Written by Danny Davis of the Austin-American Statesman
IN PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
LAKE TRAVIS CAVALIERS
ENROLLMENT: 2,410 (5)
2014 RECORD: 10-2 6A Div. II Area Finalist
THE COACH: Hank Carter
THE PLAYERS: Tevin Paul (Sr., DL), Abe Willows (Sr., RB), Sammy Ochoa (Jr., DL), Cade Green (Jr., WR), Charlie Brewer (Jr., QB), Maleek Barkley (Jr., WR), Garrette Womack (Sr., DL), Tanner Bush (Sr, DB), Austin Hiller (Jr., DB), Jeffrey Gibbs (Sr., OL)
THE WORD: Lake Travis has yet to replicate the run that it made in Class 4A from 2007-11, but Cavalier fans should be optimistic about a reigning district champion that returns 15 starters. Four of those returnees can be found on the defensive line and Ochoa (12 sacks), Paul (five sacks) and Womack (six sacks) all earned all-district honors in 2014. After starting the first three games of Lake Travis’ 2014 season in place of eventual Iowa State signee Dominic DeLira, Charlie Brewer will be the team’s unquestioned quarterback this fall. Three starters on the offensive linemen will return to block for Brewer, and an offense that averaged nearly 50 points per game last season will be bolstered by the retention of Willows (19 TDs) and Green (702 receiving yards). Lake Travis coaches will head into the season with some concern about their depth chart and Bush and Hiller must lead a restocked secondary, but expect the Cavaliers to once again be the cream of the crop in the Central Texas area.
AUSTIN WESTLAKE CHAPARRALS
ENROLLMENT: 2,604.5 (3)
2014 RECORD: 7-4 6A Div. I Bi-District Playoffs
THE COACH: Todd Dodge
THE PLAYERS: Mack Kelley (Sr., DB), Reed Klubnik (Sr., WR), Max Mangum (Sr., DB), Chase Cokley (Sr., WR), Elijis Garcia (Sr., DL), Kody Allen (Sr., OL), Brycen Foreman (Sr., OL), Sam Ehlinger (Jr., QB), Levi Jones (Jr., LB), Joe Herronnimous (Jr., OL)
THE WORD: Thirteen of Ehlinger’s 15 predecessors went onto play college football, and it would be foolish to bet against a quarterback who accounted for 35 touchdowns during his debut season. After a sensational spring Ehlinger has seen his stock skyrocket and he recently received an offer from Texas. Returning to catch Ehlinger’s passes will be Klubnik, who had 1,000 receiving yards last year, and Cokley, who caught two touchdown passes in the team’s bi-district playoff game. Westlake needs to find a capable threat in its backfield – Ehlinger was the team’s leading rusher in 2014 – but the Chaparrals will score plenty of points in the team’s second season with Dodge, who is still looking for his first postseason win since he led Southlake Carroll to a state title in 2006. More questions linger on Westlake’s defense, however, as five of the seven defenders who earned all-district honors for the Chaparrals in 2014 were seniors. Kelley has a track record of performing on defense and special teams while Jones – the son of former Dallas Cowboys linebacker Robert Jones – certainly has the pedigree.
AUSTIN BOWIE BULLDOGS
ENROLLMENT: 2,897 (1)
2014 RECORD: 9-3 6A Div. I Area Finalist
THE COACH: Jeff Able
THE PLAYERS: Josh Wainwright (Sr., WR), Chris Alanis (Sr., LB), Cole Mercer (Sr., DL), Reagan Shaw (Sr., WR), Ashton Rogers (Jr., LB), Paul Sauceda (Sr., WR), Wade Smith (Jr., QB), Kyle Ohlen (Jr., OL), Matthew Wheeler (Soph., QB), Quirin Laracuente (Sr., RB)
THE WORD: Bowie has won nine games in each of the past two seasons, and Ables will have 100 wins on his career resume if the Bulldogs can repeat history this fall. There will be plenty of fresh faces in South Austin this season as the Bulldogs must replace 12 all-district honorees and only four starters return to each side of the football. Wainwright was an all-district pick on special teams in 2014, but he’ll be asked to also become a standout in Bowie’s receiving attack this year. Laracuente will be the Bulldogs’ best bet in the backfield, and he – and whoever replaces quarterback Preston Wheeler – will be protected by an offensive line anchored by the 320-pound Ohlen. Bowie allowed 20.9 points per game in 2014, but a key to the team’s success this fall may be how a secondary led by all-district honoree Patrick Moran fares against District 14-6A’s talented crop of quarterbacks.
