IN PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
LUBBOCK COOPER PIRATES
ENROLLMENT: 1,144 (5)
2014 RECORD: 8-4 5A Div. II Area Finalist
THE COACH: Max Kattwinkel
THE PLAYERS: Kirby Vinson (Sr., DL), Josh Quinton (Sr., LB), Jordan Salas (Sr., WR), Seth Watts (Sr., RB), Alek Cruz (Sr., RB), J.R. Erwin (Sr., LB), A.J. Perez (Sr., DB), Reagan Schulte (Jr., QB)
THE WORD: Lubbock Cooper has been one of the best-kept secrets on the South Plains as an up-and-coming program the last few years. Well, they are unknown no more after the past two years, making a deep playoff run in 2013 and shocking No. 1 Stephenville on national television in 2014. Look for the Pirates to continue their climb in 2015 and challenge for the District 4-5A championship behind a strong running game and a solid defense. Cooper will have to replace standout two-way quarterback Kolton Ehlers but has the luxury of a talented corps of running backs. Watts came on last year to rush for 687 yards and 12 touchdowns while Cruz added 419 yards and two touchdowns. Salas (40 catches, 639 yards, 7 TDs) is also back in the fold. Defensively, the Pirates will be guided by end Vinson, who racked up 72 tackles, 13 for losses and six sacks). Quinton takes over a leadership role at linebacker after making 83 tackles. Perez is solid in the secondary with 19 tackles and six INTs.
ABILENE COOPER COUGARS
ENROLLMENT: 2,044 (1)
2014 RECORD: 4-7 5A Div. I Bi-District Playoffs
THE COACH: Todd Moebes
THE PLAYERS: Aaron Anderson (Sr., WR), Devin Johnson (Jr., RB), Caleb Freeman (Sr., TE), Myller Royals (So., WR), Darrien Campos (Sr., DB), Jonathan Castaneda (Sr., OL), Zach Goods on (Jr., LB), Actavius Lowry (Jr., LB), Walker Ayers (Sr., OL)
THE WORD: It was a bit of an unusual year for the Cougars in that some goals were met, but not in the way that has become the standard. The Cougars struggled mightily during non-district with a slate that included Wichita Falls Rider, Midland Lee, Amarillo and the rival Abilene High. Yet, the Cougars crushed its District 4-5A foes en route to winning a share of the league crown. Now, Moebes brings back six starters on each side of the ball who should be better equipped to handle the rigorous schedule. Cooper will have to find a new quarterback, but he’ll have plenty of talent around him and a solid offensive line anchored by Castaneda and Ayers. Anderson is back, and the 6-foot, 170-pound senior caught 69 passes for 1,098 yards and 12 TDs a year ago. Also back is running back Johnson, who rushed for 1,002 yards and 14 TDs. Defensively the Cougars will be able to go get the football with the return of linebackers McAfee (53 tackles, two INTs), Goodson and Lowry and defensive back Campos.
LUBBOCK HIGH WESTERNERS
ENROLLMENT: 2,079.5 (2)
2014 RECORD: 1-9
THE COACH: Jason Strunk
THE PLAYERS: Devante Greathouse (Sr., WR), Dae Dae Morgan (Jr., QB), Jacob Bayouth (Sr., WR), Alijah Garcia (Sr., RB), Tyree Johnson (Jr., DL), Jacob Medrano (Sr., LB), Pooh Bear Ambriz (Jr., OL), Nick Hoeve (Sr., OL), Nick Rojas (Sr., OL), Josh Hoeve (Jr., OL), Craig Garcia (Jr., OL), Trayvon Norris (Sr., DB), Tristan Snook (So., DL), Colby Anderson (Sr., RB), Aaron Lopez (Sr., LB)
THE WORD: When he came to Lubbock High five years ago, Jason Strunk stressed training and nutrition as a key component to making the Westerners competitive. Now, it’s another aspect, sort of along the same lines – health. Staying healthy is his No. 1 priority for 2015 because, if LHS can stay healthy, they have a good shot at a great season with 10 offensive and seven defensive starters returning from a team that played several green sophomores and juniors in 2014. Leading the list of returners are Greathouse and Morgan, who could emerge into one of the South Plains’ best passing tandems. Greathouse caught 61 passes for 800 yards and nine touchdowns last year, while Morgan started six games as a sophomore after starter James Garcia was lost for the season to a knee injury. Morgan threw for 1,233 yards and 11 touchdowns and rushed for 500 yards and nine scores. The offensive line will be experienced, and the defense should be much improved with the return of Johnson (85 tackles, 8 sacks) and Medrano (47 tackles).
ENROLLMENT: 1,437 (3)
2014 RECORD: 6-5 5A Div. I Bi-District Playoffs
THE COACH: Ryan Rhoades
THE PLAYERS: Jayton Ellis (Jr., RB), Trendan Jackson (Jr., RB), Marc Ramos (Sr., QB), Braxton Riddley (Jr., WR/DB), Wrangler Haresnape (Jr., QB/DB), Avery Rodriguez (Sr., RB), Roy Abanonu (Sr., DL), Angel Reyes (Jr., OL/DL), Marc Wallace (Sr., DL), Brian Switzenberg (Sr., LB), Ethan Andrade (Sr., LB), Dontae Session (Sr., DL)
THE WORD: The Bulldogs had an incredible surge the last two-thirds of the season. After opening the year with three straight losses, Plainview reeled off wins in six of its next seven games, including a shootout win over Abilene Cooper, that propelled the Bulldogs to a three-way tie for first place with the Cougars and Lubbock Cooper. Repeating that feat may be tough in 2015 as the Bulldogs must replace a ton of graduated talent, including its starting quarterback and leading rusher. Either Ramos or Haresnape could get the nod under center, though Haresnape was a solid player in the secondary as a sophomore with 57 tackles, two sacks and two forced fumbles. Jackson will likely be the first man up to take over at running back after rushing for 780 yards as a sophomore. Ellis could also be a versatile weapon after amassing 241 total yards in spot duty. Plainview will have some talented defenders in Switzenberg (47 tackles), Andrade (43 tackles), Session (30 tackles), Abanonu (37 tackles, 3 sacks) and Reyes (28 tackles, 2 sacks).
SAN ANGELO LAKE VIEW CHIEFS
ENROLLMENT: 1,186 (4)
2014 RECORD: 5-7 5A Div. II Area Finalist
THE COACH: Doug Kuhlmann
THE PLAYERS: Donald Bowman (Sr., RB), Tyren Coverson (Sr., TE), Warren McAda/Bailey (Sr., DL), Franky Muniz (Jr., DL), Sammy Sentanna (Sr., OL), Dayton Kessler (Sr., DB)
THE WORD: Last season was definitely a step forward for the Chiefs, who not only put together a nice non-district run but also surprised a few teams and, for a while, were in the conversation for a district title. To repeat, the Chiefs will have to replace several players who were key to last year’s success, but also have a nice nucleus of talent coming back. That nucleus is led by Brown. The senior running back rushed for 454 yards on just 55 carries and will likely be the focal point of the offense as Lake View replaces its quarterback, offensive line and most of its receiving corps. Junior Billy Cortez and sophomore Henry Nickias are expected to battle for the starting quarterback job. Tight end Coverson is a big target at 6-foot-1 and 235 pounds, while Sentanna is the anchor up front. Defensively, McAda/Bailey is the top returning starter after recording 42 tackles and three sacks, and Muniz will add 56 tackles from his linebacker position. Kessler (one INT) is back to anchor the secondary.
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