In 2016, Northeast Tarrant County sent eight teams to the state football playoffs. They were Southlake Carroll, Colleyville Heritage, Grapevine, Justin Northwest, Northwest Byron Nelson, Keller Central, Keller Timber Creek and Keller Fossil Ridge.
The only misses were Keller and Northwest V.R. Eaton. We witnessed some pretty interesting story lines between the Texans and Falcons each winning their first playoff game in school history and Colleyville Heritage advancing to the Class 5A Division I Region I championship game.
Offseasons have finished. The heavy lifting begins with spring football. A few in our area began last week. The rest begin this week.
As is our tradition, we offer a snapshot look at the key issues facing each program. Spring dates are listed. The last date is the spring game.
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Carroll (April 25-May 18): The Dragons are looking for a lot of replacements. The focus is at quarterback and the offensive line. But head coach Hal Wasson, a stickler for preparation, said he needs the foundation for that to begin now. It’s going to determine how the Dragons’ season unfolds.
Colleyville Heritage (April 25-May 24): Joe Willis lost a bona fide leader to graduation in San Diego State-bound quarterback Cam Roane. Now, he needs to find a new quarterback who can distribute it to the likes of receivers Kam Brown and Ke’Von Ahmad. That competition is between senior Landry French and Dallas Bishop Lynch move-in Jagger LaRoe. But don’t forget, this team also needs a running to pick up the slack where 1,000-yard rusher Mario Ortiz left off.
Grapevine (April 25-May 25): New head coach Mike Alexander has some work to do with the defense. The front seven graduated. But the key is finding the right one to play nose tackle. The Mustangs had one of the area’s best in Brian Andrews, who is moving on to wrestle in college.
Justin Northwest (April 19-May 18): Bill Poe is a week into his spring season. He and his defensive staff are trying to find the right answers at all three levels. The Texans are replacing eight of 11 defensive starters. Plus, it’s a challenge to find a new go-to wide receiver to replace Gavin Holmes and a steady running back to take over for Syrus Moore.
Keller (April 25-May 23): Everything is up for re-evaluation after a very rough 2016 for the Indians. They went 1-9. Head coach Carl Stralow said the big thing is finding the next 22. Yes, that means a starting offense and defense.
Keller Central (April 24-May 19): The Chargers need a new quarterback. Grant Meek takes over there. Isaiah Ganaway is now is also the new No. 1 running back. But head coach Bart Helsley needs to replace his entire defensive line. All three starters have graduated.
Keller Fossil Ridge (April 24-May 18): Tony Baccarini doesn’t have a problem with his first team. This team has a chance to be really good with 17 returning starters. The issue is building the depth to support it. The Panthers are projected to have another playoff-caliber season.
Keller Timber Creek (April 24-May 18): With Cade Schrader graduated, head coach Kevin Golden needs to find the right quarterback to handle the offense. But he is equally concerned about continuity with his offensive line and his secondary.
Northwest Byron Nelson (April 19-May 18): Travis Pride enters his second spring and is one week into it. So far, the buy-in from the players about the scheme and culture is progressing the way he hopes. But he needs to finalize his starting lineup. The Bobcats were hit hard with wide receiver losses. And the team’s leading defensive tackler, linebacker Chance Cover, transferred to Fort Worth Nolan Catholic.
Northwest V.R. Eaton (April 24-May 20): This is the first spring Brad Turner’s program will have seniors. Because this new program is returning all of its starters, the seniors now have to transition into a new mode of providing leadership. However, it still comes down to X’s and O’s. The Eagles need to be better on defense.