AUSTIN HIGH MAROONS
ENROLLMENT: 2,133 (9)
2014 RECORD: 6-5 6A Div. II Bi-District Playoffs
THE COACH: Michael Rosenthal
THE PLAYERS: Beau Kalbacher (Sr., QB), Jacob Traudt (Sr., WR), Thomas Xinic (Jr., OL), Alex Phan (Sr., OL), Marcello Mendoza (Sr., RB), Nick Clawson (Sr., LB), Taylor Fairbairn (Sr., LB), Devin Smith (Sr., DB), Tristen Wooten (So., DB), Lewis McClendon (Sr., DB)
THE WORD: Austin High made some strides in 2014 and the Maroons not only reached the postseason for the first time since 2011, but the team also posted their first winning record since 2008. We’ll find out if the Maroons can build off of that momentum as 18 starters are expected to return to the Austin High campus this fall. Austin High’s offense scored at least 34 points in seven of its games last year, and don’t expect a drop-off as the undervalued Kalbacher is back after a 2,500-yard junior season. Traudt and Mendoza combined for 21 touchdowns in 2014, so Kalbacher will have weapons. Questions remain on a defense that allowed four teams – including its bi-district opponent – to score 50 points, but the presence of linebackers Clawson (122 tackles) and Fairbairn (82 tackles) should give Maroon fans hope, and Wooten and Smith are coming off a season in which they broke up 33 passes.
BUDA HAYS CONSOLIDATED REBELS
ENROLLMENT: 2,319 (6)
2014 RECORD: 4-6
THE COACH: Neal LaHue
THE PLAYERS: Braeden Kent (Sr., QB), Cody Gandy (Sr., RB), Kendall Stover (Sr., LB), Brandon Hunter (Sr., WR), Logan Pool (Sr., OL), Johnson Elrod (Sr., DL), Preston Ellison (Sr., LB), Peyton Steele (Jr., OL), Gabe Galvan (Jr., OL), Garrett Quinn (Sr., DB)
THE WORD: The Rebels missed the postseason for the first time since 2007, but 16 starters return to ensure that was an anomaly, not the new norm. The Rebel defense struggled down the stretch in 2014, but experienced players like Stovall (94 tackles), Ellison (53 tackles) and Elrod (five sacks) should help the Rebels improve those numbers. Quinn and senior Ty Wilder also both nabbed three interceptions last year. The Texas State-bound Kent will lead an offense that averaged 27.5 points per game in 2014. Assisting Kent will be Gandy, a two-time all-district pick who rushed for 950 yards and 12 touchdowns last season despite playing in less than eight games, and Hunter, who caught seven touchdown passes. Hays’ offensive line sent Connor Lanfear to Texas A&M, but Steele and Gabe Galvan both started as sophomores and Pool will move to the tackle position after being a starting guard in each of the Rebels’ 2014 games.
DEL VALLE CARDINALS
ENROLLMENT: 2,860.5 (2)
2014 RECORD: 3-7
THE COACH: Charles Burton
THE PLAYERS: Manny Grear (Sr., RB), Fred Wilson (Sr., RB), Jaymin Middleton (Sr., WR), Erik Chavez (Sr., OL), Kevin Cobbs (Sr., OL), David Rosales (Jr., OL), La’Thaniel Washington (So., WR), Emmanuel Martin (Sr., ATH), Jacob Druery (So., ATH), Luis Escalante (Sr., K)
THE WORD: Burton expects at least four sophomores to have a huge impact on his roster this fall, so it appears that the Cardinals are building something in Del Valle. But enough about the future, what about the present? Grear and Wilson both had moments in 2014, so the Cardinals should be able to run the ball behind an experienced offensive line that returns three starters and a part-time contributor. Escalante will also contribute to the Cardinals’ scoring efforts after he hit eight of his 11 field goal attempts last year. Del Valle struggled to throw the ball last season, but the 6-foot-2-inch Middleton will provide the team with a target if they can find an arm. Another area of concern for the Cardinals will be a defense that returns five starters. Del Valle allowed 33.9 points per game in 2014, and Wilkins will need to help the team forget about the two all-district linebackers it graduated.
