A lot has changed in the world of private school football. Tyler T.K. Gorman and Bullard Brook Hill have each moved up a classification to Division II, joining Tyler Grace Community.

T.K. Gorman and Brook Hill are now members of TAPPS Division II District 2 with Grace. Rounding out the eight-team league are Dallas Parish Episcopal, Dallas Christian, Carrollton Prince of Peace, Dallas Shelton and Cedar Hill Trinity Christian.

Brook Hill's quest for a second consecutive state championship will be put to the test now that the Guard has stepped up in class.

Meanwhile, Tyler All Saints has opted to compete independently for the foreseeable as the Trojans move forward with a new head football coach.

 

BULLARD BROOK HILL GUARD

Coach: Terry Pirtle (fourth season, 34-8)

2011 Record: 11-3 (TAPPS Division III state champion; won 26-3 over Austin Regents)

Returning starters: 3 offensive, 4 defensive

Players to watch

  • OL Mason Dickey, 6-2, 275
  • QB Will Weathers (1,825 passing yards, 24 TDs)
  • DB Michael Greening (46 tackles, 4 INTs)
  • OL Bailey Franklin
  • C Matthew Seamands
  • LB Ryan Young (83 tackles, 2 sacks)
  • WR Chase McDermott
  • RB T.J. Dunks
  • LB Blake Maddox
  • LB Malik Alley
  • DL Logan Walters

Strengths: Head coach Terry Pirtle has elevated the Brook Hill program to new heights. The Guard has gone 34-8 over the last three seasons, which all include appearances in the TAPPS Division III state championship game. After two failed attempts, Brook Hill finally came away with its first state title last December, setting the bar even higher for the eight-year old program. Brook Hill loses a lot of from the year before, but a few important pieces remain. Offensive lineman Mason Dickey (6-2, 275) anchors an offensive line charged with protecting quarterback Will Weathers, who passed for more than 1,800 yards and 24 TDs in 2011. Linebacker Ryan Young and defensive back Michael Greening gained valuable experience a season ago and should provide a level of leadership on defense.

Weaknesses: Brook Hill makes the jump from Division III to Division II this season will challenge Pirtle and the Guard’s quest to repeat as state champions. Brook Hill has played a few of its new district opponents in non-league matchups over the last couple of years, but week-in and week-out chore of facing tougher competition could take its toll against a team with small returning numbers. The Guard must also replace the production of running back Gunnar Dorsey, who ran for 1,739 yards in 2011.

2012 Outlook: Getting to the playoffs may not come as easily for Brook Hill as it did a year ago when the Guard outscored league opponents 325-15. Finding other players to fit around Weathers will be key for Brook Hill to continue its winning ways in Division II.

 

TYLER ALL SAINTS TROJANS

Coach: Mike Hall (first season)

2011 Record: 6-5 (TAPPS Division II area finalist; lost 34-7 to Houston Cypress Christian)

Returning starters: 7 offensive, 7 defensive

Players to watch

  • LB Brice Borgeson
  • LB John Walker
  • DB Spencer Ball
  • OL Grady Smith
  • DL Grand Bengtson
  • RB Merritte Greene
  • DB Chandler Hammond
  • DB Logan Klouda
  • OL Josh Sigal
  • OL Kevin Nourse
  • WR J.B. Brumfield

Strengths: Experience will be on the Trojans’ side in 2012 with 14 starters returning from last season’s playoff team. First-year coach Mike Hall, who won a state championship with Plano Prestonwood in 2005, will count on program veterans like running back Merritte Greene to help smooth the transition. A change at the top isn’t the only thing different about All Saints heading into the new year. For the first time since the program’s inception in 2006, All Saints will not be affiliated with TAPPS, the state’s largest governing body for private and parochial schools. Instead, All Saints will take the field as independents, which should afford the Trojans a little more success on the gridiron. All time, All Saints sports just a 23-37 record with only two playoff appearances under its belt.

Weaknesses: A lack of size has prohibited All Saints from competing at a higher level in the past, and the same can be said in 2012. Another potential sticking point is adjusting to a new coaching staff and the ins and outs of different offensive and defensive schemes. And since the Trojans are playing independently, they will not be eligible for a postseason or any of the statewide recognition that comes with it. Building continuity may become troublesome for a team with very little in the way of tangible goals.

