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08/23/21

The Cooldown- 2021 Preview

It is football season in Texas once again! It's been 219 days since Austin Westlake defeated Southlake Carroll for the 6A DI Championship and Katy downed Cedar Hill for the 6A DII Championship. With the 2021 season set to kick off later this week, we'll recap some offseason storylines and preview the 2021 season! 

Quinn Ewers Enrolls Early at Ohio State

Quinn Ewers was the top rated recruit in the class of 2022, according to 247sports.com, and led Southlake Carroll to its first State Championship Game appearance since 2011. Ewers was poised to lead the Dragons on another deep postseason run in 2021 but decided to enroll early at Ohio State after it was announced that college athletes could profit off their name, image and likeness. 

Ewers set himself up to enroll early by completing all his requirements to graduate from Southlake Carroll by the end of the summer. This is an incredible opportunity for Ewers and many other DFW area athletes who will be able to profit off of NIL once they get to college. 

As for Southlake Carroll, the Dragons still return plenty of talent. Replacing the top player in the nation at the most important position in the sport won't be easy but Kaden Anderson does have some experience. Anderson started for the Dragons in place of an injured Ewers for several games last season and went undefeated as a starter. Anderson is just a junior and will share the backfield with dynamic running back Owen Allen for the next two seasons. It won't be easy, but don't count out the Carroll Dragons. A return trip to Arlington is still possible. 

Ollie Gordon to Play Quarterback for Trinity

One team looking to capitalize on a Southlake Carroll team left with just a few weeks to prepare Kaden Anderson to be the full time QB1 is the Trinity Trojans. Trinity will be breaking in a new quarterback of its own in Ollie Gordon. The Oklahoma State commit burst onto the scene last season after a stellar playoff run and Gordon will move to the quarterback position for his senior season. Trinity head coach Chris Jensen still plans to use Gordon in the running game with regularity as the talented Gary Maddox slots in next to Gordon in the backfield. 

Trinity won't stray far from its normal ground-and-pound physical brand of football. Gordon will do a lot more running than throwing, and this move is more about the Trojans trying to get all of their best playmakers on the field. Gordon is a capable passer and has a reliable receiver in Pofele Ashlock to get the ball to. Gordon said Maddox has improved a lot this offseason and those three players figure to make Trinity a little more dynamic on offense. 

Trinity proved it could pass when it needed to last season after former Trojan quarterback Valentino Foni passed for over 300 yards in a comeback win over Midland Lee in the playoffs. Gordon will be prepared if a similar situation arises for Trinity this season after having played the quarterback position before he was moved up to Trinity's varsity team. 

Allen Hires former SMU Head Coach Chad Morris 

Allen made headlines this offseason by hiring former SMU and Arkansas head coach Chad Morris to replace the retired Terry Gambill as head coach of the Eagles. Morris returns to his roots as a Texas high school football coach after leading Lake Travis to back-to-back State Championships in 2008-09. Allen graduated plenty of talent from last year's squad and will have to replace playmakers at quarterback and the receiver position. A stellar offensive line will help Morris in his first season at the helm, but the new quarterback will need to step up and make plays if Allen wants to beat Denton Guyer and win another district championship.

Teams to Watch

Duncanville Panthers

Duncanville was the favorite to make it to the 6A DI State Championship Game last year before Ewers and the Dragons downed the Panthers 34-27 in the semi-finals. Southlake Carroll had been a favorite to make it back to the State Championship Game before Ewers left for Ohio State. It's still too early to count the Dragons out, but Duncanville certainly wasn't sad to see Ewers go. 

The Panthers return a ton of talent from last seasons squad, including five-star defensive end Omari Abor. The offensive line is in good hands with Florida State commit Jaylen Early and Oregon commit Cameron Williams. The defense will be the strength of this team behind the leadership of Abor, Arkansas commit Jordan Crook at linebacker, and SMU commit Pierre Goree at safety. Tight end Jerrale Powers is committed to Florida State as well and he will play a big role in the passing game with the new quarterback.

Speaking of the quarterback spot, Duncanville coach Reginald Samples will have his choice between two candidates. Senior Solomon James transferred in from Corsicana after missing most of last season due to an injury. The Panthers also like sophomore Ja'Meir Willis, who played on Duncanville's junior varsity team last season. Whoever wins the job will have plenty of talent to work with on both sides of the football.

Denton Guyer Wildcats

Will this be the year Denton Guyer takes down Allen for the district championship? That remains to be seen, but the talent is there. The Wildcats will replace former quarterback Eli Stowers with junior Grayson Arnold, who replaced Stowers in the 2019 6A  DII State Championship Game after Stowers went down with an injury. Arnold will have three-star recruit Jace Wilson to throw to, along with Dartmouth commit Grayson O'Bara. Safety Marquan Pope is committed to Pitt and will be a leader on defense.

Denton Guyer returns seven starters on both sides of the football and head coach Rodney Webb thinks Arnold is ready to impress at the quarterback position. Taking down Allen for the district championship won't be easy but Guyer has the talent to get it done and go on another deep playoff run.

Rockwall Heath Hawks

Rockwall Heath's season ended in heartbreak after an overtime loss to Cedar Hill in the playoffs. The Hawks did beat Cypress Bridgeland in the playoffs and almost advanced past a Cedar Hill team that beat Denton Guyer to make the 6A DII State Championship Game. They'll return quarterback Josh Hoover along with running back Zach Evans and receivers Jordan Nabors and Jay Fair. In all, Rockwall Heath returns eight starters on offense and five starters on defense from a very good team a year ago. 

Just based on returning starters, Rockwall Heath figures to have one of the most dynamic offensive groups in the metroplex. There are a few questions on defense but I expect Rockwall Heath to challenge Rockwall for the district crown and go on another deep playoff run. 

There are many more teams and players to watch this season and we will have coverage of all of those teams and players at Inside High School Sports. Check back here every Monday for a recap of the previous weeks action and a preview of the upcoming week, and I will also name a player and team of the week! We are looking forward to providing football coverage throughout the metroplex this season!