McKinney (Texas) North
Opens the season Thursday, Aug. 31, against Carrollton R.L. Turner.
Dallas Morning News: Carrollton R.L. Turner vs. McKinney North preview
7:30 p.m. today, McKinney's Ron Poe Stadium
R.L. Turner: R.L. Turner went 1-9, which included a 45-17 loss at McKinney North last season. RB David James, Turner's leading returning rusher, had 203 yards on 55 carries.
McKinney North: LB Kenny Alexander is expected to play after sitting out Friday's scrimmage against Sherman with a strained Achilles' heel.
JAMIE BLATNICK, DE (6-3, 250)
Celina (Texas) High
Opens the season Friday, Sept. 1, against Robinson.
Dallas Morning News: Celina vs. Robinson preview
7:30 p.m., Friday, Bedford's Pennington Field
Celina: Celina was 10-0 against Class 3A teams the last two seasons as a 2A school. OT/DE Jamie Blatnick is a two-time first-team all state selection.
Robinson: Third-year starting QB Randy Kitchens passed for 2,225 yards and 25 TDs last season.
DAMIAN DAVIS, WR (6-5, 190)
Mart (Texas) High
Opens the season Friday, Sept. 1, against Chilton.
Waco Tribune: Mart Panthers
Head coach: Rusty Nail (1st season)
All-time: 628-304-39 since 1912
Playoff trips: 36 (69-29-1)
Last playoff game: Lost to Omaha Paul Pewitt, 42-16, in 2005 regional semifinals
Returning: 11 lettermen; 7 offensive, 7 defensive starters
Key loss: QB Roddy Green (Houston)
Outlook: QB Lee McClendon was thrown into the fire in a district game against Teague last year and responded brilliantly. Now, it's his job and his chief target is 6-5 1/2 senior Damian Davis, who caught 55 passes for 1,017 yards and 17 TDs. Davis may be used as a more all-purpose player this season. McClendon can share the wealth with Cameron Kinsey-Taylor and FS/WR Nat Hopping back. McClendon hit 21 of 28 passes in the Bulldogs' second scrimmage. LB/OL Mark Reynolds, who had 101 tackles, leads the defense.
Other important returning Panthers are G/LB Heston Adler (5-10, 215), C/DT Landon Summers (6-2, 225), G/NG Tim Jones, and CB/WR Kenny Ray Barrett.
JASON HANNAN, OL (6-4, 280)
Waxahachie (Texas) High
Opens the season Saturday, Sept. 2, vs. Highland Park at SMU's Ford Stadium.
Dallas Morning News: Waxahachie vs. Highland Park preview
8 p.m. Saturday, SMU's Ford Stadium
Waxahachie: The team has made 16 consecutive postseason appearances and has the talent to extend the streak. OL Jason Hannan (6-3, 277) has committed to Oklahoma State and is one of six returning starters on offense. LB Kevin McCluskey leads the defense after making 135 tackles last season.
Highland Park: SportsDay's No. 1 team in Class 4A doesn't have to wait long to get a test. QB William Webb shined in the Tom Landry Classic last season and understands the spread offense. Look for RB Alex Carroll (952 yards, 21 TDs last season) to make his presence known early.
TYRELL HIGGINS, DT (6-3, 260)
Schertz (Texas) Clemens
Opens the season Thursday, Aug. 31, at Roosevelt.
San Antonio Express News: Higgins next to shine in Clemens' defensive line
Express-News Staff Writer
Tyrell Higgins used to gawk as college scouts lined the practice field to study former Clemens standout Yaniv Barnett.
Higgins, a freshman at the time, yearned to someday draw the same interest as Barnett.
And now he is.
Scouts hover around the school's fieldhouse to examine Higgins, a 6-foot-4, 260-pound senior defensive end being dubbed by some coaches as the next great Clemens lineman.
"We think he has what it takes," Clemens coach Greg Ferrara said of Higgins, who has committed to Oklahoma State. "Yaniv was a game player. When the lights turned on, he was a dominant football player.
"Tyrell's work habits on the practice field are a lot better. But he's got to get to where Yaniv was on game nights."
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Barnett, now a 6-3, 285-pound junior defensive tackle at Arizona, set the bar high. A three-year starter with the Buffaloes (2001-03), Barnett earned Express-News Defensive Player of the Year honors as a senior.
While Barnett primarily dominated at tackle with the Buffaloes, Ferrara said Higgins is expected to mainly play end.
Higgins was a second-team All-Area pick last year after recording 79 tackles and six sacks. And now, he, along with linebacker Sam Ellis, will be asked to lead the Buffaloes' defense.
Clemens has just three returning starters from last year's 10-1 squad after losing 48 seniors to graduation. But it will lean on its pair of defensive stalwarts to try to dominate District 26-4A like it did in 25-5A last season.
