Coach: Mike Peters
Last season: 8-3 (5-2 in District 6-4A). Lost to Denton Guyer 42-14 in bi-district.
Key players: LB Julian Perez, (5-10, 205); CB Jaylen King (6-1, 170); DL Bobby Suber, (6-0, 250); OL Cale Hatfield (5-10, 230); OL Nathan Olsen-Caylor (6-2, 250); FB Nick Quintanilla (5-10, 220).
The big picture: The Rough Riders made it back to the playoffs for the first time since 2009. They took their lumps for two years in District 7-5A with the likes of Southlake Carroll before returning to 4A last year. Coach Mike Peters said for a large number of young players, it was trial by fire in 5A. Those years of experience paid off in 2012, as the Rough Riders started the season on a 6-0 tear en route to their playoff appearance. Saginaw will return seven players on defense and three on offense after graduating 35 players. Expect the defense to use that experience to set the tone for Saginaw. The returnees on offense form the bulk of the line, but they’ll look to replace their top two offensive contributors from last year. The offense lacks experience but they have depth, Peters said. After spring drills, the QB spot is up in the air, according to Peters, although senior Brandon Ventura (6-1, 175) may have the inside track over sophomore John Polston (6-1, 200). Jaylen King and Austin Wright are good enough athletes to also work on both sides of the ball. The younger players will need to come around quickly, as Saginaw starts off with The Colony and Carrollton Creekview before heading into district play. Birdville, Boswell, Fort Worth Dunbar and Fort Worth Eastern Hills are expected to be tough district opponents.
Quotable: “We’ll have 8 to 10 sophomores stepping up and playing. As soon as they come around and contribute will determine how good we are. For us, district will be a tough road as everyone played a lot of young kids except for us. The players we have are really good but just untested.” — Coach Mike Peters
“We have strength and speed everywhere. The key for us is all technique. If everyone does their job, on every play this year, we can be just as successful [as last year]. It’s not just one player that will take us to the playoffs.” — OL Cale Hatfield
Notable: In the two years after the 4-6 playoff team in 2009, Saginaw went just 1-19 prior to last season’s winning record.
— Randy Sachs
Special to the S-T
Saginaw QB Brandon Ventura
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