Last season: 12-3 (6-0 in District 8-6A)
Key players: RB Kennedy Brooks (6-0, 195); CB/WR Saiid Adebo (6-2, 180); DT Caleb Thomas (6-2, 290); S/QB Corbin Frederick (5-11, 195); FB Zack Hughes (6-0, 195); MLB Kylon Middlebrooks (5-11, 200); OT Connor Parsons (6-4, 260); TE Mason Ackroyd (6-2, 235); DE Eric Douglas (6-1, 210); C Dillon Eatman (6-2, 260)
The big picture: Mansfield enters 2016 with its share of unknowns after the most successful season in school history, which ended with a trip to the state semifinals. It’s Daniel Maberry’s first head coaching assignment after spending the past four years as Mansfield’s offensive coordinator. The Tigers are using August to figure out the quarterback position, with senior Kyle Montana and juniors Corbin Frederick and Shawn Hartsfield competing to replace Dameron Smith. Just seven starters return from last year, and Maberry said his team working each day in practice to forge its own identity. Senior Kennedy Brooks (3,522 yards rushing, 42 touchdowns) could be the best running back in Region I, if not Class 6A or the state. He can overpower would-be tacklers with his size and juke others with his quickness. “It’s going to be hard to top the stats he put up last season,” Maberry said. “But you can’t count on the stats to really show how much he impacts this team. He’s already improved as a leader.” But Brooks isn’t the only high-profile member of the Mansfield roster. Saiid Adebo, a Notre Dame commit, will again be used on both sides of the ball, at wide receiver and cornerback. Adebo had 730 receiving yards and three interceptions as a junior. The Mansfield defensive line is anchored by another Division I recruit in defensive tackle Caleb Thomas, who is committed to Nevada. Maberry said Thomas can be one of the best in the state at both the nose guard and the 3-technique within Mansfield’s 4-3 defense.
Quotable: “All three of our guys competing for the starting quarterback job have shown signs that they could be our guy. We might use all three of them. Obviously, in our style of football, we like to run the ball and control the clock, so we can still do the things we want to do. We’ll be fine.” — First-year coach Daniel Maberry
“He’s a true shutdown corner, but he also makes some of the most unbelievable catches. His work ethic is off the charts, and he doesn’t let himself fail. He’s just an incredible athlete with the drive it takes to be successful at this level and at the next level.” — Daniel Maberry on CB/WR Saiid Adebo
Notable: Last year’s District 8-6A championship was Mansfield’s first title since 1973. The Tigers’ 12 wins were the most in a single season in school history, but it shouldn’t have shocked anyone. The Tigers have made the playoffs eight of the past nine seasons.