A funny thing happened en route to the Jack Yates Lions rolling to the District 20-4A championship last fall: they didn't.
Instead the Washington War Eagles took the district crown, and with 12 starters coming back from an 8-3 squad, head coach Joel North's team isn't going to give the title away. It won't come easy, but TPI is tabbing Yates to win the 20-4A crown, with an eye on going further than last season's 10-3 squad did.
1. Jack Yates Lions (Division I representative) -- OT Leroy Chavalier and DE Damion Square are two elite-level players, but there is more to head coach Clarence McKinney's team. DT Kenneth Frankson, S Desmond Spivey and LB Daniel Jordan comprise one of the area's top defenses. QB Darveon Trahan will have to give the offense an element of passing it sorely lacked last fall. RB Lincoln Rhoden is capable of moving the ground game, but wideouts Greg Perkins and Qiuntin Powell desperately need Trahan to get the ball into their capable hands.
2. Washington War Eagles (Division I representative) -- The Eagles will just as tough. The key will be how well the offense can replace the versatility of departed QB Ernest Eastland. The big-play ability of WR Darius Austin is a big boost of the offense's production. Defensively, Washington's core of LB Jarrett Flowers, LB Jarrod Payne and DB James Holloway is as solid a trio as any in the area.
3. Davis Panthers (Division I representative) -- In a district that emphasizes defense, the Panthers go against the grain with an explosive offense led by QB John Castillo. Wideouts Jerrell Jackson, Tim Burroughs and Patrick Chenier provide three quality targets to make Davis' spread attack click. The defense is a notch below Yates and Washington; how well Castillo and Co. can move the ball against the district's front-runners will determine if the Panthers will make a return trip or have to look over their shoulders at….
…..4. Sharpstown Apollos --- Once viewed as one of the worst programs in the area, the Apollos just missed a playoff spot last season and the talent (including 18 starters) is back to take care of unfinished business. QB Sam Carter shined as a freshman and has three more years to build on. Deshont Williams is a playmaker at both wideout and in the secondary. A playoff spot is likely if Sharpstown catches one of the top three teams slipping at the right time.
5. Austin Mustangs -- Head coach Pete Gareri has this third-year program on the right track. It helps that RB Joseph Cole and his 1,354 rushing yards is back to key the offense. The defense will have to mature if the Mustangs are to be more than just a pain in the backside of the district contenders.
6. Waltrip Rams -- This squad took its lumps during a 1-9 season, but the return of 16 starters will make a bounce back season possible. The question facing Waltrip is who will play quarterback; whoever ends up as the starter will have solid pair of backs to hand off to in Metrick Dixon and Julian Lee.
7. Reagan Bulldogs -- RB Willis Jackson should repeat his all-district performance from last season, but the Bulldogs lack the offensive firepower around him to keep defenses from focusing on him. Depth issues, especially on both lines, will keep the Bulldogs from making a serious run.
TPI District 20-4A Preseason Team
QB -- John Castillo, Davis
RB -- Willis Jackson, Reagan
RB -- Joseph Cole, Austin
WR -- Darius Austin, Washington
WR -- Tim Burroughs, Davis
WR -- Deshont Williams, Sharpstown
OL -- Leroy Chavalier, Yates
OL -- Darnell Syas, Yates
OL -- Anthony Doucet, Washington
OL -- David Baltazar, Davis
OL -- Cameron Black, Sharpstown
DL -- Damion Square, Yates
DL -- Abel Gallagos, Davis
DL -- Kenneth Frankson, Yates
LB -- Daniel Jordan, Yates
LB -- Clyde Scott, Sharpstown
LB -- Jarrett Flowers, Washington
LB -- Jerrod Payne, Washington
DB -- Chris Theall, Reagan
DB -- Jeremiah Alexander, Yates
DB -- James Holloway, Washington
DB -- Jerrell Jackson, Davis
Offensive Player of the Year
QB John Castillo, Davis
Defensive Player of the Year
DE Damion Square, Yates
Top College Prospects
1. Damion Square, DE, Yates
2. Leroy Chavalier, OL Yates
3. James Holloway, DB, Washington
4. Kenneth Frankson, Yates
5. Lincoln Rhoden, Yates