Dickinson made a successful return to Class 5A in 2008, finishing with a 9-3 record and a trip to the Region III quarterfinals. With 19 lettermen and seven starters returning from consecutive playoff berths, coach Warren Trahan's squad has the potential for the Gators' third straight jaunt into the postseason.
Much of the Gators' playoff hopes will ride on the arm -- and legs of senior QB Clay Honeycutt (6-2, 180, 4.6), who enters his third season as Dickinson's starter. Sharing the role with the now-departed Brody Trahan (Baylor), Honeycutt established himself as one of the Houston area's most versatile field generals, finishing the season with 1,216 passing yards and 11 touchdowns to go along with 128 yards and three scores on the ground.
Honeycutt, who signed with Texas A&M, will have a bevy of skill position players to distribute the ball to. The duo of senior Cory Thomas (5-9, 185, 4.5) and junior Jermaine Jenkins (5-7, 165, 4.5) combined for 861 yards and five scores in 2008, and are capable of producing more this fall.
The Gators lost the bulk of their receiving corps, but senior Dante Brown (5-7, 155, 4.5) is expected to give Honeycutt a downfield threat. Brown also averaged 19 yards on six carries, and could serve a role similar to former Florida star Percy Harvin. Fellow senior Brad Turner (6-0, 170) and junior TE Colby Ginn (6-1, 190) are the other projected starters.
Dickinson's recent success has built on big offensive lines, a trend that will continue this fall. Guard Frank Green (5-8, 275) is the only incoming senior on a young, massive line that could emerge as one of the best in 24-5A by season's end. Junior Quin Marsh (6-0, 240) joins Green on the left side, while the right side will be comprised by a pair of sophomores with upside, as guard Joe Lloveda (5-11, 260) and tackle Bryon Williams (6-0, 260) will sandwich between center Jacob Enyer (5-10, 200).
The Gators' 3-3-5 stack defense will have a wealth of experience as 10 of the projected starters enter their senior seasons.
Danyel Hunter (6-3, 250), Danny Lymuel (6-1, 220), Dylan Alexander (6-0, 225) and Dylan Williamson (6-6, 230) will rotate on the defensive line. Williamson's intriguing size could garner collegiate attention with a solid campaign.
Eurice Avery (6-1, 190, 4.6) is the most swift of an able crew of linebackers. Joey Meza (5-10, 190), Kenny Mullins (5-7, 170) and Spencer McDonald (5-9, 175) bring experience and sure tackling ability to the unit.
The sky is the limit for junior safety JaShaud Sims, a 6-5, 185-pounder who followed up a solid regular season with an impressive run during the playoffs. Sims has already drawn the interest of several Division I programs and will likely see his mailbox filled with more inquiries during the next two seasons.
As usual, District 24-5A will be wide-open, leaving the Gators with an excellent opportunity to stake their claim on one of the four playoff berths. A healthy Honeycutt -- combined with a solid defense -- could be the formula that gives Dickinson a possible run beyond last year's third round exit.
BEST CASE: Honeycutt (49 percent) improves his accuracy and the young offensive line bulldozes the opposition.
WORST CASE: Opposing defenses exploit the Gators' youth on the line.