Coach Bubba Walters doesn’t remember exactly what he said to Cody Daily a year ago. But in retrospect, the conversation turned out to be pretty important for his Center Point football program, altering the course of the Pirates’ 2018 football season.
Daily had recently transferred to Center Point from Ballinger, and had missed the Pirates’ first week of two-a-days, unsure if he even wanted to play football after having a bad experience at his last school. But after a long, honest conversation with Walters, Daily resolved to give the sport another try.
His decision worked great for both parties. Playing running back, Daily savaged District 14-2A Div. I, collecting 669 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns in five district games to earn district newcomer of the year honors.
“Cody is a gamer,” Walters said. “When the lights come on, he just plays. … he started becoming a Pirate last year. He start getting involved with the kids, going out and hanging out. He’s just one of the boys now.”
Here’s some more good news for Center Point: Daily will be a Pirate for one more year. After spending a year in Center Point’s system, he’s hoping to post even bigger number this year. His upcoming senior season gives Pirates’ fans another reason to be excited about the fall. During a 40-minute interview inside his office on Wednesday, Walters tries to remain cautiously optimistic, but it’s clear he’s thrilled about the current state of his football program. He knows he has good football players, knows they have been working hard during the off-season and knows those same players have a chance to win a lot of games this fall.
“I think we are going to be OK,” Walter said. I am looking forward to (this season) … I’m excited.”
There’s plenty of others reasons to be excited besides having one of the best running backs in Class 2A. The Pirates return four starters on the offensive line, arguably the most important position group in football. Their starting quarterback, junior Kolten Kitchens, has become stronger and more mature during the off-season. And they have more linemen in their rotation, which will help with stamina in the fourth quarter.
Also, the Pirates are entering their third season in the Flexbone veer offense, which can be lethal when run effectively. They were still trying to learn the system in 2017, committing mistakes that ended countless promising drives. And they were still experiencing some growing pains last season.
But this year, they insist that they’ve mastered the system.
“It’s a lot smoother now,” offensive lineman Fernando Fuentes said. “Now, we aren’t trying to figure out what to do. We know all the plays now. Now, we are just trying to perfect it.”
And perhaps most importantly, Walters is pleased with the culture inside his program. His upperclassmen know how to work hard in the off-season (Fuentes increased his squat by 100 pounds), and they have a good relationship with his coaching staff, thanking them in the field house after every practice.
He’s hoping to have plenty of reasons to celebrate with those
same players during the season.
“These kids are really close,” Walters said. “That’s the one thing I enjoy here: The team chemistry, the camaraderie, them hanging out together, doing different types of things. … It’s a good group of kids.”