T-Wolves searching for consistency in second season of Justin Jones era
“Character. Chemistry. Culture.” Those are the three words Norman North dons upon its summer pride shirts. The T-Wolves are also looking for consistency as they turn the page on a 2-8 finish to the 2018 season and embark on year two of the Justin Jones era.
“Those are the things that we want to emphasize and the things that we need consistently for us to turn the corner. I don’t get caught up in ranking how many wins we need to say if we’ve turned a corner or not, because I don’t think it’s necessarily about that,” Norman North head football coach Justin Jones said. “What it’s about for me is are we becoming a good football program and are we consistently getting what we expect when we step on the field? That’s where we’ve got to go.”
Norman North returns nine offensive starters and will be quarterbacked by junior Jackson Remualdo (6-foot-2, 170). Remualdo spent some of last season as the T-Wolves’ starting signal-caller and Jones said he is happy with the progress he’s seen this spring.
“Jackson has a much better grasp of what a 6A quarterback has to do both from a game management standpoint and understanding situations,” Jones said. “Really did a great job through our 7-on-7 and the tournament that we hosted here of operating our offense and even had the chance sometimes to call plays himself.”
Joining Remualdo in the backfield are a pair of talented running backs in senior Blaine Martin (5-foot-9, 150) and junior Gabe Trevillison (5-foot-10, 180).
“They’re totally different [runners]. Gabe is a downhill, very, very physical back and a guy that can go get the tough yards. Blaine’s really a utility and a do-it-all guy. He’s a guy that we love having in the backfield. He’s a guy that can motion out and do some things and play slot receiver. Blaine is more of the speed and quickness. Thunder and lightning,” Jones said.
North Texas commit and senior Jake Roberts (6-foot-5, 233) gives the Timberwolves “multiplicity” on offense with his ability to work as an in-line tight end, line up in the back field or flex out as a receiver.
“I’ve been really proud of his work ethic. He’s been a great leader for us and leading this team, so I’ve been really happy with his body of work, too, on the offensive side,” Jones said of Roberts.
Other pass catchers to keep an eye on include senior Cale Cabbiness (6-foot-2, 166), senior Malachi Gatewood (6-foot-2, 162) and junior Luke Switzer (6-foot, 183).
“Really happy with our receivers. All those guys, you can tell they’re veterans now of the system and they’ve got the experience of a Friday night which has been really good to see this spring,” Jones said.
On the offensive line, juniors Benicio Fuentes (6-foot-4, 322) and Landon Lehenbauer (6-foot-4, 231) will man the respective tackle positions. At center, senior Logan Furnish (6-foot-4, 290) returns. One of the starting guards will be senior Sam Shepelwich (6-foot-2, 261) and right now junior Walter Young Bear (6-foot-4, 284) is expected to earn the other starting nod.
“I think our offensive line has probably made the biggest leaps out of anybody or any one unit. I’ve been really happy with their style, physicality and where they’ve grown. Obviously, there’s still a lot of guys on that offensive line with little varsity experience, so that’s going to be the big question mark for us as we go forward. I’ve been really happy with where we’re at and the physicality that they’ve brought to the table,” Jones said.
The Timberwolves return four starters to a defense that will once again operate out of a 3-4 scheme with some tweaks to how they work it structurally. Jones is taking over the defensive coordinator duties and has added North alumni Trey Wormington as a defensive line assistant and brought in Phillip Spess to coach defensive backs.
“Trey just graduated from UCO and brought a lot of energy to that position group. In the secondary, we hired what I feel like is an outstanding young coach that has a really, really bright career ahead of him,” Jones said.
Spess comes over from Tecumseh and spent the two years prior to that at Southern Methodist University as the Mustangs’ quality control coach. Jones said he’s enjoyed taking over the defensive coordinator duties.
“Really excited getting back to the defensive side of the ball as a full-time coach for me personally has been fun. It’s been great to see our guys’ transition,” Jones said.
On the defensive line, senior Jachin McDonald (6-foot-3, 210) will start at one of the defensive end positions and has been “the star of the spring on the defensive line.”
Sophomore Josh Koranda (6-foot-2, 290) has been repping at nose guard. Junior Jackson Lancaster, senior Magnus McKee (6-foot-2, 212) and senior Glen Perkins (6-foot-3, 325) are also in the mix for the other two defensive line slots.
North returns a key piece at one of its inside linebackers in senior Jake Landers (5-foot-11, 213).
“That defensive unit starts with Jake Landers. Jake’s a guy that started every game last year and is a veteran guy after a year of experience and has had a tremendous spring with the way that he played,” Jones said.
The other inside linebacker position is a battle between senior Dylan Smith (5-foot-9, 170) and junior Kameron Washington (5-foot-10, 221). At outside linebacker, one of the starting positions is expected to be filled by senior Riley Barker (5-foot-10, 187), though Barker was described as a “utility guy” that could play inside or outside backer. Junior Logan Peltier (6-foot-3, 202) is penciled in at the other outside linebacker spot, but fellow junior Zach Ivy (6-foot-3, 177) is also rotating in there.
Coach Jones is thrilled with the progress in his defensive backfield at cornerback.
“The two corner positions are the place that I’ve felt we’ve grown the most from last year. We’re playing two corners that I believe can be some of the best corners in the state,” Jones said.
That pairing at cornerback is Gatewood and senior Joshah Bowie (6-foot, 170).
“Both of those guys are 6-foot plus, they both can run and that gives you a great presence in the back end especially against the teams that we play,” Jones said.
At the safety position, the T-Wolves are looking at sophomore Trey Laubach (5-foot-10, 171), sophomore Eli Moulton (6-foot, 156), junior Carson Rector (5-foot-10, 182), sophomore Jake Tadlock (5-foot-8, 156) and senior Trey Yates (5-foot-10, 155).