VYPE 2022 Countdown to Kickoff: District 23-6A Preview
Shadow Creek has owned District 23-6A since it started up its varsity football program four years ago. It’ll be hard for anyone to take down the Sharks this year but there will be plenty of suitors.
It starts with Pearland and new coach B.J. Gotte, fresh off leading Katy Paetow to the Class 5A-DI State Title.
It continues with Pearland Dawson, which returns a lot of firepower to also take its shot at the crown. District 23-6A football figures to be a fun ride this year, with fresh blood on the sidelines and plenty of talent to go around.
PREVIOUS DISTRICT PREVIEWS (2022)
Shadow Creek Sharks
Pearland Dawson Eagles
Strake Jesuit Crusaders
Alief Taylor Lions
VYPE PRESEASON AWARDS
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Duke Butler, Shadow Creek
OFFENSIVE MVP:Bryce Fucik, Strake Jesuit
DEFENSIVE MVP:Maurice Williams, Shadow Creek
BREAKOUT PLAYER OF THE YEAR:Jackson Hamilton, Pearland
SLEEPER TEAM:Alief Taylor
SHADOW CREEK SHARKS
In its four years as a varsity football program, Shadow Creek has been district champion three times. This year likely won’t prove any different, as the Sharks return 13 starters (7 defense) from a 9-3 Area finalist. The offense is high-powered thanks to senior 6-foot-1, 170-pound QB Duke Butler (1,891 yards, 29 TDs), junior RB Tylik Burton (760 yards, 8 TDs), senior RB Felix Buchanan (401 yards, 6 TDs) and senior ATH Jacob Washington (162 yards, TD). Sophomore WR Jacorey Watson could make an immediate impact for a thin receiving corp. But it’s defense where Shadow Creek will shine, led by senior DE and Washington State-commit Theorin Randle (11 tackles for loss, 5 sacks), junior 6-foot-2 DE Zion Taylor (8 tackles for loss, 4 sacks), senior LB Robert Edmonson Jr. (77 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 2 INTs) and junior 6-foot-2, 185-pound DE Maurice Williams (47 tackles, INT), an LSU-commit. Coach Brad Butler said senior leadership is a strength this year while he will need new starters at key positions to mature quickly.
The Oilers are under new leadership in B.J. Gotte, who led Katy Paetow to the Class 5A-DI State Title last year. Gotte, a Katy native, came to Pearland for its tradition and homey, small-town feel, where the Oilers are the big game in town every Friday night. He has a chore on his hands in Pearland, which has not made it past the Area playoffs since 2013. But Gotte does have talent as nine starters (6 offense) return from last year’s 7-4 Bi-District finalist. Leading the way is sophomore 5-11, 170-pound QB Jackson Hamilton (232 yards, 3 TDs), son of Houston Texans OC Pep Hamilton. Hamilton is ideal for Gotte’s multiple pro-style attack, and he will have weapons in senior RB Kennedy Lewis (552 yards, 7 TDs), senior WR Christian Pitts (331 yards, 3 TDs) and senior WR Aiden Glasper (223 yards, 3 TDs). The defense is led by senior 6-foot-2, 200-pound LB Zander Winter (65 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, 5 sacks), junior DB Ashton Hampton (25 tackles, 2 INTs) and senior DL Abraham Diaz (11 tackles, sack). Keep an eye on newcomers like sophomore RB LaDamion McDowell, junior DL Wesley Willingham, junior DL Jaden Wincher and senior LB Andre Duke. Gotte said concerns are both lines and safety play. The strengths are the offensive skill positions, cornerbacks and linebackers.
PEARLAND DAWSON EAGLES
After a dominant 10-1 2020 season, Dawson finished 8-4 last year with a team that returned five starters (one on defense). Not too shabby for what was supposed to be a reloading year. Now 13 starters (7 defense) return and the Eagles could be a darkhorse to make some serious noise in 2022. Dawson has some serious firepower in the dynamic duo of senior 6-foot-3, 185-pound QB Colin Johnson (1,955 yards, 17 TDs) and junior RB Bryce Burgess (1,423 yards 16 TDs). They combined for 33 of the Eagles’ 42 offensive TDs last season. Defensively, an experienced unit is anchored by senior 6-foot-1, 220-pound LB Jackson Cody (15 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, INT) and aided by the playmaking of senior 6-foot-1, 305-pound DL Chris Herpin and junior 6-foot-6, 220-pound DL Edward Smith (8 tackles for loss, 6 sacks), each of whom has no problem getting to the quarterback.
