Ellis County football previews: Young Lions ready and eager for new year

Despite early playoff loss in 2020, Ennis still highly-regarded in state

Don Hullett
Daily Light correspondent
Ennis head football coach Sam Harrell pauses on the sidelines during the "Meet the Lions" event on Monday evening at Lion Memorial Stadium.

ENNIS — After a surprisingly early exit from the Class 5A Division II football playoffs last year at the hands of Mansfield Timberview, the Ennis Lions are ready to put that behind them and tear into the upcoming season.

Head coach Sam Harrell is prepping for his 21st season as the head of the Lions Nation. Coach Harrell brings an overall record of 215 wins and 67 losses over his entire coaching career and a record of 179 wins and 59 losses in his years at Ennis.

This year’s team will return 18 lettermen for last year’s squad with 4 starters on each side of the ball. The Lions, who are ranked No. 7 in the preseason in 5A Division II by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, will once again run the “Spread” offense and counter the opposing teams with a 4-2-5 defense.

Returning from last year’s offense will be senior running back Dee Johnson, senior wide receiver Skylan Simmons and junior wide receiver Jace Berry, and two offensive linemen in senior Cody Jurezk and junior Patlan Mendez.

On the defensive side of the ball, Ennis will be led by returning seniors Octavius Johnson and Lazarus Becks on the defensive line, senior Eric Gonzales at linebacker and senior defensive back Devion Beasley.

The top newcomers this year will be: Quarterback Junior Jackson Gilkey, Wide Receivers TeTe Cox and Freshman Gracen Harris, Offensive Linemen: Senior Xavier Perez and Junior Issac Gray and Defensive Linemen: Lonnie Collins.

The Lions are once again playing in District 8-5A Division II. They will be coming off a season in which they were ranked No. 1 in the state of Texas for much of the year. They had a 9-1 record overall and 4-0 in district in the COVID-ravaged season.

The Lions will open the 2021-2022 season at home next week against the Red Oak Hawks at 7:30 p.m. at Lions Memorial Stadium.

District 8-5A (II): Ennis Lions

Head coach: Sam Harrell (20th year at school, 179-59; 24th year overall, 215-67)

2020 record: 9-1, 4-0 District 8-5A (II)

Enrollment: 1,724

Returning lettermen: 18

Returning starters: 4 offense, 4 defense