Sep 04, 2019
PHOTO GALLERY: United goes on road; handles St. Pius X
By Bradley Collier
With Lamar, Heights and Westside, District 18-6A has a trio of programs used to winning and making the playoffs. The consistent standard of success is remarkable. There’s a lot of tradition in this league, anchored by the Texans.
What makes this district interesting this particular season, however, is the relative parity at the bottom. Between Westbury, Bellaire, Sam Houston and Chavez, all would not be wrong to think a playoff appearance is in the works if things go right.
Will they, though? We’ll have to wait and see.
Sam Houston Tigers
VYPE PRESEASON AWARDS
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Kenneth Rosenthal, Lamar
OFFENSIVE MVP: Jahbari Kuykendall, Westside
DEFENSIVE MVP: Carson Skotak, Lamar
BREAKOUT PLAYER OF THE YEAR:Allen Rainey, Heights
The Texans have been a consistent winning staple in inner city Houston with 11 district championships over the last 12 years. Coach Tom Nolan established Lamar as a city power, and coach Michael Lindsey has carried on the tradition of success. This season should be no different as the Texans return 12 starters (6/6) from an 8-3 team. There is a wealth of offensive talent in senior 6-foot-1, 195-pound QB Kenneth Rosenthal (1,275 yards, 11 TDs passing; 404 yards, 7 TDs rushing), junior 6-foot, 205-pound RB Jordan Reaves (170 yards, 3 TDs), senior RB Kelton Weathers (292 yards, 2 TDs rushing; 194 yards, TD receiving) and junior WR Tristen Brown (333 yards, 4 TDs). The defense is just as potent, particularly up front with senior LB Carson Skotak (64 tackles,9 tackles for loss, 4 sacks) and senior 6-1, 285-pound DT Jarvis Butler (32 tackles, 12 tackles for loss).
The Bulldogs have made the playoffs 11 consecutive seasons and this year are likely to make it a sweet dozen. Coach Stephen Dixon’s team returns 14 starters (7/7) from a 4-7 team. All those four wins came during district play after Heights started last season 0-5. Senior 6-foot-3, 190-pound ATH Allen Rainey (10-15 passing, 65 yards last season; 244 yards, 5 TDs rushing), who will primarily play quarterback this season, will be the Bulldogs’ go-to on offense. He is effective wherever you put him on the field. He just needs the ball in his hands. Offensively, Heights is a force physically with junior 6-foot-1, 330-pound OL Frank Moss Jr. and senior 6-3, 240-pound TE Chance Hollins. The defense will likely be the Bulldogs’ strength early on behind playmakers like senior LB David Nico (71 tackles, 5 tackles for loss) and senior DL Hezekiah Adams (33 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 2 sacks).
Westside is another Houston ISD team with a lengthy postseason streak. The Wolves have made the playoffs each of the last 11 seasons. Westside returns 10 starters (6 defense) from a 6-3 team. The offense will be paced by senior RB Jahbari Kuykendall (1,603 yards, 14 TDs) and senior QB Thaddeus Watson (1,039 yards, 16 TDs passing). They make for a dynamic 1-2 punch. The defense is dominant up front behind senior 6-foot-3, 260-pound DL Jayden Gaines (4 tackles for loss, 2 sacks), senior DE Gerry Spencer (8 sacks) and junior DT Chris Garcia (2 tackles for loss). Concerns for the Wolves are at WR, OL and DB.
The Rebels snapped an eight-season playoff drought last year and hope to ride that momentum into this season. Fifteen starters (8 offense) return from a 4-7 team. The offense is led by do-it-all senior Rickey Golightly Jr. (494 yards, 4 TDs passing; 307 yards, 4 TDs rushing; 25 tackles), who plays quarterback and linebacker, and senior RB Anthony Bravo Jr. (624 yards, 7 TDs rushing). The defensive front is spurred by senior DL Terry Warren Jr., and the secondary is perhaps the team’s positional strength behind senior DB Jomaal Carroll (55 tackles) and senior 6-foot-2, 150-pound DB Kahmar Pratt (44 tackles, 2 INTs).
Bellaire returns 17 starters (9 offense) from a 3-7 team. Senior Elan Goetz (112 receiving yards; 3 passes defensed; 182 kick return yards) is the headliner, a dazzling playmaker for the Cardinals at receiver, defensive back and on special teams. Junior WR Josh Burrell (254 yards, 2 TDs) is also an impressive talent. There is more quality two-way playmaking for Bellaire, especially in the trenches with senior Kevin Henry, senior Eduardo Poblano, junior Jordan Wright and senior Andrew Guerra.
SAM HOUSTON TIGERS
The Tigers have not made the playoffs since 2003. In the last 10 years, they’ve won eight games total. However, last year’s two wins were the most the Tigers had in the previous three seasons combined and was the first time they won more than one game in a season since 2012. Coach Charles Brown III seemingly has Sam Houston on the right track. Eleven starters (6 offense) return from a 2-8 team. The marquee talent is RB Howard Smith (1,149 yards, 11 TDs). The Tigers also have a pair of precocious sophomore talents in QB Trevan Williams and 6-foot-1, 160-pound WR Sincere Lewis. Defensively, the Tigers lean on senior stalwarts in the secondary in DBs Saul Skipper and Jamarcus Toliver.
Chavez has made the playoffs just once since 2010. The Lobos have won just five games total over the last two seasons. But there is a new era as coach Rafael Hernandez, formerly the offensive coordinator, takes over as the Lobos’ third head coach in three years. He will lead a team that returns 11 starters (6 offense) from a 2-8 team. The offense will be ignited by senior 5-11, 165-pound QB Kamren Sanders (708 yards, 8 TDs passing; 209 yards, 2 TDs rushing) and 6-foot-1, 190-pound WR Davien Jernigan. Defensively, junior LB Clinton Simmons (76 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, INT) is the headliner.
SINCE HIS EARLIEST MEMORIES, HAROLD GIBSON HAS HAD FOOTBALL IN HIS LIFE.
Gibson’s first baby outfit was some Houston Texans gear. His father playing high school football and it has been a big part of his life.
At Baytown Lee, he was thrust into the spotlight early as a freshman on varsity.
“Coming in my freshman year, I was pretty childish, but I was more mature than my freshman classmates,” Gibson said. “I grew up pretty fast getting thrown into the mash pit as we called it.
“I was 165 pounds against people that would warm up with that weight. For me, it was all about going hard, giving it 110 percent no matter what. Obviously, they had size on me but I loved the sport.”
The Baytown Lee middle linebacker and long snapper has been a crucial piece to the revitalization of Ganders football.
In his sophomore season, the Ganders made the playoffs for the first time since 2009 and last year, they finished just on the outside looking in, despite going 7-3 overall.
“We were the best defense in the league last year and we plan to come back and show the teams that we’re still here,” Gibson said.
The ultimate dream for Gibson is to play college football. A dream that his father saw shattered when he broke his collar bone in high school.
The second-team, all- district inside linebacker when asked about his style of play is up front with you. He is aggressive. Likes to hit and send a message when he does so.
“I like to come down field and show you that you’re playing on our turf,” Gibson said. “I like to be aggressive, quick, fast, physical – the All-American linebacker you envision.”
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