Let’s kick things off with the kick-off of the 2008 high school football season. It’s a season of promise for the Bellaire Cardinals. “This is one of the hardest working groups we’ve had in years,” said head coach Jeff Walker. “We’re blessed with outstanding athletes at the skill positions.”
Among the skilled athletes is junior quarterback Adrian Nelson, who completed 50 percent of his passes last season. At running back, Coach Walker projects sophomore Eric Deveaux as the district’s Newcomer of the Year. Last season’s leading receiver Derwyn Lauderdale is back, as is a strong group of senior offensive linemen in Jemar Graves, John Dean, and Devin Lewis.
Highlighting the Cardinals schedule is a September 12 matchup against the Southlake Carroll Dragons, a program which has captured an amazing four state championships in the last six seasons. Southlake Carroll was also recently recognized as one of the top 10 football programs in the history of Texas High School Football.
“Bellaire football will be walking among the giants,” said Coach Walker. “We’ve got about 100 players in our program, they’ve got 300. Our staff is made up of four coaches, while Southlake has about 30 coaches. At the same time, this is an amazing opportunity for our kids. We’ll drive up to Dallas Thursday, take an educational tour of Dealey Plaza during the day on Friday, and then give Southlake Carroll our best shot Friday night. We’re looking forward to it.”
There’s great things to look forward to as well at Second Baptist High School, where the Eagles advanced to the TAPPS 5A regional finals last season. “I like our senior leadership,” said Eagles head coach Mike Sneed. “We have 21 seniors, which is a large number for our school”
Senior leadership aside, its junior quarterback Connor Wood that’s receiving much of the attention. The 6-foot-4-inch, 200-pound quarterback is coming off a sensational sophomore season in which he threw for 2,200 yards and 24 touchdowns. “Connor’s your prototype duel threat quarterback who can run and throw. He’s already been offered scholarships by several major schools,” said Coach Sneed. “He’s a team leader with great athletic ability.”
Connor will have plenty of targets at his disposal with the return of the Eagles top three receivers in Brian Franshaw, John Doughtie, and Seth Hackett. Defensively, Coach Sneed also expects big things from seniors defensive end Andrew Pruet and senior cornerback Tom Peacock.
It could be a big season ahead for the Episcopal Knights, especially considering the return of 6-foot-9, 290-pound offensive lineman John Wooldridge, “John’s a big and extremely talented lineman who’s already made a verbal commitment to play college ball at TCU,” said Episcopal head coach Steve Leisz.
The return of Wooldridge will bolster an offense that set a school record for yards and points last season with 369 yards and 28 points a game. Leading the offensive attack is quarterback Shane Carden, who started about half of the team’s games last season. Coach Leisz also expects wide receiver Blake Rankin to “make a big splash” this fall.
Defensively, the Knights are led by inside linebacker Khiron Woods, safety Jay Magness and lineman Richrd Ledo. “They’re a tremendous trio of seniors,” said Coach Leisz. I’m extremely excited about the upcoming season.”
It’s a season of change for the Stratford Spartans, who will look to fill the void left by the graduation of standout quarterback Andrew Luck. “Andrew was a huge part of our offense for three years, but we have some talented guys battling for the position and a good overall team,” said Spartans head coach Eliot Allen.
The two leading candidates at quarterback are juniors Mark Benninger and Andrew Mitchell. “Both guys are smart quarterbacks with good size and arm strength,” said Coach Allen.
At running back, the Spartans return Rodney Anderson, who rushed for 1,100 yards and accounted for 2,200 all-purpose yards last season. The Spartans also bring back running backs Todd Ten-Have and Tim Graves. “All three of those guys are quality backs,” added Coach Allen.
Another starter coming back is wide receiver Brett Benninger, who’s also the twin brother of quarterback hopeful Mark Benninger. “Brett did a good job for us as sophomore starter last season,” said Coach Allen.
Defensively, the Spartans feature one of the area’s top recruits in 6-foot-4, 225-pound defensive end Terrance Lloyd. “He’s being recruited by several major college football programs,” said Coach Allen. “I really think we have the makings of having a really fine season.”
Editor’s Note: Todd Freed is the host and executive producer of High School Sports Live, which can be seen each Saturday, Sunday, and Monday at 6 pm on KTBU Channel 55 The Tube. To submit information for possible inclusion in SportzBuzz, please e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) todd (at) thebuzzmagazines (dot) com.