Last season: 16-0 (7-0 District 7-4A). Beat Brenham to win the Class 4A Division II state championship.
Key players: QB Luke Bishop (5-9, 170), WR Ryan Newsome (5-9, 175), RB Jess Anders (5-8, 160), OG Wes Harris (6-3, 295), OG Hunter Harris (6-1, 235), DB Johnny Durham (5-11, 180), DT Jack McAdams (6-2, 235).
The big picture: New coach, same stacked roster. That’s the short way of explaining the state of Aledo football after the resignation of five-time state champion coach Tim Buchanan, who moved to full-time athletic director less than two weeks before the Bearcats started practice. But his replacement, Steve Wood, who had been Buchanan’s defensive coordinator since 2002, will have plenty of talent to carry him into his first season as a head coach. The Bearcats on offense return quarterback Luke Bishop, running back Jess Anders and receiver Ryan Newsome. Inside, brothers Wes Harris and Hunter Harris return to anchor the offensive line. Whether Aledo defends its state title will likely come down to how fast the defense matures. Texas State commitment Johnny Durham returns at starting defensive back, and Garrett Uhl saw plenty of playing time at linebacker last year. But overall, the unit graduated 18 starters and backups full time, including state championship game MVP Jordan Mittie. “We may have a few small problems early on, but I expect these guys to be a very formidable bunch by the time it’s all said and done,” Wood said. “We’ve got some good kids.” On special teams, Aledo will have to replace national record holder Chance Nevarez at kicker. It’s an open race so far, among the six kickers who reported to Aledo’s first practice, but Wood said he liked what he saw out of freshman Carson White.
Quotable: “For the most part, these kids have been doing this stuff since they were in junior high. That’s the great thing about a one-school system at a place like this. There’s just continuity, even some times from pee wee leagues on up. So it’s not like we’re going out there having to reteach over and over again,” — Wood
“Last year’s senior class was a great class, and that’s why we won state, not because of my class or the class below it. So this year, I hope my class — the senior class — can step up, fill a whole bunch of defensive spots from last year and that the returning starters can step up and go make plays.” —Bishop
“I’ll be moving to outside receiver. I’m looking forward to it.” — Newsome
Notable: Aledo opens the season at Baylor’s new McLane Stadium against Cedar Park. The game, which should be the first at the new stadium, will match two Top 5 teams. Aledo debuted at No. 1 in the Class 5A preseason AP poll, while Cedar Park checked in at No. 5.