TheOldCoach District 23-5A Preview

Big DL Ross Blacklock will look to lead the Elkins Knights back to the playoffs in the always tough District 23-5A, check out our preview right here on THEOLDCOACH!

DISTRICT 23-5A

IN PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH

FORT BEND RIDGE POINT PANTHERS

ENROLLMENT: 1,884 (3)

2014 RECORD: 12-1 5A Div. I State Quarter-Finalist

THE COACH: Brett Sniffin

THE PLAYERS: Travis Bruffy (Sr., OL), Shyler Stanton (Sr., DB), Grant Carlson (Sr., K/P), Jack Greene (Sr., OL), Marcus Montamayor (Sr., OL), Omari Houston (Sr., LB), David Packard (Sr., ATH), Terry Petry (Jr., ATH), Ar’mani Johnson (Jr., DB), Devon Woods (Jr., DL), B.J. Rainford (Jr., RB), Luke Farrar (Jr., LB), Chad Bailey (So., LB), Adam Bazan (So., WR), Andrew Clompton (So., QB)

THE WORD: How do the Panthers follow up their breakout season? Simple: by getting even better. While losing RB Remus Bulmer (1,936 yards, 15 TDs) and QB Jesse Crebbe (1,887 passing yards, 18 TDs) will hurt, Sniffin has two very good replacements in the form of Rainford and Clompton. Their learning curve will be easier than expected, as they will operate behind an offensive line that features 6’4, 315-pound Greene and 6’7, 275-pounder Bruffy paving the way. Packard and Petry are both playmakers that the Panthers will find ways to get the ball to. The defense should still be stout despite having just two returning starters. Stanton had four interceptions, while Houston recorded 37 tackles. The special teams unit is sound with Carlson (76 points, 40.6 yards per punt) and Petry (35.4 yards per kickoff return) in fold. The Panthers are up to the task of holding off Marshall in what will be a very rugged district, one that will have Ridge Point prepared for what should be another deep playoff run.

FORT BEND MARSHALL BUFFALOS

ENROLLMENT: 1,327 (7)

2014 RECORD: 7-4 5A Div. II Bi-District Playoffs

THE COACH: James Williams

THE PLAYERS: Jeremy Smith (Sr., QB), Jared Scroggins (Sr., DL), Jeremy Bass (Sr., DL), Trevion Butler (Sr., DL), Adrian Robertson (Jr., RB), Cedarian Lynch (Jr., RB), Da Wyche (Jr., DB), Barton Clement (So., OT), Henry Thomas (So., WR)

THE WORD: Expectations are high for a Buffalos team that was bounced out early in the postseason. Even with just 12 lettermen returning, Marshall still is stocked with talent, beginning with the ever-versatile Smith, who threw for 13 touchdown passes while adding 18 receptions and three scores. He has already received offers from Houston, SMU and Michigan State and will add on to that list as the fall goes on. Robertson and Lynch will share running duties behind a physical line that will be anchored by Clement, a 6’3, 270-pounder with tremendous upside. With Smith handling quarterback duties most of the time, the focus will be on Thomas to step up and become the featured wideout Williams and the offensive coaching staff believes he can be. The defense will remain rugged despite the loss of All-State CB Kendall Sheffield (Alabama), as Bass (10 sacks), Butler and Scroggins comprise one of the area’s best defensive lines. Only a sophomore, Wyche has displayed the skills set that could also lead him to following the steps of Sheffield upon scouts’ radars. Another seven-win season would count as a major disappointment for Marshall, whom many pundits feel has the potential to play in the Alamodome for the 5A, Division II crown.

FORT BEND ELKINS KNIGHTS

ENROLLMENT: 2,080 (2)

2014 RECORD: 9-2 5A Div. II Bi-District Playoffs

THE COACH: Dennis Brantley

THE PLAYERS: Ross Blacklock (Sr., DL), Jared Shirley (Sr., WR), Javion Glass (Jr., WR), Jaylyn McGuire (Jr., DB), Kenneth Orji (Jr., LB), Troy Burnett (Sr., LB), Derrick Dickerson, III (Sr., WR/DB), Marcus Gumbs (Sr., DB), A.J. Mathews (Sr., WR/DB), Shemick Watts (Sr., WR), Kenneth Murray (Jr., LB/DB), Jordan Colesante (Jr., QB/WR), Romanon Skinner (Sr., QB)

