Non-district opponents to challenge Mustangs

FRIENDSWOOD — Friendswood began the 2018 football season 3-0 after getting wins over Dayton (33-20), Clear Brook (17-6), and La Porte (43-7). In the first two games, the Mustangs had to rally to pull out the wins while Friendswood dominated the Bulldogs.

The Mustangs went on to go 3-4 in District 10-5A Div. I action which is considered the toughest 5A district in the state. Friendswood failed to make the post-season for the first time under head coach Robert Koopmann who took over the helm of the football program in 2012.

The pre-season 5A state rankings has three of the 10-5A Div. I teams listed in the top 15. Richmond Foster, who is the favorite to win the league title, is No. 3 in the state while Shadow Creek is listed as No. 5, and Angleton is ranked No. 14.

Obviously, Koopmann, who has been with Friendswood football and athletics for over 25 years, is looking to get back to the playoffs in 2019.

With four offensive and eight defensive starters returning for the Mustangs, the defense will be called on this season to lead the team to the post-season. The offense has some talent and experience, but they will need to step up and take advantage of their scoring opportunities while limiting turnovers to opposing teams.

"We think we'll be a better team, but District 10-5A Div. I is ridiculously strong," Koopmann said.

Dayton Broncos
Friday, August 30 - Henry Winston Stadium - 7:00 p.m.

Dayton has a rich winning tradition and they had the Mustangs on the ropes last season at home until Friendswood went on a 15-0 scoring spree in the final half of the fourth quarter to pull out a 33-20 victory.

However, the Broncos football program has hit a major slide in the wrong direction as they were 0-10 overall and 0-7 in district in 2018 to remain at home in the playoffs. The are picked to finish last in their district this season.

Friendswood must avoid mistakes and penalties like they suffered in last year's contest or they will be prey for an upset.

“We just kept shooting ourselves in the foot," head coach Robert Koopmann said. "Offensively, we’d get it in second-and-two where everybody wants to live, right? Then we’d jump offsides or a receiver would move or we’d get a hold. We just put ourselves in bad situations.”

Dayton is expected to improve with three offensive and four defensive starters returning with 20 lettermen, but it doesn't appear they are going to improve enough to challenge for a playoff spot.

Leading the offense for the Broncos will be QB Chris Olige (6-2, 205, 4.7) who moves from wide receiver to the new position. Olige had 711 yards receiving for four TDs last season and the coaching staff is looking for him to provide experience and leadership on that side of the ball.

Other offensive players include OL Dimitris Whittington (6-3, 270), WR/DB Bryce Chimene (6-0, 170, 4.6) OT Tim Sjolander (6-2, 250), OG Carlos Ortiz, WR/S Ty Pafford (5-8, 150, 4.6) and OL Kooper Lege.

LB Gavin Bennett will anchor the defense after recording 98 tackles with two sacks last season. He will give help from DB Chimene, WR/DB Donovan Orebo (6-2, 175, 4.7), and DT Lucas Tanton (6-1, 280).

While the Broncos may show some improvement -- it won't be enough to be a team that extends their season beyond their 10-game schedule.

Prediction: Friendswood 35 - Dayton 17

Clear Brook Wolverines
Saturday - September 7 - CCISD Challenger Stadium - 6:00 p.m.

Clear Brook and Friendswood are former district opponents as well as cross-town rivals. There has been a rivalry ever since Clear Brook opened in the mid-90's. But the two schools are not in the same school district.

Last year's game was close and Clear Brook dominated the first half as they ran 46 plays to only 21 plays for Friendswood. However, Brook only led 6-0 at intermission as Friendswood allowed a couple of first-half field goals.

"Our defense was on the field the whole doggone night because we just weren't very good on offense," Friendswood head coach Robert Koopmann said. "Clear Brook just schemed us very well. All hats off to Brook because they did a fantastic job getting ready for this game."

But the second half was a different story as the Mustangs blanked the Wolverines 17-0 to pick up the 17-6 non-district win.

Clear Brook is a third-place pre-season pick in District 24-6A. The Wolverines were 3-8 last year overall and 2-4 in league play, but they still qualified for the post-season where they lost in the first round.

The Wolverines should be more improved with seven offensive and four defensive starters returning with 20 lettermen.

"We are now in year two and the kids know the standard," said second-year head coach Lupe Florez. "We think we'll be more disciplined and sound football team overall."

Clear Brook will be led by returning quarterback Shane Porter (5-11, 175, 4.7) who threw for 1,239 yards and eight TDs. He still has his leading receiver in speedster Lorenzo Thompson (6-0, 165, 4.4) who can score from anywhere on the field. He had 613 yards receiving with 6 TDs.

Others on offense include OG Mehdi Torrence (6-4, 330), WR Jaysen Price (5-6, 140, 4.6), and sophomore RB Trent Lacy (5-10, 210, 4.8)

On defense, Clear Brook will be led by DT Brandon Cazares (6-2, 240), DE Kamrin Devault (6-2, 215, 4.9), and LB Eddie Delgado.

Prediction: Friendswood 21-17

La Porte Bulldogs
Friday - September 13 - Henry Winston Stadium - 7:00 p.m.

Friendswood found their rhythm last year against the La Porte Bulldogs in a 43-7 non-district win.

La Porte was 2-8 overall and 2-5 in league play which resulted in the Bulldogs staying home when the post-season began.

The Bulldogs have new leadership at head coach as former Clear Springs defensive coordinator Anthony Renfro hopes to get La Porte back on the winning track.

La Porte is a pre-season pick to finish seventh in their eight team District 21-6A which features 2018 state champion North Shore.

With six offensive and two defensive starters and 22 lettermen returning, the Bulldogs most likely will not be advancing to the playoffs this season.

Refro will have an experienced quarterback in River Thompson (6-2, 160, 4.8) who threw for 1,047 yards and 5 TDs last season. The receiving corps of Elijah George (6-1, 165, 4.6), TE Albert Reggis (6-3, 260, 4.7), and Terince Siafa (5-10, 185. 4.5) combined for over 700 yards and will be reliable targets.

RB Brandon Collins (5-10, 200, 4.8) will lead the ground attack as he had 384 yards and 7 TDs last year. Junior Makai Histake (5-9, 175, 4.7) will also share time on the ground as he had 633 yards and 2 TDs.

The Bulldogs will need to find some defensive players to step up if they hope to win any games. The Dogs will be led by LBs Eric Bright (5-11, 200, 4.5) and Hayden Willett (6-0, 180, 4.6) Both have good speed and defensive instincts.

Others helping defense include LB Jordan Morales, DB Lonnie Stark, DL Agave Flores, DB Tyron Mathews, and DB Cooper Upshaw. Some of these players will see action on both sides of the ball.

Prediction: Friendswood 35-10