Football to kick off new era in Saturday’s Tom Landry Classic


Grace Nguyen

Sophomore Noah Naidoo receives a pass at the 20 yard line before reaching the goal line in last week’s scrimmage against Centennial. The scrimmage allowed the Leopards to face live competition before the Tom Landry Classic.

Fresh off a season in which the football team won eight games and a bi-district championship, the Leopards will compete Saturday night against the Colleyville Heritage Panthers in the Tom Landry Classic at Eagle Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m, and fans are encouraged to wear white in what is expected to be a lively atmosphere for the season opener.

The excitement for the beginning of the season is contagious in the Lovejoy locker room, according to senior defensive lineman Sean Sumners.

“Everyone will be excited due to the fact that we basically have a whole new team on the field except for ten or so returning starters,” Sumners said. “Everyone on the field will be amped up to show what they are made of and put on a show for the fans.”

Among the aforementioned key returners is junior Ralph Rucker, who is set to take over the reigns as starting quarterback.

“I’m excited and ready to go,” Rucker said. “We have worked hard in practice spring through summer and now fall camp. We just need to sharpen up a few things, and we’ll be ready to roll.”

The Leopards will face a Panthers team that finished last season with a 5-6 overall record after being bounced from the playoffs in the bi-district round by Azel. Heritage’s main strength has been its defensive line, as the Panthers registered 21 sacks over the course of last season.

“They run a very different defense than what we are used to seeing,” Rucker said. “We will attack them by finding their windows and forcing them to pay for their mistakes.”

Leopards assistant coach Dillon O’Bryant highlighted his expectations for the debuts of many first-year starters.

 “We want them to know their responsibilities and assignments,” O’Bryant said. “We understand they are new to what we are doing, but we are expecting a great effort from them.”