Football two-a-days begin a week from Monday and, as usual, anticipation for the coming season is reaching a fever pitch. Each season there are a number of questions which are answered during the course of play. However, heading into the 2015 campaign, the number of questions surrendering local squads may be at an all-time high.
Here are just a few of the local questions that will be answered between now and the time the high school football season ends in December.
• Can the Brownwood Lions contend for the District 3-4A Division I championship?
Though the Lions have reached the playoffs in six consecutive seasons, the last two years Brownwood has qualified as the No. 4 seed from the district. The last district title for the Lions came in 2010, when Brownwood advanced to the state semifinals.
The 2015 nucleus will be mostly comprised of juniors who picked up valuable experience a year ago — and some who have been playing at the varsity level since they were freshmen.
Offensively, the Lions return the majority of their skill players including receivers Connor Howard, Rylee Gregory and Cory Richardson, and running backs Harley Price and Brandon Diaz, among others. Behind center, Grant Lewis and McLane Moore shared snaps during 7-on-7 and head coach Chuck Howard was pleased with their progression.
Another positive from 7-on-7 was the play of the defense, which did not allow an opponent to score more than 30 points until the state tournament.
Where games are won and lost, however, is in the trenches. The play of the offensive and defensive fronts — especially in terms of running game — will likely determine the Lions’ level of success.
Abilene Wylie, on paper, is the favorite to repeat as district champions, as both Stephenville and Big Spring have suffered significant losses on their rosters from last season.
• How will the Bangs Dragons perform under new head coach Jim Bird?
Former Ganado head coach Jim Bird was hired to replace former Dragons head coach Chuck Lipsey earlier this month. Bird has just one year of head coach experience under his belt, going 3-7 at Ganado last season, and is having to overcome a late arrival in Bangs.
The Dragons have reached the playoffs in each of the last five seasons, and six of seven years under Lipsey’s tutelage. Bangs is picked to place fourth in District 3-3A Division I, the same position the Dragons finished a year ago.
Bird and the new coaching staff will be spending quite a bit of time implementing new offensive and defensive schemes during two-a-days, something usually done during spring, but that luxury was not available.
The Dragons return five starters on each side of the ball from last year’s 4-7 playoff squad. No. 7 Wall, No. 23 Brady and Clyde are playoff favorites, while Bangs and Early are predicted to fight it out for the final playoff berth from the district.
• How will the Early Longhorns perform under interim head coach Blake Sandford?
Speaking of the Early Longhorns, they too will be under new leadership as Blake Sandford was promoted to interim head coach during the month of July.
Sandford is taking over for Kent Hawthorne, who guided Early to a 7-13 record in his two seasons as head coach. The Longhorns are in search of their first postseason appearance since 2008.
The offensive and defensively philosophies for the Longhorns will remain the same, as both coordinators are still in place. But Early returns just three offensive and four defensive starters from a 3-7 squad a year ago.
Early must also contend with a pair of state-ranked district foes in Wall and Brady, along with Clyde and Bangs, both of which handed the Longhorns losses last season.
• Will the Zephyr Bulldogs live up to their preseason ranking?
The Zephyr Bulldogs enter the season ranked No. 8 in Class A Division I by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine.
The Bulldogs, under the direction of third-year head coach Shannon Williams, are coming off a 6-6 campaign a year ago and are District 11-A Division I favorites in 2015. The Bulldogs bring back 15 of 19 lettermen, including four offensive and three defensive starters.
Zephyr was ousted from the playoffs by Gordon, 24-22, in the second round of the playoffs last year. Gordon enters the 2015 season ranked No. 3.
• Can the May Tigers make a third straight state appearance?
The May Tigers are coming off a back-to-back trips to the Six-Man Division I state championship game, compiling a 26-4 record the past two seasons.
However, graduation hit the Tigers hard as head coach Craig Steele returns only four of 12 lettermen — including one offensive and two defensive starters — on each side of the ball.
The Tigers aren’t projected to make the playoffs out of District 10-A Division I, as Gordon and Strawn are the postseason favorites. However, May wasn’t picked to make the playoffs in 2013 either, and reeled off a school-record 14 victories en route to Arlington.