TPI District 23-5A Outlook

It's about that time again and Texas Prep Insider has got you covered. We have started our 2009 coverage of state's districts. Our snapshots are free, but stay tuned for more information on your favorite teams and players.

Predicted Order of Finish (Division I teams all CAPS)
2. Elkins
4. Travis
5. Marshall
6. Dulles 
7. Willowridge
8. Clements
9. Bush
10. Austin

District Overview
Last season Hurricane Ike threw a major wrench in the scheduling in the Fort Bend district. So hopefully 2009 brings clear skies and brighter days.

With the massive growth going on in Fort Bend County, it seems like only a matter of time before there will be no clear heavy hitter in the district. Once again, Hightower is the favorite, but Elkins and Kempner are not far behind. Plenty of underclassmen will suit for a few teams, including Marshall, Dulles, and Clements so that will be interesting to see how that turns out. Also, keep an eye on Willowridge as a new direction could show signs of future success. 

Team Capsules
Hightower Hurricanes 
2008 finish: 13-1 (lost to Allen 21-14 in state 5A Division I game)
After coming so close last season in the big dance, the Hightower team knows what time it is and knows what's at stake. Plenty of talent and experience gone due to graduation, but by no means is there an empty cupboard, 10 of which are starters. The Hurricanes will once again be led by a strong defensive charge. For starters, when Shaun Lewis is on the field, but things are bound to happen when the state's best linebacker is on the prowl. Add that with Harvey Jackson patrolling in the secondary and the ‘Canes are in a good position for another district title, and beyond.

Elkins Knights 
2008 finish: 6-2
It was at the spring game when the realization was that the Knights have one of the best offensive lines in the city. Of course having Jake Matthews in the mix doesn't hurt, but the group is no joke. On the edge there are some solid playmakers with Jordan Jolly and Donte Clark. There is still a question mark at the quarterback position, but that will be worked out by the first scrimmage.

Kempner Cougars
2008 finish: 4-5 (loss to Clear Lake 21-7 in bi-district)
No need to sleep on the Cougars even after finishing below .500 in 2008. They return 14 starters and out to make a statement in 23-5A. For them to have success, running back Josh Bell will likely be leading the way toting the load while Kenneth Bibbins stretches the field out on the edge. Look for the Cougars in the postseason for sure.

Travis Tigers
2008 finish: 6-3 (loss to Dickinson 38-14 in bi-district)
Talk about a team out to make a statement. Last year's seniors had one shot to make the most of it, and did it. With that said, the bar has already been raised for the Travis team. Graduation hit these guys hard, but 10 starters still have some time left at Travis. The ground game led by Jamal Branch should have a good showing especially with the strength of the Tigers' offensive line.

Marshall Buffaloes
2008 finish: 3-6 (loss to Clear Brook 34-12 in bi-district)
The Buffs slid in the playoffs last season, but coach Daryl Phipps said that the getting and getting out with an early exit is old. With that said, he has the talent to do it with playmakers like Deondre Washington, Tyler White and Denzel Young. With that and a stout defense, the Buffs have the potential 

Dulles Vikings
2008 finish: 2-6
These guys could have easily been put in the preseason spot above as a No. 4 playoff position squad. This team will go as far as the underclassmen will take them. Juniors man up several skilled positions: at quarterback (Zach Lathrop), running back (Jerrell Oliver), and two-way athlete Sheroid Evans. Hard to gauge how good this team will be, but have the potential to finish in the top half.

Willowridge Eagles
2008 finish: 0-8
This could be the wild card team of the district. The ‘Ridge is booted up with a new coach (Keeath Magee) and attitude to go with it. Could this be the year for like Lavon Collins and Daniel Wilson to make a name for themselves? The Eagles will finish .500 at least in 2009, which is a huge step forward.

Clements Rangers
2008 finish: 3-5
Hard to say where the Rangers will end up in 2009. Last season they missed the playoffs, but return 11 starters in hopes of better days. Look for running back Brett Dunn and quarterback Austin Decell to set the tone for Clements. Defensively, linebacker Ray Oppman should bring it in 2009. Even with all of this, it will be tough for the Rangers to get postseason love.

Bush Broncos
2008 finish: 3-5
Seeing the Broncos sling the ball around in 7-on-7 this summer could make one think that the offense may come with some firepower in 2009. So look for Jesse Vaughn to get quite a few touches. But defense runs the show with these guys and will have to show up weekly for positive results and linebacker Jose Garcia is the man. This program is still building and will be a playoff contender in the coming years.

Austin Bulldogs
2008 finish: 3-5
Lots of rebuilding going on at Austin, but coach Tom Stuart will find the pieces needed to be competitive. The Bulldogs return only five starters and may be still looking for that go-to for 2009.

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