Despite being 10 miles apart, Lovejoy and Van Alstyne are in two different districts. They had an epic battle in 7 on 7 for the right to qualify out of pool play. Lovejoy won it - but I came away with a lot of respect for Van Alstyne. They are not deep but they have some strong players. Former Allen OC Brian Polk returns 10 starters to the Van Alstyne Panthers - a team that hopes to improve on its 2-8 season last year.
The best player on the team is Jake Willingham. A returning starter, the kid can flat out play. He is a playmaker and likes to have the ball in his hand. Tyler Kuster is a respectable running back and will complement Shane King pretty well. There is some good depth on the offensive line in Afton Yealock and Shane Jones. The offensive line averages about 250. Some wide receivers will have to develop to keep them from being a one-dimensional offense.
The secondary will have some good size as a lot of the offensive linemen will play both ways. Daniel Allen and David Goodenow will be part of the defensive line. The linebackers will be average with Raul Biscarro. The secondary will be speedy led by sophomore Chance Grayson. He has the potential to be something special. The defense is not very deep which could also cause problems as the season continues.
Overall, Van Alstyne went from the frying pan to the fire. They do have two easy wins with Bonham and Anna - which means they need to only pull one upset to make the playoffs. Would Commerce be the team to beat? They did have a worse record last year but they seem to have bounced back a little better than Van Alstyne. I think the VA Panthers end up fourth in district but play a very competitive game against Commerce for the right to move on.