By DR DAVID DAVIS
The Dawson Eagles and the Pearland Oilers are now in a new district which should present some greater competition than in previous years when they were in District 22-6A with the Pasadena ISD schools that didn’t present much of a challenge. The only other team in the league that was considered a top tier 6A schools was the Manvel Mavericks who won the district title three out of the past four years.
Dawson and Pearland are now in 23-6A with Brazoswood, Alief Elsik, George Ranch, Alief Hastings, and Alief Taylor.
In past years, the Eagles and Oilers only got to play two non-district games before league play began, but now, they will play four non-district games prior to District 23-6A competition..
Dawson will face Oak Ridge, Deer Park, Summer Creek, and Dobie while Pearland will take on Clear Springs, SB Memorial, Manvel, and Pasadena Memorial.
Let’s take a look at the non-district opponents for the Dawson Eagles.
Oak Ridge War Eagles – District 12-6A
Oak Ridge was 4-6 last season and didn’t make the playoffs. They have seven offensive and five defensive starters returning with 27 lettermen.
The War Eagles are picked to finish fourth in their district and to advance to the post-season with a more seasoned team.
Junior QB Bishop Dirst (5-10, 175), returns to run the offense while WR Kyle Townsend (6-1, 200) will be an offensive weapon. OL Jeremy Parker (6-3, 275), OL Tyler Johnson, and OL Kevin Dunk will anchor the offensive line for RB Contrell Green and RB Jimmie Moore.
Defensively, LB Grant Stuard (6-0, 195), S Zachary Johnson (5-11, 175), LB Brennan Young (5-10, 190), DL Gavin Franklin, and DB Jodary McGowen (5-11, 165) will provide strong leadership on that side of the ball.
Deer Park Deer – District 22-6A
Deer Park had a down season in 2015 as they missed the playoffs after posting a 4-6 record and 2-4 in district.
The realignment sent them to the Pasadena ISD district which should almost assure them of a spot in the post-season. The La Porte Bulldogs are picked to win the league crown with the Deer finishing in second.
Head coach Chris Massey will welcome five offensive and four defensive starters including 26 lettermen.
Deer Park will present a big offensive line led by OL Tanner King (6-5, 250), TE Jacob Logan (6-3, 190), OL Edwin Fountain, and OL Ethan Dorow.
QB Hunter Becton will direct the offense after throwing for 400 yards and 3 TDs after starting two games as a junior. WR Ethan Plunkett had 17 catches for 225 yards and a TD.
Look for RB Christian Sous (5-10, 190), RB Angel Vargas, and WR Malcom Linton (5-10, 160) to contribute on offense.
The defense will also be much better as it will be led by DE Brody Jenkins (6-3, 190), DB Khalil Melton (5-10, 180), DE Jake Price (6-2, 235), LB Race Moser (6-0, 200), DT Jerrick Callis, LB Bryce Swaim, DB Chase Keng, and DB Dylan Puuig.
Humble Summer Creek Bulldogs – District 21-6A
Summer Creek was 4-6 last season and missed the playoffs, but with six offensive and four defensive starters and 23 lettermen coming back, the Bulldogs are projected to be a playoff contender in 2016.
The offensive line will pave the way this season with the return of OL Kameron Williams (6-4, 260), OL Christian Duffie (6-4, 275), and OL Jack Zelezinski (6-4, 290).
RB Myles Wanza (5-9, 190) and FB Phillip Suah (6-0, 230) should benefit from the offensive front.
The secondary is loaded with All-District players in DB Colby Raphiel (5-11, 175) and LB/S Jeremiah Reece (5-9, 170) who had 87 tackles and 9 sacks last season while CB Jordan Williams had four INTs.
Junior QB John Holcombe (6-3, 230) and WR Chris Augustine (5-9, 190) will only get better with experience.
Dobie Longhorns – District 22-6A
Former Pearland offensive coordinator Mike Norman begins his second year at the helm of the Dobie Longhorns. The first year was getting to know the players and installing the offensive and defensive system. The Horns finished 5-6 overall and 5-3 in district to get the fourth spot in the playoffs so Norman has something to build on in 2016.
Norman will welcome six offensive and four defensive starter as well as 27 lettermen. Dobie is projected to finish third in District 22-6A with La Porte and Deer Park finishing ahead of them.
Dawson beat Dobie last year when they were district opponents so the rivalry will continue.
QB Jeremy Davis (6-4, 215) will lead the offense and he will have some help with RB Kris Morris (5-10, 180) who had 519 yards rushing and 3 TDs.
