District 26-4A 2009 Outlook

Another TPI district preview from the Austin area is available for you. This time, we feature District 26-4A where Crockett, LBJ, McCallum and Travis will race for the postseason. This is free content, but don't forget to join us for more in-depth details on top teams and highly regarded recruits. Stay tuned.

Composed of the 4A Austin Independent School District schools, district 26-4A looks to be among the weakest of the Cen-Tex districts. Making it past the first round of the playoffs has not been easy with Crockett (6-5), LBJ (6-4), McCallum (5-5) and Travis (3-8) dropping bi-district openers in 2008. The success of District 25-4A stalwarts Lake Travis and Killeen, which meet for the Region IV title, has hampered 26-4A as much as anything.

Crockett will look to repeat as district champions, but a talented LBJ team will challenge and hope to avoid defending state champion Lake Travis in the postseason.

Predicted Order of Finish (Division I teams all CAPS):
2. LBJ
3. McCallum
4. Travis
5. Reagan
6. Lanier

Crockett Cougars
The first hurdle laying in the way of Crockett's goal to repeat as district champions will be replacing 10-of-11 offensive starters.

The offense's lone returning starter, C Chris Morales will lead an offensive line that has two or three other players with some experience.

Replacing the QB Darrell Cantu-Harkless, an All-District player at three positions, won't be possible according to Cougar coach John Waugh. Junior QB Paul Wagner has emerged as the top-prospect with and an accurate arm and a pair of legs that might be even better than his predecessor.

"This kid really has a knack for getting yardage," Waugh said. "You look up and go ‘hey, he just got 15 yards' and you don't really see how he did it. He's kind of an elusive player."

Waugh said his team will be able to punish people up front with the Cougar ground game, along with a play action and deep passing game that will give his team plenty of weapons.

Crocket has two rangy receivers who's size will provide a mis-match against cornerbacks, in senior WR Ryan Vaughn (6-4, 200) and junior WR Trey VonEdwards (6-4). A multi-sport athlete, Vaughn earned Honorable Mention All District honors last season and is also known to be a solid blocker.

After three years in the shadow of Cantu-Harkless, RB Mark Davis will have a chance to emerge as a focal point for the offense. Along with Davis the running game will have a large FB in Micheal Aniekwu (6-0, 210), who can provide with inside running and opening up holes for Davis on the perimeter. In the past Waugh says his team hasn't really had a real fullback type player.

Defense will likely emerge as the Cougar's forte. Up front, DT Josh Mullins (6-3, 270) returns after being named First Team All District last year. The sizable Mullins will lead an emerging group of defense linemen that could be a force to be reconed with in the district.

Junior FS Vicente Cantu-Harkless brings the family's athletic ability to the defensive side of the ball. In his two years as a Cougar, V. Cantu-Harkless has started in 21 of the 21 games he has been eligible to play in since the beginning of his freshman year. Waugh expects to see a lot of leadership from the player he called a "tremendous hitter" and "football savvy" thanks to his extensive playing time.

"It's great to have a force in the defensive line. And then have one in the back end in the secondary, that can really cause a lot of problems," Waugh said. "That's going to be a tremendous plus for our defensive unit."

Waugh said depending on the performances they submit this fall, both Mullins and V. Cantu-Harkless could compete against each other for All-District MVP.

Earning their first district championship meant a lot to the school and the community in 2008, according to Waugh. and he can see that his players don't want that to be a one-time thing. After a challenging pre-district schedule, he expects his team to dive head first into district play.

"I don't really care what our record is when coming into district," Waugh said. "I feel that once we get into district we are going to compete very hard. Our players kind of have a mindset of taking that piece of the season and really doing there best. I think with those things combined, I look forward to some really good things for us this year."

LBJ Jaguars
Replacing a three-year starter at quarterback will be the first challenge for the Jagauars. Athony Kavanaugh leads the hunt for the job. But Derris Collins and Daryl Roberts(6-0, 165) are possibilities, as well.

LBJ coach Demo Odems said he likes the skill his offense has this year. The team has good RBs in Cameron Brown(6-0, 190) and Dante Price (5-9, 155) and a talented wide receiver in Elijah Cash(6-1,180).

On the defensive side, Odems expects his cornerbacks and linebackers to lead the way. Jamaal Brooks, who led the team in tackles before being injured last season, will head up the linebacker core. Look for Steven Canon to have a break-out year as a cornerback or a slot receiver. At the front of the defense, All Cen-Tex DT Cedric Howard returns.

"We're going to have to find some guys who can get around him and help him out," Odems said.

LBJ opens the season against the Hutto Hippos.

McCallum Knights
The Knights expect a emotionally and physically challenging season after losing their long-time coach Pat Honeycutt unexpectedly last year.

Todd Raymond is the new coach from Stony Point. Raymond will be instituting some new offensive and defense schemes for his players to learn.

Offensively he expects the McCallum offensive line to be one of the team's strengths. The Knights return senior QB Clete Donavan (6-3, 185), who passed for more than 1,700 yards and rushed for 600 yards last year. Junior RB Micheal Sorrells (6-2, 200) will be a go-to weapon. As a sophomore, he was an all-district defensive end.

The defensive line and linebackers will form the core of the McCallum defense. Look for DE Kendrick Perkins (6-2, 220) and DT Tommy Lias (6-0,240) to head up that unit.

Braylon Cannon (5-10, 160) and Jevon Neal (5-9,160) both are all-around athletes and could come in at a variety of positions. Neal, a senior, can run a sub-4.5 40.

Raymond hopes to see his team past the first round of the playoff, a feat they haven't accomplished since 2005.

Reagan Raiders
Once a prominent Cen-Tex powerhouse, Reagan (2-8) has struggled over the past decade as the demographics of their area of town have shifted. The team will look to vie for a playoff opportunity this year with its 15 returning starters.

Defense will likely be the Raiders' strength as OLB Abraham Maldonado (5-8, 165) returns as a key player, known for his costintent play. All-District honorable mention CBs James Marshall and Terran Williams will also return to the secondary.

All-district junior QB Jaquarias Daniels will lead the Reagan offense once again.

Travis Rebels
The Rebels will have plenty of adjusting to do this season with only 14 returning lettermen on the team and new coach Armando Jacinto.

A three-year starter, LB Jose Garza (5-10, 190) has experience and will be a team leader. Garza could end up as the district's defensive MVP. Up front on defense DT Jose Lopez (5-10, 240) and DE Sidney Williams (6-2, 185) are both seniors who could put up big years.

New QB Johnthan Sterling (6-0, 170), will have a lot of weight put on his shoulders, but he will have a few veterans on offense to help lift some of the burden. RB C.J. Herrera and WR Justin Rodriguez will be players to watch.

Lanier Vikings
Although 0-7 in 2008, the Vikings will look to earn at least one win this season.

With seven starters returning on both offense and defense experience will favor the team as they fight for a win. The offense will likely be a strong suit with two returning all-district offensive threats in QB/WR Marquis Walker (6-0, 175) and RB Domonique Fisher (5-6, 160).

The team employs a 3-3 stack defense that will have plenty of returning veterans.

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