Written by Danny Davis of the Austin-American Statesman
IN PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
PFLUGERVILLE HENDRICKSON HAWKS
ENROLLMENT: 2,677 (3)
2014 RECORD: 8-4 6A Div. II Area Finalist
THE COACH: Chip Killian
THE PLAYERS: KeShawn Somerville (Sr., DB), Austin Deshay-Scott (Sr., DE), Anthony Ekpe (Sr., DE), Isaiah Townes (Sr., WR), Carrington Kearney (Sr., QB), Jordan Williams (Sr., LB), Dominic Valdespino (Jr., OL), Trent Howard (Jr., RB), Travis Arroyo (Sr., OL), Lawrence Hill (Sr., RB) THE WORD: Hendrickson failed to win a district championship for the first time since it jumped from Class 4A to Class 5A in 2012, but the Hawks did win their first postseason game since 2011 and 10 starters return for an encore. After earning the majority of the snaps in 2014, Kearney is back as the Hawks’ returning leader in passing (847 yards, 9 TDs) and rushing (895 yards, 8 TDs). Townes’ hands will provide Kearney with a reliable target, but the Hawks must replace District 13-6A Offensive MVP Tazh Maloy in its backfield. Hendrickson has produced plenty of talent on defense over the past few seasons and that trend should continue with the TCU-bound Somerville and Williams, an all-district pick who is coming off a 95-tackle campaign. Another familiar face on the defense will be Ekpe, who sacked 10 quarterbacks in 2014. Hendrickson’s biggest concern this fall will be replenishing the depth caused by the loss of 40 lettermen.
ROUND ROCK DRAGONS
ENROLLMENT: 2,891.5 (1)
2014 RECORD: 10-2 6A Div. I Area Finalist
THE COACH: Jeff Cheatham
THE PLAYERS: Zech Nash-Kelly (Sr., WR), Day’shus White (Sr., RB), Mike Wilson (Sr., OL), Tyler Castenada (Jr., OL), Brian Bullock (Sr., DB), Albert Durden (Sr., DL), Staton Perry (Sr., LB), Donovan Armstrong (Sr., DB), Grant Miller (Jr., LB), Mason Cole (Sr., WR)
THE WORD: Round Rock rolled to the District 13-6A championship in 2014, outscoring its seven district foes by a score of 290-67. Several key cogs in the Round Rock machine have graduated, but the Dragons will still have plenty of talent to work with this fall. Nash-Kelly averaged 19.9 yards per catch last season, White nearly reached 600 rushing yards on only 94 carries and the offensive line returns two starters in Wilson and Castenada, who has already committed to Texas Tech. Senior quarterback Liam Beard will take over the control of Round Rock’s pistol offense, which cleared 45 points on four occasions during the 2014 regular season. He saw plenty of action in a backup role a year ago, so the transition to starter should be smooth. Round Rock posted two shutouts last season, but that unit must replace five starters and replenish its depth chart. Good building blocks will be three-year starters Durden and Bullock (a Northwestern recruit). Cheatham said that junior defensive lineman James Lynch had a strong year in 2014.
ROUND ROCK CEDAR RIDGE RAIDERS
ENROLLMENT: 2,827 (2)
2014 RECORD: 4-7 6A Div. I Bi-District Playoffs
THE COACH: Todd Ford
THE PLAYERS: Ian Peterson (Sr., DB), Shea Baker (Jr., OL), Connor Kaup (Jr., OL), Keith Bazzle (Sr., LB), Blake Patterson (Sr., WR), Kadarius Daniels (Sr., WR), Colby Peterson (Jr., DB), Erik Wade (Sr., WR), Josh Arzola (Sr., DL), Deon Jones (Sr., OL), Garrett Sharp (Jr., QB)
THE WORD: The record that Cedar Ridge posted in 2014 is deceiving – the team was forced to forfeit its first three wins in 2014 – but the fact remains that the Raiders have reached the postseason in two of their three varsity seasons. Sixteen starters and 44 lettermen return for the Raiders’ fourth season. Kaup and the speedy Peterson are among the eight starters returning to Cedar Ridge’s defense, while Baker and classmate Alec Glaspar will anchor the team’s offensive line after solid sophomore seasons. Sharp, whose older brother led Stony Point to two appearances in the state semifinals, took ownership of the Cedar Ridge offense earlier than expected because of an injury in 2014, but that experience could pay dividends this year. Daniels (62 receptions), Wade (41 receptions) and Patterson (28 receptions) will provide Sharp with three tangible targets, but junior C.J. Rittenhouse must step up for a running game that graduated its top two threats.
