Lions hoping to make it back to the playoffs

The season is almost here, and TexasPrepInsider is finishing up our previews of the state of Texas. Spring Editor, Sarah Parker has our latest team preview as she previews the Spring Lions. Join TPI and your team of TPI writers for the entire season.

Spring High School Insider

Sarah Parker

Last year, Spring High School started raising eyebrows when they fought a tough, determined Smithson Valley team to the wire, nearly defeating them. 

Not too long afterwards, they went on to beat Stratford , then anchored by Andrew Luck. 

And that's when things exploded. 

Message boards lit up, praising the team for their tenacity and hard play.  Top-ten lists were wildly shifted around to accommodate them. 

Unfortunately, it was the district play that shortened their season.  The Lions didn't fare nearly as well, suffering especially tough losses against the Klein powerhouses.    

Head coach Sonny Karas, whose 100th win with the team coincided with that dazzling Stratford game, said his Lions are taking every precaution to ensure that the 2007 season doesn't repeat itself. 

"We have to do a better job on finishing," Karas said.  "We played really well the first half of the season.  We played well against some good football teams.

"We beat the ones we were supposed to beat, but not the ones that would get us into the playoffs."

Karas said his team had a good summer, and that they were in good shape after hitting the weight room.  But to keep from repeating last year's mistakes, Karas is, of course, looking to the team's standouts – be they returners or fresh faces - to guide them down a different path. 

But he's also looking to two new-old faces to be the differentiators.

One would be senior Josh Rowe, a FS sidelined all last season with an injury.  Karas describes him as being back "full-speed, 100 percent – one heck of a football player."   He'll be lining up alongside another defensive player returning from injury:  senior DE Charles Dilworth. 

They will be joining a powerful and experienced Lion defense.  Two all-district picks, senior DB Darren Brantley and junior DT Donta Burnett, are returning.  Karas said LB and DI prospect Tahare Ray and DB Lynn Madumere, both seniors, were returning from good offseasons, praising both for their talent and leadership.

Senior Kenric McNeal – a DI prospect that showed great poise and athleticism during the 2007 season – will return as starting quarterback.  The Lion offense will definitely miss WR Blake Farmer, a 2008 graduate.  But never fear:  McNeal's passes will still connect with very capable hands.  Another DI prospect, senior WR Dakota Dill, also partnered with McNeal during the 2007 season for several highlight-reel plays.  He's back with senior RB Darel Haynes to help lead the Lions into the playoffs. 

Age and experience will aide Spring, as many of their featured players were younger and less experienced in the 2007 season.  McNeal had even been shifted over from WR, making his season – 1,434 yards passing, 411 yards running, 9 touchdowns - all the more remarkable. 

Karas said that he and his staff worked hard on driving the value of finishing strong into his team, and with good results. 

"Hopefully we can do that, not peak as early as we did last year," Karas explained.  "That's what we've been preaching for 12 months now."





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