The Temple Wildcats kicked off practices for the 2016-2017 season this week. As always, expectations and optimism are high. The Wildcats carry a #6 Class 5A State preseason ranking into the year, but there are significant holes to fill.

Photos by Joe Olivares

Gone are the 2015-2016 star receiving corps of Davion Curtis, Keion Seastrunk and Aaron Freeman, star running back De’Vante Nealy, the entire starting offensive line including all-state linemen Darren Harris and Jermaine Townsend, productive linebackers Quentin Smith and Corey Mann, and starting defensive backs Jalen Rios and Vaderick Grayer.

But on a positive note, the Wildcats welcome back blue-chip and all-state defensive end Taquon Graham (who was selected as Texas Football magazine’s division 5A Preseason Defensive Player of the Year), defensive tackle Robert Jackson, Division I signee safety Ashton Logan (Arizona State), starting quarterback Reid Hesse, running back Jemiyah Franklin, and tight end Zach Rumfield.

Other than these returnees, there will be a lot of “new” to one of Texas high school football’s most storied programs.

Most significantly, there is a new captain steering the ship. Former Defensive Coordinator and new Head Coach Scott Stewart will bring a new level of intensity and focus to a team that has won 25 games in the past two seasons, and that won 10 playoff games under recently departed Head Coach Mike Spradlin, including a State Championship game appearance. New players and some new assistant coaches will step up to fill some big shoes.

Photos by Joe Olivares

But that’s not all that’s new. K101.7 has a new broadcast team in the press box, and Wildcat football will have a brand new sound, and a brand new attitude.

Press box veteran Joe Palmer will return to the booth to handle play-by-play. Art Coley, Jr. (THS, ’88), will handle the color commentary, bringing a unique new spin on the team from the perspective of a lifelong Temple citizen and a former Wildcat. And yours truly, Allen Roark (THS ’87) will be bringing a new, social media component to the game allowing fans to experience the game from any, or all media they wish to use to actually participate in the Friday night game experience.

What else is new is the live “Coaches Show” on Monday nights at Wings Pizza & Things at 2112 H.K. Dodgen Loop in Temple at 6:30 p.m. Come and listen to Allen Roark interview Coach Stewart live, taking questions from the audience, and stay to listen to Coach Stewart break down film from the previous game immediately following the Wildcat Coaches Show broadcast with the Quarterback Club.

Be sure to tune in on Friday nights whether at the game, on your phone, or on your computer, or all three!! You won’t want to miss this season!