Austin Anderson TROJANS
ENROLLEMENT: 2,190 (9)
2014 RECORD: 3-7
THE COACH: Jeff Rhoads
THE PLAYERS: Evan Williams (Sr., DL), Michael Onuaha (Sr., DL), Jacorey Nelson (Sr., RB), Sam Mitchell (Sr., DB), Marcus Collins (Jr., LB), Garrett Gold (Sr., OL), Jack Gaines (Sr., OL), Justin Salter (Sr., DL), Tom Harrison (Sr., WR), Eric Slatter (Sr., DB)
THE WORD: The Trojans made noticeable improvements during first season under Rhoads as the team beat rival McCallum and went from 1-9 to 3-7. The program’s next step will be dependent on the off-season growth of the seven starters who return to the Trojans’ offense and the maturation of the defense’s nine returning starters. When asked to pick out an underrated player on his team, Rhoads looked at his offensive and defensive lines and singled out Onuaha, Williams, Gold and Gaines. Anderson scored 23.1 points per game in 2014 and the team posted three 30-point efforts, and Nelson will attempt to help the Trojans replicate that effort one season after he led the team in rushing. Anderson opens its season with three games at home, but the team will face a slew of early tests: Three of the Trojans’ first four games are against teams that made the playoffs in 2014, and two of those games are against district rivals Westlake and Bowie.
KYLE LEHMAN LOBOS
ENROLLMENT: 2,210 (7)
2014 RECORD: 1-9
THE COACH: Todd Raymond
THE PLAYERS: Kacey Santos (Sr., LB), Cody Richter (Sr., DL), Jay Sayles (Jr., WR), Tyler Henderson (Jr., TE/QB), Brian Pickett (Jr., OL), Penniel Rodas (Jr., P), Mark Piedra (So., K), Nick Ridings-Cook (So., RB/DL), Adrian Martinez (Jr., DB), Austin Lakey (Jr., DB)
THE WORD: The Lobos’ first season at the Class 6A level was a forgettable one, but there is plenty of wiggle room in the District 14-6A standings this year. The first task at hand for Raymond and his offensive staff will be replacing six offensive starters and finding a new quarterback, and either Henderson or transfers Jacob Zamora and Dominick Martinez could get that call. Whoever wins the quarterback competition will inherit an spread offense that has potential – the Lobos scored 40 points in two of their last three games in 2014 – and a breakout pass-catching option in Sayles, who averaged 20.3 yards per reception last season and scored 12 times. The presence of Castillo (176 yards, 3 TDs) will give the Lobos some experience in their backfield. Santos (30 tackles) is one of eight starters back on a defense that must improve if the Lobos are going to make a run at the first postseason appearance in their 10-year existence.
AUSTIN AKINS EAGLES
ENROLLMENT: 2,576 (4)
2014 RECORD: 2-8
THE COACH: Humberto Garza
THE PLAYERS: Patrick Dickerson (Sr., DL), Jermaine Thomas (Sr., WR), Marcus Jones (Sr., DB), DeAndre Grady (Sr., DB), Mike Gonzales (Sr., QB), Ricky Lang (Sr., OL), Matthew Bandera (Sr., LB), Jaxon Skrentny (Sr., DL), Demarcus Cabezas (Jr., DB), Rene Alvarado-Cruz (Sr., OL)
THE WORD: Akins closed out the 2014 season with eight straight losses, but the team is also only a couple of years removed from the school’s first-ever playoff appearance and Eagle coaches expect the playing of underclassmen last season to pay off this fall. A return to postseason contention could hinge on the numbers produced by an offense that will be led by Gonzales, who saw playing time as a back-up in 2014. Gonzales will have a first-team all-district target to toss to in Thomas, who turned his 63 receptions into 903 yards and nine touchdowns. Lockhart, who is one of nine starters set to return to the Akins offense, rushed for 554 yards and five scores last season. Seven starters are back on the Eagles’ 4-3 defense, which gave up 412 points last season. Keep an eye on defensive backs Jones (four interceptions) and Grady (two interceptions).