HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Andrews heading into the season with a young team

Andrews head coach Tom Harvey has made it clear that this year’s Mustang football team will be young.

However, he’s also made it clear that they don’t expect to miss the playoffs.

Andrews brings back only three starters on defense and two on offense.

In total, the Mustangs graduated 31 lettermen from last year and only have 14 returning.

Harvey and his players know that there will be some growing pains this fall but the second-year head coach is confident that they’ll be fine.

“We’re excited,” Harvey said. “We’re always excited. Andrews kids love football. We’re ready to get it going. We’ll be really young this year. … We have a lot to learn but we’re going to be OK. We have a lot of kids that will work hard.”

The Mustangs are coming off a 7-5 overall record, 2-2 in District 2-4A D-I, from last year which that ended with an area round loss to Decatur.

Gone is quarterback EJ Lopez after three years of starting under center.

Replacing him is senior Aidyn Olivas along with a totally different offense.

Instead of airing it out most of the time, the Mustangs will now be keeping the ball on the ground with a switch to the Slot-T formation.

“The switch is that he’s going to have the ball in his hands every play,” Harvey said of Olivas. “He’s a dual threat. He can run it and throw it. We haven’t had those types of quarterbacks because we’ve been throwing the ball more than 50 percent of the time. He’s not that kind of guy. He can do it but if you’re going to take advantage of all of his assets, then you’re going to have to run the ball and be a little bit of a creator.”

Olivas will be making the switch from wideout.

“He’s a gamer,” Harvey said. “He shows up and plays on Friday night. He, like the rest of the players, will learn from his mistakes. He may struggle here and there from tactical things from making the switch but he’s always going to play hard and have a great attitude.”

Both offensive and defensive lines should be a strength for the Mustangs this year as they return Tate Gore on o-line while defensive linemen Juan Hernandez, Diego Peregrino and Raider Harvey also return.

“Gore is a great leader for us,” Harvey said. “He’ll lead that offensive line. Then, defensively, Juan Hernandez and Diego Peregrino and my son Raider Harvey will be back. We expect good things out of them. They’re going to be leading a bunch of sophomores on the field. We’ll have sophomores on the field this year but they will grow up fast.”

Despite fielding probably one of the youngest squads the Mustangs have had in recent years, the five-team district gives the Mustangs a decent chance at making the playoff cut.

That said, the district will include challenges from Brownwood, Lubbock Estacado, Big Spring and San Angelo Lake View.

“The challenge is always to win in a tough district and make the playoffs,” Harvey said. “Everyone knows we’re young because we graduated some good players but we also have some good ones coming back. We did well in sub varsity last year. I’ve seen us picked as low as fifth in the district. We won’t finish fifth. We’ll be fine. At the same time, being young, we’re going to have to grow up fast. But we won’t finish fifth.”

Andrews will begin the season at 7 p.m. Sept. 1 in a nondistrict contest against Monahans at Mustang Bowl.

The Mustangs’ nondistrict slate will continue with an away trip to Greenwood, followed by Seminole at home before heading north to Lubbock High the next week and finishing with Canyon at home on Sept. 29.

Andrews will begin district play on Oct. 6 at Lake View.