W.T. White has been close. Last year, the Longhorns narrowly missed the playoffs after dropping overtime games to Skyline and Richardson Pearce.
In each of the previous two seasons, WTW finished 5-5 but lost a key game down the stretch to extend a postseason drought that has now reached a decade.
Yet even in a difficult district, there might be room for optimism. The Longhorns gained momentum by finishing last season with a win over playoff-bound Lake Highlands.
“Our kids played hard throughout the year,” said WTW head coach Rudy Powe. “It shows belief in the program. These kids kept rowing the boat in the right direction.”
The Longhorns enter the 2017 campaign with plenty of holes to fill, especially at the offensive skill positions. Four of the team’s top five receivers from last season earned the chance to play in college.
That makes returning quarterback Ryan Sandoval crucial to WTW’s fortunes. He passed for more than 2,000 yards and 17 touchdowns a year ago, and also ran for three scores.
Sandoval’s primary target might be Eric Cook, a deep threat who caught four touchdown passes last season. Plus, an experienced offensive line should allow WTW to develop a better running game, Powe said.
On defense, the Longhorns must show improvement after allowing at least 35 points in nine of 10 games last year. Tokosh Wheeler and James Leonard will anchor a young unit up front.
“We’ve been one play or one game away from being a playoff team,” Powe said. “The losses we suffered last year really fueled our fire in the offseason.”