The offensive line should provide plenty of protection passing and huge running lanes. Look for OL Kali Marquez (6-1, 295), OL Brandon Flores (6-4, 265), and OL Rickey Curtis to be the leaders in the trenches.
The defense will need to get some experience as DT Treyon Poskey (6-2, 235), LB Dejuan Dixson (5-10, 250), CB Ke’Montre Lowe-Ali, and DE Jay Armstead will lead that unit.
Let’s look at the non-district opponents for the Pearland Oilers.
Clear Springs Chargers – District 24-6A
Clear Springs was 6-6 last year and advanced to the 6A Region III Div.I area round. They have seven offensive and seven defensive starter and 33 lettermen returning for the 2016 campaign with plans to advance to the post-season.
Clear Springs will be led by new head coach Craig Daily are a team picked to finish fourth for the final playoff spot, but could move up depending on how the players adapt to new leadership.
QB Will McBride (6-2, 190, 4.4) returns after throwing for 2385 yards and 17 TDs while picking up 785 yards on the ground and 14 more scores. He will have a strong offensive line led by OL Garrett Nickelson (6-5, 260) and Kyle Walters (6-2, 270).
Junior WR Michael Gillaspia (6-1, 180) will provide leadership from the receiving corps after catching 62 passes for 851 yards and 8 TDs.
Defensive leaders will be led by DB Langston Frederick (6-1, 185), DB Gavin Roland (5-11, 185), and LB Jake Chatman (5-11, 200).
The Chargers will be tested early when they open up the season against No. 5 state-ranked Pearland.
Spring Branch Memorial Mustangs – District 15-6A
SB Memorial and Pearland have been playing each other for several years and the Oilers have lost to them only once. Memorial was 5-6 last year, but still made the playoffs where they fell in the opening round.
Head coach Gary Koch has only one offensive and five defensive starters returning with 23 lettermen so it will be a rebuilding year for the Mustangs.
They will be looking to LB/TE Andrew Jadick (6-2, 225), LB/RB Trace Saha (6-0, 215), OL Joe Bissinger (6-4, 280) to step up to provide the necessary leadership to make them competitive.
They a fourth place prediction to make the playoffs.
Manvel Mavericks – District 23-5A
The opening of Shadow Creek High School pulled enrollment numbers from Manvel High School thus sending the Mavericks down to Class 5A.
Manvel has only three offensive and three defensive starters returning with 28 lettermen from a team that was 11-3 in 2015. The Mavs advanced to the 6A Region III Div. II finals where they lost for the third consecutive time to eventual 2015 state champion Katy.
Manvel head coach Kirk Martin may have to do the best coaching he has ever been faced with entering the 2016 football season.
Martin lost a boatload of talent that advanced to the next level leaving him very little experience.
One key offensive starter will be WR Keylon Stokes (5-10, 170) who had 463 yards receiving for 5 TDs.
OL Colby Thomas (6-3, 280), OL Logan Tonini (6-4, 310), WR Jalen Preston (6-3, 215), RB Sam Smith, WR Arik Bennett, WR Caleb Blanton, and WR Cam Scott will have to assume the offensive leadership.
Defensively, the Mavs are in the same boat as they have very little experience on that side of the ball.
S Derrick Tucker (6-3, 205) had five interceptions last season and will be the defensive leader. Others that Martin will look to are: DL Koby Foster (6-2, 315), OLB Brian Johnson (6-2, 185), LB Trent Serato, LB Depriet Taylor, and DL Lance Bryant.
Manvel will be looking to tradition to carry them this year.
Pasadena Memorial Mavericks – District 22-6A
Former district rival Pasadena Memorial will be facing the Oilers this season but the results will more than likely be the same as the Mavericks have never beaten Pearland.
Memorial will return four offensive and six defensive starters as well as 17 lettermen from a team that was 4-6 a year ago.
Memorial is a pre-season fourth place pick in district and should make the playoffs.
The Mavs will be ahead on defense when the season starts as they will be led by LB Albert Balli (5-8, 180), DE Brennon Kattner (6-2, 220), DE Dylan Gonzalez (6-4, 230), LB Caesar Juarez (5-10, 190), and DT Miguel Reyes (6-0, 235).
The offensive will need to step up to put some points on the board. QB Landon Cunningham will replace a three-year starter. RB Isaiah Allen will get his chance to shine.
K Bubba Baxa (6-0, 180) in considered one of the top kicker in the Houston area.
Other contributing will be FB Ryan Ragone (5-10, 200), OL Michael Caver, WR Noah Trevino, OL Ethan Wells, CB Jacobe Moye, and TE Zach Watson (6-1, 195).