By Greg Ford
Larry Uland is used to fielding winners.
At Greenville Christian, he coached four six-man teams to state titles.
This past season, Uland took over the helm at the Wylie Preparatory Academy and guided the Patriots to an 8-2 record, good enough for second in the district and a postseason berth. That playoff run ended with a semifinal loss to Lucas Christian.
Uland is back for more and he enters the 2014 season optimistic that his Patriots can once again be among the best in Texas six-man football.
The first steps in that process take place Friday, Aug. 1 with the start of preseason practice.
The fact that WPA returns a team filled with veteran talent only bolsters Uland’s positive outlook.
Back from the 2013 squad are seniors Christian Drago, Max Ferris, William Royal and Kaden Wrobleski, along with juniors Noah Woodcock and Nick Carew. They will be joined by a slew of promising juniors, sophomores and freshmen.
Gone from last year’s playoff team is Cesar Ruiz, an All-State kicker who assume the same duties at Austin College this season, Uland said.
“We should be better with all that back,” the coach said. “We had a good spring training … We have three seniors who have been tagged with some sort of All-State honors, including MVP on offense.”
The latter is Royal, who was a first-team, All-State MVP at running back, Uland noted. Royal, like most of his teammates, also plays defense.
“I’ve been coaching a long time, and he’s been one of my best ones I’ve had just in terms of quickness, agility and a little bit of speed,” Uland said. “He runs very intelligently.”
Another All-State player is Wrobleski, a wide receiver and defensive back, who’ll likely take over Ruiz’s kicking duties this season.
“He’s my special DB guy,” Uland said. “He’s my shutdown corner, if you will. He has a lot of ability.”
Woodcock is a wide receiver and defensive back, and will also see time at running back.
“All these kids can do multiple stuff,” Uland said. “(Woodcock’s) got speed. He and Royal are the two fastest that we have seen so far, and Wrobleski is right there with them.”
Sophomore Landon Lipp appears to be favorite to win the quarterback duties.
“He’s only a sophomore, but he’s a big sophomore,” Uland said. “Landon is real strong and he threw pretty well.”
The Patriots open regular-season play Aug. 29 at Fannindel in Ladonia.
A week later, is their home opener; Sept. 6 against Campbell, with the kickoff scheduled for 2 p.m.