Written by Kevin McPherson
IN PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
EULESS TRINITY TROJANS
ENROLLMENT: 3,246 (2)
2014 RECORD: 12-2 6A Div. I State Quarter-Finalist
THE COACH: Chris Jensen
THE PLAYERS: Tyler Natee (Sr., QB/RB), Malini Tuipulotu (Jr., QB), Caleb Cumbie (Sr., TE), Latu Kata (Sr., OL), Chris Daniels (Sr., DL), Justus Gregg (Sr., LB), DeJaun Garrett (Sr., RB), Ja’Ron Wilson (Sr., RB), Elijah Tasini (Sr., LB), Ben Kautai (Sr., DL), Leland Brown (Sr., DL)
THE WORD: Offensive coordinator Chris Jensen takes over after the retirement of Steve Lineweaver, who won three state titles at Trinity. Plenty return from the 2014 season, which ended with a heart-breaking, last-second field goal by eventual champ Allen. Natee (57-100, 935 passing, 183-1,400 rushing), was a run-first QB out of the spread last season. Also returning is leading rusher Ja’Ron Wilson (261-1,791, 2 TDs), giving the Trojans a second season of the dynamic rushing duo. The offense also is expecting the return of De’Jaun Garrett, who missed much of last season with a broken leg. Helping block for them will be all-district picks Cumbie (6-1, 230) and center Kata, but Trinity must replace four offensive linemen. Wilson is also a threat catching the ball, as he was the second-best receiver (12-227, 3 TDs) last season. Jensen and his staff will get an early evaluation of his team, as Trinity will face perennial national power De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) in the season opener at Mansfield’s Vernon Newsom Stadium.
SOUTHLAKE CARROLL DRAGONS
ENROLLMENT: 2,601 (5)
2014 RECORD: 13-1 6A Div. II State Quarter-Finalist
THE COACH: Hal Wasson
THE PLAYERS: Obi Eboh (Sr., DB), Lil'Jordan Humphrey (Sr., RB), Jake Oldroyd (Sr., K/P), Zach Farrar (Sr., WR), Lucas Tribble (Sr., OL), Montana Murphy (Sr., QB), Jake Copeland (Jr., LB), Robert Barnes (Jr., DB), Barrett Buck, Jr., DB)
THE WORD: The Dragons must replace nine starters on defense, but the offense seems primed for a return to the 6A playoffs and another deep run. Humphrey (6-5, 200) ran for 1,828 yards and 29 TDs last season and should put up big numbers again, his height at 6’5 is unusual for a running back and it’s possible he moves to receiver if SLC can find a suitable replacement at running back. Tribble (25 pancakes, 40 knockdowns) leads the offensive line, which will also be protecting Murphy (249 yards, 5 TDs passing). Farrar (29-554, 3 TDs) is the top returning pass catcher. Farrar should also be a weapon in the return game. He averaged 37.4 yards per punt, and did not miss on 54 PAT attempts and 8 field goals in 2014. Eboh (21 Division I offers), Copeland (63 tackles, 4 sacks, 1 INT) and Barnes, who started two games at outside linebacker last season, are the top veterans on defense. Wasson says the running game should be the team’s strength, but Carroll must prove itself in its depth, speed, and kicking game.
ENROLLMENT: 3,532 (1)
2014 RECORD: 6-5 6A Div. I Bi-District Playoffs
THE COACH: Mike DeWitt
THE PLAYERS: Josh Fink (Sr., WR), Obi Obialo (Sr., WR), Brandon Rice (Sr., RB), Myles Paschall (Sr., QB), Dylan Galloway (Sr., OL), Drew Smith (Sr., TE), Tyler Bell (Sr., LB), Daniel Storie (Sr., LB), A.J. Johnson (Sr., DL), Tyler Smith (Sr., K), Tim Heard (Jr., RB).
THE WORD: The Cowboys return a wealth of offensive and defensive skill position players but must revamp both lines to continue their success in 2015. However, Coppell must also replace nine starters on defense. Obialo caught 40 passes for a 15-yard average last season, while Fink caught 8 TDs and averaged more than 23 yards per catch. Rice ran for 5 TDs and a 4.5 average on the ground in a backup role last season. So expect the Cowboys offense to be plenty potent. The offensive line took some heavy losses to graduation, but Coach DeWitt feels like he’s got capable replacements in the fold. Coppell’s defense struggled at times last year, most notably against teams that had a lot of speed and that could be an issue again in 2015. Bell (64 tackles) and Storie (34 tackles) highlight a promising linebacker corps. Johnson (28 tackles, 2 TFL) is one cornerstone DeWitt is counting on to bolster the defense. The Cowboys should find out early what they’re made of, as their non-district schedule includes Cedar Hill, McKinney Boyd, Hebron, and Broken Arrow, Okla.
