By Travis M. Smith | Ellis County Sports Sports
Write it in stone: The Ennis Lions will be in the postseason.
Following a full offseason to work with the program that he took to legendary heights, Sam Harrell and the Lions are poised to once again sit at the table with the top programs in Class 5A.
After all, Harrell is in the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame for a reason — he knows how to win.
Harrell returned to the Ennis football program late in the spring semester in 2019, which meant he had little time to reacclimate and recalibrate the student-athletes and coaching staff. The Lions eventually bowed out of the bi-district playoffs following a 5-5 overall record and 5-3 mark in District 8-5A Division II.
Twenty-six of those Lions return this season, which includes five starters on the offensive side of the ball and seven on defense.
Though Ennis will have to replace the offensive production of running back James Harris and wide receive Zion Dove, Harrell pointed to 6-foot-3 tight end Jarius Jones and quarterback-turned-wide receiver Dyllan Santos as two Lions to look for in the end zone on Fridays.
Jones accounted for 203 yards and two touchdowns on 17 catches in just four games in 2018. Santos stacked up 1,110 passing yards and 10 scores this past season, while also adding 775 rushing yards and 11 more touchdowns.
On the defensive side of the football, Ennis returns its leading tackler from 2018 in Dane Vernor. The senior is arguably one of the top linebackers in the county and accounted for 81 tackles and two tackles for a loss on his way to an All-District 8-5A first-team nod. The Lions also bring bak defensive linemen DeRyous Stokes (6-0, 235) and Clayton Jenkins (6-0, 230).
The Lions landed as the top-ranked Class 5A team in the county, checking in at No. 16 in the DCTF preseason rankings. Red Oak enters the season as the 17th-best team in the state, while Midlothian is ranked No. 23.
The class is led by No. 1 Aledo, No. 2 Fort Bend Marshall and No. 3 Corpus Christi Calallen.
Dave Campbell’s Texas Football predicts District 8-5A Division II to finish:
- North Forney
- Royse City
- Sulphur Springs
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith