Photo via Brad Loper, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

 
2016 was a strange year for Dallas Skyline. It was a tough start out of the gate, losing their first three games against some very tough competition in the Metroplex. Once they got into district play, however, the Raiders seemed to find their stride going 5-2 in District 9-6A, which was good enough to earn a playoff spot.

Unfortunately, they ran into Sachse in bi-district and quickly exited the playoffs. It was the first time the Raiders had exited that early since 2006. The five wins were also the fewest since 2003. In some ways, it was a very young team at Skyline but head coach Derick Roberson is hoping that his team can take the next step and make a run in 2017.

Key Losses
QB Terreon Randolph, DE Dorian Andrews, LB Kamron Rose, S Eriq Senters, LB Kamron Rose, CB Eric Green

At 6-6, 200 pounds, Terreon Randolph was a big part of a quarterback rotation with Velton Gardner last season. He ended up throwing for 754 yards and five touchdowns and was an important senior leader for a team that was replacing a lot of talent from the previous year.

The heaviest losses that the Raiders have are on the defensive side of the ball. Dorian Andrews and Kamron Rose were first team All-District selections and helped lead the front seven. As for the back end, they also lose a couple of first teamers in Eric Green and Eriq Senters. The Raiders should have plenty of talent returning at those positions, but it might take some time to get adjusted.

Key Returners
QB Velton Gardner, RB Jordan Hudson, WR Jarvis Williams, LB Garreon Fuller

Offensively, the Raiders should be in very good hands as quarterback Velton Gardner will be next in line to take the reigns of the offense full time. The dynamic sophomore finished with over 1,000 yards passing and rushing for 22 total touchdowns. At 5-9, he presents a different challenge than his counterpart Randolph did but the District 9-6A Offensive Newcomer of the Year could be turning even more heads in 2017.

As for who he’ll get the ball to, he’s got two solid players in running back Jordan Hudson and wide receiver Jarvis Williams. Hudson finished with 653 yards and six touchdowns and will be counted on even more to take some of the rushing load off of Gardner. Williams was the leading receiver last year (32 catches, 518 yards, 6 touchdowns) for Skyline. While the Raiders might not be a team that will air it out 40-plus times a game, the rising senior should take on an even bigger role next season.

While the Raiders lose some key starters on defense, Garreon Fuller comes back for his senior season and will take on a leadership role at inside linebacker. He was a first-team All-District selection in 2016.

Verdict

The Raiders have made the playoffs every year since 1994 and 2017 doesn’t appear to be the year that the streak will end. However, sharing a district with Coppell and Dallas Jesuit makes for some tough competition.

Another year of experience for Gardner and the offense should work wonders for the Raiders in 2017. If the rest of the defense can gel early, this team might have what it takes to go a couple of rounds deep in the postseason.
 

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