The 2017 high school football season has arrived and here are 10 teams to keep an eye on.
LAMAR – The combination of experience, super talent and a legendary head coach can be a lethal combination. That’s what this season’s Lamar Texans bring to the table. Tom Nolen will have the services of Division I college recruits Anthony Cook and D’Shawn Jamison in the secondary while receiver Al’Vonte Woodard and back Ta’Zhawn Henry headline the offense. Complimenting that powerful quartet are tight end Kase Rogers, defensive lineman Josh Landry, linebacker Justin Fonteneaux, receiver Zane Knipe and defensive back Alex Hogan.
KATY – The eight-time state champions are chomping at the bit to get back on the field following a third-round playoff exit in 2016. Two top-notch running backs in Deondrick Glass and Josh Oglesby will work behind an experienced offensive line that includes Connor Galvin, Cole Birmingham and Evan Greathouse. The Tigers’ defense features three standouts, including Michael Matus (DL), Moro Ojomo (DL) and KeShon Rowe in the secondary.
NORTH SHORE – The Mustangs were on their way for a second consecutive state semifinal appearance before being waylayed in overtime by district rival Atascocita in the region finals. Bryant Badie (QB) and K’Lavon Chaisson (DE) are gone but key returnees include Isaac Cerda (QB), Marvin Phillips (OL), Jeremiah Walter (LB), Jacoby Allen (LB), Tre Bandy (WR) and Kerrion Hadnot (RB).
RIDGE POINT – Nine starters return from an offense that averaged 40 points per game in 2016. Quarterback Aaron Allen has one of the top tight ends in the country as a target in 6-foot-4 and 235-pound Mustapha Muhammad. Linebacker Chad Bailey headlines five returning starters from a stingy defense that gave up a little over 10 points per contest.
WESTFIELD – A 21-18 loss to longtime rival Klein Collins in the 2016 regional finals didn’t sit well with the Mustangs who are primed for another long playoff run. Standout defensive tackle Keondre Coburn (Texas) poses a problem for opponents and he’s joined by Joshua Carr (DE) and linebacker Franklin Montgomery. Rayshawn James (RB), Noah Massey (WR) and Ali Walter (WR) are key holdovers on offense. Terrance Gipson appears to have the inside track at quarterback.
MANVEL – The Mavericks have 12 starters back from a 13-1 squad that lost by one point in the state quarterfinals. Kason Martin (QB), Jalen Preston (WR), Brian Johnson (LB), Deneric Prince (RB) and Trent Gordon (S) are eager to bring home the school’s first state football championship.
MARSHALL – Eighteen starters are back from an 11-3 state quarterfinal squad under Houston area Coach of the Year James Williams. Top players include Jabari James (QB), Jerry Davis (RB), Barton Clement (OL), Geovante Howard (DB) and Dylan Sanchez (DL).
WHEATLEY – Wildcats head coach Cornelius McFarland may field the school’s best team in over a decade with 13 returning starters wanting to erase the bad taste of missing the playoffs last year on a tiebreaker.
WALTRIP – Could there be a new sheriff in District 24-5A with the Rams hoping to supplant Madison as the undisputed league champion. Head coach Todd Wright guided his team to more wins last year (seven) than in any season since 2003.
THE WOODLANDS – Wide receiver Kesean Carter and the five-time defending district champions would like nothing more than a return berth in the Class 6A state championship game.