Friendswood set to compete in District 24-6A

FRIENDSWOOD — The Friendswood Mustangs have been to the playoffs every year since athletic director and head coach Robert Koopmann took control from former head coach Steve Van Meter six years ago.

Friendswood is 42-18 under Koopmann, who is approaching his 24th year with the Mustangs with 18 years serving under Van Meter.

"Ultimately, I think this is the best school district in the state, so why leave," Koopmann said. "In retrospect, I don't regret not taking other job offers in the past. I love this school district and I believe in it."

Friendswood was 9-3 in 2016 while advancing to the Class 6A Div. II regional semifinals where they fell to Cinco Ranch.

The Stangs opened up the playoffs with a first-round win over 2015 defending 5A Div. I state champion George Ranch 42-21 and then outlasted La Porte 56-35 before the disappointing loss to Cinco Ranch.

The Mustangs will have five returning offensive starters and six defensive starters to begin the 2017 football campaign.

Now the post Tyler Page era begins in 2017 with the same goals that have always been in place – to win a district championship (24-6A) and navigate a long playoff run.

The Mustangs are eager to wipe away the memory of a third-round playoff loss to Cinco Ranch in 2016 when Page was injured on the first offensive snap of the game.

Of course, the unlikely injury sent Koopmann to the drawing board.

"I've done the math: 87 percent of your offense is out of the game," Koopmann said. "In the coaching world you've got another snap to get ready for."

Koopmann will rely upon a coaching staff that is experienced and knowledgeable while possessing the chemistry that enables youngsters to be successful both on and off the field.

Creating a positive way to transfer information to high school players has been an enormous asset by the Friendswood coaching staff.

The Mustangs will return 24 letterman, but the biggest task facing Koopmann will be finding a starting quarterback that will lead the offense.

At present, the two strongest candidates for the Mustangs at quarterback is Justin Karam and Garrett Hurst.

Karam is the younger brother of former Friendswood signal-caller Jacob Karam who set numerous records for the Mustangs before playing at the next level for Texas Tech and Memphis.

With Page primarily a running quarterback, the Mustangs will probably throw the ball much more than in recent years for the upcoming season.

Players to watch include: OL Max Yarbrough (6-4, 290), RB Mason Barnes (5-10, 180), S Reid Nickerson (6-4 , 200), LB Jake Yurachek (6-0, 245), LB/FB Cal Whittaker (5-10, 220), WR Nick Swaney (6-3, 185, 4.3).

Top juniors include: CB Colton Halata (5-10, 170) and DE Davis Tinger (6-4, 220)

Top sophomore: LB Dane Roenne (6-0, 205).

Other prospects include: DE Wyatt Hall, WR Koleman Bell, DT Blake Boddie, OL Jackson Roos, WR Ben Redding, QB Justin Karam, and QB Garrett Hurst.

Karam saw limited action last season as he had only 21 carries for 34 yards and one TD on the ground while throwing for 21-of-45 for 232 yards with three TDs and one INT through the air.

Mason Barnes had 12 carries for 111 yards before an injury cut his 2016 short after the first game. Barnes should be healthy and ready to be a featured ball carrier.

Colton Halata will also be another offensive force after he picked up 212 yards o 24 carries for one score in seven games his sophomore year.

Koleman Bell proved he was a worthy ball carrier as he gained 198 yards on 43 carries and two TDs. He also proved to be a receiving threat after he had 20 grabs for 271 yards and 2 scores.

Cal Whitaker is another ball carrier that could have a breakout season as he had 23 totes for 123 yards and two scores his junior season.

Nick Swaney is the top returning receiver as he had 24 catches for 482 yards and three TDs.

The other District 24-6A teams:

Alvin Yellowjackets

Alvin has three returning offensive and seven defensive players returning for a team that was 4-6 in 2016 and didn't make the post-season.

The Jackets have 15 returning lettermen on a team that was 2-5 in league action.

Clear Brook Wolverines

The Wolverines are coached by former Dawson defensive coordinator Mike Allison who has done a great job in bringing Clear Brook back to being a team that will contend for a playoff spot.

Clear Brook defeated his former team in the opening round last season and they look to build on the 8-5 overall mark and a regional semifinalist team. Clear Brook was 4-3 in district last year.

The Wolverines return six offensive and four defensive starters as well as 20 lettermen.

Clear Creek Wildcats

Clear Creek had a down year in 2016 finishing 5-5 overall and 2-5 in district to miss the playoffs.

The Wildcats will be much more experienced in 2017 with six offensive and six defensive starters to go with 30 returning lettermen.

Clear Falls Knights

Clear Falls has not had a winning season since the school opened and it doesn't appear they will be a major threat in 2017. The Knights were 2-8 overall last year and winless in district at 0-7.

They could possibly challenge to get a win this season as they have seven offensive and seven defensive starters as well as 27 returning lettermen.

Clear Lake Falcons

Clear Lake has dropped out of one of the top teams in the league in recent years. The Falcons were 3-7 overall last year and 2-5 in league action

However, this year could see the Falcons make a run for the fourth and final playoff spot if they win the right games since they have 10 offensive and 8 offensive starters coming back to go with 28 returning lettermen.

Clear Springs Chargers

Clear Springs was 9-2 in 2016 with their only two losses coming in the season opener and the first round of the playoffs -- both losses to the Pearland Oilers. The Chargers captured the 24-6A crown with a 7-0 mark.

The Chargers have five offensive and six defensive starters returning to go with 26 lettermen and they will face the Oilers once again in the 2017 season opener.

Dickinson Gators

The Gators finished 6-1 in district while closing out with a 10-2 record and a Region III Div. I area finalist.

Dickinson will welcome six offensive and four defensive starters plus 28 returning lettermen to challenge for the league title.


Here is how the early sports prognosticators see the playoff picture for 24-6A in 2017.

    Inside Picks
  1. Dickinson
  2. Clear Springs
  3. Friendswood
  4. Clear Brook
  5. Outside Looking In
  6. Clear Creek
  7. Clear Lake
  8. Alvin
  9. Clear Falls

2017 Friendswood Football Schedule

Texas City
Stingaree Stadium
Summer Creek
Turner Stadium
Henry Winston Stadium
Henry Winston Stadium
*Clear Falls
Veterans Memorial Stadium
*Clear Brook (Patriotic)
Henry Winston Stadium
*Clear Creek (Homecoming)
Henry Winston Stadium
*Clear Lake
Veterans Memorial Stadium
*Clear Springs (Senior Night)
Henry Winston Stadium
Alvin Memorial Stadium

Highslide JS
Click to enlarge.
Justin Karam
Highslide JS
Click to enlarge.
Reid Nickerson
Highslide JS
Click to enlarge.
Nick Swaney
Highslide JS
Click to enlarge.
Max Yarbrough
Highslide JS
Click to enlarge.
Jake Yurachek
Highslide JS
Click to enlarge.
Koleman Bell