Everyone wants to be the next big thing.
Writers try to spot the next big team. Scouts try to identify breakout athlete.
In Texas high school football, oftentimes teams and players can be lost in the shuffle.
In a state so massive, with talented teams in every direction, it’s difficult to know who is next up.
New high schools are built every year to accommodate Texas’ massive population growth. Dynasties are born, powerhouses are built, and breakthrough athletes are made.
With so many newcomers on the rise, it makes one wonder whose time in the limelight is fast-approaching.
A dark horse answer: The Braswell Bengals.
Dr. Ray Braswell High School is a $113.9 million campus located in Little Elm right off of U.S. Route 380. The school has an estimated enrollment of 1,200 and is classified as 5A.
When looking at Braswell from afar it’s hard to see how they’ve got next up.
The Bengals have been around since 2016 and have played 30 games, winning only five of them. That stat may leave you wondering how the Bengals are in the discussion as a team on the rise.
Take a closer look: For starters, they’re improving.
In their debut season, the Bengals finished with a dismal 0-10 record. Over the course of the season, Braswell was outscored by 380 total points, losing by an average of 38 points every game. Out of 1204 Texas-ranked high school programs that year, Braswell came in at 951.
Not a great way to kick off a football program. But, it was merely their first year.
Braswell’s second season saw vast improvements across the board. They finished 2-8, ranked at no. 609 in the state and wasn’t blown out a single time. The Bengals went from averaging less than 10 points scored per game to nearly three touchdowns each contest.
Look at it as baby steps for a budding football program.
Last year, Braswell finished at a slightly better 3-7. But their record doesn’t tell the full story.
The Bengals lost by only five points to a Lake Dallas team late in the year who would make a considerable playoff push. Braswell went back-and-forth with Frisco, a playoff team that would finish at 7-5.
Braswell continued to move up rankings, finishing as a top-500 team in the state. Looking at point differential, the Bengals allowed only a few more points than they scored on average each game.
Braswell had the makings of a team winning upwards of seven games, not three.
This evidence alone may not suggest that the Bengals are ready to make the leap in 2019. Just look at fellow Dallas-Fort Worth newcomer, Reedy: A team that has been around for the same amount of time as Braswell yet made the state quarterfinals last year.
One difference between the teams is school location.
Reedy has the privilege of being located in the rapidly growing town of Frisco. More people are moving to the Dallas suburb than anywhere else in America.
People won’t stop moving to Frisco. However, concerns about overpopulation, higher taxes, and traffic may make many homeowners move elsewhere.
That’s where Braswell comes in.
The school is located in Little Elm, only 15 minutes away from Frisco Reedy. As Little Elm sees more and more move-ins, Braswell is beginning to see a splurge of talent akin to previous years at Reedy.
Another reason you have to pay attention to a team like the Bengals is head coach Cody Moore.
Moore has proven to be a talented offensive coordinator, drastically improving the Bengals’ efficiency over the last two seasons.
Before taking over as Braswell head coach, Moore was the offensive coordinator at Rockwall. The Yellowjackets were the highest-scoring offense in all of Class 6A in 2014 with Coach Moore on the sidelines. Rockwall scored a ludicrous 687 points over a 13-game stretch, leading to a 12-1 record and a regional title.
Putting up 687 points over 13 games means averaging over 50 points a game.
Nine of the eleven teams Coach Moore have made the playoffs.
Need another reason to believe in a Braswell breakthrough? Ask the Bengals themselves.
Standout free safety Ben Blackmore is a multi-sport athlete at Braswell. A fearless defender with a nose for the ball, Ben isn’t afraid to “get his hands dirty.”
“I come across the field to make a hit and let the opposing team know that it’s not going to be easy,” Blackmore said.
Blackmore recognizes the opportunity that he and his teammates have when they step on the field representing Braswell.
“It’s a great opportunity to be a part of a new program like Braswell,” Braswell said. “It gives us all an opportunity to establish culture and traditions, setting the standard for what Braswell is all about.”
Ben and his teammates have high expectations for this season, putting the past three years in the rear-view.
“Our team has matured,” Blackmore said. “We have a majority of our seniors in key starting roles for us.”
Also a star for Braswell’s track & field program, Blackmore is able to close gaps between him and ball carriers in no time.
“I’m willing to outwork anybody,” Blackmore said. “I’ve come a long way from where I started and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.”
Due to their growth, location, head coach, and key starters like Ben Blackmore, Braswell may be next up in Texas. The Bengals have the tools to make noise this season and let the state know that they are here to stay.
In the words of Blackmore…
“We know this is our time.”