2018 area football teams ready to kick off the season

Friday, August 31 - Woodforest Stadium - 7:00 p.m.
Dawson Eagles vs Oak Ridge War Eagles.

The Eagles are a pre-season pick to finish third in the 23-6A race, but new head coach Mike Allison knows games are won on the field and not in the polls.

Dawson returns six offensive and five defensive starters with 24 returning lettermen on a team that was 6-4 last season while advancing to the first round of the post-season.

The Eagles have some talent and speed on offense led by RB Mason Pierce (5-7, 160, 4.6).

QB Patrick Kramer takes the control of the offense after he threw for 1,362 yards and 8 TDs last season. His top receiver will be Pierce who had 662 yards receiving and 4 TDs. The ground attack will be led by Caleb Eaton (6-0, 195, 4.5) who had 446 yards rushing and 5 TDs.

Other players to watch on offense include: C Jacob Johnston (6-2, 270), OL Calib Perez (6-5, 260) and OL Spencer Cody.

On defense, the Eagles should be an aggressive unit led by S Kris Levi (5-11, 180, 4.7), DE Steven Rochon (6-3, 215), CB Jayron Tanner (5-11, 175, 4.5), DL Kris Pruitt, and OLB Marcus Allen.

Dawson and Pearland will return to District 23-6A after the University Interscholastic League (UIL) announced their biennial realignment with the following schools - Alief Elsik, Alief Hastings, Alief Taylor, Clute Brazoswood, Houston Strake Jesuit, Pearland, Pearland Dawson, and Richmond George Ranch.

Conroe Oak Ridge War Eagles

The Eagles faced Oak Ridge for the first time in 2016 and came away with a hard-fought 31-21 win. However, last year the two teams were unable to play due to Hurricane Harvey canceling the season opener for both teams.

The War Eagles went on in 2017 to finish with a 6-4 mark losing to Mesquite Horn 45-24 in the opening round of the post-season.

Oak Ridge is a fifth pre-season pick in District 15-6A with Klein Collins, The Woodlands, Klein, and Klein Oak picked in front of them as a dark horse team to advance in the post-season. They also have to compete against Klein Forest, Conroe, The Woodlands College Park, and Klein Cain.

The War Eagles return seven offensive and three defensive starters as well as 29 returning lettermen so they do have a nucleus of players that could surface in the playoffs.

Head coach Dereck Rush will be looking for a quarterback to guide the offense and a defensive line that graduated though he does have some experience in the secondary. Obviously, the offense will be ahead of the defense when the season kicks off.


Friday, August 31 - Broncos Stadium - 7:00 p.m.
Friendswood Mustangs vs Dayton Broncos

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.

Friendswood finished 9-4 last season while advancing to the 6A Division II region semifinals. They were 5-2 in district competition.

The Mustangs will return five offensive and three defensive starters and head coach Robert Koopmann, who has been at the helm of the Mustangs for seven years, will no doubt keep the wide spread offense on the field that will challenge the new defensive coordinators of the district. Koopmann enters this season with a 51-22 mark as a head coach for a .698 winning percentage which is better than former head coaches Henry Winston (.611) and Steve Van Meter (.663).

Koopmann has the luxury of having two players that will compete at the quarterback position as sophomore-to-be Luke Grden (6-1, 170, 4.8) enters the season as the possible starter after he stepped in for junior-to-be QB Christian Lee (6-4, 190. 4.7), who broke his collar bone in the final game of the 2017 season giving then-freshman Grden the opportunity to show his potential in leading the Mustangs to the third round of the post-season.

Lee, who started most of the games during the regular season, was 71-for-131 (.542) for 834 yards and 6 TDS with 3 INTs. He also had 315 yards rushing on 81 carries for 5 TDs. Grden was 64-for-101 passing for 1,008 yards and 13 TDs with 3 INTs.

Koopmann will need to replace several ball carriers especially Mason Barnes who had 1,375 yards rushing. Defensive back Colton Halata might change sides to take over some of the running back duties. WR Austin Alvarez will be one of the top receivers after catching passes for 248 yards and 4 TDs last year.

Players to watch include OL Michael Gibson (6-3, 310), OL Roderick Hutchinson, OL Miles Morgan, WR Zac Zamora, and WR Cymon Sherer.

The defense will be led by junior-to-be Dane Roenne (6-0, 190) who had 80 tackles last year. He will be joined by DE Davis Tinger (6-4, 230) who had 56 tackles and two sacks.

