Twenty-second in a daily series spotlighting key area high school football teams leading to opening night, Thursday.
Last season: 11-2 (6-1 in District 5-5A), lost to Abilene 25-22 in the regional semifinals.
Key players: SS George Baltimore (6-0, 205); DE Calum Rodriguez (6-3, 199); DL Zac Pincomb (6-1, 265); FS Jared McGee (6-0, 180); RB Kenneth Burks (5-8, 185); QB Lane Meyer (6-0, 180); QB Jake Ticer (6-1, 165); WR Lance Evans (6-2, 187).
The big picture: Coach Jeff Hulme's Tigers won 11 games last season and advanced to the third round of the playoffs for the second time in four years. Mansfield will try to go further in 2012 with a new quarterback, either junior Jake Ticer or senior Lane Meyer. Other than QB, Hulme said the biggest positional worry is defensive line, where his team was hit with heavy losses due to graduation. Hulme said he's excited to watch the players in new positions grow and feels he has enough returners, such as do-it-all safety and TCU commit George Baltimore and leading rusher Kenneth Burks (1872 yards, 23 TDs), for a deep playoff run.
Quotable: "One of the things you have to work on every year -- the team needs to come together and have real good team chemistry and that camaraderie of being the team." Coach Jeff Hulme
Notable: Mansfield barely escaped with the District 5-5A crown last season, beating rival Mansfield Timberview 29-27 to finish one game above the Wolves.
-- Josh Bowe
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