Fort Worth North Side
Last season: 0-10 (0-8 District 6-4A)
Key players: QB Johnny Aviles (5-9, 150), LB Cesar Soto (5-9, 155), TE Tariq McCain (6-2, 190), OL Rafael Guerrero (5-10, 250), OL Ernesto Delgadillo (6-0, 265), DL Andrew Sanchez (6-2, 270).
The big picture: It’s a constant numbers game for most Fort Worth schools, and North Side, at least in that regard, has reason for a bit of optimism, despite coming off a winless 2013. The Steers return close to 30 seniors, who make up about half of the 50-plus players who reported to the team’s first practice. “I’ve got basically double the number of seniors that I’ve had the last two years,” coach Andy Mills said. “It’s important from a leadership standpoint, because they know this is their last go-around. They know they don’t have another chance.” Third-year starter Johnny Aviles kept the quarterback job in the spring, and also back is his top target: Tight end Tariq McCain, who earned second team all-district honors last year after missing the first five games of the season with an injury. On defense, linebacker Cesar Soto returns alongside fellow senior linebacker Daniel Borunda. Soto and Borunda will also split time at running back. North Side’s first four games might hold its best chances to avoid going winless again. The Steers play Dallas Jefferson, Fort Worth Carter-Riverside, Dallas Sunset and Fort Worth Diamond Hill-Jarvis before opening district play Sept. 26 against Fort Worth South Hills.
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Quotable: “We need to start off with a good start. If we win those first four games, I know we can win some games in district. I know a lot of people have us at the bottom of the district, but they don’t know what’s coming. It’s a lot different.” — LB Cesar Soto
“We’re more motivated this year, with all the seniors coming back. And our coaches, they’re pushing us real hard to get better and improve. [The seniors] have been here all four years, so it’s better that way.” — QB Johnny Aviles
Notable: Former TCU running back Joseph Turner (05-09) was promoted to offensive coordinator at North Side over the summer. It’ll be his second year on staff.
— Ryan Osborne