When Ryan Agnew entered the field at Dragon Stadium last fall for pregame warm-ups, he was in awe of the rows of stands before him, even when they were empty.
He realized what they represented and, even as a backup quarterback, he felt the love.
“It’s one of the greatest feelings walking out onto the field, even during the pregame, looking at the stands and knowing that there is going to be thousands of people there cheering for you as a 15-, 16-, 17-year old,” Agnew said. “You have a whole town behind you, no matter how good or bad you play. It makes you want to be great. It makes you want to win state championships. It makes you want to do the best you can possibly do.”
This fall, the Dragons faithful will be cheering for Agnew to be great as he steps into the cherished role of quarterback at Carroll.
It doesn’t take a thorough examination of Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine, which hits newsstands Friday, to realize the bar has been set high for Agnew. He is the heir to the throne of a Texas dynasty, because quarterback is king in Southlake. He follows numerous passers who have excelled at the college and pro ranks and a rising star in Texas A&M signee Kenny Hill, who brought home a state title in his tenure.
Agnew is up for the challenge.
“There’s a little added weight and it helps you out because the bar is set high, and you have to work hard every day if you want to reach the bar and give a little extra if you want to go over. And that’s what I’m trying to do,” Agnew said.
The rising junior faces his first year as Carroll’s starting quarterback at the conclusion of this summer, but he is not inexperienced. Last season, Agnew took 239 snaps for the Dragons and has been Carroll’s No. 1 QB in 7-on-7 play not only this spring and summer but last, when Hill slugged homers for the Carroll baseball team. While the summer tournaments are far from true Friday night experience, the fun and competition with teammates have built an invaluable chemistry and respect for Agnew.
“I know our football team really looks up to him and admires his work ethic and passion for the game, and he’s always been a winner,” Carroll coach Hal Wasson said.
Dragon is the mascot for every school in the Carroll district. As far back as seventh grade, when Agnew began playing quarterback, he and his class of Dragons had been pegged as winners.
Even before that, however, another stalwart of Carroll football took notice of the kid who would eventually walk 100 yards in his shoes.
“He’s a great athlete. He really plays well. I think Coach Wasson will do a great job incorporating his skills, and I’m looking forward to seeing how well he does against the great competition Texas 5A football provides,” former Carroll quarterback and current New York Jet Greg McElroy said.
McElroy has been friends with one of Agnew’s older brothers since elementary school and has watched the new Dragons starter develop into a high-caliber player.
During the NFL off-season, McElroy will work out at Carroll, giving out tips and advice to Agnew and all of the quarterbacks in the Carroll system.
“If I ever have any pointers as far as fundamentals and things like that I can help because I still know the Southlake offense, which I know is kind of crazy,” McElroy, who graduated from Carroll in ’06, said with a laugh.
The Jets backup QB said he also knows a lot about the situation Agnew will inherit, following Hill’s 2011 state-title act, as he was the successor to another future NFL player, Chase Daniel.
“Just don’t worry about what was done before you, just understand what you’re trying to do and get better week in and week out,” McElroy said. “Throughout the course of the summer, don’t pay attention to what Kenny did, don’t pay attention to what Chase did, just worry about improving. Don’t compare yourself or anything like that, just enjoy it and worry on getting better.”
But, for Agnew, this fall isn’t a developing year for the junior. It’s another year to “Protect the Tradition” for this season’s seniors.
“It’s great going into my junior year being looked at as the guy, but I have to look at it like I have two senior years, because I want to lead these seniors to something special,” Agnew said. “Hopefully go all the way and give them everything they want, because I know they deserve it.”