THE WORD: Ouch. Of the Knights’ 394 points scored last season, all but 36 have graduated, along with the bulk of the offensive line, which made for a heavy emphasis on offense during the spring. It’s a good thing Elkins will have one of the area’s best defenses, headlined by the 6’4, 325-pound Blacklock, who is regarded as one of the state’s elite defenders. Blacklock is huge, yet agile enough to line up at end, which will be a nightmare proposition for most offensive tackles. Attempting to throw the ball on the Knights could be risky, as the secondary is filled with a solid mix of ballhawks and thumpers. Dickerson, Gumbs and Mathews were each all-district performers last season, while Burnett -- also an all-district member -- anchors the linebacking corps. Watts (19 catches, 269 yards, four TDs) is the top returning offensive threat. Skinner will get the chance to win the starting job at QB, but the versatile Colesante could also see time at the position. Elkins will have to count on the D to hold the fort early, but there’s no reason not to think the Knights won’t be in position to capture a third straight playoff spot and its fourth in the last five years.

Texas CITY STINGAREES

ENROLLMENT: 1,763 (5)

2014 RECORD: 5-6 5A Div. II Bi-District Playoffs

THE COACH: Leland Surovik

THE PLAYERS: Ralph Anderson (Sr., RB/LB), Jarvis Ford (Sr., RB/LB), Dante Hayes (Sr., TE/DL), Chris Mock (Sr., OL), Lar’vion Venzant (Sr., OL), Exavier Simpson (Sr., RB/LB), Christian Weaver (Sr., WR/DB), Tarik Cooper (Jr., DL/LB), Carlos Frank (Sr., WR/DB), Chris Ponder (Jr., QB/LB), DaQuan Thompson (Jr., QB/DB), Chris Sampson (Sr., DL), Zion Davis (So., WR/DB), Zach Henry (So., WR/DB)

THE WORD: Surovik put together one his best coaching jobs, as he coaxed a struggling offense and rode a swarming defense that turned around a 1-4 start and put the Stingarees into the postseason for the third straight year. Even with the departure of former All-State LB D’Vonta Hinton (Texas Tech), Texas City’s D (which returns eight starters) will still bring the pain, led by Anderson, who recorded 77 tackles en route to first team All-District honors. Hayes is a 6’5, 265 pounder who is beginning to realize his potential, while Ford and Simpson are two-way producers who thrive on contact with or without the ball. Simpson is also the Stings’ top returning rusher (515 yards), as Surovik will continue a committee system that controlled the clock and offset the fact Texas City had just one passing touchdown last season. Ponder is more of a passing threat, while Thompson has the speed to find holes behind a solid line. Another playoff berth is likely, but if the Stings improve their offense, the defense is good enough to make them a sleeper in the always rugged Region III, Division II.

GALVESTON BALL GOLDEN TORNADOES

ENROLLMENT: 1,822 (4)

2014 RECORD: 3-7

THE COACH: Kimble Anders

THE PLAYERS: Jerry Blanks (Sr., DL), Clifton Holmes (Sr., DB), Sedrick Brown (Sr., WR), Gannon Rawlins (Sr., QB), Raistlin Lockhart (Sr., OL), Mason Cammarn (Sr., LB), Rodnick Artmore (Sr., RB), Joseph Marks (Sr., LB), Jeff Douglas (Sr., DB)

THE WORD: Riding with the motto of “No More Excuses,” the Tors are on the verge of snapping the program’s playoff drought, which enters its sixth year. Anders has given the program its old swagger back and with 16 returning starters (nine offense, seven defense), Ball is now ready to buckle up against the top teams in the district. Blanks (81 tackles, six sacks) is the anchor of a physical defensive unit that allowed just 19.7 points per game last season. Holmes and Douglas are a pair of ballhawks in the secondary, while Marks looks to follow up on his breakout junior season. The Tors must improve an offense that totaled just 124 points in ‘14, and that begins with Gannon, who moves from his all-purpose role to lining up under center. Gannon is a potential breakout candidate as well, who will have four-year varsity member Brown (22 catches, four TDs) to throw to, while the team spent the spring in search of a lead back. Ball’s defense will do its job, but if the offense catches up, the Tors could emerge as the district’s sleeper squad.

