IN THE SMALL TOWN OF HUFFMAN, IT’S DIFFICULT
for Dennis Bardwell to keep a low profile.
The 6-foot- 5, 350-pound Division I college prospect
receives plenty of attention from local football fans.
“It’s a small community, so it’s a big deal,” Bardwell
said. “Everyone comes out to games and supports us.”
While Bardwell was certainly blessed with ideal height
for an offensive tackle, he has worked tirelessly through-
out his high school career to build strength. He trains
with Texas Elite Sports Training, under Paul Smith.
“I’ve seen a lot of progress,” Bardwell said. “I see how
much bigger I’ve gotten compared to other players.”
Bardwell put those strength gains on display on a
weekly basis last fall, when he earned all-4A- 10 honors
as an offensive guard. He’ll slide out to tackle this fall,
when he will look to make his hometown fans proud.
“It’s great to have fans that appreciate you,” Bardwell
said. “After games, people I don’t even know come up
and talk to me like we’re friends.”
MEET THE 2016 COVERBOYS,
AS VOTED BY THE FANS
HEZEKIAH JONES CERTAINLY LOOKS THE PART OF A
big-time talent playing against small-town competition.
The 6-foot- 1, 195-pound receiver has made a habit of
torching defensive backs at the line of scrimmage and catching deep balls with nothing but the end zone in front of him. A
man among boys in District 12-4A, Jones caught 35 passes
for 515 yards and six touchdowns as a junior last fall.
Jones, a track star who earned a Class 4A state champion-
ship in the 200 meters, led the Stafford football team to an
11-1 record last fall.
“I always want to win; I’m a very competitive person,”
Jones said. “Whatever I do – even if it’s in practice or the
weight room – I want to be in first place.”
Still, Jones is careful to never let that competitive fire
come between him and his teammates.
“I know that high school only lasts four years, and I want
to have that chemistry and friendship for life,” Jones said.
“That’s what we go by – football is family.”
JACK DALLAS IS THE
quarterback that brought
West Orange-Stark its first
state championship since
1987. As far as local celebrities go, it doesn’t get much
bigger than that.
“Football is everything
around here,” Dallas said.
At 5-foot- 10 and 165
pounds, Dallas is not a five-star recruit. However, his
confidence and bravado are
the stuff of legend in Orange.
As a sophomore in 2014,
Dallas led West Orange-Stark to the Class 4A Division
II state championship game.
The Mustangs fell to Gilmer
in a game in which it led 25-7
at halftime. After the game,
Dallas tweeted a guarantee
that West Orange-Stark
would finish the job in 2015.
After that guarantee
came to fruition last fall,
the City of Orange hosted
a parade for the Mustangs,
and Dallas became the
biggest deal in town.
“It was weird at first,”
Dallas said. “I think I’m
just out here playing high
school football with the
guys I grew up with. I didn’t
understand how much it
means to these people.”
The Texas high school
football scene is
laden with small-town
football teams that
showcase big talent.
The fans in Texas
selected four such
players to receive
the FNF coverboy
MONTRELL ESTELL WOULD LIKE NOTHING MORE THAN
to have his name mentioned among Hooks football greats
like Billy Sims and Jeremiah Trotter.
Estell, a 6-foot- 2, 185-pound two-way standout, is carrying
on the Hooks small-town tradition of producing great players.
Not every high school in Texas can boast two former NFL Pro
Bowlers among its alumni, and certainly not many with less
than 300 total students.
As a dual-threat running back and receiver last fall, Estell
had 797 yards and nine touchdowns. On the defensive side
of the ball, he had six interceptions – three of which were
returned for touchdowns.
“I can change small plays into big plays,” Estell said.
Estell led Hooks to a 9-2 record and District 7-3A Division
II championship, making him a popular man around town.
“It’s crazy,” Estell said. “Everyone around you in the all of
the schools knows who you are. It’s exciting. People that aren’t
going to college are getting excited about where I’m going.”