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2022 Season Preview: Smoking For Jesus football

CAPTION: The 2022 Smoking For Jesus Ministry School football team is Jeremias Lara (back row, left), George Tope, Michael Richards, Benjamin Frazier, Samuel Rodriguez, Jason Tope, Daniel Legier, Matthew Love; offensive coordinator Russell Roberts (front row, left), Isaac Legier, Myron Glaspie, Miles Tope, Connor Kitchens, head coach Charles Frazier Sr, Jonathan Frazier, Efrain Aviles lll, Samuel Legier, defensive coordinator Jonathan Maxwell. Missing: Joel Thompson. Courtesy photo

It’s about respect.

That’s the motivation that drives the Smoking For Jesus Ministry School Eagles in 2022. Though the team has won back-to-back state titles as members of the Texas Christian Athletic League, a change to the Texas Association of Independent Athletic Organizations has re-energized the Eagles.

And that’s too bad for the competition beginning with Cherokee, which is the opponent for the season opener at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 26, at Riddell Wallace Park, at the intersection of Texas 29 East and Rhomberg.

“They’re so ready,” head coach Charles Frazier, Sr. said, noting the players have been working out since May 31, the day after Memorial Day. “They’re in shape and ready – they’re in shape and ready to go.”

Cherokee earned a 7-4 overall record including going 3-1 in District 16-1A Division II. It lost to Oakwood 52-16 in the first round of the playoffs.

The Eagles feature 15 players with 13 returners from last year’s 10-1 squad. They include senior quarterback Isaac Legier, who completed 129 of 248 passes for 2,310 yards, 51 touchdowns and nine interceptions and had 52 carries for 948 yards and 15 scores. Senior Johnathan Frazier had 13 catches for 296 yards and six scores and eight rushes for 106 yards and a touchdown. Junior Connor Kitchens caught 32 passes for 428 yards and 11 touchdowns. Myron Glaspie is the top returning sophomore with six catches for 64 yards and a touchdown. Freshman Jackson Tope is the center.

Frazier added former Faith Academy of Marble Falls head coach Russell Roberts as the offensive coordinator in the spring. Roberts will call the plays and has added more wrinkles to the offensive scheme that has excited the players, the head coach said.

Defensively, the Eagles are still guided by coordinator Boo Maxwell, who has installed a scheme that compliments the Eagles’ natural skills, Frazier said.

“With our scheme (my players) can get to the ball,” he said. “Offensive coordinators are going to have a hard time predicting our defense. You never see it until it’s too late. They’re going to be a tough defense. Our speed is a killer. We definitely have speed. We’re going to keep that pressure on the quarterback.”

Glaspie and Kitchens are the linebackers and sophomore Benjamin Frazier is a safety.

“Benjamin is a small kid, but he he has the heart of a lion,” the coach said. “He will go after the ball. He’s not the prototype safety as far as size, but he’s going to be a ball hawk.”

An important addition to the team is newcomer Efrain Aviles, III, a junior who is the place kicker.

“He started kicking and never looked back,” Frazier said. “He drop kicks the ball, and it shocked me. That’s a good thing for us. It gives us an extra blocker (since he won’t need a holder). I coached him in our youth football league.”

A new league also means a new playoff system. The Eagles play in four district games with the top two teams advancing to the playoffs. Then it’s a single-elimination system.

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