By DR. DAVID DAVIS
Former district rival Texas City will invade Henry Winston Stadium on Friday, Aug. 26 at 7:00 p.m. There have been some monumental games between these two teams over the past couple of decades. It appears that Friendswood, who is the pre-season pick to win District 24-6A, will be favored, but you can never tell what might happen when these two teams collide.
Texas City Stingarees – District 23-5A
Texas City was 7-4 last season and advanced to the bi-district round of the playoffs. They are picked to finish third in their district in 2016 and they will face a former district foe in the Manvel Mavericks who dropped from 6A to 5A after the realignment.
Head coach Leland Surovik will welcome seven offensive and three defensive starter as well as 23 lettermen.
Despite losing 34 seniors to graduation, the Stings will still have a strong return group that will be strong offensively with the defense needing a little time to catch up.
QB DaQuan Thompson (5-10, 190) will guide the offense and will get some help from QB/DB C.J. Yell (5-9, 165), WR Zach Henry (5-11, 180), WR Carlos Frank (5-10, 185), RB/LB Tariq Cooper (6-1, 225), OL Ravion Oliver-Haynes (6-0, 215), OL Zane Ortiz, and TE/DL Anthony Salazar (5-10, 220).
On defense, look for Cooper lead that unit as he had 65 tackles with 16 TFL last season. DL Isaiah Sweed added 5 sacks.
Others who will play a factor in the Texas City fortunes will be DL Andre Smith (5-11, 260) and DB Zion Davis.
Yell had 579 yards rushing last year for 7 TDs and Frank had 221 yards rushing and 3 TDs.
Friendswood Mustangs – District 24-6A
Friendswood is entering their third year at the 6A level and head coach Robert Koopmann and his Mustangs are the pre-season favorite to capture the District 24-6A crown.
Koopmann begins his fifth season at the helm of the Friendswood football program and he is anticipating that his gridiron warriors will advance to their fifth straight post-season under his guidance.
The veteran coach has an overall coaching record of 33-15 after the 2015 squad finished the season with an 8-5 mark while advancing to the Class 6A Region III Div. II semifinals where they lost to eventual state champion Katy.
The reason for the optimism entering the 2016 campaign is the Mustangs have eight offensive starters and 11 defensive starters returning for another successful year. They also have 30 returning lettermen creating a positive atmosphere for the upcoming season.
One of the premier players to watch for Friendswood is senior quarterback Tyler Page who already has numerous college offers to play at the next level. The 6-0, 180 pound field-general is a highlight reel ready to happen each time he has his hands on the ball.
Page was named as the District 24-6A Offensive MVP his junior season after he was 82-for-162 passing for 1,179 yards and 13 TDs with eight INTs. He had 333 carries for 2,124 yards and 24 TDs giving him a total of 3,303 yards and 37 TDs.
But the excited Mustang fans will also see a host of other players that will contribute to the Friendswood effort.
Leading the way will be OL Connor Stanford (6-2, 225), LB Zach Follis (6-2, 220), RB Mason Barnes (5-10, 170), LB/TE Cade Roenne (6-1, 215), OL Max Yarbrough (6-4, 275), WR Nick Swaney (6-2, 180), WR Reed Roher (6-2, 180), and K Cody Williamson.
Other players include: OG Mathew Virts, CB Tom Hermes, OLB Jake Yurachek, S Weston Owens, C Nicky Stevens, and CB Reid Nickerson.
Barnes will need to step up his workload to compliment Page. The tough-runner had 782 yards on the ground and 6 TDs last season.
Follis will be a ring leader on defense as he had 124 tackles last year.
Yarbrough and Stanford will anchor the offensive line to open up running lanes and provide pass protection when Page does throw the ball.
Roenne is a key player that will provide versatility and inspiration on both sides of the ball.
The other picks regarding how the teams will finish include Dickinson, Clear Creek, Clear Springs, Alvin, Clear Brook, Clear Lake, and Clear Falls.
Friendswood will open the season on Friday, August 26 when they host the Texas City Stingarees at 7:00 p.m. at Henry Winston Stadium.