VYPE Football 2021 Preview: District 20-6A
The COVID-19 Pandemic threw every high school program's 2020 season into disarray, but those in 20-6A were particularly affected.
George Ranch and Elkins earned playoff berths, for instance, but did not play due to having to forfeit because of COVID-19 protocols.
Hopes are the 2021 season will look much more normal in 20-6A.
(Bold Denotes Playoffs)
Most Valuable Player: Bert Emanuel Jr., Ridge Point
Offensive MVP: Anthony Njoku, Travis
Defensive MVP: Patrick Smith, Clements
Breakout Player of the Year: Dominick Williams, Dulles
Sleeper Team: Bush
Ridge Point Panthers
The Panthers won the district title and made an inspired run to the regional finals in coach Rick LaFavers' debut season at the helm. Ridge Point returns 11 starters (seven on defense) from that 8-3 team and is fast, athletic and explosive on both sides of the ball.
The offense is engineered by senior 6-foot-3, 205-pound QB Bert Emanuel Jr. (1,473 passing yards, 16 TDs; 504 rushing yards, 6 TDs), junior 6-foot, 180-pound RB Ezell Jolly (304 rushing yards, 2 TDs), senior 6-foot, 200-pound WR Marvin Session (76 receiving yards, 260 return yards) and senior 6-foot-7, 235-pound OL Calvin Harvey – a Louisiana Tech- commit.
The defense is led by junior 6-foot-3, 275-pound DL DK Kalu (36 tackles, sack), senior LB Dalton Plitt (24 tackles, 2 fumble recoveries), senior CB Alejandro Colbert (22 tackles, 2 INTs, 4 pass breakups), junior DB Ryan Remey (31 tackles, INT), junior 6-foot-1, 185-pound safety Taylor Davis (59 tackles, 3 INTs, defensive TD) and junior DL Clayton Cherry (21 tackles, 3 sacks, fumble caused).
LaFavers has concerns about his team's depth and the gelling of the O-line and receivers, but he clearly has a loaded roster. Seven players (Emanuel, Session, Jolly, Harvey, Colbert, Kalu and sophomore QB Karson Gordon) hold NCAA DI offers.
A dynamic offense has generally been the M.O. for Travis, and that should be the case again this season. The Tigers return 6-foot-1, 180-pound senior QB Anthony Njoku (1,365 yards, 13 TDs-3 INTs; 458 rushing yards, 7 TDs) and all but one of their starting offensive linemen, including senior stalwarts Dylan Kinney (6-3, 280) and Blake Brown (6-1, 280) from a team that averaged 24.2 points per game last season.
Senior RB Jamison Singleterry and sophomore OL Dawson Elliott (6-4, 285) and OL Luke Alvarez also figures into the mix. Of Travis' 12 returning starters, only four are on defense. Senior 6-foot-1, 185-pound DB Dominic Njoku (1.9 tackles per game, 8 passes defensed) and senior 5-foot-11, 265-pound DL Brandon Dixon (3.0 sacks, 2 fumbles caused, 2 fumble recoveries) will steady that side of the ball.
Promising talents as newcomers include LB Anthony Oliver, DL Erick Conley, DL Tristan Mason, DB Aaron Mendiola and LB Davis Ochoa.
George Ranch Longhorns
The Longhorns return 11 starters (six offensively) from a 5-4 team that had to forfeit its Bi-District playoff game against Katy Taylor because of COVID-19 protocols.
George Ranch was a run-heavy team last season, and that looks to be the case again. Senior 5-foot-11, 180-pound RB Hymond Drinkard (735 rushing yards, 7.1 yards per carry, 8 TDs) is back to move the chains. Senior QB Cole Murphy is likely the man under center after sharing time last season. Aside from Drinkard, Murphy will have help on the perimeter in senior WRs Joseph Wilson (10.2 yards per catch, TD) and Donovan Dixon (8.4 yards per catch, 2 TDs).
Defensively, the secondary is a strength behind senior 6-foot, 170-pound DB Coy Cook (17 tackles, 5 passes defensed, INT) and senior 5-foot-10, 170-pound DB Jaylon Belford (13 tackles, 6 passes defensed, INT). Keep an eye on 6-foot, 185-poound DB Jeffrey Ugochukwu as well. Up front, senior 6-foot-1, 260-pound DE David Walker (five sacks) is a headache for opposing offenses. A potential breakout standout is versatile 5-foot- 11, 170-pound sophomore Deion Drinkard.
