Countdown to kickoff: Mansfield Summit Jaguars

Posted Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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Mansfield Summit

District: 14-5A

Last season: 6-6, 5-2 District 15-4A

Key players: QB Braden Nolen (6-0, 175), WR/DB Kendrick Welsh (5-10, 160), S Eric Jones (5-10, 165), LB Wictor Dos Anjos (5-10, 170), OL/DL Dylan Briscoe (6-0, 215), WR Burrell Taylor (5-10, 165)

The big picture: Summit rallied from an 0-3 start last year to go 5-2 in District 15-4A and earn a berth in the postseason. The Jaguars even won a playoff game. It was all a bit surprising considering how many new players coach Travis Pride had to work into the varsity squad. A year later, all that experience should have the Jags on track for an even better year. “We might be a much better football team than we were last year and still go 5-5,” Pride said, noting the competitive nature of the new District 14-5A that now includes crosstown rival Mansfield Timberview. But no other team in the district probably has a better quarterback than Pride. Braden Nolen returns after a sophomore campaign that saw him throw for more than 2,300 yards and 21 TDs. Helping Nolen this year will be a triumvirate of experienced receivers. Kendrick Welsh, Lane Schwab and Burrell Taylor all played last season and should have good chemistry with the quarterback. An undersized, but athletic line will protect Nolen and also open holes for a pair of inexperienced running backs. Several of those offensive linemen will also man the trenches on the defensive side, including Miles Adams and Dylan Briscoe. The linebacking corps is largely turned over, but the secondary features three-year starter Eric Jones at safety. It’s also likely some of the receivers will split time in the secondary. If games come down to special teams, Pride is confident in kicker Ryan Rodriguez, who booted 14 field goals last year, including a 54-yarder in a playoff game.

Quotable: “We always want state championships, but if you get every ounce of energy and every ounce of ability out of a team, I think at the end you’ve got to be pretty excited.” —coach Travis Pride

“Since we went two rounds deep in the playoffs [last season], I feel like the younger kids stepped in and got more experience. Now, we’re pretty much just picking up where we left off.” — safety Eric Jones

“I feel like we can start clicking really quickly. The chemistry of our team is really good and we’re close. We’ve all been playing with each other since we were young. We don’t really care about last year. We’re focused on this year, but I think we need to start off better this season.” — QB Braden Nolen

“We had great participation over the summer workouts. I think that has a lot to say about the team chemistry and the direction this team wants to go. That’s always reassuring as a coach.” — Pride

Notable: The Jaguars have only two true road games this season. Aside from going to Birdville in Week 2 and Lancaster in late October, the eight remaining games are all at Vernon Newsom or R.L. Anderson stadiums in Mansfield.

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