Cedar Hill Football Builds Confidence for 2023 Season

Cedar Hill football player running
Photo credit CHISD

(CEDAR HILL, TEXAS) To prepare for Friday Night Lights, you need Weekday Morning Lights.

The sun doesn’t rise in Cedar Hill until a few minutes before 7 a.m., but by that time, the Cedar Hill High School Longhorns have a 1 hour, 45 minute practice under their collective belts.

Part of this process has to do with safety and practicality as the blistering afternoon heat is not conducive to afternoon football practices.

But it also has to do with preparing scholar-athletes for the next level.

“We want to get as close as we can to that college schedule,” Cedar Hill first-year head football coach Nick Ward said. “When these guys play college football, they won’t be surprised at their first 5:30 a.m. practice. That gives our kids an edge.”

The Longhorns’ 2023 regular season slate may not feature any college opponents, but it’s likely the toughest high school schedule in Texas with two defending state champions and four defending district champions.

Ward, however, has worked on re-framing the narrative of simply being a team facing a grueling schedule.

“We might have a tough schedule, but college recruiters will be at every game, and that creates opportunities for our players,” Ward said.

The Longhorns will kick off the 2023 season at 1 p.m. Saturday, August 26 against defending 10-6A Champion, Rockwall, in the Jerry Jones Classic at The Star in Frisco.

“Rockwall is a very good team,” Ward said. “We want to be confident, but we can’t be overconfident. Instead of thinking of how good they are, we have to realize that we can’t be ourselves.”

While winning the program’s fourth state championship is always the primary goal, Ward said he’d like his players to develop more confidence.

“I see a bunch of kids who just need confidence,” Ward said. “We’re not as confident as we should be.”

Ward said he’ll name a starting quarterback next week, before the season opener. Senior Anthony Edwards is the current starter.

“He’s been with the program through thick and thin,” Ward said of Edwards.

Fellow senior Jaylon Thomas, a transfer from Mesquite Horn, is also competing for the starting quarterback position.

The Longhorns’ starting quarterback will play behind an experienced offensive line that includes senior Martins Aribisala and juniors Jordan Coleman and Leroy Woolridge.

Junior Dayshun Reese-Williams will lead the running backs, along with senior Tristan Bell.

Senior receivers LeKeldrick Bridges and Keionte Bright return from last season.

Senior defensive end Zhaiylen Scott is the leader on the defensive side of the ball, with offers from Colorado and SMU among other programs.

Ward said the Longhorns defense will give opponents a variety of looks, from 4-3 to 3-4 and 3-3, throughout the game.

Senior defensive backs Daunte Wesley and Kenric Strong are leaders in the secondary, while junior defensive lineman Devin Coleman is a leader on the defensive line.

“We’re continuing to raise our standard, and the changes we’ve made to the program give us a better chance,” Ward said.


August 26 vs. Rockwall at The Star (Frisco), 1 p.m.

September 1 at Arlington Martin (Choctaw Stadium), 7 p.m.

September 8 vs. Southlake Carroll (Home Opener), 7 p.m.

September 15 vs. Waxahachie (District 6A-11 Opener), 7 p.m.

September 22 at Duncanville, 7 p.m.

October 6 vs. Mansfield, 7 p.m. (Homecoming)

October 13 at Dallas Skyline, 7:30 p.m.

October 20 vs. DeSoto, 7 p.m.

October 27 at Mansfield Legacy (Newsom), 7 p.m.

November 2 vs. Mansfield Lake Ridge (Senior Night), 7 p.m