Friendswood facing stiff challenge in District 10-5A Div. I

FRIENDSWOOD — There is one characteristic that has always been true and that is a Friendswood team has never backed down from a challenge. It was true with former head coaches Henry Winston and Steve Van Meter and that competitive mentality is ingrained in head coach Robert Koopmann and his Mustang gridiron warriors.

When Friendswood was bumped up to Class 6A a few years ago, it didn't change the tradition of the Mustangs and their advancement in the playoffs each season under Koopmann.

The veteran coach begins his seventh year at the helm of the Friendswood football program and he has posted a 51-22 mark while advancing to the post-season each year. Koopmann has a .698 winning percentage which currently places him ahead of Winston and Van Meter on the all-time coaching list.

The first six years of Winston's coaching career saw the Mustangs post a 43-20-2 mark while Van Meter was 42-24-1 in his first six seasons. Winston's 1970 team was 13-1 while advancing to the 2A state semifinals. Van Meter's 1996 squad was 12-2 while advancing to the state quarterfinals.

Koopmann's teams have averaged over eight wins each season while qualifying for the playoffs in each of his six years at the helm and advancing twice to the region semifinals. Koopmann has never had a losing season to date.

The Mustangs will certainly be tested this season even though they dropped from 6A to 5A after this year's realignment by the University Interscholastic League (UIL).

Their new District 10-5A Div. I is considered one of the toughest in the state, but there is no doubt that Koopmann and his outstanding coaching staff will see the players step up to meet the challenge.

While the pre-season polls don't win games, the Mustangs are projected to finish in third place behind pre-season favorite Angleton and Richmond Foster with Fort Bend Hightower taking the fourth playoff spot.

The rest of the district teams are Texas City, Alvin Shadow Creek, Galveston Ball, and Rosenberg Terry in that order.

Angleton Wildcats

Angleton was 13-1 last season with a trip to the 5A Div. I state semifinals. The Wildcats return five offensive and five defensive starters with 21 lettermen that won their district last season at 6-0.

The Wildcats will be led by four-year starting QB Seth Cosme (5-10, 170, 4.8) who had 1,758 yards passing and 18 TDs while guiding the Wing-T offensive attack. He will look to RB Jordan Jones (5-10, 185, 4.6) to help carry the load on the ground after gaining 277 yards last year and 4 TDs.

OL Chris Cassidy (6-3, 280) was an All-State honorable mention last year and he will anchor the offensive line while getting help from OG Israel Sanchez (5-10, 235) and TE Joshua Ellis and OT Colby Olivier.

Angleton's defense will have strong experience in the secondary with SS Cory Addison (85 tackles) and S Jason Williams (3 INTs) leading the way. The Wildcats will use pressure on the edges from DE Danny Rogers (6-1, 210) and DE Jesse Herron (6-3, 210) to shut down opposing offenses.

Richmond Foster Falcons

Foster was 9-4 overall and 5-1 in district last season while advancing to the 5A Div. I region finals. The Falcons return five offensive and five defensive starters with 23 lettermen.

While Foster will be young on offense, the defense should be strong enough to let the offense get experience as the season develops.

Junior DL Chidozie Nwankwo (6-0, 280) had 67 tackles and 10 sacks last year and will be one of the team leaders for the Falcons. He will be joined by DL Robert Harbor (5-10,285) who had 63 tackles and 6 sacks and DB Chip Barillas (5-10, 180) who had 51 tackles. LB Dillon Clark is a wall in the middle of the defense after getting 84 tackles and 3 sacks last year.

The strength of the offense will be sophomore OL Rueben Fatheree (6-8, 295) who has already received six offers after a eye-opening freshman varsity season. WR Shadeed Ahmed (415 yards, 6 TDs) will be a top receiver as QB Cody Jackson will be called upon to guide the offense.

Fort Bend Hightower Hurricanes

Hightower was a young team last year that went 5-5 overall and 5-2 in district while advancing to the bi-district playoffs. The Hurricanes return seven offensive and six defensive players and 32 lettermen so they should be a force to be reckoned with in district.

Hightower is another team dropping from 6A to 5A this season so they are used to playing against stiff competition. They could be a team that finishes higher than their projected fourth place in the district race.

The Hurricanes will feature one of the top offensive lines in the Houston area with OL Marque Johnson (6-5, 270), OL Enrique Newman (6-3, 305), and OL Smart Chibuzo (6-6, 310).

WR Chantz Ceasar (6-1, 185, 4.5) has speed to burn and is considered on of the top receivers in the state. Pair him up with athlete Kobie Campbell (5-9, 180, 4.3) and the Hurricanes will be an offensive force against opposing defenses.

