Gators to Chomp Competition in District 24-6A
By Alan Dale
Under the direction of coach Craig Dailey, Clear Springs has run the southside of Houston. Dickinson is a close second, but the Chargers have been playing "keep away " with the district title. Defense will be key in this district of high-powered offenses. Whoever gets the most stops, punches their ticket to the playoffs.
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VYPE Preseason Rankings
(Bold Denotes Playoff Teams)
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Mike Welch, Dickinson
OFFENSIVE MVP: Gavin Esquivel, Clear Falls
DEFENSIVE MVP: Jacob Mueller, Clear Springs
BREAKOUT PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Isaiah Bibb, Clear Springs
SLEEPER TEAM: Clear Creek
Head coach John Snelson should be feeling good about his Dickinson Gators, who return the heart of a defense that helped the team go 10-2 a year ago as eight starters return on that side of the ball. The offense is explosive with their skill players but will need help in the trenches. Snelson returns second-team, all-state quarterback Mike Welch and WR Darryl Harris. This duo has the potential to put up monster numbers this season. Welch passed for more than 2,600 yards and 30 TDs a year ago, while Harris had nearly 1,000 yards and 13 scores. Welch is also dangerous with his feet, rushing for nearly 1,000 yards last year. Offensive lineman Marcus White will need to coach-up a young line. On defense, DJ Warnell (DB), DL Derrick Martin (45 tackles), DL Victor Idusuyl (50 tackles), DL/TE Canon Boone, DB Paul Smith, DB Anthony Wickware, DB Savien Artnett and DL Marcellus Walters lead a nasty defense that is fast and physical. It's clear the secondary will be the strongest part of the defense in a pass-happy era of football. Year eight could be great for Snelson if his young offensive line can mature and the linebacking corps can be as effective as the defenders in front and behind them.
Clear Springs Chargers
Clear Springs may have gone 7-4 overall with one of the toughest non-district slates in the state, but they won the district a year ago. This marked the thirdstraight district crown for the Chargers. Seven returning offensive players can only help make a repeat possible. Three-year starter QB Garrett Rooker will play a huge role. Rooker passed for more than 1,900 yards and 24 scores a year ago. He will have OL Ryan Knaus and Colton Grier in front of him to help keep the defense at bay. WR Isaiah Bibb will be a top target for Rooker and the defense will be manned by DB Kirk Collins and DL Jacob Mueller. The offense will have to make do without Oklahoma-signee Todd Hudson, but that is where Bibb comes into the conversation. He could be breakout star after recording 814 yards and eight scores last year. The defense was hit by graduation but Kirk Collins, Cameron Reffells, Michael McBride and Jacob Muellner will carry the torch for the Chargers.
Clear Lake Falcons
Coming off a 6-6 season, the Clear Lake Falcons will try to make it three consecutive years to the postseason – a school record. They have a number of athletes on offense like QB Donovan Sweeney (who will take over for Wyoming-signee Shae Suianoa), RB Brendon Holmes (569 yards, eight TDs), TE Blake Baltazar and OL Alex Williams to lead the way. On defense, coach Larry McRae will rely on DI skill players like DBs Mark Wilson and Tommy Geremia (83 tackles). Both lines will need to be touched up, but the Falcons could perch on the fourth spot again in 2019.
Clear Creek Wildcats
As eight offensive starters return, the Clear Creek Wildcats could be the district's sleeper after a 4-6 overall and 2-4 district campaign. Reigning district Newcomer of the Year RB Rayfield Conley, who rushed for 371 yards and five scores last year, will be a catalyst on offense along with QB Andrew Dry (564 yards, 5 TDs) and WR Matthew Etzel. The Big Man on Campus is offensive lineman Chad Lindberg, a Georgia-commit, who will make the calls up front. The defense is led by DB Tyler Armstrong and LB Daqari Tuckson, but they will need some help. Some youngsters from a 9-1 JV squad will fill in the gaps. They also have to win the close games they let slip away in 2018 to be in the playoff conversation.
Clear Brook Wolverines
Clear Brook eked into the playoffs last year, but got bounced by Strake Jesuit in the first round to finish 3-8. They might see some improvement this year with the return of seven offensive starters like QB Shane Porter, North Texas-bound WR Loronzo Thompson and OL Medhi Torrence. Last season, Thompson was the main target reeling in 613 yards and six scores at the receiver slot, while Porter passed for more than 1,200 yards and eight scores. The featured RB this season will likely be sophomore Trent Lacy. The defense needs some teeth, and back are Brandon Cazares, Eddie Delgado and Karin Devault. Coach Lupe Florez has laid down the foundation of his program in year two and it will likely pay dividends as his athletes buy in.
Clear Falls Knights
After going 5-5 overall and posting a 2-4 mark in district play last year, the Knights of Clear Falls may be hard pressed to match those numbers with only seven total starters back. But QB Gavin Esquivel offers hope after a season of 2,600 yards and 30 touchdowns through the air. WR Dan Dishman (419 yards) and Brandon Howard will benefit as the targets in a wideopen offense. The defense will be led by LB Kenny Seymour (105 tackles), OLB Colby Walker (55 tackles), DB Robert Dale and DE Ayann Tiarm. "We must improve greatly on defense," Head said. "We gave up 39 points per game in 2018. We need to play with more discipline and physicality on that side of the ball."
Alvin struggled to an 0-10 mark but now welcomes new coach Tim Teykl, who enters his 28th year as a head coach. Teykl was a legend at Terry High School – serving as the program's head coach from 1992-2016 and leading them to 16 playoffs appearances in that stretch. He was recently at the University of Houston. Alvin has its share of solid players with DL Andrew Solis, OL Andrew Gormly, OL/DL Connor Hughes, OL/ DL Kaine Robinson, ILB Hayden Barron, WR Sam Bell, WR/DB Gabriel Campbell, WR Chris Touch, RB Josiah Perez and RB Richard Valdez to count on. "The key will be getting the athletes in the best position to be successful," Teykl said. "We are hoping to establish a new program and culture."