After a month of practices and two scrimmages, the Decatur Eagles will tee up the football for real Friday night.
The Eagles open the era under new head coach Mike Fuller at Springtown at 7:30 p.m.
Decatur, coming off a 9-4 season that included a trip to the third round of the playoffs, wants to get off on the right foot against the Porcupines.
“This is important. It sets the tempo for how the rest of the season is going to go,” said Decatur senior center Jacob Hartsell.
Fuller, who enters the season with a record of 109-49 in 14 seasons split at Coppell and Colleyville Heritage, longs for a win to start his Decatur tenure. But he is also keeping the game in perspective.
“We want to try to win. But we don’t want to put too much stock in this first game,” Fuller said. “You do everything you can to win it, but we’re hoping to build and improve by the time we get to that first district game.”
Over the past month, Fuller has seen steady growth on both sides of the ball. The Eagles took a big leap forward between their first scrimmage against Kennedale and Thursday’s showing against Princeton.
But Fuller is quick to point out that there is still plenty of room for improvement.
“Three weeks in, obviously you wouldn’t expect us to be where we’ll be in weeks five or six,” Fuller said. “I have a good feel for what the guys can do.”
Offensively, the Eagles head into the opener unsettled up front after the loss of guard Rickey Roberts for the season. Graham Cowdrey and Terry Hogan are working at the spot.
“The offensive line is having to cope and guys are stepping up,” Hartsell said. “It hurts, but we’re going to overcome it.”
Justin Myers will make his first start at quarterback for the Eagles and will be throwing to a completely new set of receivers that include Ryan Durdon, Payton McAlister and Gunnar Parker.
“We’re coming together,” Durdon said. “We have things we need to fix, but the effort is there.”
Defensively, the Eagles will be tested by Springtown and its pair of big-play threats – running back Ryan Snow, who ran for 1,154 yards last year, and receiver Dillon Springfield, who also might line up at quarterback.
Springfield, who had 681 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns in 2013, has shared time at quarterback with Caleb Chesney and Tyler Hickman this fall.
“No matter where [Springfield] plays, he’s scary,” Fuller said.
DECATUR (0-0) AT SPRINGTOWN (0-0)
7:30 p.m. at Porcupine Stadium
Decatur: Harris Rating 212
Notable: Eagles play first game under new coach Mike Fuller.
Springtown: Harris Rating 198
Notable: The Porcupines went 6-6 last year and made the area round of playoffs.
Harris line: Decatur by 11