If a team ever fit the mold of a true darkhorse team, it would be the Rowlett Eagles. The team went 6-6 last year - but they slayed the mighty Allen Eagles, a 10-0 team at the time, before getting pummeled by the Rowlett Eagles. This year, the expectations might be unfairly high for Rowlett. The team did get through the season at .500 and barely made the playoffs before pulling off one of the bigger upsets in first round history. This year - the talent is there. The state's fastest football player, a prototypical bruising running back, a sizeable line and talented athlete at quarterback. With a weak district and a favorable bi-district pairing - could Rowlett have the team to make a solid run this year?
Blake Hamblin has been groomed to be quarterback. With the great athletes at Rowlett at quarterback, he hasn't had a chance to fully take over the role until now. As he is the type of athlete you need to have on the field - he led the defense in interceptions last year - and in critical moments, he may play both ways. Dexter Imade made a name for himself pummeling over Allen picking up big yard after big yard. Marquise Goodwin - the first team all district wide receiver - won the state championship in the 100 meters in track and field. The kid can flat out fly. The line might be a bit of a weakness - not having the prototypical size and speed for the GISD district - but it should still be pretty salty.
The defense should have a lot of question marks - especially since its best player trnasferred over to the offense. To try to offset this, Coach Hardin has moved Kyle Clemons to the defensive side of the ball. He was a running back last year averaging nearly 10 yards a carry with 2 touchdowns - and he will be asked to fill the role left vacant by Blake Hamblin. Linebacker Marquale Pierson does not have the prototypical linebacker size but he has a great nose for the football and can also drop back in the nickle just as effectively. Hilbert Jackson is a pretty good cornerback as well - he makes big plays and prevents plays from getting in front of him. Junior Austin Kirpes could be a player to watch this season.
Overall - most people think, and rightfully so - the game for the district championship this season will be Rowlett vs. Naaman Forest. Naaman, with a similar set of skill athletes, has the better offensive and defensive line so a slight edge to Naaman as they should be able to wear down the lines of Rowlett. If Rowlett can develop their line to be close to Naaman - I'd give them the edge in skill talent. Still - look for Rowlett to go D1 and get the first seed in Division I - thus avoiding a first round game with Skyline in the playoffs. From there - they could have a very competitive run through the playoffs with the experience they gathered slaying the mighty Allen Eagles last season. It should be another season of Thanksgiving practice for Rowlett.