By Michael Sudhalter
Every college in America seems to be interested in signing senior cornerback Kendall Sheffield, who ESPN has ranked the ninth best prep football player in the country.
Opponents shy away from passing in the direction of Sheffield, who still managed to intercept three passes last season. Sheffield also won the 110 and 300 hurdles in the district track & field championships last season.
But the Buffaloes, who finished 8-3 last season and lost to George Ranch in the first round of the playoffs, are much more than Sheffield.
In fact, they have two Division I commits on offense in running back Davon Crookshank (Wisconsin) and offensive lineman Sam Awolope (Rice).
In total, the Buffaloes have 11 returning starters – six on defense and five on offense for the season opener at 7 p.m. Friday at Houston Madison (the game will be played at Houston ISD’s Butler Stadium).
“Our biggest strength is that we have quite a few guys who have played before, mainly at our skill positions,” Marshall head football coach James Williams said.
The Buffaloes, who will compete in 5A-23, will wrap up their non-district competition on Sept. 4 vs. Alief Hastings at Hall Stadium and Foster on Sept. 19 (Hall) before meeting Ridge Point on Sept. 25 (Hall) in a televised game that will serve as both teams’ 5A-23 opener.
Last season’s starting quarterback, J.W. Ketchum, has transferred to Houston Lamar, so former wide receiver Jeremy Smith who does have quarterback experience takes over in the pocket.
“His leadership is being noticed, and he’s a vocal leader,” Williams said.
Smith’s top receivers are expected to be Austin Ford and Jerrell Mills, and Crookshank is one of the premier running backs in the Houston area.
Williams is confident in the offensive line, which is young, but led by Awolope.
“No matter how much you spread it out, the game is won at the line of scrimmage,” Williams said.
In addition to Sheffield, the Buffaloes have a strong defensive line, led by Jeremy Bass, and Williams said linebacker Dominique Dukes is “an all-over-the-field type player.”