FORT BEND BUSH BRONCOS

ENROLLMENT: 2,080 (1)

2014 RECORD: 3-7

THE COACH: Allen Aldridge

THE PLAYERS: Javian Smith (Sr., DB) Jaz Johnson (Sr., QB), Cameron Montgomery (Jr., RB), Justin Harper (Jr., RB/LB), Otis Lanier (Sr., WR/DB), Wade Freeman (So., QB), Dyshon Hodge (So., RB/WR), Alexander Wade (Sr., RB/LB), Prince Njoku (Sr., DL/LB), Tanyitaku Tanyi (So., OL/DL), Samuel Azie (Sr., OL/DL), David Bouye (So., OL/DL)

THE WORD: Three straight playoff seasons came to a halt last season, as the Broncos struggled to find offensive consistency. Aldridge rode the ups and downs of Johnson (1,379 passing yards, three touchdowns) and feels confident last season’s struggles will translate into a more poised field general. If not, there is Freeman, a creative player with a intriguing upside, waiting in the wings for another opportunity. Bush managed just 19 total touchdowns, yet that number can increase if they can take advantage of the playmaking skills of Lanier (24 catches) and Hodge, an explosive water bug who averaged 5.2 yards per carry and 20.3 yards per catch. Bouye and Tanyi offer a pair of young linemen with the size to develop into top shelf talents in time. The Broncos will look at creating more mayhem defensively, as they will focus on causing turnovers. Njoku and Wade combined for 123 tackles, totals that should increase, while Johnson is a heady corner who ended the spring with offers from SMU and FCS power Sam Houston State.. If Johnson takes a big step forward, it would also mean Bush moves into position to challenge Texas City and Ball for the fourth playoff spot.

FORT BEND WILLOWRIDGE EAGLES

ENROLLMENT: 1,295 (7)

2014 RECORD: 1-9

THE COACH: Richard Lazarou

THE PLAYERS: Rondell Mars (Sr., WR), Da’Von Breaux (Sr., ATH), Donald Mitchell (Sr., ATH), Brandon Charles (Sr., LB), Jeremiah Sanders (Jr., QB), Kennedy Hatton (Sr., LB), Zanish Lawrence (Sr., P), Chad Zeno (Sr., DL), Ja’Quail Jackson (Jr., DL), Christopher Walker (Sr., OL), Tirrell Hall (Sr., OL), Henry Dobbins (Jr., DL), Kealton Goffney (Jr., ATH), Christopher Shaw (Jr., TE)

THE WORD: With 14 returning starters (eight offense, six defense), the Eagles are confident brighter days are ahead following last season’s one-win campaign. The biggest change comes in the form of new offensive coordinator Mark Hopkins, who has a solid track record of productive offensive attacks. That should benefit Sanders (eight TD passes), who will be more comfortable in his second season as the starter. Mars should also thrive in the new attack, while Hopkins will find ways to get the ball into the hands of Breaux and Mitchell. A more experienced defense should be much better than the unit that allowed 34.6 points per game in 2014, especially with Dobbins, Jackson and Zeno (five sacks) returning up front, while Charles recorded 55 tackles. Consistency will remain a challenge for Willowridge, but the once-dominant program should be able to push forward and be more competitive this fall.

SANTA FE INDIANS

ENROLLMENT: 1,429.5 (6)

2014 RECORD: 1-9

THE COACH: Mark Kanipes

THE PLAYERS: Jeremiah Vincent (Sr., DL), Jimmy Powell (Sr., OL), Blane Marcantel (Jr., ATH), Chase Thompson (Jr., RB), Luke Alexander (Sr., TE), Tucker Mica (Jr., ATH), Brad Ballard (Sr., QB), Kyler Gentry (Sr., DL), Beau Trigo (Sr., LB), Tommy Gentry (Sr., DL), Levi Arnold (Jr., LB), Tyler Martin (So., ATH), Jose Avila (So., DL), Josh Blankenship (So., ATH), Colin Lamb (Sr,, OL), Blake Williams (Sr., OL)

THE WORD: A full offseason with the coaching staff offers another step forward for the Indians, who are steadily adjusting to the style of Kanipes, who enters his second season with the program. He will have to replace his two primary players (RBs Tim Alcala and Josh McKinney), yet a veteran offensive line will set the stage for Thompson to handle the bulk of the carries. The Indians, which have always been at a deficit when it comes to overall team speed, are cutting the gap with the likes of Marcantel and a pair of promising athletes in Blankenship and Martin. Alexander is an intriguing 6’6, 225-pounder who could offer Ballard another weapon. The defense will be rugged, as Vincent and the two Gentrys provide experience and leadership, more so since the Indians will have new faces in the secondary. If the offense succeeds in its new uptempo attack and the defense can limit big plays, Santa Fe will continue to build their foundation with more than last season’s one-win total.

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