Senior football player talks goals for upcoming season

Tyler Bailey said he ‘hopes’ to compete in state championship game with team

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Neena Sidhu

During the Aug. 23 scrimmage against Flower Mound Marcus, senior Tyler Bailey looks to avoid Marcus’ defensive players as he runs toward the end zone. Bailey, one of this year’s team captains, serves with other captains and seniors Nash Gagliano, Kaleb Miles and Aeden Combest.

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Stadium lights shine down on the field. Fans cheer. Almost every Friday night, the Prosper Eagles varsity football team faces a new opponent. The pressure is on, especially for a few key players who have all eyes on them, including cornerback and safety senior Tyler Bailey.

Starting tonight at 7 p.m., he and his team will play in the first game of Bailey’s last season as a high school athlete. He has been a contributor to the team’s success in past years, but this season, Bailey said he is stepping up to take charge of that progress.

“I’ve been playing football since I was in first grade,” Bailey said. “Playing with different players and having different coaches made me a better player from then to now.”

As a person, Tyler has grown up a lot. He is really intelligent, so we can put a lot on his plate, and he is able to handle it. ”

— Tyrel Lenard, cornerback position coach

Both Bailey and cornerback position coach Tyrel Lenard said they have seen improvement in the senior’s game since he began his sophomore year at Prosper.

“Tyler has always been the most athletic kid in this class,” Lenard said. “For me, personally, he has developed in a sense of maturity — he works harder. He’s more locked in at practice, and he’s a lot more verbal at practice.”

Bailey was named one of the team’s four captains, along with seniors Aeden Combest, Nash Gagliano and Kaleb Miles. Head coach Brandon Schmidt, who helps prepare captains to lead, said they are chosen based on different factors.

“The captains could have a wide range of duties,” Schmidt said. “They’re responsible for leading and being the faces of the team, but also holding their teammates accountable. They have to make sure the locker room is clean, make sure people are on time where they are supposed to be. They have to make sure the buses are clean. Being a captain is not a title. It is a responsibility.”

Tossing a football in the air, Tyler Bailey shows one of the four uniform combinations. Bailey is No. 0 for this season. “His example being more locked in, working harder this offseason, being more present at team workouts, and being more vocal than in the past,” cornerback position coach Tyrel Lenard said. “He’s always shown up and did his job, but now he’s starting to take charge, encouraging people, holding other people accountable, which is something I haven’t necessarily seen in the past from him. So, for me, that’s the biggest shift in him since I’ve known him. The biggest thing about being a captain is taking care of your business, but also making sure others are taking care of theirs, as well.” (Neena Sidhu)

Serving as captain is one of the ways that Bailey said he is stepping up this year to lead the team off the field. On the field, Bailey plays both offense and defense.

“There’s not really a way he won’t contribute to the team this year,” Lenard said. “He’s going to be our most explosive guy on special teams. He’s probably our most versatile guy on offense, whenever we can get him the ball it’s always a good thing. Defensively, he does a great job as far as playing corner or safety. He’s our utility guy that can play anywhere.”

Last year, Bailey had memorable plays, including scoring at least two touchdowns each game during the postseason. Schmidt said that the new team is going to be the ultimate difference from last year.

“We were an older team last year, and we had a lot of seniors that graduated,” Bailey said. “This year, we are a younger team, but I think we’re better and can improve on the things we need to in order to make it to state.”

Bailey said making it to state with his team for his senior season is his biggest goal for this year. The road to state starts tonight at the game against South Grand Prairie at the Gopher-Warrior Bowl. Despite the scrimmage against Flower Mound Marcus Friday, Aug. 20, the game tonight is ultimately what is going to show the team’s abilities.

“I feel confident, South Grand Prairie has really good athletes and tradition,” Lenard said. “They played Allen within four points last year, so this will be a solid win for us to get on the road to state. If we execute, we will get what we want.”

Last season, the team did not face South Grand Prairie, but they did lose to Allen 35-31. Bailey said he is working hard with his teammates to prepare to win this year.

“My teammates are a big reason that I love football,” Bailey said. “We’re just looking to ultimately make it to state.”