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The McNabb Report: Can Cedar Hill reload in '11?
June 6, 2011VYPE MAGAZINE - Dallas
Add Cedar Hill as another program making a transition to a 4-2-5 defensive alignment. Cedar Hill has had success as a fairly traditional 4-3 defense but Longhorns coach Joey McGuire said he's trying to prevent big plays after a talented defense allowed 27 or more points seven times while compiling last year's 8-4 record.
Cedar Hill showed much more zone coverage in its final spring scrimmage but will try to keep its aggressive, fly-to-the-ball mentality. One of the most successful innovators in the 4-2-5 is TCU’s nationally ranked program.
“We’d get people in second-and-12, third-and-10 and then we’d give up a big play last year,” McGuire said. “We’re going to try and keep more eyes on the ball to keep it in front of us.”
Cedar Hill defensive end David Harris returns as a very disruptive, play-maker on the edge. If the 6-2 Harris added two inches he'd likely be one of the state's highest ranked recruits. But McGuire is counting on the active Harris to get more college offers through what's expected to be a strong senior season against top competition.
Cedar Hill linebackers Isaiah Lewis and Steven Taylor also are expected to perform well and Cedar Hill has another speedy defense which will have a rotation of 18 to 22 players.
The Longhorns are a quarterback who had a 32-7 record as a starter, but has a pair of talented successors competing through to take over. Andre Anderson and Damion Hobbs split time at quarterback in Cedar Hill’s spring game and McGuire said it may be through non-district next season before a choice between them is made.
“They’ll both play quarterback and receiver to start the season and we’ll probably make a decision with one at quarterback before district,” McGuire said.
The left-handed throwing Anderson started at quarterback with the No. 1 offense and showed confidence and familiarity. He also played receiver when Hobbs was the quarterback. Hobbs will split time at receiver next season but McGuire said he wanted Hobbs to get as many repetitions as possible.
A sophomore, Hobbs also is a standout on Cedar Hill’s basketball team. The speedy Anderson and the strong arm of the mobile 6-4 Hobbs offers a strong follow-up to Driphus Jackson, who signed with Rice.
“Andre and Damion actually are a lot like Driphus in that they’re good leaders and they’re good students,” McGuire said. “They have confidence and both did well with this being sort of their first big game to be quarterback.”
Anderson completed 2-of-5 passes substituting for Jackson last season and he had 18 carries for 94. But Anderson totaled 55 catches for 588 yards. The left-hander primarily threw quick passes in the spring scrimmage but did have a 61-yard run on option, roll-out. Hobbs showed his promise with a 30-yard, bullet pass for 30-yards while rolling left and throwing across his body.
The dual-threat Jackson also was Cedar Hill’s leading rusher but the Longhorns showed plenty of running ability this spring. Class of '14 speedster LaQuvionte Gonzalez broke free on a 52-yard run on the first drive and will be used in the backfield and at receiver. Gonzalez (also one of state's top high jumpers) will be one of the state's highest rated recruits after next season. Assistants from TCU, Arizona and Northwestern were all asking Coach McGuire to get updated 40-yard dash times following the spring scrimmage.
Cedar Hill will have another talented backfield no matter who takes over at QB. Junior Evan Williams has returned to the program after a move to Flower Mound Marcus. Sophomore Jared Rayford rushed 185 yards on 35 carries last season and also will rotate in regularly.
In addition to quarterback, Cedar Hill has strong competition at center to anchor the offensive line. Anthony Pullins moved from right guard to fill in for injured Ashton Thirkill and the starter is now undetermined. “They both played well, but Anthony has had a really good spring, and now it’s turned into a big battle,” McGuire said. “It’s such an important position with the shotgun snap that we’ll keep looking at it.”