Keller Fossil Ridge
Coach: Tony Baccarini
Last season: 3-7 (3-4 in District 4-5A), no playoffs
Key players: DE Anthony Villalobos (6-3, 250); CB Nick Foster (5-11, 180); QB Jake Gnacinski (6-3, 225); WR Cameron Castleberry (6-2, 160); LB Bryce Hines (6-2, 205); C Jordan Simmons (6-1, 295); WR Cody Seidel (6-2, 180); RB Keshawn Mitchell (5-11, 195); WR Niron Fields (6-4, 190)
The big picture: The Panthers return 15 starters, eight on offense, and many of them will be starting for a third season. Gnacinski, a big quarterback with a good arm and mobility, has several tall targets to throw to as the receiving corps features several players 6-foot-2 or taller and is expected to be one of the strengths of the team. Defensively, it all starts up front with Villalobos, who recorded 87 tackles and 11 sacks last season. Hines has been the biggest surprise to the coaching staff in the off-season and is poised for a big year in the middle. Cornerback and TCU recruit Nick Foster gives the Panthers a ball hawk in the secondary. If Fossil Ridge can stay healthy, it should be in the playoff mix.
Quotable: Anthony [Villalobos] is just a very good football player. Hes strong, he plays great technique, his motor runs hot, and so he brings a lot to the table. We can move him around a lot on defense and get the matchups we want and cause problems. Coach Tony Baccarini
I expect more out of [myself] this season. As a leader I expect to hold my team to the highest expectations and for my team to do the same with me. I feel like we can go out there and do this together, not alone. Everybody on this team has a place, even if youre not a starter. DB Nick Foster
Notable: Since moving up to 5A in 2008, Fossil Ridge has reached the playoffs only once (2011) and has not won a postseason game.
Special to the S-T
Fossil Ridge defensive end Anthony Villalobos, sacking Mansfield Summit’s Ryan Cuevas, will lead the Panthers in search of their second playoff berth in Class 5A.
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