Last year, Plano missed an opportunity at their eighth state championship falling to eventual champion Euless Trinity in double overtime. This year - a lot of that core will be back this year as 11 starters return from that squad. With a new coaching staff, people are saying the spirit around the Wildcats is even better than it has been in awhile - but those could be the same fair weather parents that drive programs out of success in the first place. Regardless of the cause, Plano is locked and loaded for a run at the state championship - of course, this year, a potential match-up with Trinity could happen in the second round and cause an overflowing mass at Texas Stadium much like the game against Southlake did 2-3 years ago. Plano will not change its philosophy with the new coaching style - but their offense is as good as some of the Southlake offenses that averaged 50 points a game for several seasons.
The offense looks as good as any offense in the state. A lot of sites and papers have Trinity #1, Plano #2 - so clearly comparisons will be made. Both teams are returning the quarterback. Carson Meger has a pretty solid arm and did account for over 3000 yards of offense last season. Both teams are returning a running back, but you have to give a slight edge to Burkhead. This guy can do everything. He played quarterback in 7 on 7 this season at times and he also played defense anytime Plano was losing as part of a "ramp it up" package that consisted of the best players going both ways for Plano. They very well could have that "set" in 11 man football as well. A clear advantage for Plano over Trinity is the quality of the wide receivers. Kris Lott is as good as they come - and with players like Laron Kelly, Ryan McDuff and Holt Hoetger as the supporting cast - you have to really have two shutdown corners - and no guarantee that one shutdown corner will even stop Lott. The offensive line may be weak - graduating big the last two years - but Hanur Kim leads a pretty salty lineman crew.
Defensively is where the team will be weak(er) than last season without any doubt. Plano's defense was stifling at times last year and they graduated a big portion of that. Despite the ascertation that Plano is returning 6 starters, Plano had 9 seniors on the all district team. Laron Kelly was the lone exception at free safety - and he will see time on the defensive side of the ball as well. The defensive line will have players like Jordan Talley and Justin Boyde on it - tenatively speaking. The linebacker core is a little young and will be led by Reid Lyness. The secondary will have a hodge podge of interchangeable parts. Laron Kelly, Rex Burkhead and Kris Lott all saw time in the secondary during 7 on 7. Whereas it would be a longshot for Lott to play secondary except in an extreme prevent situation - Burkhead may see a couple plays at secondary a game - especially as the playoffs roll on. Andrew Caufman, Jared Kirchmier and Brandon McCalister are other players that will see time in the defensive secondary.
Overall, Plano is a solid team - they should win their district - and I actually suspect Plano is going to win a lot of games ugly this year - and by ugly, I mean they will roll out touchdowns on the first 6 or 7 possessions and put in the reserves for the rest of the game. There could be lots of lonely second halves for the starters. I think Plano should have no problems in cruising to an undefeated season. The second round will be extremely tough for Plano. Plano has stepped up the competition in non-district playing a team like Hebron and even traveling to play a team like Temple. A scrimmage against Mesquite will be a good test for both teams. Plano has a great chance to shine this season - and the winner of the Trinity vs. Plano game (and it will happen - guaranteed) has a great shot at winning a state championship. Plano might be a slight favorite - but we'll have to see who can stay healthy as the season rolls on - Plano has a much more difficult district slate than Trinity and injuries (or boredom) could get the best of Plano this season - however, I don't see them falling in district play at all.