2012 Outlook: There are two sides to this coin. The decision to become an independent was made with the hope being able to build the program back up to ultimately compete more successfully in TAPPS. With a proven winner at head coach and the return of several players with experience, the hiatus from TAPPS may not last very long. However, if things do not go quite as smoothly, All Saints may discover it might take a while before rejoining an affiliated league.

 

Tyler Grace Community Cougars

Coach: Mike Maddox (seventh season, 43-20)

2011 Record: 9-4 (TAPPS Division II semifinalist; lost 49-7 to Midland Christian)

Returning starters: 6 offensive, 3 defensive

Players to watch

  • QB Blake White, 5-10, 160 (2,810 passing yards, 27 TDs, 6 INTs)
  • WR Garrett Newman (801 receiving yards, 7 TDs; 1,042 rushing yards, 12 TDs)
  • C Josh Boylan
  • RB/WR Kade Clayton (593 rushing yards, 8 TDs; 247 receiving yards, 1 TD)
  • DT Andrew McCarty
  • S Adam Graham
  • WR Statler Lewis (319 receiving yards, 5 TDs)
  • WR Lin Gillham
  • LB Jacob Spitzer
  • OL Trey Marshall
  • OL Jacob Wadle
  • DL Grant McCarty

Strengths: Grace Community is coming off the most successful season in program history, a journey that ended in the TAPPS Division II state semifinals. The Cougars were hit hard by graduation, but return two very important cogs from the 2011 team. Quarterback Blake White threw for more than 2,800 yards and 27 touchdowns a year ago in his first year at starter. Head coach Mike Maddox is expecting even more from White this season, especially with the return of receiver Garrett Newman, who totaled more 1,800 yards both rushing and receiving with 19 TDs. Center Josh Boylan’s return should bolster the Cougars’ offensive line.

Weaknesses: The biggest piece offensively the Cougars must replace is receiver Grant Childress, who signed with Louisiana Tech in February. Childress made 67 catches for 1,145 yards and nine scores as a senior. Another thing to watch on offense will be how the Cougars operate without offensive coordinator Coby Gipson, who left during the summer to take head coaching job at crosstown, district rival T.K. Gorman. With Gipson at the controls the previous six years, the Grace offensive was perennially one of the area’s most prolific. Grace must also cope with wholesale changes on the defensive side of the ball. Scoring shouldn’t be a problem; stopping others might be.

2012 Outlook: It hasn’t taken long for Grace to become a state force in the world of TAPPS football, having made the playoffs three years in a row. If White and Newman can pick up where they left off in 2011, there should be another big season in store for the Cougars offense. And they might it, because there are certainly some questions marks concerning the other side of the ball heading into the season.

 

Tyler T.K. Gorman Crusaders

Coach: Coby Gipson (first season)

2011 Record: 5-6 (TAPPS Division III area finalist; lost 24-6 to Katy Faith West)

Returning starters: 4 offensive, 4 defensive

Players to watch

  • OL Matthew Roe, 6-4, 302
  • OL Joey Ruesewald
  • DL Matthew Weeks
  • WR Brandon Lackner
  • LB William Fernandez
  • DE Drew Dunkling
  • RB Taylor Hurst
  • WR Ryan Ruiz
  • QB Tristan Saint

Strengths: The Crusaders’ top strength is size with offensive linemen Matthew Roe (6-4, 302) and Joey Ruesewald leading the way. Defensive lineman Matthew Weeks is also a monster up front for TKG, which will try to improve on last season’s 5-6 campaign. Energy is high after a mid-summer coaching change. Former Grace Community athletic director Jeff Smith, now the AD at Gorman, brought in former Cougars offensive coordinator Coby Gipson to reinvigorate a program that’s 39-72 since 2003 with only three playoff victories.

Weaknesses: With Gipson’s hire coming well into the summer, the first half of the season may be a work in progress for the Crusaders, who must learn all-new offensive and defensive terminology. TKG has the size to compete; it’s finding the right combination of skill talent to surround the front line that will make the difference in 2012. Gipson and his new team must also contend with the jump up from Division III.

2012 Outlook: At the moment, there are a lot of moving parts that need to be settled before making an honest assessment. On the surface, it appears 2012 will take on more of a rebuilding look with a new coach attempting to leave his imprint on the program. A playoff berth is asking a lot. Anything more than that would be asking way too much.