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Countdown to Friday Night Lights

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As fall rapidly approaches and Friday night lights fill the Autumn skies, the football teams of southern Denton County are gearing up for promises to be another great year.

Four of the five programs in the region advanced to the post-season in 2011, and combined, Argyle, Guyer, Marcus and Liberty Christian won a total of 10 playoff games.

Southern Denton County has emerged as one of the top producers of football talent in the state, and it should be more of the same in 2012.

The following is a glimpse into what the coming football season should hold in store for our teams:

The Argyle Eagles reached the state championship in 2011, falling just short in the title game to Wimberley 21-14.

Argyle is looking to pick up where it left off last season, and coach Todd Rodgers said his team is optimistic heading into 2012.

“We believe the tough non-district schedule will help us gain valuable experience so we can make the playoffs again this year,” Rodgers said.

The Argyle coach said he expects a number of players to have big seasons for the Eagles.

“Jordan Deagen, Trevor Jones, Zac Benson and Tanner Fought are four offensive lineman that are expected to perform well,” Rodgers said. “Offensive skill positions that will contribute are Dalton Ledford, Chase Green, Michael McConnell, Blake Lyle, Chance Bode, Jon Michael Pucciarello, Nick Ralston, and Ian Sadler. Micah Capra, Sam Sizelove, Reese Thompson, Jimmy Manos, Colton Hinnrichs, Seth Jones, Dean Eddy, Wood Speed, and Brian Kanzaki will be expected to hold down positions on the defensive side of the football.”

Rodgers said he expects Celina and Aubrey to be his toughest district opponents, and said, even with just seven returning starters, he is confident his team will be competitive.

“Everyone just needs to learn their role and we will be fine,” Rodgers said.

Down the road at Liberty Christian, receivers coach Justin Else said he is very upbeat about the coming season for his team.

“We are very excited about the upcoming season at Liberty Christian,” Else said. “The speed to this year’s team is going to make us a force to be reckoned with.”

The Warriors finished up last season with a record of 6-5 and reached the post-season, and Else said he expects the usual suspects to be the teams to beat in district.

“Year in and year out Nolan Catholic and Prestonwood seem to be the teams to beat, but looking at returning starters for our district, anybody could be that team this year,” Else said.

The Receivers coach said he expects big seasons out of OL Brad Lundblade, WR/FS Christian Burks, WR/CB Graham Richardson, QB/CB Foster Ford, RB/LB Cameron Cornett and RB/FS JonAaron Howell.

Liberty finished third in district last season, and returns five offensive and five defensive starters this season.

The Flower Mound football team missed the post-season in 2011, but first year coach Dane Johnson said he believes that he has a team that can have a strong year.

“I like our chances for 2012,” Johnson said. “It is always tough with transition, but I think we have a strong senior class who are very determined to reach our goals.”

Johnson said he expects big things from Sean Flynn, Jake Ayers, Blake Eldge, Connor Wanahan, Cole McKeel, and Brennon Inireo, among others in 2012, and said he is confident that every Friday night in district will be a dog fight for Flower Mound.

“Our district is going to be very competitive, and with only five district games, every one counts,” Johnson said. “I do not think there will be any ‘give me’ games.”

To make the post-season, Johnson said he believes it will take a couple of things.

“To make the playoffs, you are going to have to win three district games for sure, and to do that in this district, you better play great defense and be very disciplined everywhere else,” Johnson said. “Deep playoff runs are fun and exciting and to do that you have to stay healthy and hungry.”

Across town at Marcus, a 10-2 record and second place district finish in 2011 has the Marauders hungry for more this season, and coach Bryan Erwin said his team will have it’s work cut out for it, but will also be a hard team to beat.

“We will be young and rebuilding from losing a tremendous senior class last year,” Erwin said. “We feel that we will have a high character team that will be very tough.”

Marcus advanced to the area round of the post-season in 2011 and will return three offensive and three defensive starters.

With so many players to replace, Erwin said he is not sure who will have big seasons for the Marauders.

“We will have to wait and see who steps up,” Erwin said. “We are unproven at tailback, wide receiver, and tight end.  We will need our safeties, Court Prescott and Dylan Ward, to have a big year.”

Erwin said he expects Coppell to be the odds on favorite to win district this season, and said to make the playoffs, they’ve got to be good at the fundamentals.

“We will have to play great on defense, rebuild our offensive line, establish our tailback and our run game, make some plays in the passing game and establish some balance on offense,” Erwin said.

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