The defensive side will also bring speed to the table as LB Quinton Sharkey (5-11, 195) and DB Isisah Essissima (5-11, 180, 4.4) will lead the charge with DL Jacob Williams (6-3, 220).

Texas City Stingarees

Texas City has always been competitive and they have a long rivalry with Friendswood. The Stings were 5-6 last year and advanced to the 5A Div. II area round. They have seven returning offensive starters and only one defensive starter with 17 lettermen.

Junior QB Phillip McDaniel (6-0, 185) will return after gaining 1,851 total yards and 14 TDs while RB Jo'vel McDaniel (6-0, 200, 4.6) returns after rushing for 611 yards. Athlete C.J. Yell returns from an injury last year and should be a factor on offense.

The defense will be led by LB Mykahl Brow (5-10, 190, 4.5) who has the speed to cover the defensive territory. Brow had 120 tackles and 12 sacks last season.

One of the biggest transitions for the Stings is replacing the offensive and defensive coordinators who left to become head coaches at other schools. Replacing 10 defensive starters will also present a challenge to begin the season.

Shadow Creek Sharks

Shadow Creek will enter their first official varsity season as former Manvel offensive coordinator Brad Butler will hope to see the same success he was a part of at Manvel.

The Sharks could be a surprise team that is under the radar right now, but can prove their worth once the season begins.

Butler produced fast and exciting offenses at Manvel and there is no reason why the Sharks won't have the same mentality in a run and gun spread offense that attacks opposing defenses.

Shadow Creek will be led by QB Ja'Marian George who threw for 994 yards and 11TDs last year in eight games. WR Kealon Jackson (5-10, 170, 4.5) and WR Ketrick Burkhalter both can fly and will be primary targets in the passing game. RB Marquez Huland will carry the load in the running game.

OL Cam'ron Johnson (6-4, 290) will anchor the offensive line with support from OL Damian Jackson.

The Sharks will need for the defense to step up as well as they are led by DL Alec Bryant (6-3, 225), DB Jevin Murray (5-11, 170, 4.5), DB Kaymen St. Junious (5-10, 170, 4.6), LB Jeremiah Harris (6-0, 190, 4.5), DB Xavion Alford (6-0, 170, 4.6), and DL Tristin Drones (5-11, 240).

Galveston Ball Tornadoes

Ball High Tornadoes have a great history, however, a couple of hurricanes have been responsible for the depletion of students on the island which has resulted in the football in the past several years to become decimated which has resulted in the drought for the Tors.

Ball High managed to make the post-season last year to finish 6-5 overall and 4-3 in district while advancing to the area round. Last year's playoff appearance was the first since 1999.

However, the Tors find themselves in a much tougher district and are picked to finish close to the bottom of the league standings.

The Tors could be a sleeper this season if the other teams take them for granted as they have six offensive and nine defensive starters returning with 20 lettermen.

Duel-threat QB Martavian Jackson returns and has all the tools to be one of he most exciting players in the Houston area. WR Jaden Bennett is a deep-threat and RB Clarence Dalton (5-11, 240, 4.5) has the speed and talent to be a force in the ground attack.

The defense will be led by DB Michael Franks (5-10, 180, 4.5) and CB Evan Bennett (5-10, 180, 4.4) who have the speed to defend almost any receiver they will face. Add DL Kyle Copeman (6-2, 265), DL Gerrell Simmons, DL Ahmad Lee, DL Quinton Mason, and LB Terry Webb to the mix and the Tors could be a dark horse to contend for the post-season.

Terry Rangers

Terry advanced to the 5A Div. II area round last season and finished with a 5-6 overall record and 4-3 in district. However, they are projected as finishing in the cellar of the league this season which shows how strong District 10-5A Div. I is going to be. No team is really safe when district competition begins.

The Rangers have seven offensive and one defensive starter returning with 17 lettermen which may be the reason they are at the bottom. A strong offense is needed, but an experienced defense to keep the other team off the scoreboard is a must if a team is going to advance to the post-season.

The biggest question for Terry will be at the QB position, but the Rangers have a talented athlete in Le'Andre Davis (5-10, 195, 4.6), WR De'Rondre Moore (6-2, 165. 4.5) who had 334 yards receiving and 4 TDs last season, and RB Damon Shavers who had 653 yards on the ground and 6 TDs.

LB Mason Latapie will be the foundation of the defense as he had 91 tackles and 4 sacks a year ago. DB Jalen Moore (2 INTs) will also be a defensive leader to go with a lot of new faces on that side of the ball.