Field Searching for a Way to beat Ridge Point in 20-6A
By Roger Smith
Ridge Point has rule d the 20-6A roost since moving up into Class 6A in 2016, going 21-0 in district games. Travis has always been the best of the rest in 20-6A in those three seasons. Because the Tigers have FBISD's largest enrollment, a No. 2 seeding means they have to meet the Tigers from Katy in the opening playoff round, which equals a one-and done postseason for Travis.
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VYPE Preseason Ranking
(Bold Denotes Playoff Teams)
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Parker Washington, Travis
OFFENSIVE MVP: Troy Omeire, Austin
DEFENSIVE MVP: Bryson Stewart, Ridge Point
BREAKOUT PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Jeremiah Walker, Dulles
SLEEPER TEAM: Fort Bend Bush
Ridge Point Panthers
Ridge Point is the only FBISD team to beat a Katy ISD foe in the first round of the Region III-6A playoffs the last three years (Morton Ranch, Cinco Ranch and Seven Lakes). As perennial district champs, the Panthers rely on a rugged defense – a strong front seven and a secondary that can cover dangerous receivers – plus a pounding rushing attack to set up their passing game. Look for the Panthers to emphasize power running in 2019 after QB Will Pendergrass' 1,613 passing yards and 14 TD throws accounted for most of the offense a year ago. Caleb Rodkey (6-foot-4, 235-pounds) anchors an improved offensive line to open up holes for physical running back Keith Jackson, giving Pendergrass more time to find playmakers like John Paul Richardson (seven regular season TDs, 15.92 yards per catch). Linebacker Frank Osagiede (10 tackles for loss, three sacks and a pick-six) leads the salty defense along with lineman Bryson Stewart (56 total tackles, 20 TFL, five sacks and an INT in the regular season). Other players to watch include Devin Gunter (CB/WR), John Norman II (RB), Adrian Johnson (LB), Preston Steszewski (S), Adonai Mitchell (WR), Troy Cavazos (OL) and Nicholas Wilson-Haymond (OL).
Travis will pile up yards and points under coach Trey Sissom's high-octane offense. In his second year as the starter, senior QB Eric Rodriguez should exceed his 3,000-yard season and his 29 touchdown passes from a year ago. E-Rod has several quality receivers, but Parker Washington (Penn State-commit) is the best in the district. In an electrifying 2018 campaign, he scored 21 TDs and just missed 1,500 receiving yards. In addition to their prolific offense is a defense that makes the occasional big play. However, they are known for surrendering large amounts of yards and points. Defensive end Patrick Brown Jr. is probably the best of the Tigers' defenders, and consistent kicker Sergio Rubio is an asset on special teams. Other players to watch include Kaelen Shankle (RB), John Henderson (DE/OLB), Cameron Oliver (DB) and J'Mani Gibson (DT).
Dulles earned the third playoff seed at the end of the 2018 season and is a good bet to get back to the postseason for new coach Shane Byrd. J.L. Geist left for San Antonio Clark after three seasons, leaving the program in much better shape than he found it for Byrd. He'll have to replace QB Cameron Peters, who left Dulles to transfer to Stafford last spring. Byrd believes he's found the man to fill the QB vacancy in Alec Aguillon. The Vikings have grown the number of athletes inside the field house, but several key players have to play offense and defense. At 6-foot-2, still, WR/DB Jeremiah Walker has great physical gifts. He can win any battle for a catch or a pick.
Bush is VYPE's pick to win a three-way fight with Austin and Elkins for the fourth playoff berth. Reason being, it's hard to imagine coach Allen Aldridge – the UH-ex and former Denver Bronco who owns a Super Bowl XXXII championship ring – missing the playoffs again after getting there from 2015-2017. Consider that in 2018, Bush came closer than any FBISD team ever had to knocking off Ridge Point in a 20-6A game – falling 26-23. That began a five-game Broncos' losing streak to finish the year. Their most impressive player giving them hope for a bounce-back campaign in 2019 is 6-foot-5 defensive end Izaiah Thornton. He's also a TE as well as a basketball player for Bush's Region III-6A semifinalists. He's one of 13 returning starters.
In its first football season in Class 6A after a four-year absence, Elkins closed the season strong to reach the playoffs for coach Dennis Brantley. Athletic, strongarmed QB Cameron George (16 TD passes in 2018) leads the offense along with seven other returning starters. Last year, speedy RBs Jacory Lee and Issiah Nixon scored 12 rushing TDs between them. The defense will have to prove itself, but don't sleep on DE Malik Rugby and DL N'Namdii Cohen. Other players to watch for the Knights includes Kierron Ardoin (ATH), Alvin Williams (LB), Brandon Alexander (DL/OL), Jared Chavez (DE), Jordan Jenkins (S), Cameron Wipmington (WR) and Derwin Cooks (RB).
Besides Dulles, Austin is the other 20-6A school with a new coach. Former Travis offensive guru Adeola Arogbonlo takes over for Dan Schreiber, who led the Bulldogs for nine years. Hard as it'll be to replace Warren Moon's grandson Trey Larsen at quarterback, the favorite target for the incoming QB is WR deluxe Troy Omeire, a Texas A&M-commit. Omeire is 6-foot-5 and runs a sub-4.6 40-yard dash. Jake Brandt, also a relief pitcher on the 2019 'Dawgs baseball team, is a strong candidate for QB. His best bodyguard will be the 6-foot-4 model of consistency OT Kendal Septs (University of Houston commit). On defense, playmaking DB Brandon Burgos, two-way lineman Chase Myers and Jeremiah Sutton at defensive end could lead a return to the playoffs for AHS, which hasn't been there since 2013.
Clements last reached the Regional Finals in 2007 when then-junior Derek Carr was the QB. Carr is now the current signal-caller for the Oakland Raiders. Struggles ensued thereafter. Former coach Keith Knowles had one winning season from 2008-2015, and his successor Bobby Darnell has guided the Rangers on a slow, steady rebuilding project. Clements has won three games in the last three seasons, but won twice in 2018 including a season-ending district win against Kempner (their first district victory since 2014). The First Colony faithful are very high on super-quick RB Pierre Djunga, but they'll have to pray for the good health of a team that's quite thin. Most starters play both offense and defense. Other players to watch include Andrew Bottiglieri (WR), Caleb Guajardo (WR/DB), David Kasemervisz (WR), John Perry (QB), Vehbi Karabag (OL/DL), Samuel Idokoh (DE/ OL), Allen Smith-Young (DB) and Jake Gray (ILB/FB).
Kempner's flex-bone offense will look to return to form in QB Jalen Bates' second year under center. Bates has a bona fide, road-grader lineman to escort him in Akinola Ogunbiyi (6-foot-5, 320-pounds), who is impossible to miss. Those who want the Cougars to run a different offense should consider that at Kempner, there aren't enough of the type of athletes to run a spread or pro-style attack. Plus, even while going 1-9 last year without incumbent star RB Brian Pham (ACL tear) for the entire season, senior Jordan Shelton stepped in and rushed for 2,054 yards and scored 27 touchdowns