The sound of whistles and the sight of pigskins flying through the air can only mean one thing. It’s football season in Texas. Big changes are in the air, as area teams have changed districts, changed classifications and one even prepares for its first varsity season. The Tribune talked to area coaches to get their takes on the upcoming season. This week we take a look at Magnolia’s two high schools, while next week we will preview Tomball, Tomball Memorial and Waller.
Magnolia West Mustangs
Coach Shawn Bell is headed into his third season at Magnolia West, having just completed the best season in the school’s short history.
Bell has some big shoes to fill in finding a replacement for all-everything running back Desmond Richards, but he said this group is possibly the most athletic he has ever had.
“I feel like we have seven to nine guys who can make big plays for us,” Bell said. “When you lose an explosive back like Desmond it’s tough, but our offense will be more wide open. I feel confident that we are definitely more athletic than we have ever been.”
With five returning offensive starters, Bell said that he has a deep group of receivers that will look to open up the passing game for new quarterback Brandon O’Neil. O’Neil switches to the offensive side of the ball after earning all-district honors at outside linebacker last season.
“We wanted to put someone back there that gives us the best chance to win,” Bell said. “His transition has gone pretty smooth and he has a great arm.”
O’Neil will be looking at the deepest wide receiver group in school history, according to Bell. That group will be led by Zeke Bronson and Jeremy Jordan.
“We are going to run every formation in the book,” Bell said. “This is as multiple of an offense as we have ever been.”
Bell said the team understands that expectations have changed after a playoff birth.
“They understand that expectations have gone up and that they’ve got to give a championship effort all the time,” he said.
As for Bell’s expectations?
“It’s a tough district,” he said. “But I feel like we can be as talented if not more talented than we were last year.”
Injuries and youth played a key part in Magnolia High School’s difficult 2-8 season last year. The Bulldogs were down to their junior varsity quarterback by week seven, as the losses piled on.
With the injuries now healed and a year of experience under the young players belts, Magnolia head coach Andy Sexton looks to have a much improved team this season.
“I definitely think we will be better,” he said. “Last year we had 10 sophomores starting and had some injuries. We will be a much improved team.”
The Bulldogs will look to junior Noah McGowan to call the shots at quarterback in Magnolia’s multiple shotgun 2-back set.
Sexton said that juniors Sheyrome Harris and Greg Soloman and sophomore Shane Mears will all be looked upon to provide leadership and numbers from the skill positions.
‘They all have a tremendous ability to run and make guys miss,” he said.
Returning seven starters on both sides of the ball, Sexton will look to an aggressive attacking defense with several senior linemen to provide turnovers and field position.
Sexton said the team has worked hard the entire summer to help Magnolia return to its winning tradition.
“The kids are ready to get the program back to winning,” he said. “Our goal is to get back into the playoffs.”