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James’ gang prepares for Patrician

The Robby James era officially begins at Marengo Academy Thursday night when the Longhorns open their regular season against preseason No. 6 Patrician.

“Our guys have had a good summer,” James said of the Longhorns. His team has seen its numbers dwindle, boasting a roster that contains only 17 names.

“We haven’t got many guys, but their good kids,” James said. “The guys I’ve got right now can play and we’re going into games thinking we can win.”

After falling to Patrician in a blowout to open the 2008 season, the Longhorns rallied to make the playoffs. James looks to that as one reason to not place too much emphasis on the first game.

“It’s big,” he said of the importance of toppling Patrician. “We won’t put all the emphasis on the first game. We’re trying to make the playoffs and do well in our region.”

The game is the first of three non-region outings that will allow the Longhorns to prepare for the contests that will determine whether or not they make the playoffs.

“(Patrician has) got a real fine team,” James said. “We know we’ve got our work cut out for us.”

The game will be junior Matt Wallace’s first opportunity to shine as the only Longhorn quarterback. He split snaps with then senior Jesse Morgan in 2008.

“He’s done a good job,” James said of Wallace. “We run a wing-T and a little bit of a split veer. He’s a good leader sand he’s going to do fine.”

Rabe Hale and Matt Etheridge will start in the backfield, sharing time with Chris Sammons and Trevor Johnson.

“If we can stay injury free, we could be competitive in all our games,” James said.

In order to help his team prepare for the task it will face, James and his staff have put the Longhorns through a lot of sled work over the last few weeks.

“We’ve been trying to work them real hard because everybody is going to play both ways,” James said. “That’s really our philosophy is to get them as much leg work as we can.”

Despite the lace of numbers on the MA roster, James said his team is still approaching the season with considerable expectations.

“If you’re going to play the game, you need to have high expectations,” James said. “Hopefully we can do some things folks want to be a part of.”