Last season: 3-7 (3-4 District 8-5A)
Key players: DE Milton Williams (6-4, 225); CB Andre Mulinax (5-10, 180); QB Chris James (6-1, 185); DL Cameron Preston (6-0, 270); LB Zavayon Jackson (6-0, 215); RB Jamerian Biscoe (5-10, 200)
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The big picture: Last year’s young Eagles took their lumps. Coaches and players are hoping for better results after a dozen sophomores logged varsity minutes in 2015. One sophomore was quarterback Chris James, Newcomer of the Year in District 8-5A. The coach’s son is back to lead the offense and he could be a key player in the new District 9-5A. Roderick Williams is the top returning rusher, but senior Jamerian Biscoe, whose season was cut short by injury after three games last year, will provide a boost. Returning receivers Jerel Miller and Nick Flynn give James reliable passing targets. Milton Williams, Cameron Preston and Reid Steele make the defensive line the strength of the team. James said his offensive line is pretty good but his defensive line “wreaked havoc on us all spring.” Williams was a first-team all-district performer, as were linebacker Imhotep Wilson and cornerback Andre Mulinax. Jones thinks Marcus Embry can rebound from an injury-plagued season to be an impact player in the secondary along with junior letterman Brynnen Sanders. The Eagles still will be fairly young this season, but inexperience won’t be an excuse. Jones said the players set the goal of earning a playoff berth after going consecutive seasons without one.
Quotable: “Last year we knew we were going to struggle, particularly on the offensive side. I looked up at one point last season and there were six sophomores on the field on offense. We were basically playing with a JV group, or at least that’s what it felt like at times. I don’t know if we’ll be much better, but we’re going to be more experienced.” — Coach Chris James
“We’re really familiar with the opponents. We lost Aledo and gained Seguin, so that’s one new team, but the other teams we’re real familiar with. … One of the biggest things we have for us is the proven experience on both sides of the ball. CB Andre Mulinax
Notable: The Eagles averaged 25 points last season, but surrendered 32. Despite winning just three games, Crowley was one win from making the playoffs.