VYPE Countdown to Kickoff 2022: District 16-6A Preview
Three’s a pretty talented crowd in District 16-6A
The district has emerged as a three-headed monster of late with powers like Cypress Ranch and Bridgeland joined by defending district champ Cypress Park as a legitimate threat in 2021. It’s as tough of a district as there is, and playoff positioning will once again be paramount. With Cypress Park losing a lot to graduation, No. 1 in 16-6A is up for grabs and will likely come to down to the final weeks of the season.
There is talent galore for programs rich in tradition, and others who are just starting theirs. Enjoy the show.
Cypress Ranch Mustangs
Cypress Woods Wildcats
Cypress Falls Eagles
Cypress Springs Panthers
Cypress Park Tigers
Langham Creek Lobos
Cypress Lakes Spartans
VYPE PRESEASON AWARDS
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Blake Baker, Cypress Ranch
OFFENSIVE MVP: Jonathan Nelson, Bridgeland
DEFENSIVE MVP: Ashton Porter, Cypress Ranch
BREAKOUT PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Trey Morris, Cypress Falls
SLEEPER TEAM:Cypress Springs
CYPRESS RANCH MUSTANGS
The Mustangs are seeking their first district championship since 2018 after finishing runner-up each of the last two seasons. Since coach Sean McAuliffe’s 8-4 debut at the helm in 2019, the Mustangs have gone 7-3 and 6-4, respectively. But there is plenty of optimism this year with 11 returning starters (six on defense), including senior 6-foot-5, 185-pound QB Blake Baker (2,417 yards, 25 TDs passing; 434 yards, TD rushing), senior 6-foot WR Jarred Sample (748 yards, 8 TDs) and junior WR Carson Littlefield (452 yards, 4 TDs) pacing the offense and dynamic 6-foot-4, 240-pound senior DE Ashton Porter (35 total tackles, 10 tackles for loss) and senior 6-foot-2, 220-pound LB Christian Brathwaite headlining the defense. The Mustangs also have some quality depth in junior OLB Tristynn Davis and sophomore DB Matthew Ciers. All around, Ranch enters 2022 as arguably the most complete team in the district.
Bridgeland has asserted itself as a Regional threat in just four years of varsity play. Over the last two seasons, the Bears are 23-4. Last year, they were Regional Finalists. This year, however, could be a challenging one with the departure of 53 lettermen to graduation. Still, nine starters return, including seven on offense. The quarterback position, where the Bears were so spectacular over the last few seasons with Conner Weigman (now at Texas A&M), is a big question mark. Coach David Raffield said QB development is key. Bridgeland has the weapons in versatile senior Jonathan Nelson (820 yards, 5 TDs receiving; 455 yards, 7 TDs rushing) and senior 6-foot-6, 240-pound TE Reid Mikeska (229 yards, 4 TDs), but who’s going to get them the ball? That’s TBD. Defensively, Bridgeland has senior 6-foot-3, 235-pound LB Hudson Hooper (42 total tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss) and senior 6-foot-2, 280-pound DT Dillan Botts to count on, but the secondary is young and unproven. Keep an eye on senior OL Jacob Spenser, junior WR Oscar Nnanna, senior WR Savion Williams and senior DE Brock Knapton.
CYPRESS WOODS WILDCATS
The Wildcats went 6-5 in coach Cody Simper’s first year at the helm, but the hope is a year’s worth of experience in Simper’s philosophy results in a big year two. They return nine starters from last year, six on defense. The offense is young at the skill positions and its strength will be up front behind 6-foot-3, 270-pound senior Aiden Schumate and senior Caleb Meinhardt. Every skill position starter from last season graduated. Defense, however, is where the Wildcats could star, thanks to explosive talents like senior 6-foot-3, 232-pound LB Dylan Rogers (58 tackles, 4 sacks, 2 INTs), senior 6-foot-5, 265-pound DL/OL Terrance Green (40 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 6 sacks), senior 6-foot-2, 210-pound LB Juan Rojas (79 tackles) and senior DB Sawyer Despres (47 tackles, 2 INTs). The Wildcats have enough to stop people. But can they score?
CYPRESS FALLS EAGLES
The Eagles have not made the playoffs since 2019 and are 6-13 over the last two seasons. Depth is a concern this year but there is hope that they can snap the playoff skid. Eight starters return, five on defense. Offensively, Cy-Falls will lean on junior RB Trey Morris (1,069 yards, 6 TDs) and junior WR Ajani Cargile (286 yards, TD). Junior Saul Zaragoza leads the way up front. Defensively, senior 6-foot-3, 220-pound DL Obi Okeke (60 tackles), senior 6-foot-8, 250-pound DL Chase Edwards, junior S Reid Meekins (30 tackles) and junior LB Anthony Herrera (55 tackles) are prolific playmakers who make up a unit that should be the strength of the team, at least early on. Coach Chris Brister said keys this year are establishing a strong running game, stopping the run and establishing continuity on the offensive line.
CYPRESS SPRINGS PANTHERS
The Panthers have not made the postseason since 2003. But 2021 still saw some progress under first-year coach Oji Fagan. Springs went 2-8 last year, which was as many wins as the three previous seasons combined. With 15 starters back, including nine on defense, Fagan is hopeful the turnaround can continue in a bigger way this season. Junior QB Harrison Mass (635 yards, 4 TDs passing; 313 yards, TD rushing) and junior RB Tim Saunders (248 yards, 2 TDs) make for an intriguing 1-2 punch in the backfield. Junior WR Ashton Blake is a capable playmaker on the perimeter. The defense is experienced and talented behind leaders like senior 6-foot, 210-pound LB Jayven Jackson (69 tackles, 3 sacks), senior 6-foot, 180-pound DB Isaiah Keller (49 tackles, INT) and senior 6-foot-1, 180-pound LB Lonnie Leary Jr. (49 tackles, 6 tackles for loss). Do not be surprised if the Panthers break out in 2022.
CYPRESS PARK TIGERS
The Tigers had their best season in varsity year No. 4 last year, going 9-2 and capturing the district championship along the way. Can Park repeat? If so, a lot of unknowns will have to be answered as 32 lettermen graduated and only three starters return, including one on offense. Two certainties are senior TE/DE Nathaniel Troxel and junior QB Deyon Batiste. They are two of the more experienced talents on the roster, though both saw limited playing time on a stacked team last year. Coach Greg Rogers said the keys this year are giving relentless effort, playing with the power of the team and having competitive excellence.
LANGHAM CREEK LOBOS
The Lobos are looking to get into the playoffs for the first time since 2018 after going 10-19 over the last three seasons. Experience won’t be on their side this year as only 11 lettermen and five starters, four on offense, return. The anchor of it all is senior 5-foot-11, 170-pound WR Jaquaize Pettaway, an Oklahoma-commit who had 794 receiving yards and seven touchdowns last season. However, there are tons of questions marks around the dynamic playmaker. The defense is especially thin with only junior 6-foot-1, 190-pound LB Corien Powers back.
CYPRESS LAKES SPARTANS
It’s been a tough go of late for the Spartans. They are winless over the last two seasons and have three winless seasons over the last five years. This year’s Lakes team is young but has talent. Ten starters return, five on each side of the ball. The defense has some exceptional playmaking with senior LB Donavon Carter and senior DE Junior Monkam. Sophomore DL Roderick Joseph is certainly someone to watch out for. Offensively, the running game will spur the Spartans, thanks to senior Daniel Green and junior Jayvion Wolf. They will carry the majority of the load as kinks at QB and OL need to be straightened out. The Spartans will be more competitive this season but still might be a year away from really making an impact in a loaded district.