The Yellow Jackets had one of the hardest predistrict schedules in the state. First, they had to play Highland Park, who won a state title. Then, Rowlett, who went 9-2. Next, the Dragons of Southlake Carroll, consistently one of the best teams in the area. The Jackets lost all three of those games, but started to show serious signs of improvement through each, only losing to Rowlett by two and Southlake Carroll by seven.
Their district wasn’t the greatest, but they still had to contend with Tyler and Longview. The Jackets pulled off a win over the incredibly talented Lions and played Longview extremely close.
They would lose in the second round of the playoffs to Coppell, but only by four points.
It’s very easy to write off the Yellow Jackets, to look at a 6-6 season as a sign of things that aren’t great for the future. However, the team they return will be stacked, and they have the potential to make some serious waves if they can continue to improve over a long offseason.
QB Matt Jones, WR Sam Crawford, RB AJ Blacknall, DL David Roland, OLB Blake Garrett
The losses to the offense are significant. Blacknall rushed for over 1,000 yards and averaged 5 yards per carry. Matt Jones was incredible as well, throwing for over 2,500 yards with only six interceptions. Sam Crawford had a bulk of those catches.
On defense, Blake Garrett might be the biggest loss. The senior could do it all, whether he was outside in coverage or stopping the run. David Roland will be missed as well.
OLB Alston Orji, SS Anfernee Orji, MLB Blake Barron, WR Cameron Crayton, WR Cole Talley
The good news for Rockwall is that they’ll return a huge chunk of their defense. They especially have experience and talent back at the linebacker position, as well as several spots in the defensive backfield.
For the offense, the next quarterback will have Crayton and Talley to throw to. Both are reliable, and while they’re not exactly as explosive as Crawford was, they’ll be more than enough to take the pressure off a brand new quarterback.
All of these returners should translate into a great season for Rockwall. The key word here is “should”.
They’ll have a tough time ahead, especially in predistrict competition, and when in district, it doesn’t get that much easier in some games. However, I feel very comfortable picking Rockwall to make the playoffs again, and I feel like we should be talking about them as a dark horse pick to win their district and upset a team or two in the playoffs.
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