There used to be a time when new schools took more than a decade to field competitive football teams. But over the last decade, some of the new kids on the block have quickly become king of the hill.
Midlothian Heritage is one of the latest to make enough waves to ripple the typical district and playoff scenarios. In just its first season to field a varsity team in 2016, the Jaguars went 11-2 and went three rounds deep in the 4A Division I playoffs.
The Jaguars lost their first game of the season to a good Sunnyvale team that went 11-1 and Heritage lost in the regional round to eventual state semifinalist Kennedale.
Heritage doesn’t have much drop off either as every key skill position player returns on offense and more than half the starters return on defense this fall.
Looking back at their 11-game winning streak last year, Heritage crushed Benbrook, won a 52-50 shootout over Decatur and handily beat Crandall and Sanger to close out non-district, They routed Pinkston and won the district title with a 17-14 win over a good Alvarado team.
Heritage beat Dallas Carter, Ranchview and Wilmer-Hutchins to claim the 6-4A DI title. The Jaguars beat Lake Worth, 55-0, and Kaufman, 39-36.
In the high-scoring affair against Kennedale in the regional, Heritage scored a touchdown with six seconds remaining and went for two to tie the game. Kennedale tipped away the pass to preserve the 49-47 lead, then recovered an onside kick to put away the game.
LB Preston Smith, DE Jorden Thompson, G Tanner Whitehead
The Jaguars return a plethora of talent as they didn’t lose too terribly much. However, they will miss the services of all-district players Smith and Thompson on defense and Whitehead on offense.
WR Kerrion Fields, QB Landon Ledbetter, OL/DL Jack Freeman, RB Nathan Gaskamp
The Jaguars are so loaded at the skill positions that competition in camp should be fierce, but many of the younger JV players might not have the chance to move up to the Friday night roster.
Ledbetter and Gaskamp were only sophomores last season and Fields was the District MVP as a junior. The top seven rushers come back and all receivers who caught a ball last year return.
Ledbetter was dazzling as he passed for 3,250 yards and 43 touchdowns. Fields had 2,043 yards receiving with 19 touchdowns. They weren’t one dimensional either as Gaskamp rushed for 1,500 yards and had 16 touchdowns in addition to his receiving yards.
The defense should also be better with the return of defensive lineman Jon Sanders, outside linebacker Dre Washington, inside linebacker Nathan Texada, safety Brayden Wright and cornerback Garrison Espinoza.
Coach Lee Wiginton has a loaded lineup and a fan base that’s already salivating for more in 2017.
The offense and defense should both be better and the Jaguars are hungry to advance even farther in 2017. Region II is extremely tough with Kennedale, Mineral Wells, Alvarado, Liberty-Eylau, Van and Kaufman waiting in the wings.
Should Heritage make it past the quarterfinal, Region I has some favorites in Argyle, Andrews, Abilene Wylie, Pampa and Levelland.
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