2008 Team Insider: Dekaney Wildcats

The rapid growth of new schools in the Houston area has created new teams, new coaches and new prospects. One of the new schools is Dekaney High School in Spring ISD with their coach Willie Amendola. Sarah Parker does our first preview of Dekaney plus an interview with Coach Amendola.

The first year a football program goes varsity can be pretty tough. 

Now imagine going varsity as a team full of underclassmen in a place where returning D1 regional semifinalist Westfield and Spring, a program once again on-the-rise, are your inter-district rivals. 

Now imagine going varsity in 13-5A, where your intra-district rivals include Klein and Klein Oak. 

Such is the lot that Willie Amendola's Wildcats face right off the line.   

Or course, being a first-year varsity program has its advantages, too.  Amendola named the discovery process his team is embarking on as being one of them. 

"You don't have an identity yet," he said.  "There are teams you work towards, but you take advantage of the opponents you have in front of you."

 Amendola recognizes that building that identity – at least building the identity they want - isn't something that will happen overnight.  To facilitate this, he has selected formations and plays well-suited to his burgeoning team.  

 "We're smart enough to fit our system to our kids, to put them in a situation to be successful," Amendola said.

 Dekaney will be running a 4-3 defense to allow for quick adjustments, and on offense, the Wildcats will be running a multiple I. Both formations were selected because they give the team something to build on. 

 "We need to put a system in and be proficient at it after being in it for two or three years," Amendola said.

 In contrast to many teams whose mantra is to focus on one Friday night at a time, Dekaney finds itself in a unique situation.  To execute those plays and help shape the team for future seasons, they need players that see past one game and into the long-term future.   Amendola identified junior quarterback Keenan Atilee as one of the players that will do just that, saying that he would help the Wildcats grow as a team.

 "Keenan's a good manager of the game. …  He knows the game well enough that he can make adjustments on the field," he said.  "He's one of the rare kids that's insightful on the field. 

 "His versatility is going to make us as productive as possible."

 Amendola said wide receiver/line backer Adrian Bennett is another team leader, heralding the junior as "athletic and mature for his age."  Amendola labeled "fantastic" defensive end Dante' White and versatile running back Dominique Briscoe, both juniors, as other key players that have established themselves as leaders. 

  In order to combat the stiff competition that 13-5A will throw at them and to help them stay motivated during their first season, Amendola said that the team is working on setting attainable goals that don't all focus on immediate wins and losses.   

"One of our early goals is the intangibles: coming together as a team, handling handle success and setbacks, getting knocked down and getting up with clearer vision," he said.  "Right now, maturity is our most important criteria for us to be most successful.  They have to grow up – they have to be more mature than a lot of the kids their age."


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