Buffs Rule Gridiron: FB Marshall Ready For New District
The Buffs made it to the State Championship game in 2018 and 2019. They were Regional Finalists in 2012, 2016, 2017 and 2020.
Last season, however, was humbling. Marshall tore through the regular season, going 10-0 and outscoring opponents 581-69. But it was stunned in the first round in a shocking 42-21 setback to Barbers Hill.
So, though Marshall was placed in a more difficult district (9-5A Division II) at February’s realignment, coach James Williams welcomed it. Gladly.
The only returning district opponents are Fort Bend ISD rival Willowridge and Galena Park. Otherwise, it’s a new slate of competition. The district includes Dayton, Nederland, Port Neches-Groves, Santa Fe, and Texas City. Texas City and Port Neches-Groves each made the playoffs last year and went multiple rounds. Nederland finished 6-4, but 3-4 in district and out of the playoffs. Dayton went 2-8 overall last year, 1-6 in district, and Santa Fe went 0-10.
Galena Park finished second to Marshall in district last season, and Willowridge barely missed the playoffs after making it in 2020.
“The quality is there,” Williams said. “Nederland is a perennial playoff team. PNG is in the playoffs every year. Texas City is always a good team. Willowridge is a rivalry. Galena Park always plays us solid. Dayton can turn their program around. It’s going to be a competitive district across the board. I really believe that. You can’t overlook anybody.”
That will be a change for Williams and Marshall.
They had previously aligned in a district with schools from Houston ISD like Northside, Waltrip, Sharpstown, Austin, Sterling, and Madison. Madison andSterling each went 6-5 and made the playoffs last year, but Northside, Waltrip, Sharpstown and Austin went a combined 6-33.
Only once during the regular season last year, Week 1 against Eisenhower, did Marshall’s starters play into the second half of a game.
“You don’t want a schedule where you just run through and beat everybody easily,” Williams said. “You need adversity. You need stress. You need games that force a team to develop, improve, and fight. You’ve got to have those before you get to the playoffs, and I believe the teams in this district are going to give us that.”
Twelve starters (seven on defense) are back for Marshall.
The cornerstones are senior quarterback Ja’KobyBanks (1,358 yards, 22 TDs passing; 1,093 yards, 19 TD srushing), senior defensive lineman Trent Thomas (45 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 2 sacks), senior defensive lineman ZacharyChapman (37 tackles, 2 sacks) and senior defensive back Michael Patterson (30 tackles, 3 INTs).
Williams expects the D-Line to be one of the best the Buff shave had in his 12 years at Marshall.