Boys Ranch aiming for progress in third year under Wampler

·5 min read
Boys Ranch head football coach Aaron Wampler instructs his team during drills.
Boys Ranch head football coach Aaron Wampler instructs his team during drills.

Boys Ranch accomplished a feat last October that the Roughriders program had not seen since the fall of 2016: winning a football game.

The Roughriders snapped their five-year losing streak with a 38-14 takedown of Booker on the road and hoisted the losing streak that they had inherited off their backs. Boys Ranch even capped off the season with a 28-6 win over West Texas High in the final week of district play and accomplished their first two-win season since 2015.

Now, third-year coach Aaron Wampler and his squad are moving onto the next goal on their list. The Roughriders now want to compete for a District 1-2A Division II title and find their way into the postseason for the first time since 2008.

"Things have been really good and we're definitely heading in the right direction at this time of year," Wampler said. "We've seen good progress and we've got some key returners coming back that have led the way and that leadership is shining through. We also have some new faces that are bringing some new energy."

Boys Ranch is slated to run a spread offense that will be led by experienced senior quarterback Isaiah Brown and senior running back Rowdy Barnes.

Brown is an experienced starter that completed 101-of-236 passes last season for 1,358 yards with 16 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. If Brown can be more efficient and accurate through the air this fall, it will open things up for for the Roughrider at their skill positions. He was also the team's leading rusher last season, with 607 yards and three touchdowns on 141 carries.

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"He's been doing it a while now and he's got a lot of game experience," Wampler said. "Last year he started to show what he's completely capable of and so far he's been progressing well and shouldering that leadership role on the team. The guys are following him."

Barnes has the potential to be a physical force out of the backfield after compiling 155 yards and one score last season. He also grabbed four catches for 53 yards and one touchdown in the passing game and should be expected to take on a much larger role in the offense following the graduation of Jayden Slater.

Slater had 69 catches last season while no other Boys Ranch receiver nabbed more than eight. Sophomore wideout Joe Cook (eight catches, 94 yards) and junior Greyson Hagar (five catches, 41 yards) are also expected to make big contributions to the offense this season.

On the line, Wampler will have 6-foot-3 senior Grant Blackwell leading the way alongside junior James Sully and senior Terry Anthony.

"We've got some young receivers who I think will step up for us and stretch the field vertically," Wampler said. "We've got to do a better job this year of establishing the run game, but we're still going to air it out and try to attack all areas of the field."

Defensively, the Roughriders will be in a base 3-4 system that will be captained by Rowdy Barnes — a standout inside linebacker.

Barnes totaled a team-high 146 tackles, including 10 tackles for loss, last season and is expected to keep that pace as he roams sideline-to-sideline for the blue and white defense this fall.

"His talking is done with his shoulder pads," Wampler said. "He's a physical presence out there and he's even hungrier this year. He's dying right now to go out there and tackle somebody wearing a different color."

Hagar (75 tackles) and Brown (70 tackles) finished second and third on the team in tackles, respectively, which shows the production Boys Ranch returns on defense which will need to see other names step up for increased success.

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The Roughriders recorded only eight sacks and two interceptions in 2021 and will up both of those statistical categories if they want to improve on their two-win campaign last season.

Boys Ranch has moved into a challenging new district that includes new rivals Booker, Gruver, Sunray and Vega.

No matter how difficult the upcoming season appears on paper, Wampler and his team are confident and ready to hit the field for their season opener in less than two weeks.

"We're trying to turn ourselves into a winning program," Wampler said. "I think we have a good array of games to challenge us and it'll be exciting to see how it shakes up. We'll see how we match up but I like our odds."


Head coach: Aaron Wampler

2021 record: 2-8, 1-4 in district

Base offense: Spread

Base defense: 3-4

Last playoff appearance: 2008

Returning Lettermen: 18

Top returners: LB/RB Rowdy Barnes, QB/LB Isaiah Brown, DB/WR Greyson Hagar, DL/OL James Sully, DL/OL Grant Blackwell, ATH Joe Cook


Aug. 26: at Ropes, 7 p.m.

Sep. 2: vs. Highland Park, 7 p.m.

Sep. 9: at West Texas High, 7 p.m.

Sep. 16: vs. Morton, 7 p.m.

Sep. 23: at Memphis, 7 p.m.

Sep. 30: vs. Wheeler, 7 p.m.

Oct. 7: vs. Vega, 7 p.m.*

Oct. 14: at Sunray, 7 p.m.*

Oct. 21: OPEN

Oct. 28: vs. Gruver, 7 p.m.*

Nov. 4: at Booker, 7 p.m.*

This article originally appeared on Amarillo Globe-News: Boys Ranch aiming for progress in third year under Wampler