For as heartbreaking as the last two Midlothian Heritage football seasons have ended, the Jaguars certainly started their march toward something special early this year.
The Jaguars will now look to carry the momentum from their Division II 7-on-7 state championship in June over to the gridiron and under the lights Friday night against Gatesville. Kickoff in the season opener is at 7:30 p.m. in Gatesville.
Heritage finished last season 12-1 after a regional quarterfinal loss to Kennedale on a last-second field goal, 45-43. It was the second-consecutive season for the Wildcats to knock the Jaguars out of the playoffs in the waning seconds.
Landon Ledbetter returns to lead the Jaguar offense for his senior season. Last year, the signal-caller completed 160-of-his-232 passes (69 percent) for 2,466 yards. He tossed 33 touchdowns and just three interceptions.
In the backfield behind Ledbetter, the Jaguars will be without their two leading rushers from a year ago, as both Nathan Gaskamp (79-588, 7 TDs) and Raja Banks (74-722, 10 TDs) have moved onto the collegiate level.
Gaskamp, who plays at Trinity Valley Community College, caught the first touchdown of his college career Saturday against Snow. It was a 10-yard score from quarterback Colt Atkinson.
In fact, Ledbetter returns as the Jaguars leading rusher after he carried the football 46 times for 262 yards and three touchdowns last season.
Langston Anderson, who has received several Division I offers since last season, returns as the leading receiver in terms of yardage (765) and catches (51). The now-senior also caught nine touchdowns.
Jay Wilkerson will look to continue his stellar play from the slot after he hauled in 42 passes for 700 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.
Kerrion Fields was last year's leading receiver with 61 catches for 1,035 yards and 19 touchdowns but graduated in May.
On the defensive side of the football, Konner Jones (jr) and Noah Parker (sr) return after leading the Jaguars with 95 total tackles, each, last season. Parker also led the team with eight interceptions, while fellow returners Brayden Wright (4), Dre Washington (3) and Cade Sumbler (3) also return after double-digit interception campaigns.
Jon Sanders (sr) will also look to continue his dominance along the line and build on his team-high 11 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks in 2017.
And, when the Jaguars do find the end zone (which was 88 times last season), they will have the confidence in placekicker Matt Stanton. The now-senior converted on 69-of-74 PATs (90 percent) and 5-of-8 from distance (60 percent) last season. He recorded a long of 45 yards.