Predicted Order of Finish
Division 1 Teams in All Caps
5. Iowa Park
6. Wichita Falls Hirschi
Outlook: Vernon and Burkburnett should fight it out for the top spot in 5-3A and with the departure of Graham to 2-3A it's going to be these two on another level from the rest of the teams. Vernon is very young especially at the skill positions and that could be difficult for them against a Burkburnett squad with some good experience returning. Bridgeport moving in from 8-3A along with Decatur could challenge but until the Bulls show they can slow teams down on a consistent basis they'll be in the middle of the pack. Iowa Park will take a step back, while Hirschi is dangerous with their skill kids but they have no size or depth up front.
Team by Team
Burkburnett Bulldogs: 2007 was a breakthrough year for Burkburnett as the Bulldogs got to the playoffs for the first time since 2001. On offense QB Jason Beach is back after a second team all 6-3A season as a junior, Beach doesn't throw it much but when he does throw he is effective. The offensive line is led by Tommy Dalke and 6-3A newcomer of the year Lorenzo Barnes, and those two will anchor the defense as well.
Vernon Lions: It's been a great run the past two seasons for Vernon, as the Lions have advanced to the State Semi-Finals and State Quarter-Finals the past two seasons. VHS was 12-2 in 2007 and with an impressive 36 letterman returning, hopes are high. Vernon will be strong up front on both sides of the ball, but there is a lot of youth at the skill spots. RB/DB Craig Whiteside will lead the way on both sides of the ball, if the young skill players step up they'll challenge once again in Region 1.
Bridgeport Bulls: Realignment did no favors for Bridgeport this season, as the Bulls are aligned in a tougher Wichita Falls area district which will make for some long road trips. Cameron Green leads the Bulls high powered offensive attack, the offensive line will need to improve for the Bulls to continue to rack up points in bunches. The defense has struggled the past few years and has been a sore spot for most, but with seven starters back expect some improvement in 2008.
Decatur Eagles: 2007 was a bit of a down year for the Eagles as DHS started off slow but they were able to rebound and manage a 6-5 record before being ousted by playoff nemesis Abilene Wylie in bi-district. On the offensive side of the ball Decatur brings back junior QB Tim Metts who was the District 8-3A newcomer of the year in 2007. Metts started slow but by season's end had progressed in a big way throwing for over 2300 yards and 22 touchdowns. His favorite target is WR Chad Harrison a returning first team all 8-3A performer with 7 touchdown catches. On defense Decatur returns four starters, led by a very good crop of linebackers. The top returner is Reece Madden who had 101 tackles and earned first team all 8-3A honors.
Iowa Park Hawks: Iowa Park has been a very average team the past five years or so and last year's 4-6 mark continued that trend. Probably the best player on the team is RB Richard Smoak. He leads the team returning in tackles and rushing yards - with 610 yards and 6 touchdowns last season. Jesse Harris is a pretty good quarterback to run the double wing with - and that will be necessary for success this season. Lee Clubb will come in and complement Smoak at running back - but as a sophomore, he will have a learning curve. Overall, IPHS will struggle and fifth place could be as high as they finish and with not much talent in the pipeline the Hawks struggles could continue.
Wichita Falls Hirschi Huskies: Wichita Falls team that was the feel good story of 2006 simply had a nightmare 2007. After starting out 3-0 the Huskies lost their final seven games of the season. On the offensive side of the ball HHS will rely on their speed at the skill positions to make big plays. RB Tevin Thomas is a game breaker at TB and should give the Huskies a threat in the backfield, while WR Marquise Wiley who was second team all 6-3A is the main target in the passing game. Wiley hauled in 10 touchdown receptions as a junior, Tevin Edwards is a solid number two receiver. Hirschi must improve on the defensive side of the ball in 2008 if they want to even have a chance of competing for a playoff spot. HHS allowed over 40 points a game last year and you simply can't win allowing those kind of numbers. 7 starters are back so that should spell some improvement.
Players to Watch:
Lorenzo Barnes, OL/DL Burkburnett
Craig Whiteside, RB/DB Vernon
Cameron Green, QB Bridgeport
Tim Metts, QB Decatur
Marquise Wiley, WR/DB WF Hirschi