Photo via Brad McLendon, bhmimages.com

 

The Rowlett Eagles had a great 2016 campaign, just not as great as they would’ve liked. They had a fantastic start to their season, going undefeated until running into Sachse in district play. Their season ended in the first round of the playoffs, where they lost by seven points to Coppell.

The Eagles went 9-2, but it comes with a slight asterisk. Only two of the nine teams they beat had a record over .500, Keller Fossil Ridge and Lakeview Centennial. To the Eagles’ credit, those are good wins, but they were significantly closer than all of their other games.

It’s still a stretch to say that this was an easy schedule though, or that the Eagles somehow didn’t deserve those wins. They did what all good teams do, win the games they’re supposed to and challenge in the games that they aren’t. They have some firepower returning, but it might not be enough to have the same level of success in terms of overall record.

Key Losses

RB Kobe Morrow, WR LaDarius Dickens, TE Donald Dobson, DT Blake Culver, S Trenton Gordon

The Eagles are going to lose a huge chunk of their receiving prowess due to the graduation of LaDarius Dickens. He had a little over 30 more catches than Rowlett’s second leading receiver. Running back Kobe Morrow and tight end Donald Dobson were also outstanding.

No loss might hurt more than Blake Culver, who was the anchor of the defense. Trenton Gordon was excellent in coverage, along with the vast majority of the Rowlett secondary.

Key Returners

MLB Samuel Danler, OLB Chase Taylor, DE Brandon Stark, CB Kolby Poole, QB Preston Weeks

The returners for Rowlett’s defense will absolutely make a difference. The linebacking corps will likely not miss a beat with the return of Danler and Taylor, Stark will hold down the edge of the line, and Kolby Poole will get his chance to cover the best in the district.

On offense, everything will hinge around Preston Weeks. He will be the captain, the guide of this unit. As he goes, so will the Eagles. He threw for 1,800 yards last year and rushed for 606, so my gut tells me that he’ll be fine.

The Verdict

I feel like I should elaborate on my previous statement. In a kind of paradoxical way, I think the Eagles will lose more games in the regular season, but make it further in the playoffs.

Their defense will become better or at least remain the same, and having Weeks back is incredible. However, tough predistrict games with a reloaded Keller Fossil Ridge defense and a Rockwall team that will look very similar will prove to be huge obstacles. In district play, they’ll have to contend with Sachse, who returns a truckload of talent.

However, I really like these tougher matchups to harden the Eagles for postseason play. They’ll be picked to finish second in their district again, and I like them to at least make it past the first round this year due to the toughness of their schedule.

 

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