The Pearland Oilers will travel to the new CCISD Challenger Columbia Stadium in League City to face the Clear Springs Chargers. This will be the first game in the new 10,000 seat facility.
The No. 5 state-ranked Oilers will need a strong effort as they face the Chargers in the season opener for both teams.
Here is a look at both teams.
PEARLAND OILERS – District 23-6A
Head coach Tony Heath begins his 20th year at the helm of the Oilers football machine. There aren’t enough adjectives to describe the radical turnaround he has seen from his first year to the present. Heath enters the 2016 season needing only 11 wins to reach the monumental 200 career victories as Pearland’s all-time winningest coach.
The Oilers always seem to reload and become a force to run deep in the post-season. Coach Heath has seen his teams win the Region III title four times (2001, 2006, 2010, 2013) while advancing to the state semifinals four times and two state championship appearances (2010, 2013) including a 16-0 mark in 2010 to capture the 5A Division I state title.
Heath will field an experienced team this season with four offensive and seven defensive starters returning. Despite losing 45 seniors, the Oilers have 22 lettermen returning to compliment the returning regulars, plus Heath always sees several players who played Junior Varsity last year step up their talent to make a strong contribution on the varsity.
Pearland finished 11-1 last season falling to Dickinson in four overtimes in the 6A Region III Div. I area round.
Players to watch: Pre-season District 23-6A Defensive Player of the Year DT Jordan Crawford (5-10, 305), QB Connor Blumrick (6-6, 215), DB Debione Renfro (6-2, 180), RB Davier Pinkston (5-11, 175, 4.4), Derek Parrish (6-1, 235), C Joey Williams (5-11, 255). Top juniors: RB Evan Burgess (5-10, 175), LB Mitchell Johnson (6-0, 190). Top sophomore: RB/WR Jalen Benefield (5-8, 140, 4.5).
Other prospects include: DT Niko Afuhaamango, QB Jacob Whitehead, DE Chase Keasler, DE Chase Terrell, WR Triston Gibson, LB DeAntoine Carter, and DB Justin Guy-Robinson.
Blumrick, who has committed to Texas A&M, will be a key player in moving the offense as he was 105-for-175 passing for 1,521 yards with 12 TDs and 5 INTs last year.
Pinkston will be the leading ball carrier as he had 88 carries for 770 yards and 10 TDs in 2015.
Burgess saw some action last year and showed tremendous talent that will earn him more playing time this season.
The Oilers defense should provide early leadership to begin the season with offense not far behind. The offensive line will need to step up to open up the running lanes while providing Blumrick with strong pass protection.
Crawford will anchor the defense as he had 110 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 5 TFL, and 2 FR as a disruptive force in the trenches. LB Parrish will also be a force after registering 26 tackles, 4 TFL, 1 INT, and 2 FRs last year. DB Renfro will lead the secondary as he had 27 tackles, 5 PBU, 2 FF, and 2 INTs in 2015.
Clear Springs Chargers – District 24-6A
The Chargers were 6-6 last season as a 6A Div. I area finalist. They have seven offensive and seven defensive starters returning with 33 returning lettermen.
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.