Royse City defense

Royse City’s defense stops a Greenville ball carrier Micah Simpson during a 2021 game. The Bulldogs are to open the 2022 season at home on Friday against Grand Prairie.

  The Royse City Bulldogs will open their 111th football season this Friday night, hosting a not so familiar opponent, as the Grand Prairie Gophers will make the trip to Royse City ISD Stadium for a 7:30 kickoff.

  This will be the first time these two schools have met since they played each other for the 1945 Class A district championship. Yes, that’s right. It has been 77 years since the Bulldogs and the Gophers faced off against each other. The Bulldogs had just enjoyed their first ever undefeated 10-0 regular season for their fifth district championship. The Gophers, however, won that matchup in Garland by silencing the Bulldog offense, 25-0.

  This season the Royse City Bulldogs are coming off of an 8-3 2021 campaign and the Gophers are returning from a successful 7-5 season that included a bi-district championship and an appearance in the area round of the 6A playoffs.

  The 2021 season proved to be the best one for Grand Prairie since 1989 and the Gophers return a good core of players back from that championship season. They have five offensive and five defensive starters returning and will be led by a big and strong offensive line that will average close to 300 pounds across the interior front five. Also look for receivers Keithon Davis and Kelton Moore to open up the game downfield.

  The Bulldogs will be coming off of an 8-3 playoff season in 2021. After going undefeated in the Bulldogs’ first eight games, Royse City lost its last three games to Ennis, Forney and Frisco in the first round of the playoffs.

  However, the Bulldogs return a plethora of returning lettermen including nine starters on offense and seven defensive starters. That Royse City offense scored 405 points last season, which was the most productive output since 2007.

  Stalwarts returning for the Bulldogs include quarterback Kenneth Spring, tailback Sam Mitchum, offensive linemen Harrison Hays (300 pounds) and Cason Bass (290 pounds). tight end Nicholas Weaver and highly-recruited receiver Jonah Roberson. Along with JaCori Williams and newcomer Hayden Herndon, the Bulldogs are loaded with talented receivers.

  Defensively, the Bulldogs will rely on a strong linebacker crew that will feature Caleb Robb, Caleb Watkins, Breylon Harris and Jaxon Klump.  Defensive backs Eric Spring and Harper Branch should add experience on pass coverage and Keiran Phousavath will be shoring up the Bulldog defensive line. Also keep an eye of kicker Mitchell Stokes as he has an eye on breaking the school record 53-yard field goal.

  With over 220 football players coming out this season at Royse City High School, Coach David Petroff begins his 10th season building his program which will go into uncharted waters as the Bulldogs move up to Class 6A, which is currently the highest classification in Texas high school football.

  Moving up to Class 6A will be a challenge, but the challenge will also be against some of the toughest competition in the state as well.  Royse City will begin its new adventure in District 10-6A, which also includes Rockwall, Rockwall-Heath, Mesquite, Mesquite Horn, Tyler Legacy and North Forney. Rockwall, Mesquite and Rockwall-Heath are all top 25 football teams in the state. Pre-district play will include Grand Prairie, The Colony, Melissa and Arlington Bowie.

  Royse City scrimmaged fifth-ranked Celina two weeks ago in Royse City. The Bulldogs moved the ball well with their No. 1 offense and did give their reserve players plenty of practice time in the scrimmage.  Celina outscored the Bulldogs 3-1 in the live quarter, however the Bulldog defense gave up some crucial yardage on penalties to allow Celina access to the end zone on two of its drives. The Bulldogs then traveled to John   Kincaide Stadium in South Dallas last week to take on the Dallas Carter Cowboys, a 2021 Class 4A Division 1 playoff team. The Bulldogs played their starting offense sparingly, but when they did, they were clearly outstanding with a 65-yard touchdown pass from Spring to Roberson. Spring also was essential to the running game as was Sam Mitchum and Hayden Bohme.  Long passes were completed to Roberson, Herndon,   Williams and Weaver. Connecting for a 35-yard touchdown pass was Spring to Hayden Tanksley, a Junior receiver.  Stokes split the uprights for the point-after touchown.

  As the Bulldogs were sorting out their talent, it should be noted the outstanding play by junior Austin Reynolds, a 5-5, 140-pound running back and receiver. Also keep an eye out for receiver Mikolas Bolton, linebacker Carter Hadnot, safety Aiden Walker and linebacker James Gordon. John Wills, a 6-2, 225-pound defensive end will be on some highlight reels for sure this season. Also keep track of Donovon Benson and Evan Harris as they will be contending for some serious playing time this seasonl.

  Larger crowds are expected with the increase in the number of students, parents and fans as well as school districts that follow their teams faithfully. Royse City ISD Stadium’s home side stands will be adding additional seating after this season is complete and to help accommodate seating, temporary stands have been brought in to seat the Royse City band and drill team members for the 2022 season.

  Also take notice that there will be a clear bag rule when entering the football stadium with added security measures. You can visit the school website to check out the sizes and limitations before entering the stadium.

          This Week’s Games and Picks

Grand Prairie at Royse City  —  Royse City by 13

​Rockwall-Heath at Denton Guyer — Denton Guyer by 14 (Thursday)

Plano West at Mesquite Horn — Mesquite Horn by 6 (Thursday)

Arlington at Mesquite — Mesquite by 8

North Forney at Whitehouse — North Forney by 3

Tyler Legacy at Marshall — Marshall by 3

Cedar Hill at Rockwall — Rockwall by 10 (Saturday)

The Colony at Red Oak — Red Oak by 9

Nevada Community at Caddo Mills — Caddo Mills by 7

Celina at Paris — Celina by 17

Melissa at Argyle — Melissa by 9

Greenville at Lake Dallas — Lake Dallas by 7

Aledo at Parish Episcopal — Epicopal by 3

El Paso Eastwood at Southlake Carroll — Southlake Carroll by 10

Ennis at Waxahachie — Waxahachie by 3

Forney at Crandall — Crandall by 6

Sherman at Denison — Sherman by 6

Little Elm at Arlington Bowie — Little Elm by 8

Richardson Pierce at Wylie — Wylie by 7

Longview at McKinney Boyd — Longview by 3

Temple at McKinney — McKinney by 7

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