Written by Adam Coleman
IN PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
CYPRESS RANCH MUSTANGS
ENROLLMENT: 3,259 (5)
2014 RECORD: 13-3 6A Div. I State Finalist
THE COACH: Gene Johnson
THE PLAYERS: Collin Rock (Sr., QB), Brayden Stringer (Sr., LB), R.J. Sneed (Jr., WR), Harrison Loveless (Sr., DL), Dylan Proske (Jr., RB), Mark Bruno (Sr., DB), Amaud Willis-Dalton (Jr., LB), Lawson Pyles (Jr., LB), Albert Santana (Jr., DL), Chad Lowrey (Jr., OL)
THE WORD: Well, there's really only one way to follow up winning a state runner-up trophy. But this won't be last year's Cy Ranch team that plowed through the playoffs on the way to Arlington, making a name for the program in the process. Balance was the Mustangs' best friend in 2014. They ranked third in 17-6A in offense and fourth in defense. Rock came out of nowhere and made himself a star. Behind a solid offensive line, he was one of the better quarterbacks in 17-6A and last year's experience will only serve him well in 2015. The offensive backfield - a strength last year - will look different. In fact, Proske is one of the returners who came up big in the playoffs last year. Sneed was a big play threat a year ago and with more of the offense being on Rock’s shoulders he’ll be a big part of the offense. Willis-Dalton was huge in the regional semifinals against North Shore and Stringer was impressive throughout the whole postseason. So often we see teams make a run like this team did and then fall into obscurity. Cy Ranch is capable of at least staying consistent in 2015.
Houston LANGHAM CREEK LOBOS
ENROLLMENT: 3,141 (8)
2014 RECORD: 9-2 6A Div. II Bi-District Playoffs
THE COACH: Todd Thompson
THE PLAYERS: Paul Watson (Sr., QB), Toneil Carter (Jr., RB), Quartney Davis (Sr., WR), Narciso Grimaldo (Sr., OL), Micah Pryor (Sr., DB), Michael Hoehner (Sr., LB), Tyler Kellar (Sr., OL), Kacey Prior (Jr., ATH), Reagan Coburn (Jr., WR), Anthony Greene (Jr., LB)
THE WORD: Simply put, the Lobos will enter 90 percent of their games knowing they can just outscore their opponent. Langham Creek is coming off its second district title in three years and head coach Thompson has the program among the elite in 17-6A. Last year's district title winning-campaign might've been the most impressive, though. The team went undefeated in district and led 17-6A in points per game (44) and yards per game (527). Watson looks like the next great Langham Creek quarterback after the year he had. The offensive line is sizable - Grimaldo checks in at 6-foot-6, 298 pounds and Kellar is 6-foot-7, 280. As far as skill players go, the Lobos have two of the best in Houston in Carter and Davis - an explosive tailback and big-game wideout. Both are well-known names in recruiting circles these days, too. Of course, the question is if this team can get enough stops when needed. The Lobos ranked ninth in defense in 17-6A last year and the defense will be younger in 2015. Also, Langham Creek has just one playoff win in four years, so the goal is not so much making the playoffs or winning district it’s now making playoff noise.
ENROLLMENT: 3,525.5 (2)
2014 RECORD: 9-4 6A Div. I Regional Semi-Finalist
THE COACH: Ed Pustejovsky
THE PLAYERS: Brock Wright (Jr., TE), Blake Faecher (Jr., RB), Austin Deculus (Jr., OL), Cody Chrest (Sr., WR), Chris Perez (Sr., DL), Kyle Allison (Jr., DB), Spencer Wright (Sr., DB), Greg Linton (Sr., DL), Stormy Sailer (Sr., WR), Braden Mann (Sr., K)
THE WORD: Maybe no one in 17-6A is taking a graduation hit like Cy-Fair is, but you tend to trust the well-oiled machine more often than not. This is a program built on defense and while a lot of the star power is gone, there are still some stalwarts returning like Perez and Linton on the defensive line and the safety duo of Spencer Wright and Allison. Offense is the question with this team almost every year. While the defense ranked third in 17-6A in yards per game, the offense was seventh. Most of the time, there's one or two stud running backs in the backfield and the team is a master at playing possession football. But Pustejovsky said finding a quarterback will be a priority while Faecher could be the new lead tailback. Having Deculus back up front gives them veteran presence along the offensive line. One thing the Bobcats don't have to worry about is Brock Wright. At 6-foot-5 and 238 pounds, he's a complete tight end whose blocking is effective and he's no stranger to highlight-reel catches. Notre Dame and Texas A&M have noticed. And kickers are important, too. Mann is committed to Texas A&M and Cy-Fair knows how to win a lot of 9-7 games.