ROUND ROCK STONY POINT TIGERS
ENROLLMENT: 2,445.5 (6)
2014 RECORD: 6-4
THE COACH: Craig Chessher
THE PLAYERS: Tanner Aenchbacher (Sr., QB), Tyree Thomas (Sr., WR), Kevin Dixon (Sr., OL), Shapiro King (Sr., WR/RB), Michael Scroggins (Sr., RB), Terrence Lott (Sr., DB), Quincy Brightwell (Sr., DB), Artavean Lewis (Sr., DB), Dante Smith (Jr., LB)
THE WORD: Stony Point hasn’t been to the postseason since it reached the Class 5A, Division I semifinals in 2011, but the Tigers’ postseason prospects may depend on how well the team can replace 10 college signees from its 2014 roster. Aenchbacher has experience at the quarterback position – he appeared in all 10 of Stony Point’s games last season, mostly in a part-time role – and Scroggins averaged 5.2 yards per carries and 15.8 yards per catch in limited action. Stony Point’s strength could be found in its secondary. Lott snagged eight interceptions last season and Brightwell also picked off two passes. Stony Point shutout two teams in 2014, and only two teams scored more than 27 points against the Tigers. Six starters should return to that 4-3 defense, and Smith will be expected to contribute after earning the district’s newcomer of the year award in 2014. Dixon and junior linebacker Shon Shepard also received all-district honors in 2014. The Tigers have finally started to recover from the opening of Cedar Ridge HS which took a lot of their depth, with a few breaks they should be in the postseason mix in 2015.
ROUND ROCK WESTWOOD WARRIORS
ENROLLMENT: 2,657 (4)
2014 RECORD: 2-8
THE COACH: Anthony Wood
THE PLAYERS: Jack Swensen (Sr., QB), Prince Ugwu (Jr., RB), Te’shon Mcginnis (Jr., RB), Ian Lee (Jr., WR), Josh Burton (Sr., K), Diego Guerra (Sr., DB), Jaikem Murphy (So., LB), Jackson Main (Sr., DB), Joseph Frankovsky (Sr., OL), Brandon Nayebi (Sr., OL)
THE WORD: Round Rock Westwood’s run of five straight appearances in the postseason was snapped during a two-win season in 2014, but 13 returning starters will attempt to start a new streak this fall. One year after he threw for 1,200 yards, Swensen returns to quarterback the Warriors’ offense. Swensen will retain an all-district weapon in Ugwu, and Frankovsky was also honored by the District 13-6A coaches last season. The Warriors’ backbone may be found on special teams. Burton made eight of 11 field goal attempts during his junior year, and senior punter Max Zhao joined Burton on the all-district team in 2014. If that isn’t enough, Main blocked three field goals. Westwood gave significant playing time to six sophomores and a freshman last season, so the team’s off-season maturation – as well as improvements made to the numbers posted last year by the Westwood offense (14.5 ppg) and defense (32.5 ppg) - will be key to the Warriors’ potential resurgence.
