Just under two weeks away from the beginning of the regular season, the Sachse Mustang players are oozing with confidence.
With the schemes in place and the roster taking shape, the players have begun to hash out the small details as they prepare for the season. The Mustangs return 14 starters in 2021 and were picked to finish third in District 9-6A by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football. For some of the returning starters, like first-team all-district defensive tackle Albion Krasniqi, the Mustangs’ sights are set much higher than that.
“I’m excited to play with my brothers this season,” Krasniqi said. “I think we’re going to go undefeated and our offense and defense are really talented.”
Krasniqi returns for his senior season after finishing with 29 tackles and four sacks a year ago. With a deep front seven, he’ll be tasked with leading the group that has been retooled by moving some guys around.
“We’ve got some skill, I think most of our stuff is just building the chemistry here,” Krasniqi said. “Everyone has to work to get in our spots and continue to just put in that effort.”
His goal for his senior season is to leave a legacy for the Mustangs and have a deep playoff run. He’ll need the help of the secondary, namely Leon Williams. The young safety enters his senior season after moving from outside linebacker, where he was one of the top defensive players last season. His length and athleticism are reasons he feels like he can be even better in his new role.
“The adjustment has been great,” Williams said. “I like the style of play of coming downhill and reading the pass. It makes me a versatile player and I can break down the run game more. I see more of the field.”
While he likes playing at the back at safety more and more, Williams is adjusting to the different roles asked for him on the field. Working at the back requires more attention to the opposing team’s passing game.
“The biggest thing to adjust has been in coverage,” Williams said. “At outside linebacker, I was mainly on run contain and making plays to stop the ground game. At safety, I can’t let anything behind me. I have to trust the linebackers to do their job on that run and make sure I’m over the top.”
While both players are in the majority of returning starters, they know they’re the ones setting the standard on the defense.
“It’s all about setting an example [for the younger players],” Krasniqi said. “Just going hard every day at practice and make sure they know how things are done at the varsity level.”
Offensively, the Mustangs are going through changes across the ball. Between a new system and new players in the lineup, it’s been a busy offseason for a team that averaged 31 points per game last season.
For returning quarterback Alex Orji, the opportunity to work with a young receiver group has been helpful to his own development.
“We got a lot of guys who can go at receiver,” Orji said. “We have some home run hit ability, but if we lock in and we do what we are supposed to do and understand our roles we’ll succeed. I’m trying to get some guys to fall in love with football this year. I can tell a lot of guys like it a lot, but liking football doesn’t win games.”
By Kyle Grondin • [email protected]