Last season: 1-9 (1-6 in District 6-5A)
Key players: QB Sam Barry (6-3, 185), LB Ethan Neill (5-8, 190), LB Blake McCarroll (5-10, 205)
The big picture: Despite a forgettable one-win season last year, things are trending up for Grapevine before a single game has been played. New head coach Randy Jackson, who turned around a bleak Mesquite Poteet program in just one season, has already taken steps to spark new life into the Mustangs’ program. His motto rings true with the type of player Grapevine features this season — “Tough People Win.” Grapevine may not have the skilled personnel of other teams, but Jackson hopes his team will outwork and be tougher than opponents, attributes that he said can neutralize skill or speed. With “TPW” adorned on most all articles of the uniform, the team has rallied together with a newfound bond and respect for the new coaching staff, senior linebacker Blake McCarroll said. On offense, Jackson inherits a quarterback in senior Air Force commit Sam Barry, who threw for 540 yards and three touchdowns while splitting the season with graduated senior Adam Sandy last year. Barry also finished the season as Grapevine’s leading rusher, carrying 125 times for 608 yards and 13 touchdowns. On defense, Jackson has strong leaders at linebacker in Ethan Neill and McCarroll, who say they fit well into the new defensive system that features more action and more plays. With all that positive momentum, Grapevine drops down a classification and into District 6-5A, which includes Fort Worth schools and could help with a rapid turnaround.
Notable: This season will mark the 10th year Jackson has used his motto “Tough People Win with one of his programs, going back to his years as coach at Lone Oak. Grapevine has one playoff appearance (2011) in the past four years.
“We’re going to be as good as we can be here. This gives you a chance to overachieve when you have that many coaches working with your freshmen. Two or three years in now, there won’t be any excuses for them totally understanding our system.” — coach Randy Jackson on his new program
“We’re coming off of 1-9, so we have full faith in Coach Jackson. We’re really buying in.” — senior linebacker Ethan Neill
— Travis L. Brown