High School Sports

Countdown to kickoff: Mansfield Summit

Mansfield Summit

District 15-4A

Coach: Travis Pride

Last season: 3-7 (3-4 in District 15-4A), missed the playoffs

Key players: DE Kawan Henry (6-3, 200); MLB/RB Jearld McGlothin (6-0, 220); DB Christian Taylor (5-11, 170); WR Jordan Aikens (6-3, 215); WR Isaiah Barnett (6-2, 180); RB Jordan Hester (5-8, 180); WR Johnson Ubani (6-4, 200); QB Braden Nolen (5-11, 170).

The big picture: As coach Travis Pride explained it, for whatever reason, team chemistry wasn’t where it needed to be last season as the Jaguars tumbled from a 19-5 record from the previous two seasons to a 3-7 campaign. It featured five minutes of football that separated the team from an 8-2 record and a playoff run. Still the close losses are a sign that Summit can get back to where the program has been. But gone from last season are offensive stalwarts Antonio Bennett and Daymon Smith, who both transferred to Prime Prep Academy. Bennett accounted for 1,930 yards passing last season and 17 touchdowns. Smith had 94 carries for 534 yards and six touchdowns. Sophomore quarterback Braden Nolen, who played JV as a freshman, was part of the new personnel installed in spring drills. Nolen will distribute the ball to four receivers that have made improvements over the summer. That gives Summit what Pride calls “a better sense of family and trust.” The defense, though, is what will be paramount to Summit’s success this year. Linebacker Gerald McGlothin is the most experienced and ran a 4.5-second 40-yard dash over the summer. Defensive end Kawan Henry has grown to 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds and has worked on his pass rush. Because of lower enrollment numbers, Pride said he expects several players will play offense and defense. The Jags gave up 369.1 yards per game last season.

Quotable: “When we think about the kind of team we want this year, I think you have to look at a situation like this and realize that we need leaders and kids that want to develop relationships and play together. We just need to focus on doing our jobs and not the job of someone else.” — Coach Travis Pride

Notable: Linebacker/running back Jearld McGlothin has squatted 600 pounds.

— Kevin Casas