The last time the Harker Heights Knights made the playoffs, Hall of Fame coach Ross Rogers roamed the sidelines.
But that was six years ago, and those Knights are long gone.
In their place is one of the area’s more talent-rich teams, including a pair of future Texas Longhorns and several more potential Division I prospects.
“For us, we have to meet the high expectations we’ve set for ourselves,” fourth-year Harker Heights head coach Mike Mullins said.
Featuring the nation’s No. 1-rated center in Darius James and outside linebacker Naashon Hughes, both of whom have committed to Texas, the Knights have a roster that could compete with several junior college programs.
One of the emerging Division I prospects is junior running back Marcus Anderson II (5-foot-11, 195 pounds), who late last season rushed for 436 yards.
“He can run, he’s got really good speed but he’s a downhill guy with great vision and plus he can catch the football, and he’s physical,” Mullins said of Anderson.
Key to the Knights postseason prospects will be the growth shown at quarterback, where junior Damion May and sophomore Troy Smith are battling for playing time.
May, an athletic two-sport star who’s known for having a strong arm, and Smith, who is more comfortable running with the ball than sitting in the pocket, have made Mullins’ job of picking one difficult.
“If we played today, they’d both play,” Mullins said. “They’re both going to be on the field. They’re both good athletes. They do a lot of things, and I can’t combine them into one, so I’ve got to use two.”
Heights biggest strength should be on defense, which returns eight of 11 starters from last season and several more who saw playing time.
Leading the way is a fast and athletic linebacker corps highlighted by Hughes and converted tailback Jonte Burton, and a deep secondary which includes safety Tyrel Stokes and corner Samson Gray.