Another year of high school football is mere days away, and as is typically the case in August, fans don’t have to look far to find reasons for positivity about the upcoming season.
Everybody is undefeated, after all.
A new season means a clean slate, and although that optimism is sure to ebb and flow over the coming months, that doesn’t mean fans don’t have reasons to be excited about something pertaining to their favorite team heading into the upcoming season.
Take the Denton County programs in Lewisville ISD, Coppell and Lake Dallas, for example.
For years, the run game has been the heartbeat of the Marauders’ offense. In fact, last season was just the second time this decade that Marcus totaled more than 215 pass attempts for a season.
During that span, the Marauders’ run-pass ratio has always heavily slanted toward the former, running the ball at least 70% of its snaps five times over the past nine seasons. Opposing defenses were wise to that as well, with stud backs like Justin Dinka often dealt stacked boxes at the expense of the Marcus passing game.
But 2018 was the first time the Marauders dipped below the 60% run threshold this decade, rushing the ball only 53.4% of the time — thanks in part to the arrival of then-sophomore quarterback Garrett Nussmeier.
Head coach Kevin Atkinson expects the passing game to continue to make strides this season, which could fuel the team’s most balanced offense in a while.
Nussmeier still has an entire half left to his varsity career and a bevy of promising wide-outs at his disposal, including junior J.Michael Sturdivant and seniors Jaden Robinson and Denton transfer Marcellus Lockley, who earned all-district first-team honors on both sides of the ball last season.
Senior Ty’son Edwards, who averaged more than 7.0 yards per carry last season, should ensure the team’s run game remains potent, but there’s plenty of support elsewhere on the offense.
“We’re definitely going to emphasize the passing game a bit more than we have been,” Atkinson said.
After hoisting their first-ever district championship last season, the Jaguars have plenty to be optimistic about, and it all starts with one of the area’s premier quarterback-running back combinations.
Senior quarterback Blake Short and senior running back Pierce Hudgens combined for 4,521 yards last season — the highest total of any passer-rusher duo in the area among Class 6A teams.
In some ways, it was a throwback to the days of Paul Millard and Hunter Lee, which was fittingly enough the last time Flower Mound had a quarterback and running back combine for more than 4,500 yards of offense (2010).
Granted, Short and Hudgens had a stellar offensive line paving the way last season, and that unit was picked clean by graduation. But entering their third year sharing the same backfield, coupled with a seamless chemistry in the receiving game, the Short-Hudgens duo should hum once more this season.
In a sport where the execution of every play boils down unity and precision, continuity is king, and the Hawks have plenty of it to look forward to this season.
Behind 15 returning starters and without much in the way of discernible weaknesses, the Hawks sport one of the area’s more talented ensembles and are on the list of viable contenders to emerge from Region I during the 6A postseason.
Just the presence of senior quarterback Carson Harris, senior running back Jaylon Lott and sophomore running back Isaiah Broadway accounts for nearly 83% of the Hawks’ total offensive yardage last season, and although that unit graduated district MVP Trejan Bridges, head coach Brian Brazil is hopeful Hebron can supplement that loss with a healthy backfield and a promising stable of pass-catchers that includes Jaddai Henry, Colton Bradford and Donovan Tubbs.
Defensively, the Hawks have talent at all three levels, highlighted by senior safety Darius Snow and linebackers Carter Norrie, Ben Rutherford and Will White.
How the Hawks follow through on their obvious potential remains to be seen, but Brazil and his staff have plenty to work with this season.
On paper, there’s plenty to like about the Farmers this season. The defense is well fortified within the front seven, led by defensive tackle Khristian Versey and linebacker Luke Halter. The team’s ongoing quarterback competition amplified with the offseason transfer of 6-foot-4 dual-threat passer Taylen Green. Sophomore Armani Winfield could very well be Lewisville’s best wide receiver prospect since Tyrell Shavers.
But above all else, the Fighting Farmer faithful can take pause in 2019 being the first time since 2008 that Lewisville begins the season following up a postseason appearance. From the moment he was hired, head coach Michael Odle talked about building off the hope restored to the program by his predecessor, Gregg Miller, and did so in just his second year at the helm by guiding the Farmers to the second round of the playoffs.
“We’ve seen the culture change around here, from the school to the coaches and a lot of them didn’t know any other way than playoffs. The first year I was here as a head coach was the first time I hadn’t made the playoffs in my career,” Odle said. “It’s an expectation that we have and nothing has changed this year.”
What a difference a year can make. At this time last season, the Cowboys were embarking on a year with 30 returning lettermen, including 11 starters. Fast-forward to 2019, where Coppell entered this offseason with just 14 lettermen due back and only seven starters.
In the time since, some of that experience has been hit hard by transfers, with receiver KJ Liggins now at Denton Guyer, quarterback Drew Cerniglia at Allen and all-district offensive lineman Garrison Wheatley moving to Virginia’s Monacan High School.
The Cowboys will no doubt be younger than usual this season, but they have the backing of one of the area’s most consistent track records to suggest they’re capable of reloading on the fly. Coppell has finished above .500 for 13 consecutive seasons, a run that dates back to 2006 and spans four head coaches — Mike Fuller, Bob Shipley, Joe McBride and Mike DeWitt.
Bet against the Cowboys at your own peril.
With six consecutive playoff appearances to their name, the Cougars haven’t lacked for talent this decade — from Grant Blankenship to brothers Josh and Justin Jinning and a litany of stud running backs.
However, the Class of 2020 has a chance to be a special one The Colony.
In terms of raw talent, head coach Rudy Rangel believes this team could be tops among all that he has coached during his time with the Cougars, with more FBS-caliber players than any previous iteration of the program.
Senior Myles Price, fresh off an MVP campaign in District 5-5A Division I, is among the most proficient skill-position threats in the state and has more than 20 college scholarship offers to his name. Ditto for senior Marcus Moore, named the top defensive lineman in the district one year ago.
Lining up wide alongside Price is vaunted 6-foot-4 senior receiver Keith Miller, verbally committed to Colorado. And although he’ll largely ply his craft as the anchor in the Cougars’ secondary, Purdue commit and senior cornerback Christian Gonzalez saw plenty of time on both sides of the ball last season.
And of course, there’s senior Mikey Harrington in his third year behind center.
The pieces are in place for another monster year for the Cougars.
No doubt, the prospect of beginning the year without senior quarterback Brandon Engel is not exactly the most upbeat note for the Falcons to open their season on. Aside from maybe senior Kobee Minor, there might not be a more important individual talent to the 2019 iteration of Lake Dallas than Engel, a two-time all-district selection at wide receiver primed to translate that athleticism to the quarterback position.
The Falcons will turn to junior Trevor Moon while Engel heals an offseason leg injury, and if there’s one thing that should help instill confidence in how that position shakes out for the season, it’s that historically Lake Dallas has fared quite well figuring out this whole quarterback thing.
Under head coach Michael Young, the Falcons have been as formidable as it gets when it comes to their lineage behind center. Just since 2009, names like Dalyn Williams, James Franklin, Dagan Haehn and, most recently, Ryan Depperschmidt have taken the reins at quarterback — names that not only went on to accrue either MVP or Offensive Player of the Year within their respective districts, but receive spots on the all-state team.
Time will tell where either Engel or Moon fall in that illustrious pecking order, but history says the Falcons should come out alright in that area.