For coach James Morton, beginning his sixth season as the head coach at his alma mater, the biggest challenge at Eastland this fall is replacing his son, quarterback Behren Morton, who is now at Texas Tech. With the younger Morton at quarterback, Eastland won the District 5-3A Division II title with a 5-0 mark a year ago, advancing to the state quarterfinals to finish the season with a 10-4 record.
The cupboard is not bare for the Mavericks, however, who return six starters on offense and five on defense. Eastland is expected to challenge for another district championship.
“We need to play as a team, embrace our role and consistently produce to our capability,” Coach Morton said. “If we do that, we can be a good football team.”
QB/LB Cooper Wright (9-61, 1 TD rushing; 16-26-171, 2 TDs passing and 66 tackles) and QB/LB Keaton Hicks (17-28-112 passing and 42 tackles) are expected to compete for the starting quarterback job.
Key two-way returnees for Eastland include WR/DB Bryan Fielding (29-446, 3 TDs receiving and 80 tackles), RB/LB Hunter Lee (63-286, 3 TDs rushing and 114 tackles), WR/LB Austin Rodgers (33-366, 3 TDs receiving and 68 tackles, 2 sacks) and WR/DB Jarod Cruz (11-132, 2 TDs receiving and 33 tackles, 1 INT).
Ethan Mayes, Corben Branch, Payton Terrell, Luke Mares, Yo Ojeda, Fernando Montano and Bentley Huffman are expected to anchor the Mavericks’ offensive and defensive lines.
Morton listed depth as his biggest concern, but called “team chemistry and leadership and our relentless effort on the practice field” as the team’s biggest strength.