CYPRESS WOODS WILDCATS
ENROLLMENT: 3,153.5 (7)
2014 RECORD: 8-5 6A Div. II Regional Semi-Finalist
THE COACH: Trent Faith
THE PLAYERS: R.J. Harmon (Sr., RB), C.J. Jones (Jr., RB), Jordan Johnson (Sr., WR), Jared Taylor (Sr., WR), Brandon Departo (Sr., LB), Bryson Powers (Jr., WR/DB), Skylar Schulz (Sr., OL), Kason Franklin (Jr., DB), Myles Wilson (Jr., DB)
THE WORD: Meet the 10 percent that can run with Langham Creek's offense. It was a solid year for Cy Woods. The Wildcats are used to success. They've only ever missed the playoffs once and getting to the third round against Manvel last year marks the best year in the Faith era. This is a skill group that will be among the district's best again. It starts with the best running back duo in 17-6A. Harmon was a 1,118-yard rusher. That's a single-season record for Cy Woods. He also had eight touchdowns and Jones had 893 and 12. Jones also had seven touchdown catches. Those numbers could go up in 2015. Johnson and Taylor make a formidable receiver tandem as well. However, Nick Hooper nor Reece Clark are walking through the door to play quarterback. Faith said the team will have to find someone who can keep the fast-paced offense on track. It could be Bryson Powers, who did a little bit of everything last year. It could even be Johnson, who had his own package in the offense last year. The biggest issue of all? Fixing this defense. It ranked last in 17-6A and Faith said it's a priority to improve that side of the ball, which was young in spots like secondary.
JERSEY VILLAGE FALCONS
ENROLLMENT: 3,454 (4)
2014 RECORD: 6-4
THE COACH: David Snokhous
THE PLAYERS: Deshun Qualls (Sr., QB), Rokeem Paul (Sr., WR), Brandon Major (Sr., WR), Josh Bland (Sr., WR/RB), Alex Turner (Sr., DL), Jacob Clarkson (Jr., DL), Clabe Holmes (Sr., DB), Juwan Morgan (Sr., WR/DB)
THE WORD: It was back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in who knows when for the Falcons in 2014. That didn't extinguish an eight-year playoff drought, however. What's more heartbreaking is Jersey Village missing the playoffs by one game each of the last two seasons. They'll give it another shot in 2015, but they may win games with offense more often this season. This was the top-ranked defense last year in yards per game (258) and second in points per game at (20). That was spurred by a stud of a secondary (Christian Taylor will be at Texas Tech and Jordon Williams at SMU next year). But that side of the ball is younger in '15. The offense actually didn't lose much. It starts with Qualls, who is as good a playmaker as anyone at the position in 17-6A. Snokhous said Qualls has packed on about 15 pounds this offseason - he was listed at 160 last year. The head coach also said Qualls has improved every year. He'll be a three-year starter. Paul is one of the best receivers in 17-6A after a breakout season in 2014. Bland could be a fixture in the offensive backfield, too.
CYPRESS FALLS GOLDEN EAGLES
ENROLLMENT: 3,452 (1)
2014 RECORD: 4-6
THE COACH: Kirk Eaton
THE PLAYERS: Casey Rosellini (Sr., QB), Shannon Vaughns (Sr., RB), Desmond Hite (Sr., RB), Ozie Wilhite (Sr., DL), Kory Toliver (Jr., DL), Corey Henkhaus (Sr., WR), Trey Baldwin (Sr., ATH), Davion Morris (Jr., DB), Nathan Mikulski (Sr., OL)
THE WORD: In the traditional sense, Cy Falls is used to being among the best in CFISD. It hasn't been that way for a few years though. Two seasons ago, the team won just two games, but last year was a step forward with four wins while playing spoiler. If the Golden Eagles are going to get back into contention, they may look and play drastically different than most are used to seeing. Eaton believes one of the strengths of this team will be the offensive backfield with Hite and Vaughns - both productive players last year. He's excited about a few young tailbacks coming up from junior varsity, too. But where it truly starts with this team is Rosellini. He threw for 2,700-plus yards and 24 touchdowns. That includes a seven-touchdown performance against Cy Creek in Week 10. He'll have to joust with the likes of Paul Watson, Collin Rock and Deshun Qualls, but Rosellini could be the top quarterback in 17-6A. This defense will be young in 2015. Keep in mind three players from this side of the ball (Michael Eke at Houston, Du'Vonta Lampkin at Texas and Nate Dalton at Arkansas) will be playing Division I football next year. The Golden Eagles got a boost this off-season with the transfer of Baldwin from West Orange-Stark, he played RB and LB a year ago and could contribute at multiple positions.
