The benefit of being a first-year varsity football program is that no one expects anything. What is likely anticipated is that it will be a long season where blowouts are the norm and depth will be challenged.
But that’s not how Northwest V.R. Eaton head coach Brad Turner sees it. Far from it. Turner and the Eagles are now in the closing stages of beginning that first year. The Eagles start playing for keeps on Aug. 25 when they play host to another first-year program, Denton Braswell, at Northwest ISD Stadium. Eaton went 9-1 as a junior varsity team in 2015.
“The easy part is building the excitement within our community,” Turner said. “I’ve never been a part of a multi-school district. But this area is kind of its own community, so it still has a little of a one-school feel to it.
“The hard part is molding something where you’re getting kids who are coming from different areas. This isn’t something where a pocket of kids has grown up together. Molding is a challenge. But the great thing is that the kids have really bought into everything and worked really well since the day we started [in 2015].”
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No matter where has been, from Sulphur Springs to Springtown, Turner has been a builder of programs. That’s what he has at Eaton. The advantage is that he doesn’t have to follow a coach and spend time convincing players to change their methods and habits.
Like any first-year program, the Eagles are void of seniors, and time will tell how deep and strong they are along the offensive and defensive lines. It’s going to take the non-district schedule – Braswell, Frisco Reedy and Frisco Independence – to gain a better understanding of what kind of team Turner has.
“I think we’ll do fine adjusting to the speed of the game,” he said. “The biggest adjustment will be the physical part. We’ll have to find out if our lines can withstand the push.”
What Turner does have is arguably one of the best athletes in the area in running back Titus Swen. Already holding an offer from SMU, Swen (5-10, 190) should see 25-30 touches per game, whether it’s in the backfield or lined up at receiver. Turner calls Swen the best running back he has seen since Aledo’s Jonathan Gray, Texas’ all-time rushing leader. Turner normally likes the pass to set up the run. But this year, he said he likely will reverse it.
Quarterback Riley Taylor has been running the offense for a season and seems to have a feel for what Turner demands. The offensive line has seven candidates, while the defensive line presents about five candidates.
“Every job I’ve had is a building job,” Turner said. “It’s so satisfying to take a downtrodden team and making them champions. But [Eaton] is the ultimate. There is no history. Every step we make is history. Ultimately, we want to have golden footballs [championship trophies] in our trophy case.”
Head coach: Brad Turner (18th season overall; 1st season at Eaton)
2015: Played JV schedule
Key players: RB Titus Swen, QB Riley Taylor, LB Corey Fritchen, DL Nick Lanum, OL Cole Todd
Notable: Lanum is coming off a knee injury that caused him to miss 2015 but should be ready … Turner is still looking for linebacker depth … the wide receivers are led by Jordan Brooks. Although he’s 5-7, he’s considered exceptionally fast and quick.