And here we go.
While Keller tees it up as the very first Class 6A football in the state on Thursday afternoon to play one Lee, Fossil Ridge travels to Tyler to take on another Lee. Timber Creek travels to Irving Nimitz to take on the Vikings, a team which was in Keller on Friday to scrimmage Central.
Central will be the first to flip on the KISD Stadium lights on Friday at 7:30 pm as they play host to L.D. Bell.
The Chargers, who scrimmaged Nimitz on Friday morning, are looking to make a return trip to the playoffs and have a tough non-district schedule before they even get to the games which matter.
The best aspect from the scrimmage, according to Central head coach Bart Helsley is the fact they came away healthy.
Some of the question marks on defense were favorably answered and the offense showed they can live up to their potential.
“Offensively, we threw the ball well,” Helsley said, noting senior quarterback, Jake McClurg made some good plays, including running the ball well.
McClurg is a true dual-threat quarterback, having rushed for about 1,100 yards in his sophomore year and while his rushing yards dropped off last season, he passed for just under 1,000.
The receivers had a good outing, with Matt Simmons and Caleb Cilumba catching long scoring passes, while Jordy Henrotin and Jaxon Nichols were also impressive.
“We spread the ball around,” Helsley said. “A lot of guys caught some balls.”
The defense didn’t give up any scores and Taylor Robinson and Anthony Dracopowlos both had interceptions for the Chargers.
Now, it’s time to focus on Bell, a team which has recently been finding their way into the playoffs.
The Blue Raiders will come into the season with a new but explosive quarterback in Dominique Lawson and a sizable offensive line.
“Year in, year out, Bell is always physical,” Helsley said. “They’re big up front and always aggressive on defense.”
Central will have to pay close attention to defensive lineman, David Dorsett (6-2, 275), a key returner on the Raiders’ defense.
“We’ll have a tough three days of practice this week to get ready,” Helsley said prior to a lighter workout on Thursday.
Helsley knows about preparing for season openers, as he enters his 24th year of coaching, the last 12 at Central where he’s been since the school’s opening.
“There’s so much anticipation leading into the first game of the year,” Helsley said. “We’ll be pumped up and the whole state is excited. The main goal is to keep everyone focused.”
“I liked our effort,” said head coach Tony Baccarini. “We flew around really well and we were very physical up front and our offensive line played well. I was very pleased.”
The Panthers had more turnovers than the coach would have liked, but there were plenty of good play with both quarterbacks, Gabe Monk and Bryce Baccarini.
“Up until today, I thought our defense was ahead of our offense,” Baccarini the coach said. “But our offense looked good and both quarterbacks ran the ball well. We had a heavy-duty smash-mouth running game going at the end.”
Cameron Castleberry caught a touchdown pass for Fossil Ridge who outscored Birdville 4-2 in the scrimmage. Keshawn Mitchell had a strong day running for the Panthers.
Tyler Lee, a perennial power has been down a little in recent years, but Baccarini expects Lee to be on their way back up.
“They have very athletic personnel and the offensive line is solid,” Baccarini said. “We’re going to their backyard (Trinity Mother Francis Rose Stadium). But we’ve been working on the Tyler Lee game plan since the first day,” he said.
While the Panthers are traveling east to play Lee, Keller is headed west to take on Midland Lee, in a game which will start at 4:30 pm on Thursday in the Asco Machinery Classic at Grande Communications Stadium in Midland.
The Indians also came out of their Mansfield Summit scrimmage healthy, and head coach Carl Stralow said a lot of things went well.
“I was encouraged by our effort, but we still have a lot of things to work on. We have enough parts to be successful,” he said.
The Indians should be ready for any heat in the Midland afternoon, as Stralow said the scrimmage with Summit was played “on the surface of Mercury.” The forecast for kickoff is 95 degrees.
In the Falcons’ scrimmage with Everman on Friday afternoon, Recie Sanders and Braxton Washington had good outings running the ball while Anthony Millsap was praised by head coach Kevin Golden for his leadership.
Connor Pittman ran the ball well also at quarterback for the Falcons while receivers Caleb Collins and DeShawn Biggs had good showing.
“It wasn’t fancy and we’ll keep it simple,” Golden said. “It’s just one snapshot, but it’s the only snapshot we have,” he said of the scrimmage.
The defense was encouraging as it’s stocked with upperclassmen, including eight returners.
In preparing for Nimitz, Golden said the Vikings threw the ball, but may end up on Friday night as more of rushing team. “They’ve got good personnel and a receiver that’s going to TCU and others that are headed to DI schools. They’re solid in the backfield.”
Although not as young as they were last season, the Falcons will have a tough pre-district schedule which will tell more after three games, Golden said.
“The first game is like a baby duck waking up in a new world,” Golden said. “We’ll see how we respond to the lights.”