"One thing we've built our team around is defensive speed," Ferrara said. "When you've got speed, good things are going to happen."
Ferrara described Higgins, a more athletic player than Barnett, as being a better pass rusher off the edge. Barnett was stronger at the point of attack and superior at controlling the line, he said.
Higgins said he is ready — and motivated — to reach Barnett's level.
"People know him as being one of the best defensive linemen to come out of Clemens," Higgins said. "I'd like to have that same title. Coaches say that I have the potential to be even better if I work hard enough. That right there motivates me to try to get things done."
That motivation, though, didn't always exist.
Higgins said as a sophomore he never even envisioned making varsity, much less drawing comparisons to Barnett. He was heftier and slower at the time, not to mention immature, said Clemens defensive coordinator Steve Hoffman.
"Coaches talked to me," Higgins said, "and something just clicked in my mind that I needed to start working."
Hoffman said Higgins always has had Barnett-like talent. Even as a freshman, Higgins' potential stood out. But his maturation has since made fulfilling the comparisons possible.
"If you would have seen him as a freshman, you wouldn't have thought that would have happened," Hoffman said. "He's a totally different kid."
But he's still following Barnett's lead.
"Yaniv had his day in the sun," Ferrara said. "Now, Tyrell feels like it's his day to shine."
AHMAD JONES, OL/DT (6-3, 310)
Silsbee (Texas) High
Opens the season next Friday, Sept. 8, against Houston Sterling.
ISAAC MADISON, CB (5-10, 175)
Dallas (Texas) Carter
Opens the season Friday, Sept. 1, vs. Kimball at John E. Kincaide Stadium.
Dallas Morning News: Carter vs. Kimball preview
7:30 p.m., Friday, John Kincaide Stadium
Carter: An offensive line led by C Jeremiah Hatch (6-3, 301) could wear Kimball down. Carter went 11-1 and held seven teams to less than 10 points. Kimball was one of Carter's four shutout victims. Kimball rushed for minus-17 yards in the game, including several sacks.
Kimball: QB Carlos Thomas threw for 1,228 yards and 16 TDs last season, but he was 1-for-12 with two interceptions against Carter. Kimball rebounded from to win eight consecutive games before an 18-14 loss to Ennis in the first round of the Class 4A Division I playoffs.
Trend: Carter has allowed a total of 20 points during its four-game Oak Cliff Super Bowl winning streak.
NICK MARTINEZ, OL/DL (6-4, 291)
Floresville (Texas) High
Opens the season Friday, Sept. 1, at Fox Tech.
QUINTON PRINCE, DT (6-4, 296)
Oklahoma City (Okla.) Heritage Hall
Opens the season Thursday, Aug. 31, at Casady.
The Oklahoman: Q&A with Quinton Prince
Heritage Hall defensive lineman Quinton Prince is a force. An Oklahoma State oral commitment, Prince had 74 tackles, including 10 sacks. The 6-foot-4, 300-pounder has 21 sacks during his high school career heading into tonight's Polo Bowl football game with Casady.
He spoke with staff writer Brandon Chatmon about the rivalry against Casady, facing Cyclones standout Sim K. Sims and what makes him a good player.
On Sims: "He's a good player who can play a lot of different positions. He can play pretty much anything."
On the rivalry with Casady: "This is a big rivalry. And plus, it's the first game of the season."
On this season: "I think we'll do well and have a great chance to compete for a state championship."
On his most memorable play: "Freshman year against Bethany, when they had Chris Chamberlain, I tipped his pass, and we ran it back."
On what separates him as a player: "Being quick for my size. I run a 4.9 and weigh 300 pounds. I think that kind of sets me apart."
In my own words: To give you an idea of his personality, Prince finished these sentences in his own words:
The strangest thought I've had on the field is ... "what down is it?"
Most people think Heritage Hall kids are ... "spoiled brats."
The secret to success is ... "hard work."
If you don't know about pain and struggle you are ... "not a football player."
A big ego is ... "bad for you and your teammates."
When I think back to Hurricane Katrina, I think ... "we should help out more."
Failure is... "not preparing."
I've always believed ... "working my hardest and getting it done."
If someone mistreats you, you should ... "blow it off."
Respect is ... "everything."
The best way to spoil something good is ... "by having a big ego."
If I had a dollar for every time I heard ... "get better."
The best advice I've ever received is ... "do it for your teammates."
Team chemistry is ... "very important for a football team."
My dream job is ... "being in the NFL."
One thing I'm really bad at is ... "golf."
The most talented person I know is ... "Gerald Jones (Millwood)."
