Though the 2016 season has yet to begin — the first scrimmage isn’t until Friday — second-year Hurst L.D. Bell football coach Mike Glaze has increased confidence from what he has seen so far.
Around 180 players reported on the first day of workouts, including over 50 seniors who will fill the majority of the 72 to 75 varsity roster spots as the Raiders try to improve on back-to-back 1-9 seasons.
“We knew it was going to be a big senior class, and we’re excited about that,” Glaze said. “We had a great summer, and of those seniors, 30-something showed up every day” for workouts.
Glaze said of the two-deep chart, about 90 percent of the players attended summer workouts virtually each day, something that brings a big smile to the coach’s face.
“That can make the difference between us getting to the playoffs and not,” he said.
Perhaps the position Glaze and his staff are watching closest is quarterback. With the graduation of Dominique Lawson, there will be a new starting signal caller this season.
The two leading candidates for the job, Glaze said, are senior Chrishaun Daniels (6-3, 192 pounds) and junior Austin Brougham (6-2, 185), a move-in from Arlington Lamar. Glaze likes what both players bring to the game with their different styles.
“Austin is more of a true passer and Shaun is a better runner,” Glaze said. “We’re going to play both, either way.”
Another position Glaze said he and his staff are watching closely is wide receiver. While they return senior Christion Nealy (6-3, 185), he said they were young at that position last season.
Glaze said senior Dequalon Hill has been moved from defensive back to wide receiver.
“Dequalon gives us a speed element on that side of the ball, a whole new dimension to our offense,” Glaze said.
Glaze also noted that Nealy could also see time as a defensive back. He is one of two Blue Raiders, along with senior offensive lineman Brendon Weatherspoon (6-4, 305), named to Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine’s Texas Top 300 players to watch.
The Raiders will face Mansfield at 10 a.m. Friday in a scrimmage at Pennington Field. The Tigers are coming off a 12-3 season and return five offensive starters, but lost all but two starters from the defense.
Bell, meanwhile, returns seven offensive and seven defensive starters. Glaze said scores are irrelevant in scrimmages.
“In any scrimmage I’ve ever had, I’m focusing on the battle up front,” he said. “Can we block their defensive line, and can they block our defensive line?
“On offense, I want to see if we can find a receiver who can make a play, and on defense make big plays.
“Did we compete well by taking care of the football, not giving up big plays, creating big plays? And we don’t want to commit pre-snap penalties.”
It is the only scrimmage for the Raiders before they open the regular season at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 26 at Coppell.