Keller Timber Creek
Last season: 3-7 (2-5 in District 5-6A)
Key players: QB Cade Schrader (5-11, 175); RB Nathan Grimes (6-0, 180); WR Eric Mills (6-3, 190); WR Erik Ezukanma (6-2, 175); TE Jerome Jackson (6-5, 210); OL Alan Ali (6-6, 280); DL Aaron Mitchell (6-0, 230); S Eloi Bigirimana (6-0, 190).
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The big picture: Only eight starters return to coach Kevin Golden’s Timber Creek squad, including three on defense. But Golden said a lot of those non-starters were on varsity last season and bring back experience. The offense will be the strong point for the Falcons in 2016, led by seniors Eric Mills (23 catches, 411 yards, 4 TDs) and Alan Ali (SMU commit, first-team all-district lineman). “We are much more focused and disciplined,” Mills said. Senior Cade Schrader replaces Caleb Collins under center, but is “a different animal, more of a gunslinger,” Golden said. Junior Nathan Grimes looks to replace 1,000-yard rusher and Texas Lutheran University commit, Braxton Washington. In the final game of last season, Grimes rushed 21 times for 100 yards and two scores, but junior Emmanuel Wilson will give him competition for the starting job. Golden also said to expect more production this year from senior tight end Jerome Jackson (8 catches, 106 yards, TD). Safety Eloi “Biggie” Bigirimana (33 tackles, second-team all-district) and lineman Aaron Mitchell will try to improve a defensive unit that allowed 33.9 points per game last season.
Quotable: “We had a strong off-season and great spring. We don’t have a lot of returning starters on defense, but the good thing is that the kids are hungry.” – coach Kevin Golden
“I’ve seen a complete change in the mindset of the players. We are much stronger mentally and physically than we’ve been since I got here my freshman year. This is definitely the most mentally tough team I’ve been apart of so I think we can do some big things this upcoming season.” – Offensive lineman Alan Ali
“You can expect to see a close-knit team this season that has bonded to the point where the offense and defense will flow seamlessly. I expect far less penalties and mistakes and I also expect to see the ball in the air more than ever.” – WR Eric Mills
Notable: The Falcons enter the next two seasons in District 3-6A alongside Keller, Keller Central, Keller Fossil Ridge, Haltom, Weatherford and Abilene. They look to make the postseason for the second time in school history (2012).