Midland Legacy head coach Clint Hartman was going through the roster of returning players when he casually let slip something that should worry every defensive coordinator on the Rebels’ schedule.
“The quarterback is playing better than he did last year,” Hartman said of returning starter Marcos Davila.
“He’s a Power 5 quarterback and is already getting some looks.”
Davila, just a junior, had a breakout season in his first year on the varsity, completing 168-of-254 passes for 2,718 yards and 27 touchdowns, with just seven interceptions.
Hartman knew that he had gone out on a limb putting a sophomore in charge of the Rebels’ high-powered, high-scoring offense.
But the decision was made a little easier by the players that Davila had around him at the time to take some of the pressure off.
Running back Makhilyn Young was the featured back and he was dominant all season to the tune of 2,132 yard and 36 touchdowns.
Wide receivers Donnie Bishop, Nate Suttle, Chris Brazzell and Addison Akbar gave Davila plenty of targets all over the field, taking advantage of teams having to key on Young’s ability to go the distance every time he touched the football.
“I think it helped him,” Hartman said of Davila’s ability to mature while not having to lead the team. “When you have good players around you, you’re going to do well.
“He’s the first sophomore that I’ve started that made it. He’s starting down as the first three-year starter I’ve had.”
All the players surrounding him last season were seniors and this is now Davila’s team to lead and Hartman knows that he’ll be just fine in that role.
“He now has a voice,” he said. “You’re seeing that quarterback leadership that you need.
“He’s just a worker; if the gym’s open, he’s going to be there. And he allows us to do some things with his big arm.”
Now the Rebels, who finished 10-2 last season, have to find candidates to replace the graduated seniors.
There are plenty of players throwing their name in the mix as running backs Zeke Luna and Madden Milloy dominated a scrimmage at Waco Midway.
At the wide receiver spot, Deonta Sonnier had two catches for 100 yards and Aiden Serrano caught four passes for more than 100 yards.
Add in tight ends Elijah Price and Jordan Williams and Davila is going to be just fine.
He’ll be well protected, too, as Girevis Bobey is back to anchor the offensive line, along with Cade Decker and Jaxon Alexander.
As happy as Hartman is to have Davila back to guide the offense, he’s equally glad about the defensive secondary the Rebels will put on the field.
Jamar Roberson, Mario Serrano, Canyon Moses and Damien Johnson combined for 201 tackles, with Johnson adding two interceptions.
Roberson, Serrano and Moses are seniors, while Johnson is a junior.
“That back four, that’s the best unit,” Hartman said. “Three seniors and Johnson starting as a sophomore gives us a lot of confidence.”
There are, for the first time in some time, questions surrounding the Rebels’ kicking game with the departure of Gunner Meade.
Meade was a metronome on extra points, connecting on 194 of 205 attempts in three seasons and added 14 field goals on 17 attempts during that span.
He finished with 236 points, which included a perfect season in 2020 (59 of 59 on extra points and 9 of 9 on field goals).
“We have three guys fighting for that spot,” Hartman said. “There is no real front runner.
“Gunner is going to be extremely hard to replace. The consistency for three years, I don’t take that for granted.”
Something else that Hartman doesn’t take for granted is the Rebels’ legacy, not just recently, but through the previous six decades of competition.
He knows that his team is going to get the best from every opponent and that’s what he prepares his players to face week in and week out.
“It’s like any great program,” Hartman said. “I don’t have to say we’ll win, we’ve proven we can win.
“We have a tradition to protect. When I got here it was a little tarnished, but it’s better now.”
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MIDLAND LEGACY REBELS
— COACHES —
>> Head coach: Clint Hartman.
>> Coach’s overall record: 107-54
>> Coach’s record at school: 52-19.
>> Assistant coaches, duties: N/A.
— TEAM INFORMATION —
>> 2021 overall record: 10-2.
>> 2021 district record: 6-0 (First).
>> Last district title: 2021.
>> Last playoff appearance: 2021 (Def. El Paso Pebble Hills, 43-22, in bi-district; lost to Southlake Carroll, 42-7, in area).
>> Stadium name: Astound Broadband (8,000).
>> Base offense: Spread.
>> Base defense: 3-4.
— PLAYERS —
>> Returning lettermen: 31.
>> Returning starters: 10 (5 offense, 5 defense).
>> Key returners: Marcos Davila, 6-3, 200, Jr. QB; Canyon Moses, 6-0, 180, Sr., DB; Girevis Bobey, 6-2, 266, Sr., OL; Chase Barton, 6-0, 245, Sr., DL; Mario Serrano, 6-0, 180, Sr., DB; Damien Johnson, 5-11, 180, Jr., DB; Cade Decker, 6-4, 260, Jr., OL; Emanuel Lide, 6-2, 200, Jr., DL; Aiden Serrano, 6-0, 185, Soph., WR.
>> Key newcomers: Jordan Williams, 6-1, 185, Jr., TE.