Other defensive players to watch include DB Trey Mappe (6-1,185), DL Elliot Spiller (6-1, 205), DB Luke Sanchez, DL Mike Hermes, and DL Blaze Hilton. Dayton Broncos

For the first in several years, Dayton is not a pre-season pick to advance to the playoffs. They are on the bubble behind Port Neches-Groves, Crosby, Nederland, and Barbers Hill with the Broncos in fifth placed followed by Vidor, Santa Fe, and Baytown Lee.

The Broncos return eight offensive and seven defensive starters from a young team in 2017 that finished 3-6 overall and 3-5 in district. But don't be surprised if they use their strong tradition to pull off a few upsets to make the post-season.

Dayton will be led by QB A.J. Nail (6-2, 190) who threw for 1,253 yards and 13 TDs. He will be flanked by running back Justin Santee (5-11, 205) who had 995 yards rushing and 8 TDs.

If the Broncos can fill a few holes up front, the offense has the potential to be lethal that will go with an aggressive 3-4 defense that has always exhibited speed and gang tackling. _______________________________________________________________________________________

Friday, August 31 - Cy-Fair FCU Stadium - 7:00 p.m.
Pearland Oilers vs Cy-Springs Panthers

While Pearland accepts new leadership with head coach Ricky Tullos, they will also face two new non-district foes and one familiar opponent.

The Oilers will open the season on the road at the Cy-Fair FCU Stadium on Friday, August 31 at 7:00 p.m. against Cy-Springs. Pearland has never played a Cy-Springs team.

The Oilers should have a very strong team this season to open the legacy of Ricky Tullos.

Pearland has eight offensive and five defensive starters returning with 35 lettermen on a team that was 5-4 last season while falling to Clear Springs in the first round of the playoffs.

The Oilers have made the post-season 17 consecutive years and this year should be no different as Pearland is the pre-season favorite to capture the District 23-6A crown.

The offense is packed with talent, speed, and experience as RB Jaelin Benefield (5-10, 165, 4.5) returns for his senior season. All-District QB Austin Landry (6-0, 180, 4.5) also returns, however a very talented QB from Oklahoma recently moved to Pearland in J.D. Head who guided Jones High School to a 13-1 record and to the state semifinals last season. Head passed for over 3,000 yards as a sophomore and 44 TDs and was also on their baseball team that captured the Class 3A state championship.

Pearland has some D-I recruits in OL Sincere Haynesworth (6-2, 280), OL Jaret Porterfield (6-3, 310), and WR Clayton Broeder (6-0, 185, 4.6). An other player that will contribute on offense include OL Walter Macker (6-1, 240).

The defense will be led by Texas Tech commit DL Gilbert Ibeneme (6-3, 255) who is a beast on the defensive line with size and speed and excellent quickness. DB Johnny Tamayo (6-0, 185) will patrol the defensive secondary and packs a powerful punch to opposing ball carriers. Another player that will be stepping up includes DL Isaiah Iton.

Cy-Springs Panthers

The Cy-Springs Panthers are a pre-season fourth place pick in District 14-6A after going 4-5 overall and 4-5 in district while missing the playoffs in 2017.

Teams in their district picked ahead of them include Langham Creek (11-2), Cy-Ranch (8-3), and Cy-Woods (4-5) with Tomball Memorial, Bryan, Cy-Lakes, Cy-Bridgeland, and Cy-Park picked behind them.

Cy-Springs will have six offensive and four defensive starters returning with 19 lettermen.

New head coach Rusty Rohan was promoted to the top spot when former head coach Rick Cobia retired.

Experience on offense will be thin and the defense will need to step up until the offense can gain some experience and depth.

RB Johnathan Bloom (6-0, 190, 4.5) will be a key leader on the offensive side while WR Cameron Chappell could provide some additional firepower depending on who will emerge as the signal-caller.

The defensive front will be anchored by DL Jalyn Allen (6-1, 320), DL David Perez, and DB Myles Mass (5-10, 170, 4.5).


Thursday, August 30, Alvin ISD Freedom Field - 7:00 p.m.
Clear Lake Falcons at Manvel Mavericks

Manvel was 14-1 last season and lost a heartbreaker to defending 5A Division I state champion Highland Park 53-49 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. It appeared that the Mavs would return home with their first-ever state championship until a late touchdown gave the Scots the improbable win in one of the most memorable state title games in the history of Texas football.

Most would agree that the Mavs won't really be tested until it is time to enter the post-season especially after their heart-breaking loss for the 5A Division I state title last year.

Defensive coordinator Kevin Hall was selected to take over for the departed Kirk Martin who has moved on to become the quarterback coach for Syracuse University. Martin, the only coach that Manvel has ever known, will certainly be missed after seeing Manvel become a state power for many years. Martin compiled an overall 108-25 mark with the Mavs.

