As local fans in the land of Friday night lights gear up for what promises to be another great season, four area teams hope to make their marks on the hallowed tradition known as Texas high school football.
Marcus, Flower Mound, Guyer and Argyle High School all did the Southern Denton County area proud last season, as each team captured one of the top four spots in their respective districts and represented the region in the state playoffs.
With realignment and changes in personnel, there is some uncertainty heading into the 2010 football season, but all of the aforementioned teams believe they can once again be counted among the best in the state when the dust finally settles.
School: Guyer High School Wildcats
Last Season: The Wildcats finished second in district 5-4A last season, and advanced five rounds in the post-season, including a victory over district champion Ryan in the regional quarter-finals.
Players to Watch: Jake Smith, Blake Terry, Jimmy Bean, Josh Stewart, J.W. Walsh, Quintin Gardener, Alec Willis and Connor Crane
Toughest District Opponents: Coppell and Southlake Carroll
Outlook: Coach John Walsh said, while his team is moving up a division this season to 5A, he still believes the Wildcats should rival for a state championship.
“When the season is over, you have to re-tool and go back to work,” Walsh said. “Our kids have definitely done that. We feel like we are going to contend for the 5A state title. I am not just saying that because I am a coach and that is coaching lingo, either. We’ve got the talent, and we’ve put the time in.”
Guyer reached the regional semi-finals before losing to Longview last season.
The Wildcats have six returning starters on offense and six on defense.
Analysis: Though Guyer will be the smallest school in district 7 this coming season, Wildcat fans should feel confident that their team will claim one of the playoff spots.
With a strong corps of returning players, Guyer will more than hold it’s own in the new district and could be in for another deep run into the post-season.
School: Argyle High School Eagles
Last Season: Finished the season with a 12-1 record, winning a district championship and advancing three rounds in the playoffs before losing to Texarkana Pleasant Grove.
Players to Watch: Austin Aune, Layton Lowry, Trey Keenan, Justin Hommel, Trent Cantrell, Storm Griffin, and Kyle Thompson.
Toughest District Opponents: Pilot Point and Aubrey
Outlook: Argyle was undefeated during the regular season in 2009, taking down such heavy hitters as Celina and Prosper along the way.
Coach Todd Rodgers said he has been impressed with what he has seen from his team so far this off-season, as well.
“It’s looking good,” Rodgers said. “We had a great spring, where we tried to get all of the kids in the right spots. Then we went into summer time where we had six full weeks of conditioning.
“We feel good. We are stronger in some areas where we were a little inexperienced last year, so it will be an interesting year.”
Argyle has four players returning on offense and three on defense
Analysis: While Argyle only returns seven starters, a tradition has been established at the 3A school that seems to carry over each year.
The Eagles should be as tough as usual, and will likely be among the top teams in the district come playoff time.
School: Marcus High School Marauders
Last Season: Finished third in district 6-5A, advancing to the area round before losing to Cedar Hill.
Players to Watch: Rufus Mason, Dagan Newsome, Jason Neill, Leonard Beale and Joe Sikes
Toughest District Opponents: Allen, Plano East, Flower Mound
Outlook: Marcus has four players returning on offense and three on defense this season, and coach Bryan Erwin said he believes his team should compete well in its new district.
“We’re in probably the toughest district in the state of Texas,” Erwin said. “Three of the largest schools in the state are in our district, so it is going to be tough and it is going to be challenging. But we are looking forward to that challenge.
“We just have to be disciplined and execute and do the little things right. It’s going to be so competitive and come down to the wire almost every game; we are just going to have to do the little things right to get us into a position to make the playoffs.”
Marcus defeated Grapevine 48-18 in the bi-district round of the playoffs last season.
Analysis: Marcus has been a playoff caliber team for a while now, and anything less is pretty much unacceptable to the team and coaching staff.
With Allen, the Plano schools, and of course, cross-town rival Flower Mound, the Marauders will have their hands full, but should emerge as one of the top four teams when all is said and done.
School: Flower Mound High School Jaguars
Last Season: Flower Mound captured the fourth and final playoff spot in district 6 last season, and lost in the bi-district round to Trinity.
Players to Watch: Paul Millard, Hunter Lee, Josh Brake, Marshall Williams, Matt Arend, Chaz Taylor, Dominic Buccino, Eric Holliday, Dustin Holley, Chase Adams, and Jake Jaffe
Toughest District Opponents: Allen, Plano East, Marcus
Outlook: Flower Mound coach Cody Vanderford has 13 returning starters from last year’s team, and said after doing some overhauling, he is feeling pretty good about his team’s chances in 2010.
“We’ve made a lot of changes defensively,” Vanderford said. “We have a new defensive coordinator. We’ve got several kids returning offensively, and if we can get our defense turned around, we feel like we can have a good year.”
Analysis: With district opponents averaging 47 points per game against them in 2009, Flower Mound has essentially revamped its entire defensive system from last season.
The Jaguars have a knack for being a tough team to beat, and are almost always at least in the playoff hunt at the end of the season.
There is no reason to expect any different this year.