Tom Landry Classic Preview – Argyle Eagles vs. Lovejoy Leopards

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Photo via Tom Landry Classic


Argyle Offense vs. Lovejoy Defense

Photo via Tom Landry Classic

The Eagles have the luxury of having a lot of returning talent to blend with several newcomers. Running back Don Williams (5’11” 190) was the Offensive MVP of the 2016 Tom Landry Classic and ran for 1,499 yards and 23 TD’s in a breakout junior season. He has quick feet and great vision and will be the focal point of the Argyle offense in 2017. He will be helped by Noah Lang (5’9” 170) who moved-in from Abilene Wylie. Lang is a hard nosed runner who averaged over 13 yards per carry in 2016.

All-District quarterback Dane Ledford graduated, but the Eagles have as many as four candidates ready to step in and lead the offense. The two most likely to do that are Hayden Clearman (5’11” 195) and Jon Copeland (5’11” 195). Clearman filled-in when Ledford was injured in 2016 and threw for over 700 yards and 6 TD’s. Copeland, who transferred from Argyle Liberty Christian, threw for 2,300 yards and 21 TDs.

Both are capable of handling the job and the competition should be fierce when practice begins in August. Whichever one wins the job will have some outstanding weapons to throw to. Cale Nanny (5’9” 165) and Chase Estrada (5’10” 185) return at receiver after earning all-district honors as juniors in 2016. They combined to catch 77 passes for 1,220 yards and 8 TD’s, while averaging 15+ yards per catch.

Nanny burned the Lovejoy secondary in last year’s Tom Landry Classic with 4 catches for 111 yards, including an 85 yards TD. The Argyle staff is also excited about Bryson Hudgens (6’3” 220). He made the move from offensive line to tight end and brings good size and speed to the position. The position is critical to the Argyle offense, so expect Hudgens to follow in the long line of productive Eagle tight ends.

A pair of Prestons return to lead the Argyle O-line in 2017. Senior Preston Coyle and junior Preston Wilson will hold down two of the 5 spots and four other juniors will battle for the remaining 3. Wilson has great feet and size and had an outstanding summer on the camp circuit and is getting looks from schools like Arkansas, TCU, Colorado, and Duke. Coyle played well in 2016 and is expected to be one of the district’s best in 2017. Garrett Thomas, Rylan Shobe, Brandon Michaels, and Connor Homeyer might need a little time to get used to the speed of varsity-level football, but they have excellent size (an average height/weight of 6’3″ 254) and gained tremendous experience on the JV in 2016. The coaching staff is excited about the potential of this group.

For Lovejoy to make a run at the district title in 2017, the defense has to be better. This should be a realistic expectation because the defensive line will be much more formidable this season. Mason Mitchell (5’11”-230) will hold down one of the defensive end spots for the third consecutive year after registering 98 tackles and 8 sacks during an all-district junior season. Nathaniel Finch (6’0”-195) and Cade Krisher (6’0”-180) will also see time at defensive end and offer great pass rush ability. Cade Ashley (5’11”-230) is a returning starter at tackle and has excellent athleticism, while still being strong at the point of attack.

The biggest difference maker may be tackle, Griffin Hunt (6’4”-240). Hunt was a starter on the offensive line in 2016 and takes his talents to the other side of the ball this season. He offers tremendous size and explosiveness and is the type of player that will draw double teams, which should create more opportunities for his teammates. The linebacking unit is led by Arkansas commit Bumper Pool (6’2”-225). He is a 4-star recruit and has averaged over 10 tackles a game for the past two years. Returning starters Landon McDermott (5’11” 180) and Beau Iovinelli (5’11”-165) will lead the Leopard secondary this season. McDermott is one of the best athletes on the team and runs a sub 4.5 40. He registered 81 tackles and 10 pass breakups in 2016.

Lovejoy Offense vs. Argyle Defense

Photo via Tom Landry Classic

It is never easy to play a 5A football schedule in Texas with a sophomore quarterback and Lovejoy found that out in 2016. Carson Collins (6’0”-190) hung in there and threw for almost 2,400 yards and 20 TD’s against a very tough schedule. He possesses a big arm and top-notch instincts and should be one of the best 5A QB’s in the area in 2017. He will have the luxury of throwing to one of the state’s best receivers again in 2017.

Chase Van Waggoner (6’1” 180), who is a TCU commit, caught 41 passes for 759 yards and 10 TD’s in 2016. He is an exceptional athlete who is just scratching the surface on how good he can be on the gridiron. Expect the Lovejoy passing game to revolve around him in 2017. The Leopards
have good depth at the position, as Patrick Fisher (6’1” 190, 8 catches for 98 yards & 1 TD) and Jake Iovinelli (5’11” 175, 13 catches for 125 yards) were regular contributors last season and Beau Iovinelli (5’11” 165), who was a solid contributor at DB in 2016 and Jacob Terwilliger (5’9” 155) turned a lot of heads with an outstanding 7 on 7 season.

Slot receiver Hudson Wallace (5’6” 165) is another receiver to keep an eye on this season. One player who could make a significant impact of the Lovejoy offense in 2017 is running back James Rainey (5’11” 225). The Leopards spread defenses out with their spread passing attack and feel as though Rainey can use his quick feet and size (along with deceptive speed) to wreak havoc on defenses. Rainey is, just now, understanding how good he can be and after an impressive spring, and the Lovejoy coaches think their opponents will understand it as well.

Lovejoy returns 3 starters from 2016 in Lucas Anderson (6’0” 250), Griffin Hunt (6’4” 240), and Dalton Walker (6’2” 265). They will be joined by Logan Sigmon (6’0″ 325), who moved over from the defensive line and Ben Mason (6’3″ 265), who was an all-district transfer from Plano West. The starting 5 averages 6’2″ 270 and all looked very good in the spring – particularly Mason and Anderson.

Argyle’s defense will be led by one of the best 4A defensive backfields in the state. Gage Campbell (5’11” 185) started at safety for Argyle as a sophomore, so this will be his third season as a varsity starter. He is bigger and stronger heading into his senior season and can excel at any position in the secondary. Dillon Carter (5’11” 185) was an all-district selection and has increased his size and speed going into the 2017 season. Don Williams (5’11” 190) and Slater Wright (5’11” 165) are two more exceptional athletes to round out this tremendous unit.

Williams ran for almost 1,500 yards last year, but will be counted on to make an impact on defense as well in 2017. Wright was an all-district selection and is as talented a player as Argyle has on defense. The linebacker corps will include Chase Petter (5’9”195) and Blake Bunnell (6’1”-215).

Petter was the Defensive Newcomer of the Year in District 4-4A and has a nose for the football – had 68 tackles as a sophomore in 2016. Bunnell is an excellent athlete who diagnoses plays quickly and has excellent closing speed for an inside linebacker. The defensive line will be led by two players who received significant snaps in 2016 – Kaden Roberts (5’9”-195) and Mason Thrash (6’1”-220). Roberts tied for the team lead with 6 sacks and Thrash contributed 2 and played well against the outside run.


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