Celina has its smallest number of returning lettermen in memory (12) but this is the year when the Bobcats' program helps out.
Watching Celina twice _ on the first day of practice and in its BBQ scrimmage against Lovejoy _ the Bobcats operate like a 5A program in terms of organization of players and coaches knowing what to do and when. Celina also added to coaches to its number of fulltime staff.
The efficiency is more eye-catching than the athletic talent. On the first day of practice, the Bobcats are running plays and drills likes it's the middle of October. Many schools are trying to teach new guys how to line up for stretching on the first day.
How organized is the Bobcats' overall machine? The cheerleaders make game posters for the entire season during the first week of practice.
The Bobcats' defense looked great against Lovejoy, which has improved greatly in its two years since I saw them struggling to play 7-on-7 games. Lovejoy knows what it's doing and is pretty ambitious to have its first varsity scrimmage at Celina for its traditional open-a-can-of-whoop'em BBQ scrimmage to start the season.
Celina will miss the ultra-athletic D'Anton Lynn and host of talented players. But Lovejoy had difficulty getting off a play out of the shotgun play when Celina's first-team was playing.
The Celina secondary is outstanding. Safety Josh Lavey has excellent speed for 3A. There's experience with senior Austin Carey _ one of three in his family with a state title ring (dad and a brother too). Cody Worrell has the same secondary savvy at quarterback/defensive back that Seth Davis had. Not as big as Davis, but great instincts, anticipation and my favorite _ he knows how to take angles.
Of course, junior linebacker Caleb Lavey is a DI prospect and that's dominating in 3A. He looks great.
Among newcomers who looked good are linebacker Jay Perez and defensive end/linebacker Brock Babb.
The offense is a work in progress. But RB Charley Waldrep has been resting a sprained ankle since the opening week. He didn't play at all against Lovejoy (in shorts) and won't play much if at all against Bridgeport.
Waldrep is a good player but size puts him on the major college prospect bubble. He's got the Bear Bryant Scholarship available at Alabama and visited there this summer. He'll be a great walkon football player and he can play some baseball.
He's a good catcher. I told him he should move to second like Craig Biggio. UTA is showing baseball interest in him and I wouldn't be surprised if Dallas Baptist gets involved too.
Celina has good speed because of its conditioning and training, but most of the speed is 4.6 at best. There is a freshman who could play a factor at some point, but Jamarc Simmons likely will start on sub-varsity.
Simmons has the break-away speed. A track star, he's raw _ dropped his first carry (a toss-pitch against Lovejoy). His third carry, he ran about 50 yards for a touchdown.
The key to Celina will be having Trey McCartney and Waldrep healthy in the backfield. McCartney bulling up the middle and Waldrep effective outside the tackles and as a receiver.
Celina struggled mightily to fill its schedule. That's why it opens against Lytle in Temple. Lytle is in District 29-3A. The Celina game to watch will be against Whitehouse. More on that during the season.