The Frisco Memorial football team had its hands full to begin the 2018 campaign when it was faced with the tough task of playing its first-ever game against one of the state’s most storied programs.
Celina, which has won eight state titles dating back to 1974, welcomed Memorial to the varsity level with a 54-0 whooping of the Warriors a year ago. The Bobcats outgained Memorial by over 300 yards and even limited the Warriors to minus-43 yards on the ground.
Memorial had no seniors on the roster, major question marks on both sides of the ball and featured less than a handful of players with actual varsity experience before making the move to the newly opened high school that offseason.
But Celina won’t be facing the 2018 Warriors Friday night when the new season kicks off.
The Warriors are a year bigger, stronger, faster and more experienced this time around thanks to what Memorial head coach Derrick Roberson described as a “grueling” summer strength and conditioning program that he brought over from his days at Skyline.
That growth mentally and physically went on full display a week ago when Roberson’s ballclub took on Nolan Catholic in its lone scrimmage of the preseason. The same two teams squared off in a scrimmage last year as well in an exhibition that was not even close, but the tables turned this time around.
Memorial took a 14-0 lead in the live quarter against Nolan, which defeated Celina last year by two touchdowns in Week Two.
A terrific test for the Warriors in the meeting with the Vikings came on defense in trying to contain Nolan sophomore running back Emeka Megwa, who already has offers from Alabama, Georgia, Florida, LSU and Oklahoma.
Roberson was pleased with the way his squad did not let Megwa run all over his defense, and he believes that is a sign of positivity for when Memorial faces another ferocious runner in Celina senior Logan Point.
“We handed it to [Megwa], and he never got free or had any touchdowns,” he said. “We’re going to treat [Point] the same way and try to get a bunch of people there at the point of the tackle.”
However, Point may not be the only Bobcat running the rock Friday night, as Celina has three capable rushers in the backfield that could see significant playing time. Junior Isaiah Martinez and senior Luke Addy both performed well in each of the Bobcats’ two scrimmages, and according to head coach Bill Elliott, all three players could see the field at the same time throughout the season.
There’s no question who the Week One starter under center for Celina will be with senior Hunter Watson returning to run the show one last time.
However, Memorial will feature a gunslinger the Bobcats did not see last season in junior quarterback Charlie Flowers. The 6-foot-3 Flowers took over the starting job midway through last season and even led the Warriors to their lone victory of 2018 in a thriller over Lebanon Trail in district play.
Flowers also has plenty of weapons to get the ball to with senior running back Chris Lagrone returning, as well as a pair of huge targets at receiver in senior Joel Shea and junior J’Kolbe Bulock, who already has a Division I offer from Kansas.
Both standouts stand at least 6-foot-3 and could provide matchup nightmares for the Celina secondary if given the opportunities.
“We don’t have anybody that plays defensive back that is over six feet tall,” Elliott said. “That gives us some mismatches right there, but we have to get in their face and get after it. We play physical football; that’s our style and what we’ll do.”
Another major factor coming into this contest is that this also marks the first-ever game at Celina’s brand new stadium, Bobcat Field. That should provide a spark to the home team, which will certainly not want to start things off on the wrong foot on such a memorable night.
“They want to start off the season right and start this home stand at the new facility the right way,” Elliott said. “They have a lot of excitement in them because they want to represent the community and the new facility the way it should be represented.”
Meanwhile, Roberson hopes that coming in overlooked as underdogs will give his team an extra boost heading into kickoff.
“We know going in that this is a history-making moment and that they are going to be fired up,” he said. “It’s my hope that they still look at us like a startup program and think they are going to do the same thing they did to us last year.”
Kickoff between Memorial and Celina is set for 7 p.m. Friday at Bobcat Field.