Preseason report: Fort Bend Willowridge

Providing our fans with the best high school and recruiting news is the aim of the TexasPrepInsider organization. Today, we bring you a brief preseason report for the Willowridge football team. We caught up with coach Keeath Magee for an update.

Across the state of Texas, there are more than a few high school programs that have a deep-rooted, rich tradition because of years of success. When talking about elite programs that date back many years, Willowridge may come up in the discussions.

It seems like as of late, the spark that once lit the flame of this known powerhouse has sort of dwindle. Many say that the growth and expansion of the Fort Bend County are around Missouri City has a lot to do with that.

But that alone was not enough to keep newly hired coach Keeath Magee away. In fact, the duty of turning the program around was welcomed with open arms. So with a new coach and a new attitude, is the ‘Ridge back?

"The thing we (new Willowridge coaches) felt we wanted to establish from the go was to go in and establish discipline and let those kids know what we are about," Magee said. "More than that, we wanted to try restore the pride in the program. Willowridge is one of the greatest high school programs that ever existed. 

"You start talking about Grady Cavness, Allen Aldridge Jr., and Thurman Thomas, and many other guys, and coaches, who have come through that program. We felt like this was our opportunity to re-establish that tradition."

And as coach stated, the traditions run deep. Cavness was as star back in 1988 and Albert Johnson is more recent in the late 1990s as well as Eric England.

Now there is a new day and the entire dynamic of the game has changed. Where the wishbone and Wing-T were once the norm, it is the spread offense that is a lot more widely used.

With that said, Magee felt it was time to unleash the Eagle offense and let them go.

"Philosophy-wise, we are a wide open type offense with multiple formations. We will probably be all no huddle at Willowridge and never huddle up," Magee said. "Those are some of things we have looked at that we will do differently. We felt like there were a few skilled kids when we took a look at them and decided we could put them in some places and try to spread them out. We will use these guys to try and stretch the field."

History shows that that style of ball is what Magee does best. His last stop at Houston Westbury proved that run-and-gun is his preference.

"The way we play ball offensively is like fast break on the basketball court. We are going to run," Magee said. We showed that when we averaged over 418 yards of offense last year at Westbury. I feel we have the same type of athlete here at Willowridge to get that done."

But one thing that Magee and the Willowridge organization cannot fix initially is the enrollment numbers. At the last realignment, Willowridge reported 1,515, which to some seems low for a team in Class 5A.

And though that is a situation all in itself, Magee will do one primary thing that could attract more to the Eagle program.

"Probably the biggest concern was numbers, seeing the number of kids who were going to be in the program," Magee said. "There are quite a few kids who we lost to Marshall and Hightower and that was a concern of ours. But I think the way we stop the bleeding with that is to win early and have success. With that, our numbers will go up. 

"We'll start to keep our kids because McAuliffe Middle School feeds us 100 percent. If we can change the look and have success, bug things will start to happen for us."

With all that is said, Magee and staff will look to hit the ground running starting with game No. 1. Many questions and concerns have floated around the circles of Willowridge alumni for a few years now. 

So what is the state of the program and what could be expected for 2009?

"Willowridge motto is class and character and 2009 expect to see a football team that shows up every Friday night," Magee said. "These kids are going to play hard, execute, and exemplify everything that Willowridge stands for. 

"We are going to be wide open, face-paced and just get after people."

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