All roads lead to AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
Preparations for the 2017 high school football season are already underway. At the end of August competition in six classifications throughout Texas will commence, with champions crowned in the home of the Dallas Cowboys in late December.
The 2017 edition of Texas Football Magazine has three Houston area high schools in the Top 10 of the Class 6A state poll. Katy (2), The Woodlands (8) and North Shore (10) are all coming off long playoff runs in 2016.
Converse Judson is the magazine’s No. 1 Class 6A school. Other Top 10 schools in the 6A state poll from around Texas include Allen (3), Cibolo Steele (4), DeSoto (5), Lake Travis (6), Austin Westlake (7) and Cedar Hill (9).
Despite losing longtime head coach Tony Heath to retirement recently, Pearland is picked to win the District 23-6A championship. Heath departed following a 20-year run as the Oilers’ head coach, which included a state title in 2010.
Former Pearland assistant coach and defensive coordinator James Farmer will take over as the Oilers’ head coach. Fourteen starters return for Pearland, including eight on offense. Pearland defensive end Gilbert Ibenene is the magazine’s choice for defensive player of the year in 23-6A.
Other projected playoff teams from 23-6A include George Ranch (2), Pearland Dawson (3) and Alief Taylor (4). Alief Hastings, Brazoswood and Alief Elsik are slated to finish in the bottom portion of the district standings.
Pearland is 17th and George Ranch is 39th in the statewide rankings among the 40 schools in the 6A state poll.
Dickinson is picked to win the league title in District 24-6A. Clear Springs, Clear Brook and Friendswood are expected to be playoff teams and finish second, third and fourth in the district standings. Those same four schools were postseason qualifiers last year.
Clear Creek (5), Clear Lake (6), Alvin (7) and Clear Falls (8) round out the bottom half of the 24-6A standings.
Montel Parker of Dickinson is the magazine’s pick for offensive player of the year while Braelon Hill of Clear Brook gets the nod for defensive player of the year honors.
In District 22-6A, Deer Park is picked to win the league crown outright with La Porte, Dobie and Pasadena Memorial also qualifying for the postseason.
Going into the 2017 high school football season Tom Nolen of Houston Lamar High School ranks No. 3 in the state among active head coaches in career wins. Nolen has 355 victories and trails only Phil Danaher (432) of Corpus Christi Calallen and Randy Allen (361) of Highland Park.
Other Houston area head coaches with more than 200 career wins include Ross Rogers of Bryan (241), Jimmy Thompson of Crockett (223), Glen West of Brenham (219) and David Hussman of Weimer (212).
Among the most successful coaches in terms of winning percentage are Katy’s Gary Joseph (178-17) at 91 percent, Tom Westerberg of Barbers Hill (156-20) at nearly 89 percent, Stephen Hill of St. Pius (70-16) at 81 percent, Jeff Riordan of Crosby (51-12) at 81 percent and Cornel Thompson of West Orange-Stark (80-19) at just under 81 percent.