Bell Boys (l to r): Andrew Argubright, Andy Borg, Will Fifer and Chris Dyer

Last night, the Lake Highlands Exchange Club showed they’re ready for some football, hosting the new Bell Boys and their parents and the Wildcat coaching staff for dinner at Back Country BBQ.

The event is an annual tradition – a kind of mutual appreciation society for LHEC volunteers who thank coaches for mentoring young men in their formative years, and coaches who express their gratitude for support they get from the community at large.

Jerry Allen, Dallas Councilman and former Bell Boy himself, couldn’t attend, so LHEC board member and Allen-surrogate, Adam Meierhofer, presented the megaphones in an amped-up, dead-on Allen style.  I’m not sure the LHHS seniors got the joke, but Exchange Club members roared with laughter.

Next up, Wildcat head coach Scott Smith introduced two of his football captains to give a preview of things to come on the gridiron.

Tyler Hughes will be a “game-changer,” Smith said, asking LHEC members to recall Hughes’ performance at last year’s Sunset game.

“What did Tyler do the first time he touched the ball? He took it to the house and scored a touchdown. I think you’ll see many more of those from him.”

“I think you see the team looking pretty good,” reported Tyler, “but there are always opportunities to get better. We are working hard, finding things to fix.”

Tyler first came to the program wanting to wear #2, Smith said, but was told he’d have to earn it. That jersey number was worn by LH powerhouse Desmond Roland, now beginning his junior year at Oklahoma State.

After years of hard work and accomplishment, “we got on the phone with D-Ro,” Smith said, “and Tyler asked if he could wear #2 for the Cats.” Roland agreed and wished him well.

LHHS cheerleaders

LHHS cheerleaders

“Sam Iheke is a leader on the field and off the field,” said Smith as he introduced his second captain. “We had his older brother Jonathan a few years ago, and they are two of the best kids and the best players around.”

“The young guys are improving,” Sam shared, “as they try to understand the concepts of our offense and defense. We are coming together as a team.”

“Every year,” Smith said, “we come to this point, where everything has to go just right. And you need the right people, maybe just like you in your job. I want to tell you how excited I am about my coaches.”

Judd Smith reported that the defense graduated 9 starters, but he expressed confidence in returners Matthew Johnson, Carter Bodell and Chris Guerra.

“We need these younger kids to step up and give us a solid front seven,” he said.

“We’re gonna be young, so we gotta be creative,” said Roderick Sneed, coach of special teams. He lamented losing senior star kicker Mitchell Henton, but said Demarius Preston will be a “dangerous” kick and punt returner. Our motto: Be special, be creative.

Offensive coach Jeff Urbanke downplayed the loss of last year’s starters. “We’ve got some young kids, and they’ll get some experience up front and they’ll do just fine.”

Cory Campbell, also coaching offense, recalled last season’s success with quarterback Trent Jones and All-American Kent Perkins.

“Last year, we had several sophomores, and this year those guys will be juniors. They didn’t just play, they contributed – that’s important. And they’ll be coming back next year.”

“Brock Jones, Trent’s little brother, will be playing quarterback,” Smith said. “We’re excited about the direction we’re going.”

Handicapping the rest of the district, Smith called Skyline “stout, but not as good as last year,” and Berkner “better.” Richardson is a challenge, he said, because their coach, Brian Chandler, spent years as an assistant at LH.

“And our guys just don’t worry about Jesuit,” he added. “Even though they sent several players to Division I programs last year, our guys just have confidence every time we face them.”

Smith invited the crowd out to Picture Night, Friday, August 16, saying “we’ve opened that up so people can meet the team and make those connections. We’ll have the tunnel up and the Wildcat Club has got food trucks coming.”

He also encouraged the community to attend the team’s first scrimmage Friday, August 23 at 8 a.m. at the Boneyard against Mesquite Horn.

“We’ll do it early to avoid the heat,” he said, “but also so the coaches can go out and do some scouting.”

First game at the Boneyard under Friday night lights? August 30 against the Mesquite Skeeters. This will be the annual Red Out game, and Wildcat cheerleaders are selling t-shirts with proceeds benefitting the Leukemia Society in honor of MPE teacher Beth Lyons. (You can see the full schedule here.) Go Cats!

Lake Highlands Coach Scott Smith speaks to Exchange Club members