By Michael Sudhalter
That’s why he scheduled non-district road games to El Campo and Stafford (both playoff teams in 2013), respectively this season. The Eagles kick off the season at 7 p.m. Thursday vs. Brazosport at Hall Stadium.
“We want to give the kids a little chance to travel ‚Äì like we’re going to have to do when we make the playoffs,” Lazarou said. “We want a playoff mindset, and you can’t have a playoff mindset unless you travel.”
Lazarou, a Kempner High alum, is the team’s fifth head coach in six years.
Last season, the Eagles went 3-0 in non-district competition, defeating Houston Sterling, Spring Woods and Northbrook before losing their final seven games of the season.
“We’re going to be a lot better and surprise everybody the kids had a great summer core conditioning program,” Lazarou said.
An improved Eagles squad with 10 returning starters (five on each side of the ball) will face one of the toughest 5A districts in the state (5A-23) with state-ranked opponents such as Elkins and Ridge Point, along with Bush, Marshall and Texas City all competing for four playoff spots.
“ Our secondary and linebackers are strongest part of the time they’re the most experienced, and they are really good athletes,” Lazarou said.
Seniors Chad Zeno and Brandon Charles are the top linebackers, while sophomores Jacquell Jackson and Cedric Marshall are expected to lead the defensive line.
Lazarou expects the offense, led by senior quarterback Donald Mitchell, to be balanced between the running and passing games.
Willowridge will open 5A-23 competition on Sept. 25 vs. Bush at Mercer Stadium.