ALTO, TX (KTRE) - The Alto Yellowjackets had a great post-season run last year as regional semifinalists, so it was no surprise seeing the team was picked to win the 11-2A district this year.
What is surprising is that they've been picked to win it with just five starters returning.
Only two will be returning to the offense this year, but thankfully it includes one guy who was a dominant force. Senior quarterback Keenen Johnson will have one last dance with the Yellowjackets this year and he's going to have more responsibility on his shoulders than last year.
Johnson proved he could handle leading the offense in his first season at quarterback last year. SMU even came knocking on his door with an offer after he snagged 34 touchdowns for 2,438 yards.
"It's a lot of pressure especially after the season we are coming from last year. It's a lot of high expectations and a lot of people expecting me to lead the team," said Johnson.
"A lot of eyes are going to be on Keenan. We expect him to go out there and run the offense like it's supposed to be run," said head coach Paul Gould. "Our job as coaches is to get those kids around him to step up and be ready to go because a lot of people are going to be keying in on him, trying to stop him. We're going to have to do some other things to take the pressure off him."
The program may be young, but Gould said Alto may have the biggest offensive line they've ever had in his time with the Yellowjackets.
"Our offensive line is coming along. I think that's the big one and then defensively we got to come on in the secondary. We're young there and got a lot to learn there," said Gould.
Alto also swept the preseason honors with Johnson earning the offensive MVP award and senior Craig Collins being named the defensive MVP. The "Mean Sting" will be looking for Collins to step up defensively like he did last year. He recorded 127 tackles and eight sacks.