Jailen Dixon and Shane Hopkins should both see time at the quarterback position for Electra this season as the Tigers look to improve upon an inury-plagued 3-win campaign. The Tigers return 12 starters and get an impact player back from a torn ACL. And as Tobin McDuff explains in tonight’s friday night football preview, the Tigers break in a new head coach who really is not all that new.
For the sixth time in 10 years, the Electra Tigers have a new head coach manning the sidelines. And this time they may have hired a long term leader. Ryan Quillen graduated from Electra in 2000. His love for the tigers runs deep. After graduating from Midwestern State he returned to his hometown where he’s coached the past 14 years.
“Being with Coach Quillen since I was in the seventh grade, me and him have formed a good connection. So it’s really awesome to have him be the head coach of me,” says wide receiver/defensive back Gabe Easter. “I’ve never seen someone with as much Tiger pride as Coach Quillen. He’s never left. Born and raised here and been here his entire life. I think having that much pride on the field helps with team morale.” So it’s nice to have someone that wants to be here. Electra born and raised. He’s a Tiger true by heart, bleeds red ya know?”
Says tight end/defensive end Noah Caldwell. “So it’s good to have someone that’s here, that’s fired up to be here and trying to build a good program.” Despite all the coaching changes, the Tigers have been somewhat successful making the playoffs in seven of the past eight years…averaging six wins a season over that span. And this Spring, the Tigers qualified for the State 7-on-7 tournament.
“I think it helped us help the coaches see that we can also pass too. So we’re gonna throw in some passing plays this year I think,” says quarterback/safety Shane Hopkins. “Just getting down there and playing all those extra games. We’ve had kids who didn’t get a lot of playing time last year and they had that experience. They gave us the confidence we can do something special this season,” says Coach Quillen.
Quillen’s top priority will be doing something special on defense, shoring up a squad which allowed 35.5 points a game last season. “As the defensive coordinator that’s on me. I never like to make excuses but we had some injuries last year. Caldwell didn’t play. We had our leading tackler from the year before, Andrew DeLizio, got hurt,” says Coach Quillen. “So we were young. We had several sophomores that played for us. And so we’re looking forward to those kids taking the next step. They’re juniors now and Noah comes back.” The 6’6”, 220-pound senior, Noah Caldwell, will make a difference on both sides of the ball. He’s fully recovered from the ACL injury which sidelined him last season.
“His height. His strength. He’s fast for his size. And he’s just athletic all-around,” says linebacker Kolby Kimbro.
“To overcome first of all the physical things – my ACL, the rehab, recovery and stuff like that. It was a lot of mental things,” says tight end/defensive end Noah Caldwell. “I sat on the sidelines and having to watch good and bad things. Just not being able to participate was a mental struggle as well as a physical struggle.” And now it’s a struggle for opponents like Windthorst, Archer City and Petrolia to find a way to limit one of Texoma’s top talents.