One of the best stories of the 2006 season, the Brazoswood Buccaneers came out of nowhere to not only claim the District 24-5A title, but came within a game of reaching the Region III finals. Now comes the hard part for head coach Dean DeAtley: repeating with everyone focused on the Bucs.
Brazoswood does have 25 returning lettermen and 10 starters from the 11-2 squad, including six on the offensive side of the ball. No two players will be more important than RB Yobes Walker, who ran for well over 1,000 yards as the feature performer of offensive coordinator Ken Neely's multiple I attack. Walker (5-10, 190) should come close to equaling his numbers, but will also get help from RB Robert Taylor, who was an all-district 24-4A selection at Bay City last season.
QB Shanton Gore will take the reins from the departed Chase Player. Gore (5-8, 140) may be undersized, but has the skills to keep the offense rolling. A pair of seniors -- Marvelander Daniels and James Perry -- will line up at wide receiver. TE Bradley Peters (6-3, 180) also provides the Bucs with a solid pass-catching threat.
The Buccaneers' O-line will be anchored by three-year letterman LT Jon Arthur (6-3, 265), who earned all 24-5A honors and is garnering Division I attention. Brazoswood will have an all-senior line, as RT Emilio Bravo (5-10, 285), C Travis Gonzales (5-9, 220) and guards Jon Allemang (6-0, 215) and Glenn Stremmel (6-1, 210) will provide the offensive an experienced foundation up front.
Defensively, the Bucs will also rely on a senior-laden group, which is highlighted by Taylor (5-9, 170) and Ryan Austin (5-9, 150), who should comprise the fastest CB duo in the district. MLB Andre Van Leeuwen is the leader of Brazoswood's 4-2-5 scheme. The Buccaneers will have to rely on speed and quickness, as the projected starting lineup will be one of the smallest in 24-5A.
Larry Collins (5-7, 260) and Travis Gipson (5-11, 220) will be counted up to handle the interior, while Dartwan Bush and David Hoffmann will line up at end. Seniors Dustin Fredrickson and Nate Gardner and junior Travis Lundy will play the safety positions.
Junior Will Bedell is emerging as one of the area's top kickers, while Fredrickson will also serve as the punter.
Brazoswood will be in the hunt for the 24-5A title, but won't be able use the element of surprise. The Bucs -- along with Galveston Ball and Pearland -- are the clear favorites to gain three of the four playoff spots. How far they go will depend on how successful Walker and the defense can be.