By Bill McCaughey
For The Fort Bend Star
Last year the Eagles lost three district games by an average of four points, keeping them out of the playoffs.
This year, by committing to do more than is expected of them, they are targeting the playoffs for the first time since 2009. Returning all-district quarterback Jeremiah Sanders, a two-year starter, has switched to the defensive side of the ball.
“Jeremiah is one of our hardest working players and a team first player. He started for us at quarterback for the last two years because we needed him to do that, and now he will be our starting middle linebacker,” said Coach Richard Lazarou. “He is a great leader and very athletic. He will make plays all over the field.”
“I played middle linebacker as a freshman and I am excited about playing it now,” Sanders said. “Having played quarterback for two years will help me a lot at linebacker. I will know what reads the other quarterback will be making and just know what is going through his mind,”
Taking over at quarterback will be Kealton Goffney, a returning all-district safety. Goffney brings speed and athleticism to the quarterback position. Coach Lazarou is confident in Goffney’s ability to make the switch.
“I expect Kealton Goffney to be district player of the year,” said Lazarou.
Goffney is looking forward to taking the snaps, but admits he hasn’t played there in a while.
“I think the last time I played quarterback was in little league,” Goffney said.
Last year Willowridge ran 60 percent of the time, and expects to be around there this year.
“I like to run instead of passing,” said Goffney, whose teammates call him Houdini for the way he makes tacklers miss.
Other returning all-district team members are junior offensive lineman Byron Coleman, linebacker Davonne Inyang, and defensive end Ja’quail Jackson.
“Davonne Inyang will be our starting tailback. He has the ability to make big plays. Jackson has started at nose tackle the last two years and will make a lot of plays for us this year,” said Lazarou. “Coleman will just play on defense this year. We are building up our depth so we don’t have to have guys going both ways.”
Coach Lazarou is expecting a lot out of tight end Chris Shaw and sophomore Vaughnte Frederick.
“Shaw is a go-to receiver for us. He is extremely intelligent and is always in position to make a big play. I believe he has the best hands in the area,” Lazarou said. “Vaughnte is only a sophomore but has the football IQ of a senior. He will get time at wide receiver and maybe some at quarterback.”
The offensive line will be led by Brendan Dejean, Mark Alvarado and Alan Perales.
Henry Dobbins (6-3, 215) has started at defensive end for the last two years, and junior linebacker Kameron Pierre are playmakers on defense.
“Kameron is one of the hardest working athletes I have ever coached,” said Lazarou.
David Anderson and Jeremy Payne will lead the defensive backfield.
Despite being in the toughest 5A district in the state, Lazarou is optimistic.
“These young men have put in the work needed to be successful on and off the field, and I am very excited about this season,” he said.