Ennis pulled off one of the most monumental upsets in a long time last season beating the favorite to win the state championship, the Waco Lions. The best player from that team and 9 others are returning. Ennis has not been on the forefront of top tier teams in nearly 5 years now; however, with the coaching staff and talent, they always have to be considered at worst a darkhorse threat to make a major run. With Sam Harrell at the helm, one knows that one will have to be ready to play at all times. Changes are a coming this season at Ennis though - in what will be one of Coach Harrell's toughest decisions in awhile - what to do with Deonte McDade.
McDade is the biggest threat that Ennis has. He sparkled and dazzled thousands last year with his speed and breakaway ability. Last season, Ennis ran a lot more as they had the theory to just give McDade the ball and let him make a play. This year, with DJ Betik, a promising to-be Junior quarterback, McDade may end up as a Cyrus Gray type player and play three or four positions to get him the ball most efficiently and let Betik run the traditional Harrell spread offense. Ennis always seems to have at least one Division I offensive lineman - and this year is no different with Micah Kemp. Kyle Guinyard may be the brightest wide receiver prospect for Ennis and allow McDade not to be focused on exclusively.
The last couple of seasons have been fixated on the lack of defense from Ennis - as they have given up uncharacteristically high numbers. Justin Piper and Jason Vavra return on the defensive side of the ball - and Vavra might be the best defensive player that they have. He is great in the secondary for interceptions but he also has made a lot of tackles. That could be a double-edged sword to that end. McDade may be asked to play a little bit in the secondary this season as Ennis's concerted effort to keep him on the field as much as possible. The secondary has the most competition right now for getting on the field - but it also might have the most depth as players could rotate - and some of them could find their way to the offensive side of the ball.
The new district keeps intact the major rivalries yet adds a Centex flavor to it with the the addition of the Waco schools and Cleburne. Ennis has to be considered a top favorite considering how much they are returning and beating Waco last season. The big three in the district will definitely be Ennis, Waxahachie and Waco High - so a good playoff run could be set up for the Lions this season. Although they split against Waco High - being matched up in bi-district against 16-4A the last two seasons was a tough draw - so now, especially with four playoff teams making it - we could see several 16-4A regional final match-ups as the district is that good. Look for Ennis to compete for the district championship and to have a 2-3 round deep run in the playoffs for the 2008 season.