New head coach Brent Southworth brings back 15 lettermen from a Santa Fe Indians team that went 2-8 last season and will have to rebuild in a very competitive District 23-4A.
The biggest change Indians fans will see comes from Southworth's emphasis on the pass, a switch after former head coach Joe Krauskopf used an option attack to lead Santa Fe to its first two playoff appearances in Krauskopf's seven seasons.
Jordan Davenport and sophomore Justin Samrall will compete for the quarterback job. Neither has an edge and it is likely both will see extensive action during the non-district portion of the schedule. Brian Russell (5-8, 150) has 4.5 speed and appears to be set as the Indians' lead back., with John Bradley slated to start at fullback. The next two weeks will help determine who will be catching the ball, as Daniel Perez, Shane Marek, and Tyler Cooper are the projected starters at wideout.
The Indians' biggest offensive strength will be a line that doesn't lack for size. Tackles Rocky Castro and Ronald Sampson and guards Chris Cope and James Fugate are in excess of 240 pounds, with the 6-4 Fugate tipping the scales at 296 pounds. Veteran Clayton Stults (6-0, 234) will be the anchor of the line at center.
Santa Fe's 4-2-5 defensive scheme will be strengthened by a unit that may be one of the fastest in team history, a huge plus considering the fast-paced offenses of Friendswood, La Marque, Angleton and Dickinson awaits. DE Ryan Gray (6-3, 207) is the group's best player and will be counted on to provide pressure on the QB. Nose tackle Brian Cesari and tackle Seth Lewis will man the interior, while Cooper will compliment Gray at the opposite end position.
Jared DeVries will hold down one spot at linebacker, while John Bradley and Jeff English will line up with him as well. There is good speed in the secondary, where Perez and James Schroeder will start at cornerback, with Timmy Richardson and Tyler Gray starting at safety.
The Indians will remain a tough out in 23-4A, one that is capable of catching a contender off guard (especially at home, where their fans remain some of the most loyal and spirited in the area). A playoff spot may be too much to ask for in Southworth's first season, but Santa Fe has the talent to deliver 4-5 wins and perhaps spoil the postseason dreams of someone else in the process.