When the 2019 Magnolia West High football team takes the field in a few weeks, it will kick off a year of firsts.
The Mustangs will be under the direction of a new head coach for the first time in three years in Blake Joseph, who replaces his former superior, current Magnolia Independent School District athletic director J.D. Berna. A quarterback whose name is not John Matocha will take his first snaps for an offense that immensely benefited from the graduated signal-caller’s prowess as a dual-threat from 2016 to 2018. Several sophomores will see action as first-year lettermen.
Simply put, a full-fledged youth movement is underway at the southwest Montgomery County school. According to Joseph, it is quite a déjà-vu kind of moment.
“It kind of reminds me of my first year when I first got here in 2016,” Joseph, who previously served as the Mustangs offensive coordinator under Berna, told Texas Scorecard. “We were really young that year, ended up 7-4 and losing in the first round of the playoffs. . . . The team makeup is kind of similar to that year.”
The new-look Magnolia West offense will feature a cadre of sophomores about whom Joseph is very optimistic.
“They’re good and they’re talented,” Joseph said. “I’m excited about those guys.”
Look for 5-foot-11, 165-pound senior wide receiver Payton Finch to haul in passes from Matocha’s yet-to-be-named successor. As of this writing, two QBs are battling for the spot. Joseph called Finch, who caught 16 touchdowns with 1,200 yards receiving in 2018, “a Division I-caliber kid.”
“He’s a little bit short, but he’s very explosive and very fun to watch,” Joseph said.
Defensively, Magnolia West touts a strong crew possessing ample amounts of experience. Senior free safety and recent Texas Tech commit Ryan Frank highlights a batch of returning starters on that side of the ball.
Joseph, who “feels good about the season,” could not help but marvel at the solid mix of youth and experience.
“We’ll have our ups and downs early because, offensively, we’re pretty dang young, but our defense will carry us through the season and into the playoffs,” he said. “We’ve just got to stay the course and get better each and every week.”
As a disciple of Berna, Joseph helped engineer the Mustangs’ three recent playoff runs, one of which was accentuated by a district title. He is determined to continue what he said “is the success here at Magnolia West.”
“[We just want to] continue building our tradition, keep moving into the playoffs and, hopefully, launch into the state championship someday,” Joseph said.
The Mustangs open the season with a home game against Brenham High on Aug. 30 at 7:30 p.m.