By DR. DAVID DAVIS
Manvel was 14-1 last season and lost a heartbreaker to defending 5A Division I state champion Highland Park 53-49 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. It appeared that the Mavs would return home with their first-ever state championship until a late touchdown gave the Scots the improbable win in one of the most memorable state title games in the history of Texas football.
Graduation hit the Mavs hard last year as they only one offensive and two defensive starters for the 2018 season plus 23 returning lettermen.
Senior Ladarius Owens (5-10, 185, 4.4) has power and speed to rush through opposing defenses. Owens posted 713 yards on 112 totes for 12 TDs while also catching 15 passes for 150 yards last season.
With a much weaker district after the University Interscholastic League (UIL) realignment, the Mavs, under the guidance new head coach Kevin Hall, will look to their non-district schedule to provide them with some early competition to get them ready for league action.
Since Manvel is in a nine-team district, they only get two non-district games before beginning league play. The first two games should give some indication of the rebuilding year that Manvel is going to have prior to district play.
Manvel vs. Clear Lake
For the past several years, the Clear Lake Falcons have run into some tough times, but new head coach Larry McRae has brought the Falcons out of the bottom of the pack in District 24-6A and made them a contender to challenge for the league crown.
Clear Lake is a pre-season pick to place second in the league behind Clear Springs. Finishing behind the Falcons is Dickinson and Clear Brook for the top four spots followed by outsiders Clear Creek, Clear Falls, and Alvin.
The Falcons were 8-4 last season while finishing 5-2 in district with a second round area loss to Kingwood 38-30.
Clear Lake is loaded with seven offensive and seven defensive starters while 35 returning lettermen will fill up the experienced roster.
Manvel will have to contend in stopping QB Shae Suiaunoa (6-3, 200, 4.6) who was 160-for-266 for 2,513 yards, 25 TDs and 13 INTs last season. Suiaunoa is a duel threat as he also rushed for 810 yards on 144 carries for 12 more TDs.
Junior RB Brendon Holmes (5-8, 175, 4.5) led the ground attack with 1,118 yards on 218 carries for 17 TDs. He also caught 18 passes for 177 yards and one score.
With an equal number of starters on defense, LB Rian Davis (6-4, 230, 4.6) will anchor that side of the ball after recording 94 tackles, 4 sacks, and 2 INTs last season.
Manvel vs. Crosby
Crosby has a great history and they should challenge Manvel just prior to the beginning of the start of district. The Cougars will be competing in one of the toughest leagues in the Houston area.
A pre-season pick to finish second in District 12-5A DII behind Port Neches-Groves, the other teams predicted to finish behind the Cougars include Nederland, Barbers Hill, Dayton, Vidor, Santa Fe, and Baytown Lee.
Crosby has five offensive and eight defensive starters returning with 26 lettermen from a team that was 9-2 overall and 7-1 in district. Crosby was upset in the opening round of the playoffs by Port Neches-Groves 72-69.
The Cougars will be led one of the best quarterbacks in the Houston area who is Jaiden Howard (6-4, 165, 4.7) who was 128-of-196 for 2,101 for 20 TDs and 3 INTs. He also had 459 yards rushing on 54 totes and 4 TDs.
The defense will be led by OLB Hunter Moore who had 96 tackles while DL Lamar Hamilton will also be an impact player who had 24 tackles and 2 sacks and DL Brandon Diaz who had 21 tackles and 4 sacks.