With a stronger and faster lineup entering the 2010 football season, the Bellaire Cardinals should be a much-improved program under second-year head coach Trey Herrmann.
“The thing about last year‘s three-win season was that I didn’t get the job until July, and then I still had to hire a staff,” said Herrmann. “Having a full season under our belt is huge. We worked a lot on explosion and flexibility drills during the off-season. Nobody on this team squats less than 400 pounds. All the hard work is paying off, and we’re ready to go.”
The Cardinals look to be especially ready on defense with the return of several key players, including safety Devin Lauderdale. “He’s one of the best safeties I’ve coached,” said Herrmann. Also, cornerback Melvin McAdams is the fastest player on the team and covers a lot of space. Linebacker Michael Holland was the team’s leading tackler last season, while defensive end Arnold Blackmon led the Cardinals in sacks. Linebacker Keith Ewing should also be a force. “He could lead the district in sacks,” said Herrmann. “Based on what we saw this spring, Keith was pretty much unstoppable. Our defense is definitely our strength.”
The toughest player to stop on offense could be running back Christian Dolphus. “He’s the best overall athlete on the team as far as strength and speed,” said Herrmann. Sophomore Denzell Evans, who rushed for 900 yards as a freshman, is also a threat in the backfield. Plus, the Cardinals expect good things from wide receiver Donovan O’Conner.
After winning last season’s Southwest Preparatory Conference championship, the Episcopal Knights are looking to defend their SPC title this season. To repeat as champions, the Knights will have to overcome the loss of nine offensive starters from last season’s 10-1 team, including standout quarterback Shane Carden. “We have three guys fighting for that spot,” said Knights head coach Steve Leisz. “All three of them, senior Dillon West as well as sophomores Austin Robinson and Blake Henningsen, looked good during this summer’s 7-on-7 state tournament.” On the offensive line, Leisz said, the Knights are blessed with a core of young talent, while slot receiver Bobby Magness is also one of the top returning players.
While the Knights will be young on offense, the defense is experienced and talented. “We had the No. 1 defense in conference last season, and with most of those guys back, there’s no doubt we’re going to rely on them to set the tone for this team,” said Leisz.
Among the tone setters is linebacker Robert Bailey, who set a school record in tackles as a junior. In addition, Leisz said, defensive tackles Greg Adasida and Cesar Lloyd were two of the more dominant players in conference last season, while senior Jorrick Battle is a standout defensive back. “Our defense was responsible for much of our success last season, and so we’re excited to have all these guys back.”
With several key players returning on both offense and defense, the St. John’s Mavericks have high expectations for the football season. “We should be better than last year,” said Mavericks head coach Steve Gleaves. “We started well last season, but fell off in conference play.“
One big reason to be optimistic is the return of quarterback Josh Winslow, who rushed for over 1,000 yards last season. In addition, the Mavericks should be especially strong on the offensive line, with center William Carver, guard Billy Rogers, tackles Jack Griffin and John Baker and tight end Dan Tweardy. “Our offensive line is a strength,” said Gleaves. The Mavericks should also benefit from the return of Will Wallace, who was the team’s second leading receiver last season. In the backfield, the Mavericks will have some big holes to fill with the departure of Jett Williams and Rush Moody. Caldwell Flores will move from receiver to running back to help fill that void.
Defensively, the Mavericks are led by senior linebacker Jack Waller. A three-year starter, Waller has led the team in tackles in each of those three seasons. In the defensive backfield, the Mavericks expect big things from junior safety Chris Gow, who’s also the team’s backup quarterback. “Chris is a very good athlete,” said Gleaves.
On the defensive line, another one of the Mavericks’ best athletes is junior Jack Craddock, while 6-foot-4, 240-pound defensive tackle Daren Napier should be a big contributor. “We definitely have an extra edge in experience this season,” added Gleaves.
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 p.m. on Houston’s 55, KTBU-TV. To submit information for possible inclusion in SportzBuzz, please e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) todd (at) thebuzzmagazines (dot) com.