith (5 PD, 1 forced fumble) and Maurice Wells (4 PD, 43 total tackles) bring back the most experience among the group. Smith is also the leading tackler to return from 2022 (76 total tackles, 4 TFL, 5 sacks, 12 quarterback hurries).

Senior defensive end Tanner Thompson will anchor the Hawks’ front seven. The 6-foot-2, 235-pound athlete runs a 4.8 in the 40 and returns after collecting 58 total tackles and 11 tackles for loss as a junior — including 6 sacks and 21 quarterback hurries. 

UP FIRST

Red Oak opens the season at 7:30 p.m. Friday against The Colony at Tommy Briggs Stadium. 

The Hawks struggled in the first half against the Cougars in 2022, needing four second-half touchdowns for the 51-43 come-from-behind win. 

Tickets can be purchased here: https://www.lisd.net/Page/28239.

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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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