What To Expect This Season
Jul 30, 2018 11:24AM
While Riley is new on the scene, there will still be plenty of familiar faces this season, including three returning starting offensive linemen in all-district performers Henry Mossberg, Cameron Hataway and Andrej Karic, and a backfield that includes first-team seniors Will Bowers (quarterback) and TJ McDaniel (running back).
Bowers is coming off a debut junior season starting under center in which he completed 68 percent of his passes for 2,490 yards and 30 touchdowns against nine interceptions while also rushing for 856 yards (5.9 per carry) and eight scores.
“Will doesn’t have a ton of college offers yet, which is just crazy to me,” Riley says. “He has a good arm, and he brings a ton with his ability to operate an offense and with his intangibles. I’m so excited to get to work with him for his senior year.”
McDaniel, meanwhile, was also in his first season starting for the Dragons after transferring from Coppell and posted 1,854 yards (7.8 per carry) with 23 touchdowns. He will benefit from a line that not only has the three aforementioned incumbents but also new potential starters that caught Dodge’s eyes this spring and summer in guards Addison Penn and Brandon Borrasso.
The biggest questions on offense come outside, where Carroll must replace first-team receivers Cade Bell and Hudson Schrum. But standout defensive back RJ Mickens (297 yards and nine touchdowns on just 14 receptions) should still chip in at receiver some, and the Dragons have long shown the ability to replenish the cupboard with elite pass-catching options.
“I don’t want to mention any names there because I don’t know who exactly is going to emerge, but we definitely have some great options and the group did really well this spring and in 7-on-7 this summer,” Riley says. “I love our options. We just have to get them more experienced and get a little more depth.”
Defensively, key returners for Carroll include all-district linebackers Michael Parrish (first team) and Graham Faloona (second team), safeties Mickens (first team) and Jake Fex (second team) and defensive linemen Quentin Bunten and Alex Kingston.
“Quentin and Alex will hold things down up front,” Riley says. “Michael and Graham will lead our linebackers and then of course it’s always nice when you have a guy like RJ back there to anchor the secondary.”
Mickens was a first-team selection as a sophomore and a five-star recruit ranked among the top five players in the state for his class at any position according to 247Sports.com with offers already extended from powers Alabama and Clemson among many, many others.
“We have quite a few others that we’re really excited about,” Riley says. “We just need to get them more experience under the lights on Fridays.”
A non-district schedule featuring South Grand Prairie, Colleyville Heritage and Odessa Permian should accelerate the learning curve for Carroll’s newcomers in advance of a 5-6A slate against the likes of Keller ISD, Trophy Club Byron Nelson, Denton Guyer and Northwest Eaton. And if Carroll’s spring and summer are any indicator, the Dragons should be right on track come the postseason.
“Spring ball went great,” Riley says. “We got a lot of teaching and the install of our offense and defense in. There were certainly and will be more growing pains, but you can tell how smart the kids and how much they are picking it up. They’re very coachable and I couldn’t be more pleased with what we saw.”
Learn more about his family here.