Saginaw Boswell’s road to the state football quarterfinals last season was almost as improbable as it was surprising.
The Pioneers overcame the early season injury bug, won three playoff rounds, and played into December.
In spite of Monday’s predicted adverse weather, 11 area teams begin the annual right of passage known as August training camp.
To begin its second UIL season, players from Fort Worth ISD’s Young Men’s Leadership Academy will gather late Sunday at Scarborough-Handley Field for a midnight Monday practice.
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High school football practices begin Aug. 7 for some schools. Check out the Star-Telegram Facebook live at 8 a.m. Monday from Richland High School.
Later Monday, Richland, Arlington Heights, Everman, Dunbar, Carter-Riverside, North Side, Polytechnic, Wyatt, Western Hills and Arlington Seguin also hit the field.
To say it’s different this year for Boswell, is an understatement.
“We always talk about what you do in August is what creates the ability to play in December,” Boswell coach John Abendschan said. “After what our kids experienced last year, with knowing we were one of only a handful of schools still playing that late in the year, it’s much easier to sell that now.”
Boswell, 9-5 in 2016, comes into the season cracking the Texas High School Coaches Association Class 5A, Region I poll at No. 10.
It’s a recognition not only born of last season’s success, but no doubt a nod to the possibilities ahead for Boswell.
Still, Aledo comes to the table at No. 1 in the region with another strong case for collecting a second consecutive state title. The Bearcats return running back Jase McClellan and nine starters.
Southlake Carroll is No. 4 in the THSCA Class 6A Region I poll and is perhaps Tarrant County’s best bet at the 6A level to reach the title games at AT&T Stadium Dec. 23.
There are things to accomplish in fall camp for Carroll, though.
Settling on a quarterback is a top priority for the Dragons, who return eight starters from a team shown the playoff exit door last season by DeSoto in the second round.
Carroll sophomores Blake Smith and Brandon Howell are competing with junior Will Bowers and senior Clayton Webb for the starter’s role.
Across the area, DeSoto, which went on to win the Class 6A Division I title last season returns as the No. 2 team in the region behind Allen and Cedar Hill is No. 3.
Coppell checks in at No. 4 in the Region II poll while Mansfield Legacy, after a state semifinal loss to Highland Park last year, comes in at No. 4 in the 5A Region II poll.
BEST BETS FOR STATE
Southlake Carroll (10-2 in 2016): The Dragons have a healthy competition at quarterback this season, but moreover, depth and 8 returning starters, including defensive lineman Jacob Doddridge and defensive back R.J. Mickens.
Aledo (16-0): With running back Jase McClellan, the Bearcats are re-stocked and ready to roll toward a second straight title. Most likely Jake Bishop will take the reins at QB, the third of three brothers to do so at Aledo.
Mansfield Legacy (11-3): The Broncos are a dark-horse pick and challenged with finding a replacement for quarterback Kendall Catalon. It could be brother Jalen Catalon, but at the very least, he returns in the secondary for a team that reached the state semifinals.
Colleyville Heritage (10-4): The Panthers return wideouts Kam Brown and Ke’Von Ahmad but need to find somebody to the deliver the ball to them. Two transfers could help solve that problem as Jagger LaRoe (Bishop Lynch) and Drew Sanders (Lake Dallas) will compete with backup Landry French for the starting QB role.
EARLY COMMIT PLAYERS TO WATCH
QB Alan Bowman
WR Jaylon Robinson
QB Spencer Sanders
WR Josh Fleeks
ATH Jalen Knox
OLB Byron Hobbs
LB Grayson Mann
DE Spencer Trussell
DT James Williams
OL Jackson Kimble
WR Jackson Gleeson
QB Jason Bean
Mansfield Lake Ridge
DB Gemon Green
DB Cam’ron Jones
OL Clayton Franks
DB Verone McKinley III
S Atanza Vongor
South Grand Prairie
WR Kam Brown
ATH Jeff Carter
RB Jase McClellan
MORE PLAYERS TO WATCH
DE Bobby Brown, Sr., Arlington Lamar
OT Darrell Simpson, Sr., Justin Northwest
WR Erik Ezukanma, Sr., Keller Timber Creek
OLB DaShaun White, Sr., Richland
DB Noah Moreno, Sr., Keller Central
RB Grant Johnson, Sr., Mansfield Legacy
RB Juma Otoviano, Sr., Arlington Martin
LB Jacob Doddridge, Sr., Southlake Carroll
RB Courage Keihn, Sr., Euless Trinity
DE Izaih Filikitonga, Sr., Euless Trinity
QB Prince Mavula, Sr., Justin Northwest
QB Riley Taylor, Sr., Haslet Eaton
LB NaNa Osafo-Mensah, Jr., Nolan Catholic
LB Chance Cover, Jr., Nolan Catholic
DB Jalen Catalon, Jr., Mansfield Legacy
RB Titus Swen, Jr., Haslet Eaton
RB D.J. Kirven, Jr., Kennedale
QB Chandler Rogers, Jr., Mansfield Lake Ridge
DB R.J. Mickens, Soph., Southlake Carroll
WR D.J. Graham, Soph., Keller Central
QB Brayden Thomas, Soph., Saginaw Boswell