Second-year head coach Brandon Schmidt and the Prosper football team are ready to build on last year's district championship in 2017.
The Eagles went 8-4 with a 6-1 record in district 14-5A but were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for the second year in a row. However, this year's group has bigger goals in mind.
“I think it's raised expectations at this point,” Schmidt said. “These kids aren't happy with that anymore.”
Despite losing 34 graduating seniors from last year, the roster is loaded with upperclassmen as it currently stands. The biggest challenge for them will be matching the scoring of last year's high-powered offense, which averaged 34 points per game and scored 40 or more six times.
Schmidt hopes for more stability at the quarterback position after having four different starters last year due to multiple injuries. Seniors Keegan Shoemaker and Matt Bramer return this season and are the favorites to take most of the snaps under center.
At the skill positions, Prosper looks to depend on a committee approach to produce at a high level. At running back, leading rusher and senior Caleb Adams returns to the team and will be backed up by junior Wayne Anderson. Behind an experiences offensive line, both players could reach 1,000 yards on the ground.
Last season, senior wide receiver and Everett Jefferson stretched the defense with his speed and led the team in touchdowns. Now that Jefferson is headed to Texas State, the Eagles will look for senior Jostein Clarke, Isaac Brown and DJ Love to fill his shoes.
“Losing Jefferson is going to be a big hit to us,” Schmidt said. “He was good for about a touchdown per game. We just need other people to step up. Our offensive line should be good, and with two good running backs behind them and a good quarterback, I think we can build on what we did last year.”
Defensively, the Eagles have seniors at each position group ready to lead the team. In the secondary, seniors Blake Harrington and Armon Johnson look to be ball hawks and make things difficult on opposing quarterbacks. Returning starters and seniors Justin Benvie and Ross Hendley are set at linebacker, and senior Jevin Jackson hopes for a big sack total as the leader of a talented group of pass rushers.
The Eagles run a 3-4 defensive scheme but rely on a variety of different formations to keep the opposing offense guessing. Schmidt said he'll depend on Harrington and Benvie to guide all 11 players on the field.
“They're the people on defense that are going to be the most vocal,” Schmidt said. “They'll be calling out all our defensive plays and checks.”
Schmidt's multiple personnel philosophy is also seen on the other side of the ball for the Eagles, something Schmidt believes gives Prosper an edge.
“We're not tied into one or two formations,” Schmidt said. “We can get in multiple formations, multiple personnel groups and attack a defense using different things.”
With Prosper quickly growing into one of the state's biggest 5A schools, this is likely the last year in their district before the pending district realignments in 2018. That will be followed by a move into their brand new $48 million stadium in 2020.
Despite big plans in the future, Schmidt and his team are only focused on this season. If things go according to plan, the Eagles will be competing for their first state championship since winning it all as a 3A program in 2008.
“They want to be playing football during Thanksgiving break and in December,” Schmidt said. “They're ready to make a playoff run.”