COLLEYVILLE HERITAGE PANTHERS
ENROLLMENT: 2,254.4 (6)
2014 RECORD: 5-6, 6A Div. II Bi-District Playoffs
THE COACH: Joe Willis
THE PLAYERS: Trey Poirier (Sr., OL), Nick Walters (Sr., OL), Jamarie Williams (Sr., RB), Cole Carter (Jr., WR), Nike Torres (Sr., WR), Reid Harrison-Ducros (Sr., DB), Ke’Andre Johnson (Sr., DL), Trevor Klecker (Sr., LB), Logan Debelle (Sr., DL), Max Allan (Sr., K)
THE WORD: Colleyville Heritage is needing some stability as they’ll be on their third head coach in as many seasons after the departure of HC Darren Allman, to Southlake Carroll to take the AD job. They are hopeful that stability arrives with the blockbuster hire of former Cedar Park HC Joe Willis in late May. Despite losing all-district RB DeMarco Corbin to graduation, the Panthers have plenty returning on both sides of the ball in 2015. Poirier and Walters were both all-7-6A picks, while Carter and Torres (16-155, 1 TD) are top threats at wide receiver. Williams ran for 437 yards and 4 TDs last season and will be the key guy to replace the production of Corbin. The biggest question mark for the Panthers will be finding a guy to step in at the QB slot. Harrison-Ducros made 50 tackles and 5 passes defended as a junior. Johnson and Kleckner combined for 79 stops and nine tackles for loss. Allan is one of the top kickers in the DFW area, and his 4.98 GPA makes his an appealing Division I candidate. Colleyville Heritage is one of the smallest schools in the area at the 6A level, they are a good candidate to possibly drop down to 5A next realignment.
HURST BELL BLUE RAIDERS
ENROLLMENT: 2,859 (3)
2014 RECORD: 1-9
THE COACH: Mike Glaze
THE PLAYERS: Tyler Dunlop (Sr., P), Brendon Weatherspoon (Jr., OL), Tacorian Howard (Sr., WR), Blake Jenkins (Sr., DL), Brandon Sitole (Jr., OL), Antonio Finau (Sr., LB), Dominique Lawson (Sr., QB), Tevita Ahio (Jr., OL)
THE WORD: With seven returning starters on offense, look for the Raiders to be more explosive on offense, especially with a new regime in place after the departure of Mark Smith to join the SMU staff. Bell scored 14 points or fewer in seven games in 2014, but the return of dual-threat QB Lawson and road-graders Weatherspoon (6-5, 295), Sitole (6-1, 275), and Ahio (6-1, 290) should make the offense move more efficiently in one of the state’s toughest districts. Dunlop, all-state as a junior, should also be a weapon in the punting game to try and tilt field position. Howard (6-2, 175) was the team’s leading receiver (27-262, 2 TDs), but Bell must settle on a lead running back to take advantage of that big and physical group up front. Glaze, the former offensive coordinator at Cedar Hill, has a lot of young players with varsity experience, but says many other underclassmen will need to contribute.
ENROLLMENT: 2,174 (7)
2014 RECORD: 4-6
THE COACH: Ged Kates
THE PLAYERS: Ledarryle Bryant (Sr., DB), Colton Curtis (Sr., QB), P.J. Hill (Sr., DB), Colton Burgess (Sr., DL), Avieon Shanklin (Sr., RB), Kyle Itoka (Jr., DB), Aaron Denson (Sr., WR), Donovan Franklin (Sr., DB), Peter Cornell (Jr., LB), Will Allen (Sr., LB), Jordan Wiley (Sr., LB)
THE WORD: Richland lost much of its offensive skill position players to graduation, but returns an impressive crop of returnees on defense. Hill, Burgess, and Bryant were all all-district picks in 2014. Last season, Wiley averaged eight tackles per game and registered four sacks and is part of a veteran linebacker group. Itoka had two interceptions and caused a fumble, while Bryant led the team with 7 pass break-ups. Kates will likely have to use some of his best players on both sides of the ball. The Rebels would like to get off to a better start in 2015, after going 1-3 in non-district games last season—including a pair of close losses to Arlington Lamar and Irving MacArtur. Richland’s final four games are against playoff perennials Southlake Carroll, Coppell, Euless Trinity, and Colleyville Heritage.
ENROLLMENT: 2,666 (4)
2014 RECORD: 0-10
THE COACH: Jason Tucker
THE PLAYERS: Tyree Smith (Sr., DL), Gavin Ricks (Jr., LB), Deonta Cooksey (Sr., DB), Jacob Martinez (Jr., ATH), Matt Espinosa (Sr., TE), Zach Smith (So., LB), Austin Cooksey (Jr., DB), Imiee Cooksey (So., QB/RB), Taylor Lunkwitz (Jr., TE/LB)
THE WORD: The chances of snapping a 16-game losing skid could rest on the shoulders of several siblings for the Buffalos. While the offensive line will be brand new, Espinosa and Lunkwitz will allow Haltom to line up in a two-TE set when needed. Tucker says his defensive line should be solid and two returning starters in the secondary provide some security. Younger brother Zach is expected to join Tyree Smith on defense, as well as Austin teaming with older brother Deonta Cooksey in the secondary. Youngest of the trio, Imiee Cooksey, will compete for time in the offensive backfield. Tucker says his team needs to improve at linebacker, but the Broncos look forward to “competing in arguably the best district in all of high school football.”