Last season, the Carroll Dragons were one win away from winning their ninth state championship. Although the Dragons were not able to beat the Westlake Chaparrals in the title game, their season could be categorized as a successful one. In fact, entering the 2020 season, Carroll only had one returning starter on defense, in addition to just three on offense.
Questions to be Answered:
The two storylines to watch for the next football season are:
- #1: Can the defense further improve?
- #2: With top receiving target Brady Boyd now an early enrollee at Minnesota, who will step up for the Dragons on offense?
Those were the two questions that I had entering Carroll's annual spring game. However, these questions will certainly not be fully answered until the team is battle tested during the regular season.
To begin, Carroll is led by 2022 five-star quarterback Quinn Ewers, who is committed to Ohio State. Ewers, the nation's top-ranked prospect in the class of 2022, started the day off strong, connecting with 2022 receiver Corbin Duwe for a touchdown on the second play of the game. Duwe had several big-time catches and will be a player to keep an eye on in the fall.
2022 three-star wide receiver Landon Samson was not suited up for the Dragons, however he has high expectations for next season. In 2020, Samson caught 75 passes for 1,293 yards and 15 touchdowns. As a result, Landon's recruiting stock has soared as he is now up to 18 collegiate offers from schools such as Baylor, Nebraska and Utah. With Boyd now at Minnesota, Samson's production should expect an uptick in 2021.
Along with Samson, 2022 three-star tight end RJ Maryland should also expect to have a big senior season for the Dragons. RJ, the son of 10-year NFL veteran Russell Maryland, has also seen his recruiting fortunes skyrocket as he currently holds 24 college offers from schools such as Miami, Tennessee and Wisconsin. Last season, the 6'4" receiving threat caught 30 passes for 736 yards and 13 touchdowns. While Maryland was suited up on the sidelines, I did not see him appear in the spring game.
Although Texas has yet to extend an offer to Maryland or Samson, I would not be surprised if their names are discussed by Sarkisian's staff in the near future. Furthermore, Ewers should continue to be on Texas's radar as well. Sarkisian has been known as a quarterback guru during the course of his coaching career and proved his offensive intelligence in Alabama's dominant national championship win over Ohio State. As a result, Texas has the potential to re-emerge as an attractive destination for top-ranked quarterbacks.
Another intriguing player to watch on Carroll's offense is 2024 tight end Harrison Moore. While Maryland is frequently used as a flex tight end, Moore seems to be more of a singleback tight end. What instantly stood out about Moore is his outstanding frame, being listed at 6'5".
Now, turning to the question of defense, 2022 linebacker Travis Keener looks to be the unit's leader. According to MaxPreps, Keener, one of the team's captains, tallied a total of 29 tackles last season. However, he will have to shoulder much more responsibility during his senior season as 2021 three-star safety Cinque Williams will desperately missed. Additionally, the Dragons defense allowed over 27 points per game last season, a number that they will have to heavily decrease in 2021.
Carroll's defense had a slow start, however the group eventually found its groove and began to force turnovers. Ultimately, the summer will be particularly important for this side of the ball to further develop.
Overall, the Dragons are definitely poised to make another deep playoff run next season. However, the team will also have a lot to prove if they want to be able to win the final game of the Texas high school football season.