Hutto head football coach Brad LaPlante considered the first four games of the 2019 season a test to see the kind of identity the Hippos would form.
Though Tropical Storm Imelda forced the cancellation of the Sept. 20 game against Houston Lamar, Hutto is currently undefeated, thus meeting one of LaPlante’s goals for the first part of the season.
“We’ve just shown a lot of growth, that’s the biggest thing,” the coach told Texas Scorecard. “I’m very proud of what we’ve got in special teams, defense and offensive schemes. We have had a lot of individuals raise their level of play and become starters, replacing missing pieces from last year. Maybe not just replace them but play at a higher level.”
Additionally commending his defense for “flying to the ball,” and his sophomore quarterback, Grayson Doggett, for becoming nicely acclimated to varsity play, LaPlante, who is in his second year at the Class 5A high school in south Williamson County, said the first three weeks were “a really pleasant start” to the campaign.
The reigning District 11-5A, Division I champions continuously kept their side of the scoreboard moving in each of their four wins to date, averaging an incredible 40 points a contest while limiting the competition to just below 18 points. Despite the impromptu bye week caused by Imelda, the Hippos did not lose a step as they dispatched Pflugerville Connally, 40-27, on Sept. 26 to open the defense of their district crown.
According to LaPlante, both Hutto and Lamar – coaching staffs and players alike – were very eager to play each other.
“That would’ve been a measuring stick for both teams,” he said. “We have a really strong non-district schedule. We’re a 5A team growing into 6A in the next couple of years, and we wanted to test ourselves against Houston Lamar. They’re a formidable opponent.”
Lamar was winless at the time of the cancellation, but LaPlante viewed the Texans as a team that can always keep games competitive.
The eye-catching Hippos offense is led by Doggett, who succeeds Chase Griffin, now at UCLA.
“Grayson is not new to a high level of competition,” LaPlante said. “He’s used to competitive environments, and he won the job outright during the spring and battled again in the fall when we had competition. He certainly did a great job on 7-on-7.”
Doggett’s maturity under center is evident as he, LaPlante stated, made “really good, timely throws for us and managed the game really well. He’s gotten us out of some bad play calls, not that our coordinator has called them bad. We just think that we have a good play call, and he gets us into something better.”
LaPlante acknowledged that Doggett makes mistakes too, but the signal-caller is able to move on quickly.
“If he does make a mistake, he doesn’t bring that mistake into the next drive or play,” LaPlante said. “Just the fact that he’s a smooth, calm, cool and collected character makes him better as a player.”
The Hutto defense’s ability to stymie opposing offenses with ease has been allowing Doggett and his unit to take the field plenty of times. Doggett’s comrades on the other side of the ball pride themselves on protecting the huge leads the Hippos build up.
“They’re lights out,” LaPlante said. “I know they’re maybe disappointed for allowing 27 points against [Pflugerville Connally], but give [the Texans] some credit on that.”
According to the coach, the defense has been “put in a lot of different situations and continues to be awesome.”
LaPlante said the team has been able to sustain momentum because of “good practices.”
As for what the coach hopes to achieve throughout the rest of the season, he referred to the group’s slogan: “Make the main thing the main thing.”
“Right now, after [the Pflugerville Connally] game, it’s to take all the good stuff from the film, work on the things that [weren’t] as good as we wanted it, and go into a good Georgetown week,” LaPlante said. “We really feel that we’re one of the top three teams in 11-5A, and we know everybody is going to give the Hippos their best and we expect to give them our best. I think if we play the way we’re capable of … I think we’ll be in the thick of things and have a great shot at winning 11-5A.”