CYPRESS CREEK COUGARS
ENROLLMENT: 3,257.5 (6)
2014 RECORD: 4-6
THE COACH: Greg McCaig
THE PLAYERS: Grayson Reed (Jr., OL), Luke Allen (Sr., QB), Tre Earls (Sr., RB), Kaleb O'Bryant (Jr., RB), Jowell Aponte (Jr., DL), Antoine Small (Sr., DB), Chance Steverson (Sr., DB), Tre Thomas (Sr., DB), Myles Williams (Sr., OL)
THE WORD: The Cougars have been stuck at 4-6 the last two years, either dealing with injuries, hot starts-turned-losing streaks, or uphill climbs. Defense could be a strength on this team. The secondary brings back a lot of talent in names like Steverson and Small. Aponte had a nice year on the defensive line, especially down the stretch. McCaig hopes to learn more about the linebacker position this spring and overall depth on the defense, but this is a unit that can rank in the top half of 17-6A. There are questions at receiver, but Reed (6-foot-4, 294 pounds) returns on the offensive line after missing last year with an injury. Keep an eye out for the junior in recruiting circles, too. McCaig likes the duo of Earls and O'Bryant at running back. Considering what he did last year, Allen has the leg up at quarterback. That position truly hasn't been settled since the Chuckie Keeton days.
CYPRESS SPRINGS PANTHERS
ENROLLMENT: 2,720.5 (10)
2014 RECORD: 3-7
THE COACH: Rick Cobia
THE PLAYERS: Donell Dunn (Sr., WR), O'Shae Clark (Jr., WR), MJ Tupolo (Sr., DL), Marcus Royal (Jr., OL), Frankie Almanza (Sr., QB), Taye Barber (So., QB/WR), Bobby Wilson (Sr., DB), Maveke Kenneh (Sr., LB)
THE WORD: The Katy's of the world would probably scoff at back-to-back three-win seasons. But if you knew where this Cy Springs program was just a few years ago, the Panthers have come a long way. And 2015 could be the best year under Cobia. This offense is stacked with raw talent and the kind of athleticism you can't teach. Dunn led the district in receiving last year with 1,229 yards, was second in catches with 52 and second in touchdowns with 11. That includes a couple of 200-yard performances near the end of the year. Dunn, already with offers from Texas Tech and Illinois among others, could be this program's most prized recruit in a while. Clark can be just as explosive at receiver. Almanza finished the year strong and likely enters spring the guy at quarterback. Barber is the wild card. He electrified in a short time after being brought up from sub-varsity midseason. Royal was a first team all-district selection as a sophomore. The question is if this team can learn how to win close games. The rebuild has been positive, but Cobia and the Panthers are tired of moral victories.
CYPRESS RIDGE RAMS
ENROLLMENT: 2,962 (9)
2014 RECORD: 2-8
THE COACH: Gary Thiebaud
THE WORD: This was a playoff team two years ago, then the youth movement hit Cy Ridge. Inexperience was the 2014 theme but Thiebaud hopes last year served as a lesson for the upcoming season. There is a lot to like here. Cy Ridge has the reigning 17-6A Defensive Newcomer of the Year in Staton. Also, the athletic corner tandem of Ellis and Newsome has Thiebaud excited. Smith dealt with injuries last year but is back at running back and Walls adds to the position. Kemah Siverand will be in the SEC at Texas A&M next year. Filling his void will be tough but LeDee could be one of the candidates. Quarterback is a huge question on this team. Junior Tyson Williams, senior Cody Canady and sophomore Justice Porter will vie for the spot and spring ball will go a long way into ranking that position heading into summer. Thiebaud said spring is key for the offensive line also.
CYPRESS LAKES SPARTANS
ENROLLMENT: 3,516.5 (3)
2014 RECORD: 0-10
THE COACH: Ronald Patton
THE PLAYERS: Tyree Smith (Sr., DL), Rashad Henry (Sr., RB), Colin King (Jr., QB), Rajon Richardson (Sr., WR/DB), Trevonte Delaney (Sr., RB/LB)
THE WORD: The Spartans get a chance to press the reset button. Patton comes over from Lamar Consolidated to take over a Cy Lakes program that really hasn't gotten off the ground. The Spartans have three all-time varsity wins in five years of existence. Patton grew up in Cypress, though. He's a Langham Creek grad, coached there and at Cy Ridge. So, he has a full understanding of what it takes to change the program. In 2015, however, he'll be starting from scratch. Patton likes talents like Smith and Henry but he said the quarterback situation has to be figured out. King - a speedy, athletic type - got significant time at that position last year. It's unclear so far what this team is going to look like schematically. The most important thing in year one will be changing the mindset.
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