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Lions ready to major in victory at Waco University

After taking a season off in 2006, the Ennis Lions vs. Waco University Trojans matchup is back in business on Friday in the HEB Classic at Waco ISD Stadium.
In 2005, Ennis took a 33-3 halftime lead as it went on to defeat the Trojans 36-17 in Lion Memorial Stadium. Last year University struggled through a 1-9 season, but they’ve got five starters back on each side of the ball this year and appear to be a more formidable foe.
“It might not mean much to people around here, but [the HEB Classic] is a pretty big deal in Waco and it’s nice to be involved in events like this when they’re done right,” said coach Sam Harrell.
“University’s [1-9] record [last year] really hasn’t been brought up. We watched them scrimmage last week and they’re a lot better this year.”
Trojan football isn’t very media friendly to say the least and as of Wednesday a 2007 varsity roster was unavailable, so asking Harrell to comment on specific University players was a bit dicey. The coach was able to get a good read on the team’s offensive approach while attending its scrimmage last Saturday.
“It looks like they’ll operate out of the shotgun most of the time from what we’ve seen, but with more two-back sets than what we do,” he said.
“I think they can run and throw pretty well out of it – they’ve got some good receivers to go with a quality quarterback and running back. They certainly threw more in the scrimmage than Waco U teams we faced a few years ago, and I think a lot of that has to do with the quarterback.”
The quarterback in question is sophomore Randy Price (6-3, 170, 4.6), who completed 64 percent of his passes last season on the way to 1,300 yards with six touchdowns and nine interceptions. He reminds Harrell of 2006 Ennis starter Blake Hart in that Price is tall and capable of hurting defenses with his legs or his arm.
“We’ll have to do a good job of containing him and pressuring him at the same time,” Harrell said.
“His arm strength and accuracy are both above average.”
The coach said a certain running back stood out in the scrimmage for his ability to make big plays and find the end zone several times. In all likelihood that back was Marquis Hughes (5-8, 180, 4.5), who ran for 1,300 yards and seven touchdowns on 260 carries last year. Rondell Smith (5-9, 180, 4.4) could also see some action as he ran for 300 yards in 2006.
“[Hughes] is pretty good from what we saw and he had decent speed, but I don’t know if their backs will be looked to much in the passing game,” the coach said.
Considering the success University found in the run game during the scrimmage, Harrell thought the offensive line was blocking well and he added the unit has good size. Unlike many other positions on the team, Harrell said the offensive linemen appeared to exclusively play on one side of the ball.
Harrell was impressed with a couple of Trojan receivers, who were most likely Antonio Neal (6-3, 205, 4.6) and Marcus Young (5-10, 175, 4.5). Neal caught 20 passes for 400 yards last year, while Young snagged 33 balls for 436 yards and three touchdowns.
“Their tall receiver (Neal) works by himself a lot on the outside and they just try to get him the ball on a variety of routes,” Harrell said.
“He demands your attention. They also had a good inside receiver (Young).”
Defensively, Harrell said the Trojans play a three-man front with their outside linebackers close to the ball. They stunt often and slant the linemen to bait offenses into making mistakes.
“Hopefully we’re prepared for that and ready to move the football,” the coach said.
“We’ll probably see some straight man defense because they have a lot of confidence in their secondary.”
On the defensive line, Harrell was impressed with a quick defensive end who was smaller than his teammates up front. That Trojan could very well be Al Dixon (6-0, 245, 4.8).
“He can pass rush, but he also played the run well,” Harrell said.
“The linebackers looked solid. Not any standouts, but they didn’t look bad either.”
In the secondary, dual threats Young, Smith and big junior Rikko Harris (6-4, 190, 4.5) are likely primary reasons Harrell viewed the back four as the team’s defensive strength.
“Both of their safeties played very well in the scrimmage and they’re probably the keys to the defense,” he said.
“Those guys were making tackles downfield and on the line of scrimmage. They were athletic and also reacted to the ball well.”

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Posted by on Aug 30 2007. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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