STRAKE JESUIT CRUSADERS
After missing the playoffs, the last two seasons, this could be the year Strake Jesuit, which returns 10 starters (6 offense) from a 4-6 team, gets back in. The Crusaders have one of the more prolific performers in the district in senior 6-foot, 175-pound QB Bryce Fucik (2,548 yards, 29 TDs passing: 211 yards, 4 TDs rushing). He makes the Crusaders go. But Fucik will need help to make the final four of a rough and rugged district. So, keep an eye on senior 6-foot-4, 220-pound TE Chico Holt (213 yards, 4 TDs in 8 games), a Northwestern-commit, and senior WR Bryce Lanier (316 yards, 16 yards per catch, 3 TDs). Defensively, Strake Jesuit will be paced by senior 6-foot, 185-pound LB Jake Jongebloed (59 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 6 sacks) and junior 6-foot, 230-pound DL Jackson Priesmeyer (49 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 4 sacks).
ALVIN YELLOW JACKETS
Coach James Gage expects the offense to be a strength this year as it enters year No. 4 in his flex-bone system. The Yellow Jackets averaged 13 more points per game last year compared to 2020 (23.3 to 10.2), and Gage expects to see more considerable progress this season. Senior 6-foot-2, 200-pound FB DayShawn Peterson (1,200 yards, 12 TDs) and senior 6-foot-1, 175-pound RB Cole Erndt (450 yards, 4 TDs) are entering their third year as starters and are the rocks behind the running attack. The line will be steadied by RT Finn Madding. Defensively, Alvin will be led by senior CB Gio Gutierrez (25 tackles, 3 pass breakups) and senior DL Eddie Parker (30 tackles, 3 sacks). Keep an eye on senior S Sear Lomeli, junior K Austin Hill and junior RB Ezaiah Vaughans to make some noise as well. Gage said depth and special teams are concerns for a team that returns 13 starters (7 offense) from a 4-6 team.
ALIEF TAYLOR LIONS
Taylor returns 10 starters (7 defense) from a 6-5 Bi-District finalist. It will be a bit of a reloading year for the Lions. The offense will be built around senior QB Chase Jenkins (1,800 yards, 17 TDs-1 INT) - a Rice-commit - and senior 6-foot-2, 165-pound WR Bricen Brantley (539 yards, 7 TDs). Jenkins is also the team’s top returning rusher, having gained 695 yards for seven TDs on the ground last season. Defense will have to carry Taylor, at least early in the season. The front is formidable with 6-foot-5, 205-pound senior DE Collins Simpson (37 tackles, 3 sacks) and 6-foot-1, 245-pound senior NT Samuel Robles (26 tackles, 3 tackles for loss) running around. Robles is versatile enough to play any position on the line, and he figures to play some tight end as well. Watch for sophomore LB Collin Germany, senior WR Terrence Naulings, junior WR Brandon Barrera and senior DB Aaron McCardell to have opportunities to make their names known this year.
Elsik has not made the playoffs since 2015 and has only eight wins over the last six seasons. But it’s a fresh start for the Rams as alum Shea Rodriguez takes over a program that returns 17 starters (9 offense) from a 1-9 team. Junior ATH Eric Dadzie Jr. is the centerpiece of an experienced offense. The 6-foot-1, 205-pounder rushed for 807 yards and 7 TDs last year while throwing for 407 yards and 2 TDs. He could find himself at QB this year after playing all over the field last season. The O-line is in good shape behind senior Oke Akpoborie and Amara Sylla. Junior 6-foot-3, 200-pound DL Adeyini Adewola and sophomore LB Sam Marcelin headline the defense. Keep an eye on senior two-way dynamo Arik Dennis, senior DE Richard Alvarado, senior ATH Anthony Calderon and junior TE Tony Pretzantzin.
Hastings is hoping to avoid a fourth consecutive year of not making the playoffs. The Bears have only made the playoffs twice since 2014. Eleven starters (8 offense) return from a 1-9 team. The offense is in good shape with junior RB Jae’Don Webster and a tough, physical and big OL of junior 6-foot-2, 325-pound Tristan Shandy, junior 6-foot-4, 255-pound Darian Snell and junior 6-foot-3, 260-pound Pablo Membreno. Keep an eye on senior 6-foot-3, 200-pound QB Victor Mbajiofor and sophomore 6-foot-2, 147-pound WR Triston Brooks to make some noise on offense. Both are physical, athletic talents. The defense is young and inexperienced and will need more time to gel early on. Senior LB Deundre Willis (89 tackles), junior LB Reece Bender (43 tackles, 2 sacks) and senior CB Kingsley Okafor are the anchors. The Bears are hoping having their first full offseason in two years leads to immediate results