Coach Bobby Darnell likes his defense and feels he'll have a strong running game this year with four offensive linemen and the entire backfield returning. Sixteen starters are back from last year's 4-6 team (three losses coming by seven points or fewer) and the Rangers could be a darkhorse in 20-6A. Senior QB Micah Darnell (615 yards, 5 TDs-7 INTs) will handle things under center. Senior RB Dimas Kusuma (575 yards, 7 TDs) and junior FB JR Mirelles (339 yards, 5.8 yards per carry,
4 TDs) steady the run game. Senior 5-foot-9, 165-pound WR Marcus Darnell (366 yards, 17.4 yards per catch, 4 TDs) is explosive on the perimeter. Defensively, Clements leans on senior ILB Matthew McGinnis, senior CB/RB Junior Onipede, senior OLB Weza Pereira, junior MLB Ferris Refai and do-it-all 5-foot-10, 180-pound senior FS/WR/returner Patrick Smith. Smith (44 tackles, 2 INTs, 475 all-purpose yards) holds 10 offers, including Air Force, Army and Navy. Marcus Darnell and senior 6-foot-2, 265-pound OL Nathan Morris are also notable recruits. Sophomore Carson Talley, and juniors Brian Navarro and Lex Demeris help dominate the front with Morris.
Dulles returns 12 starters from a 2-6 team, both wins coming in district play. There's not a lot of depth for coach Shane Byrd's bunch, but there is plenty of capable talent. Senior 5-foot-10, 180-pound RB Devin Graham is the Vikings' go-to offensively. He rushed for 599 yards
and five TDs and is also the team's leading returning receiver with
75 yards at 6.3 yards per catch. Senior QB Marc Tisdel will direct the offense, throwing for 558 yards and five TDs to four INTs last season. Defensively, Dulles is ignited by senior 5-foot-11, 185-pound LB Jaxon Tilley (48 tackles, INT, sack) and senior CB Jalen Brown (25 tackles, 10 passes defensed). Senior 6-foot-5, 215-pound LB Dominick Williams (13 tackles, 2 fumbles caused, fumble recovery in three games) suffered an injury-plagued 2020 season but is a game-changer when healthy.
Coach Allen Aldridge likes his team's speed and experience. The Broncos return 17 starters from a 1-6 team and could make a legit push for the playoffs. Bush's offense has a nice running game led by seniors Adrian Cormier (152 yards, 3 TDs) and Nelvens Borgella (254 yards, 2 TDs). Cormier runs a 4.5, 40-yard dash. Senior QB Tyler Hilder threw for 463 yards and three TDs. He will be protected by senior OG Jason Ezeokwonna. Defensively, however, Bush could be dynamic. There
is playmaking all over, highlighted by senior 6-foot-1, 170-pound DB Dantonio Hackworth Jr. (31 tackles, INT), junior 5-foot-11, 190-pound
LB Preston Davis (28 tackles), senior 6-foot, 220-pound LB Brandon Chambers (48 tackles, 10 for loss) and impressive junior 5-foot-11, 185-pound DE Kosy Okoroafor (52 tackles, 4 sacks).
Coach Mike Arogbonlo likes his team's chances if they can stay healthy. He lists the secondary, defensive line, running backs and receivers as strengths. His primary concern is depth along the offensive line. Austin returns 10 starters from last year's 2-6 team. Senior 6-foot-3, 315-pound DT Victor Philip (25 tackles, 3 sacks) is the other. Austin also has senior QB Braeden Abboud (789 passing yards, 4 TDs in five starts), senior 6-foot, 185-pound RB Luke Weaver, senior RB James Autry, junior 6-foot- 2, 190-pound WR Daniel Oloso and junior 6-foot-1, 240-pound OL Aries Stevens to count on offensively. On Defense, 6-foot-1, 170-pound junior Jamal Franklin (30 tackles, INT) mans the secondary. Key newcomers are sophomore RB/WR Hampton Phillips, junior DB Xavier Hernandez, senior LB Demarkus Griffin, junior DB Jayson Tanifum and sophomore DB Hugh Rolls.
Elkins is in repair mode this season, returning four starters from last year's 2-5 Bi-District playoff finalist. Senior 6-foot-7, 200-pound receiver Jackson Fields (314 yards, 4 TDs) is the marquee name. He holds offers from Wyoming, Nevada and UTSA and is in for a huge year. Junior QB Isaiah Smith (714 yards, 8 TDs) is back after an impressive sophomore season. The offensive line has veteran influence in seniors Kenyan Moore, Noah Tristan and Andre Barnes. Watch out for Nicholas Sanders at fullback for the Knights. Coach Dennis Brantley said the defensive front seven will be the strength. He has senior 6-foot-2, 290-pound DL Taurean Crawford, who had 58 tackles and six sacks last season; senior LBs Christian Peluse and Daron Smith; and senior 6-foot-2, 215-pound DE Andre Pittman. Senior DE Kendal Jackson and senior OLB Oswaldo Gonzalez also figure into plans. Senior CB Stephen Richards is the leader of a secondary that will need others to step up.