VYPE Football 2021 Preview: District 18-6A
One of the biggest headlines in Houston, even the state of Texas, came when Heights beat Lamar 22-21 in an overtime thriller to snap the Texans' 72-game district winning streak and a 10-year district title run.
Will Lamar stand up after being punched in the mouth for the first time in a decade or are the Heights Bulldogs the new "Big Dog" in town?
Westside and Bellaire also made the postseason but will this be the year that Chavez or Westbury sneak a playoff spot?
(Bold Denotes Playoffs)
Most Valuable Player: Jalen Morrison, Heights
Offensive MVP: Nonso Omezi, Westside
Defensive MVP: DeMone Green, Heights
Breakout Player of the Year: Jeremiah Randolph, Westbury
Sleeper Team: Westbury
The 'Dogs got over the hump last season, beating rival Lamar to go undefeated in district and win the crown. The Heights extended their year to the Area Round after beating Cy Creek in Bi-District. Coach Stephen Dixon is excited to continue the momentum inside the program that he has built from the ground up.
He welcomes back Offensive MVP Jalen Morrison, who threw for nearly 2,000 yards a year ago. He's going to need to bring along some new skill guys, while the OL will lean on super-sophomore Frank Moss. TE Chance Hollins will take on a bigger role as a junior.
While Morrison quarterbacks the offense, big Demone Green is the man on defense. The 6-foot-3, 250-pound defensive tackle is approaching double-digit offers and is a matchup problem in the district. Karl Williams, David Nico and Dylan Harris have Green's back as a nice corps of LBs.
Can the Heights keep it rolling after a historic 2020 or will Lamar have their number again?
The Lamar Texans have revenge on their minds after coach Michael Lindsey's group fell to Heights in 2020 and their streak of district titles was snapped.
Well, the Texans could have a snap-back year with 13 returning starters back on campus. Make no mistake, it's all about the QB position. Kenneth Rosenthal and Winston Smith will battle for the QB1 post and will need to make a big splash in 2021.
The strength of the team is on the edge as Lamar has a trio of solid WRs in Zach Green, Jackson White and TJ Rone, and TE Charlie Mullen. Kenneth Kennedy will handle the ball-carrying duties. The OL needs to piece it together.
The defense returns five but they can play. DB Jaivion Green is a stud on the field and in the classroom, while Kaleb Randle anchors the DL. Kobe Jones runs the middle of the defense at LB. "We've got to get the ball to our big-play receivers in space and the leadership on defense with Green and Jones is paramount," Lindsey said. "We need improved play on the offensive line."
The Westside Wolves earned a playoff spot in 2021, going 4-4 overall for coach Jomaul Mason. The Wolves have one of the most interesting college prospects in the HISD.
Nonso Omezi is every bit of 6-foot-6, 300-pounds and can bully opposing defensive linemen. He will keep QB Thaddeus Watson upright with hopes of finding leading WR Dorian Washington.
The bigs on the defensive side of the ball are also impressive. DLs Jayden Gaines and Jalen Walker can move a little bit and put pressure on opposing QBs. The leading tackler is LB Nick Norman and the secondary is led by Phillip Webber.
Mason is happy to make the postseason, but the next step is a Bi-District win.
The Cardinals would like to bump into the top two spots, which would help them with a more favorable playoff draw, but coach Herb Kunz will need for some unexpected help.
Gone are QB Timothy Martin and RB Rodney Dansby, who graduated and also provided a ton of leadership. Finding a QB will be paramount, but Bellaire's offense has some nice targets in Chris Totten, Kiran Dallas, Josh Burrell and Jordan Mason. The OL will need some work as well but will be led by Asadbek Muminov.
Experience is even more scare on defense with only three starters back. Elan Goetz, Michael Neal and Ejike Brown will carry the weight on that side of the ball. It's time to reload at Bellaire in a hurry if they plan on holding off the likes of Westside, Chavez and Westbury.
Coach Darrel Colbert was dealt a tough hand. The first-year head coach had to rebuild a culture during a pandemic inside of the Houston Independent School District, which was hit particularly hard with cancellations and uncertainty. There could be an uptick this season with 16 starters returning from a 2-5 team.
Did we mention that he started a freshman QB as well? Well, QB Jeremiah Randolph could be "The Man" for three more years as Colbert is giving him the keys to the car. He will have some help with Earl Henry and Anthony Bravo Jr., totting the rock in the backfield.
The trenches will be a concern but look for Ricardo Burns and Joshua Randolph to open some holes. Randolph will also double as a DE along with Trent Thomas. The secondary could be a little salty with returners Xavier Lewis and Khamar Pratt.
The Sergio Gonzalez-era begins at Chavez High School as coach Cory Jiles says goodbye after nine seasons. Gonzalez was the offensive line coach at Dobie before getting his first head coaching job. Dobie had an undefeated regular season a year ago.
He has some pieces to work with like QB Kamren Sanders, who will throw to Shakeil Anderson on the fade. Dontral White-James is a load at RB, while Shallow Bannister and Derrian Flowers both have some wiggle as inside WRs.
Several Lobos will be forced to play both ways such as Anderson at DE. White-James will flip to the secondary. Getting into the postseason would be a huge victory for the Lobos but it will take three district wins. There is little room for error.
Sam Houston Tigers
Sam Houston is just a tough place to move the needle on the football field. It's not for a lack of trying as coach Michael Sinclair attempts to change the culture.
The Tigers didn't post a win in 2020 in a pretty competitive district, but Sinclair's biggest challenge is the amount of Tigers he has in the den. Coming back to the huddle will be QB Anthony Rice, who will need to be a dual-threat with his feet.
The OL is led by Corbin Varvares and Helberto Cruz Garza, while Maliki Darby and Desman Carson are the playmakers on the edge.
The defense is thin on the line but Alex Camarillo and Ruben Garcia will put up a good fight in the trenches.