LEANDER ROUSE RAIDERS
ENROLLMENT: 2,138 (8)
2014 RECORD: 5-6 6A Div. II Bi-District Playoffs
THE COACH: Joshua Mann
THE PLAYERS: Garrett Bruce (Sr., TE), Morgan Vest (Sr., DB), Marquis Simmons (Sr., QB), Jackson Franks (Sr., WR), Kyle Sanderson (Sr., LB), Jordan Hayes (Sr., DL), Kyle Guyton (Sr., DB), Marcus Ervin (Sr., DE), D’andre Reece (Jr., DB), T.J. Wolski (Sr., OL)
THE WORD: One of the Austin area’s fastest-rising programs over the previous three seasons, Rouse will attempt to avoid a setback this fall as the program adjusts to a significant turnover in talent. Gone is the team’s standout quarterback and all-time leading rusher, and the Raiders will also have to replace an offensive lineman that it sent to the University of Houston. Two linebackers with 100-tackle seasons on their resumes have graduated. Rouse lost eight of its 10 all-district honorees, but Bruce and Vest return this fall to help lay the offensive and defensive foundations. Simmons and Franks will both provide dynamic options for Rouse’s offense. Sanderson reached 70 tackles in 2014, so he will try to help lead a defense that needs to improve after allowing 26.5 points per game last season. Rouse posted 10-win seasons in 2012 and 2013, and the Raiders will attempt to replicate that success during its second season on the Class 6A level.
ENROLLMENT: 2,247 (7)
2014 RECORD: 5-5
THE COACH: George Herrmann
THE PLAYERS: Tyler Turner (Sr., DL), Louis Kelley (Sr., DB/LB), Alex Shillow (Sr., DB), Dawson Tamez (Sr., WR), Manny Daniels (Sr., LB), Jordan Barrs (Sr., DT), Jamorris Martin (Sr., DL), Justyn Merriweather (Jr., QB), RJ Petaia (Jr., LB), Jaylan Merriweather (Jr., RB) THE WORD: In the search for its first playoff appearance since 2012, Pflugerville will lean on a defense that is set to return seven starters this season. Pflugerville’s defensive performances were steady last season – only three teams topped 30 points against the Panthers – and Turner (37 tackles) is the campus’ lone returner who earned all-district honors in 2014. Daniels (50 tackles), Shillow (30 tackles) and Martin (27 tackles) will assist Turner on the defense, and Pflugerville coaches think that the defense’s speed will be an asset. The Panthers will need its defense to dominate in September as an offense that is bringing back only two starters will need time to mature. Justyn Merriweather saw a little playing time at the quarterback position last season and Jaylan Merriweather turned a few carries into 50 yards and a touchdown, so an offense that averaged nearly 26 points per game in 2014 could defend heavily on their development.
ROUND ROCK MCNEIL MAVERICKS
ENROLLMENT: 2,509 (5)
2014 RECORD: 3-7
THE COACH: Howard McMahan
THE PLAYERS: Hayden Cooper (Sr., QB), Tyler Clark-Chiapparelli (Jr., WR), Jaedon Lepisto (Sr., RB), Matthew Wright (Sr., DB), Jonathan Boozer (Sr., RB), Keegan Dempsy (Sr., LB), Scott Giberson (Sr., LB), David Pleites (Sr., WR), Nick Richardson (Jr., OL), Chris Dunn (Jr., RB)
THE WORD: The Mavericks opened the McMahan Era in 2014 with three wins – one of which was against playoff-bound Austin High - but the team was unable to tackle any of their district opponents. Still, continued improvement should be made this fall as standouts remain on both sides of the football. Cooper has two years of experience already on his resume, and the district’s most-tenured quarterback tossed eight touchdown passes last season. On defense, Wright earned all-state honors after a 70-tackle, seven-interception campaign in 2014. Cooper and Wright are two of the Mavericks’ 10 returning starters, and other returners include McNeil’s leading rusher (Lepisto), a few additional ball-carrying options (Boozer and Dunn) and the bulk of the team’s offensive line. McNeil scored 149 points last season while allowing 294. But after a full year with McMahan, can the Mavericks replicate their non-district start in 2014 and then turn that momentum into a few takedowns of their District 13-6A foes?