After a 4-6 record and winning just two district games a year ago, the Prince of Peace Eagles are on a mission in 2016 to improve the win totals and earn a playoff spot in TAPPS Division II, District 2. The district will have a different look this year as Frisco Legacy Christian moved to District 1 and Shelton moved to Division III. Trinity Christian Cedar Hill is a new addition to the district after a brief stint in Division III that saw the Tigers win state in 2014 and appear in the state finals in 2015, losing to Shiner St. Paul 43-40 in the title game.
Head coach Larry Thexton is very optimistic going into the new season and believes the Eagles will end their 4-year playoff drought. The optimism comes from experience and numbers. Thexton has his best roster at POPCS in seven years and fewer kids will have to play both ways. Thexton has also scheduled non-district games against Plano John Paul II, a Division I squad, and McKinney Christian, a playoff staple in Division III. The head coach wants his team to be best prepared for district play that includes the always tough Dallas Christian and Brook Hill. One of the district favorites will be Grace Community School (Tyler) who recently captured the Texas 7-on-7 consolation championship.
With high powered spread offenses being so popular in Texas high school football, Thexton has remained dedicated to the option. For the option to work, a strong offensive line is needed and POPCS has that. Nine starters return on offense for the Eagles, which includes the entire line, and are led by all-district winner Hayden Mark (6’4″, 265). Thexton describes the senior as “a big, physical guard and the leader” on the o-line. Junior Max Huff (6’8″, 275) also returns and has all the tools to be an all-district and all-state player.
Coach Thexton will have to replace starters at quarterback and running back. Junior Jackson Garrett is likely to take most of the snaps and will be seeing his first action as a varsity QB this fall. Thexton is confident in Garrett because “he understands the option game extremely well, (has) great vision, and is a tremendous open field runner.” Helping replace the void left by John Bloom (all-state LB, 2015) at the RB position will be junior Parker Strong and sophomore Joshua Schmidtke. The strengths of Strong are in his quick feet and on-field awareness while Schmidtke will use his physical strength to create holes and get the tough yards.
Defensively, Prince of Peace returns eight starters and is led by Mark, Huff, and seniors Xavier Chiovera and Daniel Wall. Chiovera stands at 6’8″ to give the Eagles one of the more intimidating lines in Division II while Wall will lead the secondary for POPCS.
For the Eagles to succeed in 2016, Thexton believes his squad will need to get more frequent stops on defense and improve the running game on offense. With such a tough district slate, Prince of Peace will have to be very efficient in the option attack and avoid mistakes that put the team behind early in games. We expect Dallas Christian and Tyler Grace to be at the top of the district and POPCS to compete with T.K. Gorman, Brook Hill, and Trinity Christian for the third spot in District 2. The Eagles kick off their season on the road at Plano John Paul II on August 26.
|2016 Prince of Peace Schedule|
|8/26||@Plano John Paul|
|9/2||@Pantego Christian Academy|
|9/23||T.K. Gorman (district)|
|9/30||@Brook Hill (district)|
|10/7||Dallas Christian (district)|
|10/14||@Trinity Christian Cedar Hill (district)|
|10/21||Tyler Grace Community (district)|
|10/28||@Tyler All Saints (district)|
|11/4||Frisco Legacy Christian|