The Salado Eagles are back where they belong.
After a two-year sabbatical in Class 3A, where the team combined for just six wins as one of the state’s smallest programs in that classification, the Eagles return to the much more comfortable confines of 2A.
And, they hope, a return to the postseason.
Not that they’re resting on their laurels.
“Coming from 3A down to 2A, some people might think that we’d think it’d be easy,” junior quarterback Ryan Simmons said. “But we’re put in one of the toughest districts and the coaches are constantly stressing that it’s not going to be any easier. We’ve got to practice just as hard if not harder.”
With what amounts to a completely revamped roster, following the graduations and defections of several key starters and assistant coaches from last season, Salado will undoubtedly have its work cut out in its new home — District 13-2A DI.
As the best passing offense in 25-3A a year ago, averaging 252.5 yards per game, the Eagles lost nearly 1,900 receiving yards with the graduations of Austin Silva, Peyton Best and Joe Owens, who were the district’s top three receivers by more than 250 yards each.
Add to that the transfer of quarterback Mike Richardson (2,190 yards and 23 touchdowns) to Marble Falls this summer and Salado has to replace more than 4,000 yards of offensive production.
Key to accomplishing that will rest on the shoulders of Simmons, who was Richardson’s backup and change-of-pace option last season.
Playing in all 10 games, including one start, Simmons combined for exactly 900 yards passing, rushing and receiving to go along with 15 touchdowns.
“I’ll take him versus anybody in this area,” third-year Salado head coach Glenn Talbott said of Simmons. “I think he’s probably one of the best quarterbacks around here.”
Among those who could help with Simmons’ progress will be senior receivers/defensive backs Cameron Wong, Salado’s fourth-leading receiver last year, and Marshall Mann.
The Eagles will also depend on experienced offensive linemen in versatile left tackle Sam Barrett and guard Billy Golding, both of whom will help on defense as well.