VYPE Football 2021 Preview: District 9-5A-DI
Port Arthur Memorial ran through 9-5A, Division I last year, and the Titans will be just as loaded and experience as they go into 2021.
But the battle for playoff spots 2-4 figures to be intense, as Beaumont United, Goose Creek Memorial, La Porte, Baytown Lee, and Friendswood all have legitimate postseason aspirations.
It should be a fun season in the district, and maybe someone can throw a wrench in Memorial's hopes for a repeat.
Port Arthur Memorial
Goose Creek Memorial
(Bold Denotes Playoffs)
Most Valuable Player: Jah'mar Sanders, Port Arthur Memorial
Offensive MVP: Adrian Hayward, Port Arthur Memorial
Defensive MVP: Chandler Rivers, Beaumont United
Breakout Player of the Year: Mason Duke, Goose Creek Memorial
Sleeper Team: Baytown Lee
Port Arthur Memorial Titans
The Titans are the reigning undefeated district champs, and they could easily go back-to-back.
Memorial returns 14 starters from a 9-1 Bi-District finalist, including electric dual-threat quarterback Jah'mar Sanders. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound senior threw for 2,057 yards and 17 touchdowns and rushed for 1,163 yards and 20 touchdowns as he made 2020 his own personal highlight reel.
Along with senior 5-foot-11, 285-pound RB Adrian Hayward (323 rushing yards, 3 TDs; 462 receiving yards, 2 TDs), that's a potent 1-2 punch for the Titans. The defense is led by senior 6-foot-3, 225-pound DE Christian Thomas (12 sacks) and senior 6-foot, 175-pound CB Jaylon Guilbeau (40 tackles, 4 INTs).
The secondary has more intriguing prospects in 5-foot-10, 175-pound junior Jelani Chevalier and 5-foot-10, 170-pound sophomore Daevon Iles.
Beaumont United Timberwolves
In just their third varsity season, the Timberwolves made the playoffs. The good news is seven defensive starters are back. The bad news is only three offensive starters return.
But United has versatility, athleticism and speed on offense in junior ATH Johnathan Martin (143 rushing yards, 2 TDs; 76 receiving yards), who likely assumes the QB1 role this year; senior WR Sir Zollocofer (460 receiving yards, 3 TDs); and junior 6-foot- 3, 185-pound WR Jacori Smith-Jackson.
Senior Chandler Rivers (230 rushing yards, TD; 380 receiving yards, 3 TDs; 42 total tackles, 4 INTs) is United's do-it-all, stat-stuffing Duke-commit who can play anywhere and everywhere on the field. Senior DL Treyvon Mims and senior DE DeCarlos Anderson steady things up front for the Wolves' defense.
Goose Creek Memorial Patriots
Last season was an impressive one for the Patriots as they made the playoffs for the first time since 2013, going 6-4. Third-year head coach Shannon Carter has this program going in the right direction. Nine starters return, including only four on defense.
The offensive line is in good shape behind 6-foot-7, 230-pound senior Riley Banks and 6-foot-3, 265-pound senior Ethan Dyson, who pave the way and clear the pocket for 6-foot-3, 195-pound senior Mason Duke (520 passing yards, 5 TDs), who has a strong arm.
Duke's top targets will be 6-foot, 175-pound junior WR Ben Gaston (215 yards, 2 TDs) and the versatile Avery Thomas. Also, watch for TE Jayson Gipson as a potential target.
Defensively, the Pats will lean on senior LB Josiah Rice (43 tackles, 6 tackles for a loss, 3 sacks, 2 INTs), CB/FS Auriel Hector and LB David Pierre.
La Porte Bulldogs
Twelve starters return from a 5-4 team, and the Bulldogs could be looking at a nice 2021 season. Former Crosby defensive coordinator Jackson Tarr takes over as head coach and will have plenty to work with. Seven starters return on offense.
Junior RBs Kobie Garrett (323 yards, 5 TDs) and Dayshaun Wooley form a talented backfield. The offensive line has four stalwarts in 6-foot-4, 295-pound senior Zane Hayman, 6-foot, 248-pound senior Zeke Tribble, 6-foot-5 junior Holden Decker and Dominic Martinez.
The QB1 role is a three-man race, though juniors Tristan Spears and Jhamaud Jackson saw time under center last season as backups.
Defensively, senior DB Justin Kay led the team in tackles the last two years and recorded 92 last season.
Baytown Lee Ganders
Last season was a memorable one for the Ganders, as they made the playoffs for the first time since 2009. Eleven starters return, including seven on defense.
Offensively, a lot of Lee's production graduated, but there is still talent in the cupboard. Senior 6-foot-2, 185-pound WR/DB Trudell Berry (450 receiving yards, 8 TDs), a Marshall-commit returns. RB Daqorwyn Robertson and senior 6-foot-1, 320-pound OL Omar Nieto are the veteran leaders offensively, but question marks are all over the place around them, including QB.
The Ganders are in better shape defensively, thanks to more experience, and rely on senior 6-foot-2, 279-pound DL Marcus Johnson (36 tackles, 14 tackles for a loss, 8 sacks), junior MLB Harold Gibson (36 tackles), DB Javonte Leday (59 tackles) and Berry (4 INTs). Berry will play on the defensive side of the ball at the next level.
Seven starters return from a 3-6 team. Offensively, the line is the strength behind 6-foot-3, 265-pound senior David Goolsby, 6-foot-3, 260-pound senior Daniel Goolsby and 6-foot-6, 270-pound senior Trent Ferguson. They will be key as 6-foot-1, 185-pound junior Matthew Dupuis takes over the reins as starting quarterback.
The defense is led by senior 6-foot-3, 235-pound DE Matthew Reyes, who excels up front alongside senior DL Jared Yawn. Junior 6-foot-5, 220-pounder Braylan Shelby is a leader on both sides of the ball as a receiver and linebacker.
Watch out for Seth Spruiell on both sides of the ball as well at WR/DB.
Baytown Sterling Rangers
Defense will have to steady the ship for Sterling, as nine of 13 starters return on that side of the ball.
The offense will have holes outside of receiver and quarterback as Maddox Wilkinson (488 receiving yards, 3 TDs) and senior Gavin Hebert provide playmaking targets for 6-foot-2, 180-pound sophomore signal-caller Bryson Elmore.
Defense, though, is where Sterling shines. The secondary is potent thanks to 6-foot, 170-pound senior Reece Sylvester (67 tackles, 4 INTs), a Rice-commit, and senior Ashton Williams (25 tackles, 2 INTs).
Senior 6-foot-2, 245-pound DL Noah Lister (49 tackles, 16 tackles for a loss, 4 sacks) is the rock up front for the Rangers.
Galveston Ball Tornadoes
Eight starters return from a 1-8 team, including five on defense. Senior 5-foot-9, 185-pound LB Keadrian Johnson is aggressive, quick and smart on the field. Along with senior DB Byron Sweeny, they provide the core of the defense.
Offensively, 6-foot-1, 140-pound junior quarterback Seth Williams is ready for his first year as the full-time starter. Three-year starter Mich'le Joseph (6-foot-3, 270) is the leader of the offensive line.
Senior 6-foot-2, 170-pounder Joseph Cianfrini is a three-year varsity veteran who plays receiver and kicker.