By Michael Sudhalter
In fact, Knowles said Harfield is comparable to the last great Rangers quarterback Derek Carr, who was selected by the Oakland Raiders in the second round of last spring’s NFL Draft.
Carr guided Clements to the 2007 state quarterfinals where they lost to Katy High and their quarterback Andy Dalton (who’s now the Cincinnati Bengals starting quarterback). That was the Rangers’ last trip to the postseason.
“They’re pretty similar,” Knowles said. “Colt definitely has more size than Derek, but they both throw the ball real well.”
Harfield, who passed for close to 2,400 yards and 24 touchdowns last fall, leads an Spread Offense that returns six fellow starters, including senior wide receiver Luke Mayock, who had 800+ receiving yards last year. Mayock has offers from UNLV and Air Force among other schools.
Alex Gifford will step into the running back role for Clements, while last season’s running back, Austin Saltmer, will move to linebacker for the most part.
“We need a little more help on defense,” Knowles said. “Saltmer will still play some running back.”
On the offensive line, Heath Lambert will anchor a young group of players.
The Rangers, who finished 1-9 last fall, averaged 28 points per game. But they must improve defensively in order to contend for a playoff spot in the newly created 6A-23 district.
Clements kicked off the 2013 season with a 16-4 win over Pasadena Memorial an eventual playoff team – but went on to lose nine straight games.
They’ll look to end that streak when they visit Katy Taylor at 6 p.m. Saturday. The Rangers will host Alvin High in their home opener on Sept. 5 at Mercer, before facing Kempner in the 6A-23 opener on Sept. 11 in a rematch of last season’s regular season finale.
“Just having the Fort Bend schools was tough, but now we have the three Alief schools, too,” Knowles said. “I think it’s going to take six district wins to make the playoffs. The favorites are Alief Taylor and Hightower. Austin is in that mix, too.”
Defensively, the Rangers have moved from a 4-2-5 to a 4-3.
“We’re trying to re-emphasis some of our basic things,” Knowles said. “Injuries played a big toll last year. The kids know the 4-2-5 from when they were younger, and they’ll become more confident with it as the season goes on.”
Safety Lane Prado is the Rangers’ defensive leader, but senior defensive tackle Nick Galindo and senior linebacker Austin Stoltenberg expected to be major contributors.
“We’re going to have a lot of our offensive skill kids playing in the secondary,” Knowles said. “Prado has the most experience of any of our players on defense.