The ground attack may be their most lethal approach as the Mavs return two All-District performers in senior RB Garrison Johnson (5-11, 225, 4.6) and senior Ladarius Owens (5-10, 185, 4.4) as both have power and speed to rush through opposing defenses. Johnson had 677 yards rushing on 102 carries for 12 TDs while Owens posted 713 yards on 112 totes for 12 TDs while also catching 15 passes for 150 yards.

Hall will look to QB Joshua Coltrin (6-1, 195, 4.7) to take over for All-State QB Kason Martin who is now at North Texas State. In a limited role, Coltrin was 23-of-29 passing for 259 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT. He is accurate and will look for some young receives to step up to give the Mavs the potent offense they are accustomed to seeing on the field.

Players to watch on offense include: RB/LB Donovan Eaglin (5-11, 215, 4.6) who had 204 yards rushing on 21 carries and 3 TDs. OL Jhase Edwards, WR Eric Hebert, and OL Damarius Countee.

Defensive players to watch include: DL Corey Roberson (6-4, 270) who had 47 tackles and six sacks last season. LB Jermaine Brown (6-0, 190, 4.3), DB Kamryn Alexander, DB Trevion Robertson, LB Devon Roush, DL Travorris Hardison, and DL Brian Wilturner.

The season will begin with the defense being the major strength, but the offense should develop quickly to keep in the tradition of a potent Manvel team. Tradition will certainly play an important role as the younger players gain experience in a weak district.

Manvel is an overwhelming favorite to capture the district title followed by Fort Bend Marshall, Houston Waltrip, and Houston Madison as the teams to advance to the post-season. Other teams include Houston Sterling, Fort Bend Willowridge, Houston Sharpstown, Houston Northside, and Houston Milby.

Clear Lake Falcons

For the past several years, the Clear Lake Falcons have run into some tough times, but new head coach Larry McRae has brought the Falcons out of the bottom of the pack in District 24-6A and made them a contender to challenge for the league crown.

Clear Lake is a pre-season pick to place second in the league behind Clear Springs. Finishing behind the Falcons is Dickinson and Clear Brook for the top four spots followed by outsiders Clear Creek, Clear Falls, and Alvin.

The Falcons were 8-4 last season while finishing 5-2 in district with a second round area loss to Kingwood 38-30.

Clear Lake is loaded with seven offensive and seven defensive starters while 35 returning lettermen will fill up the experienced roster.

Manvel will have to contend in stopping QB Shae Suiaunoa (6-3, 200, 4.6) who was 160-for-266 for 2,513 yards, 25 TDs and 13 INTs last season. Suiaunoa is a duel threat as he also rushed for 810 yards on 144 carries for 12 more TDs.

Junior RB Brendon Holmes (5-8, 175, 4.5) led the ground attack with 1,118 yards on 218 carries for 17 TDs. He also caught 18 passes for 177 yards and one score.

With an equal number of starters on defense, LB Rian Davis (6-4, 230, 4.6) will anchor that side of the ball after recording 94 tackles, 4 sacks, and 2 INTs last season.


Friday, August 31, Alvin ISD Freedom Field - 7:00 p.m.
Summer Creek Bulldogs vs Shadow Creek Sharks

For the past two years, Shadow Creek has been competing in football at the junior varsity level. This year, the Sharks get to play with the big boys. And they couldn't have been placed in a tougher district.

Despite being placed in District 10-5A Div. I, they weren't picked to finish last this season as the past two years they have shown a very competitive team that could be a dark horse to make the playoffs.

Former Manvel High School offensive coordinator Brad Butler is the head coach of the Sharks and he certainly knows about winning tradition.

The Sharks were 5-3 last season at the JV level and they played some stiff competition.

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).

The Sharks will compete against Angleton, Foster, Friendswood, Fort Bend Hightower, Texas City, Ball High, and Rosenberg Terry.

Summer Creek Bulldogs

The Bulldogs finished 7-4 overall and 5-2 in district while advancing in the playoffs in the area round before losing to Friendswood 27-26 when they botched the snap on a game-winning field goal attempt. Friendswood beat Summer Creek in the regular season 27-19.

Summer Creek is a pre-season third place team in District 22-6A with Humble Atascocita selected to win the district followed by Kingwood, Summer Creek, and Pasadena South Houston. The other teams looking to make the post-season include Pasadena Memorial, Pasadena Dobie, Humble, Pasadena, and Pasadena Sam Rayburn.

Summer Creek returns five offensive and four defensive starters with 24 returning lettermen. The Bulldogs have a new head coach in Kenny Harrison who was at Port Arthur Memorial.

The offensive line has some veteran players, but the Bulldogs will be searching for a signal-caller to them.

Defensively, the 'Dogs have some young defensive players that will need to mature quickly if they are going to be successful early in the season.