Hightower: Hungry for the big dance in 2008

Last season, the Hightower football team was two games away from playing in San Antonio. Now, with those memories still fresh on their minds, the Hurricanes are not settling for second best. At the conclusion of spring training, TexasPrepInsider had the chance to talk with coach Shane Hallmark and get his feelings on how successful off-season was for them.

Hightower battled North Shore last season in the regional final playoff game. After a dominant first half, it seemed like the Hurricanes were in the driver's seat towards a state berth.

But in the end, it was the Mustangs who moved on while Hightower's season was over. Now, with that behind them, the Hurricanes have newfound expectations for the 2008 season.

"The expectations are to win it all," Hightower coach Shane Hallmark said. "We thought we had a shot against North Shore last year in the regional finals and it just didn't happen for us. In the second half we didn't play well."

Of course, with the loss, something has set off a spark within the Hightower organization.

"For the first time (since I have been at Hightower), talk of a state championship is not just talk anymore it is something they expect," Hallmark said. "I would hope that they expect that and play for that. The kids saw how close they were to getting there. Hopefully it will become a reality."

That all starts with proper planning which the Hurricanes have done throughout off-season and spring football. There were things that Hallmark and his coaching staff set out to do.

And it seems as though the one main question was answered.

"Our whole spring objective was to build depth. In the spring game we divided teams equally so the best players were scattered out," Hallmark said. "We want to build depth in some of those younger guys because we plan on playing a long time. We want to make sure and have guys ready to go in case they needed to go in. Developing depth is a big thing for us."

Mission accomplished. Not only did Hallmark say that they found solid athletes to build depth, but he also had a few guys who went beyond expectations during spring practice and game.

He mentioned one player in particular.

"I saw some players step up who I hoped would. Defensive end Josh Wesley came over from basketball," Hallmark said. "I was hoping he would come alive because he hasn't played since he was a freshman. He showed some good things this spring."

As far as things that he was not too excited about, that was the tempo of the spring game itself. He said that the heat may have gotten to the guys and they weren't flying around as much as he would have liked them to.

"But overall I was pleased with them," Hallmark said. 

When it comes to lining up for the 2008 season, don't look for too many changes, except for a high-octane rushing attack.

"We are staying with the same defense and same offense nothing changing much. We do probably have the best two running backs since I have been at Hightower," Hallmark said. "We're really placing emphasis on being able to run the ball to control the clock. We want to be able to throw it when we want to throw it. Because I think our strength is on the defense and if we can keep them off the field we have a shot be competitive."

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