MARCUS RICHARDSON, LB (6-0, 215)
Seguin (Texas) High
Opens the season Thursday, Aug. 31, vs. San Antonio Madison at the Alamodome.
Seguin Gazette-Enterprise: Matadors face traditional power in opener
By Jason Orts
SEGUIN — This isn't your average season opener.
For the Seguin Matadors and San Antonio Madison Mavericks, there will be no time to ease into the regular season. Their showdown tonight in the Dave Campbell's Texas Football Classic is Seguin's most anticipated opener in years.
The Mavericks enter the season ranked No. 4 in the San Antonio Express-News area top 10 and are coming off a year in which they were 11-3 and reached the Class 5A Division II state quarterfinals.
For the Matadors, the game is a chance to show they are worthy of a No. 6 area ranking and that their 15-5 record over the last two seasons wasn't a product of poor competition.
But Seguin head coach Jim Carson is quick to point out that this year's game is a measuring stick for where his team is — not where it's going to be.
"I'm under no illusions of grandeur," Carson said. "But we've got a good football team, and we need to go down there and start out good and not be sloppy and we'll be fine. Our main goal is to win, but if we have a real goal, it's to be better when that game's over than we are right now. If we do that, we'll be right on track."
For Madison, the offense begins with the running game. In fact, the Mavericks have had a player rush for 1,000 or more yards in each of head coach Jim Streety's 15 years at the school. Last season, the Mavericks rushed for an average of 234 yards per game.
Devin Thomas, a junior who played safety on last year's team, is the main player responsible for upholding that legacy this season.
Thomas has yet to have a varsity carry in his career, but Carson is fully aware of the abilities of the 5-foot-10, 180-pounder.
"[Thomas] is a sprinter, and they compete in one of the top districts in the state in track, and he was a regional qualifier as a sophomore," Carson said. "He was a star running back as a freshman, and he's a real good player. He's a good athlete and a smart kid."
Thomas also has the luxury of running behind a veteran offensive line that Carson described as "much bigger than our defensive front and very physical." Carson said the Mavericks have all of their starters back on the offensive line except one.
While Madison is a team that relies heavily on the running game, when it does throw the ball, it's usually down the field.
Quarterback Matt Towne, a 5-foot-11, 165-pound senior takes over the reins, and Carson said from watching the film of Madison's scrimmage that he has a very strong arm.
The Mavericks have five starters returning from a defense that gave up 318.5 yards per game a year ago. Madison's small, fast and smart defense figures to be a solid test for an inexperienced Matador offensive line.
"Their defense is really aggressive and they're up-the-field guys," Carson said. "They're hard to run the ball against because when you do get a hole, they close it up so fast. And in the secondary, they've got athletes. Their two starting safeties didn't play in the scrimmage, and I don't know if they're going to play in this game. But I'm guessing the guys behind them aren't bad players."
Seguin counters with a strong-armed quarterback of its own in Kevin Smith, a pair of tall, fast and athletic wide receivers receivers in Michael Martin and Dexter Ransom, a proven receiver in Calvin Caad and a three-year starter at running back in Isaiah Sneed.
The Matadors will also use cornerback Desmond Jackson at quarterback, wide receiver and running back to give the Mavericks even more to think about.
But Carson said where Madison has made its living in the past has been on special teams.
"They've got good special teams — their return teams are monsters," he said. "We'll probably have to win the special teams, not just tie, to win the game. The hidden yardage and that kind of thing generate points. Last year, they returned a kickoff for a touchdown and blocked a punt in the playoffs. We can't have that kind of stuff happen and expect to win."
Carson said his list of concerns in this game include limiting mistakes and being in the Alamodome for the first time.
"Madison has played several games there," he said. "They've got kids who are veterans, and this is no big deal to them. I think that gives us an edge on being up, but it gives them an edge on jitters. We'll find out if we can compete against one of the best programs year in and year out in the state, a perennial playoff team from a very powerful district. We'll also find out about some of our young men who have yet to be tested in a varsity game."
The Matadors and Mavericks will kick off at 7:30 p.m., today, at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
JONATHAN RUSH, OL (6-4, 271)
Killeen (Texas) High
Opens the season Friday, Sept. 1, against Ellison.
Waco Tribune: Killeen Kangaroos
Head coach: Sam Jones (3rd season: 13-8)
All-time: 425-295-27 since 1912
Playoff trips: 17 (22-15-1)
Last playoff game: Lost to Waxahachie, 16-14, in 2004 bi-district
Returning: 6 offensive, four defensive starters
Outlook: OL Jonathan Rush (6-5, 288) leads a strong group that could be the key for the Kangaroos. While Killeen doesn't have an experienced quarterback returning, it does have a quality receiving target in Anthony Ezell. LB David Kelly and DB Jordan Smith give Killeen two sure tacklers.
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