TPI Houston Area 4A Countdown: #7

Behind QB Duran Starks, the Crosby Cougars will field one of the more exciting offenses in class 4A this fall. If the defense can continue to make strides, this is one team that could do more than just hold a No. 7 preseason ranking.

The Crosby Cougars have a wealth of talent returning from last season's 7-4 team, and head coach Kevin Flanigan's squad is capable of much more this fall.

Scoring shouldn't be an issue for the Coogs, who return all-district 21-4A first team RB Toris Doze and league Newcomer of the Year RB Chance Casey in the backfield. Both have explosive game breaking ability; Casey averaged 6.4 yards per carry and scored 15 touchdowns, while Doze is dangerous as a runner and receiver.

QB Duran Starks had his ups and downs in 2006, but the senior should be more comfortable in Crosby's up-tempo attack. Starks threw for 11 touchdowns and is also a threat to create big plays with his scrambling ability.

The Cougars lost their top three receivers, but TE Zeph George returns. Kyle Miller, Chris Murphy and Preston Cantrell are the leading candidates at wideout.

Losing all-district OL Paul Santallian will impact the line, but the Coogs do return Patrick McGriff, who made the 21-4A second team. Crosby does have depth at the position, with the likes of Jacob Schexnayder, Rashaud Mayweather and Devon Oppilea returning as well.

Defensively, Crosby will be strong up front. DT Mike Guillory and Pedro Manriquez, along with pass-rushing specialist DE Kedy Enabulele all made all-district. Enabulele has the potential for bigger things this fall.

The Cougars will need to retool at linebacker, where 21-4A defensive Co-MVP Brandon Smith, Greg Buckner and Trey Buck have moved on. Patrick Herbert and Alvin Baptiste will contend for starting roles, while the Cougars will look to the junior varsity to add depth.

There is talent in the Crosby secondary, starting with CB Ryan Weatfall, who also doubles as a lethal return specialist. Damien Gradney, Tyler Joseph and Qualan Bolds are among the contenders for playing time.

K Billy Greer's graduation is a big loss. Greer was one of the most reliable kickers in the area over the last two seasons, leaving the Cougars in need of a clutch replacement.

Crosby can make a run into the playoffs if Starks continues to improve. The Cougars have the makings of a Region III sleeper who could be a surprise playing into December.

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