In what will be an open race for the District 20-4A title, the Houston Davis Panthers have every reason to think that they will be in the hunt.
Coach Chuck Arnold's team went 5-6 last season, and with 19 lettermen and eight starters back, the Panthers have the experience and talent to break through.
Davis' hopes will lie in its offense, where the trio of QB John Castillo, RB Dominic Phillips and WR Tim Burroughs will be the catalysts in the Panthers' up-tempo attack. Castillo earned all-district honors following a season in which he threw for 1,865 yards and 22 touchdowns as a sophomore, and will be even better with a year of experience under his belt. Phillips dashed his way for 532 yards in a part-time role and is dangerous as a receiver as well. Burroughs, also a 20-4A first team selection, hauled in 42 passes for 688 yards and eight scores. Jerrell Jackson hauled in 616 yards of passes and is a lethal downfield threat, while Patrick Chenier is another notch in the belt for Castillo.
As productive as the passing is, it could be hindered early on as the Panthers retool the offensive line. Seniors James Dupuis and Arturo Martinez will be the leaders of the group.
Defensively, the key player for Austin is versatile Gilbert Garza, who lined up at several different positions last year, including linebacker, safety and defensive end. Garza also serves a fullback as well. LB Allen Roy had an impressive 2006, recording 52 tackles as a true freshman. Juan Reyes will also be a key part of the LB unit.
There is size up front with 300-pound seniors Abel Gallegos and David Baltazar at tackle. Mark Borrego and Tony Crespo are slated to start at end.
Jackson earned first-team all-district at both wide receiver and at DB, where he ranked among the area's top interception leaders (eight). Bartolo Alvarez is a savvy safety, while Demontrond Washington and Chris Phillips will round out the secondary.
A return to the playoffs is very possible, especially if the offensive line comes together early. Few offenses can match the potential of Davis in 20-4A, making them a serious threat to overtake Washington for the district title.