Splendora team to beat in District 11-4-DI
Splendora coach Marcus Schulz had his program working towards this moment. Everything finally came together in 2018. Back down in 4A after spending the previous two seasons in the higher classification, Splendora cashed in. For the first time since 2007, the Wildcats won a district title and went on to make more history. Can they do it again in 2019?District 11-4A-DI
(Bold Denotes Playoff Teams)
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VYPE Preseason Awards
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
TYLER GAMBLE, Splendora
A.J. SAN MIGUEL, Huffman
NOAH ZAMORA, Huffman
BREAKOUT PLAYER OF THE YEAR
DRAKE BOYKIN, Lumberton
What a year it was for Splendora. First district title in 11years and the first 10-win season in program history. On top of all of that, the Wildcats registered their first-ever playoff victory, beating North Forest 47-19. Prior to that victory, Splendora was 0-11 in playoff games. So, what's the encore? Splendora will have to replace District MVP Kyle Weber and first-team, all-district running back Jessie Paris, who were the leading rushers. But they have a lot of firepower back. Start at quarterback with Cody Thorndyke. The incoming senior passed for 1,802 yards and 22 touchdowns last season. Thorndyke's top target will be reigning District Offensive MVP Tyler Gamble, who finished last year with 1,037 yards and 13 scores. He will be the go-to guy. Rumbling out of the backfield will be Dylan Matthews, who is a threat in the run game (540 yards, 4 TDs), passing attack (311 receiving yards, 1 TD) and the return game. Matthews was the District 11-4A-DI Special Teams MVP last year. Defensively, Zane Obregon will be a player to watch after having 71 tackles as a freshman. Other players to note include Jagger Kennedy (WR), Austin Elliott (FB), Jaylen Smith (C/DL) and Matthew Owen (WR/DE).
Mike McEachern enters his 14th season leading the Falcons of Huffman and will seek the program's third-straight playoff appearance. The Falcons reached the second round of the playoffs before getting ousted by Carthage. The goal for Huffman in 2019 is to reach the third round for the first time in program history. Quarterback Justin Shively returns for his senior season after passing for 2,229 yards and 26 scores. His backfield-mate will be first-team, all-district selection A.J. San Miguel, who busted loose for 1,645 yards and 10 scores. This could be one of the best one-two punches on offense in all of the Houston-area Class 4A teams. Defensively, Luke Thomas is coming off a solid year as a freshman, where he was named the Defensive Newcomer of the Year. The big ticket will be Noah Zamora, who was a first-team linebacker and finished with 104 tackles and nine sacks. Also watch for Garrett Hallbrooks (DB/WR). This team will contend for the district crown. Circle October 25 for Huffman's showdown with Splendora.
It will be a new-look Lumberton team in 2019 as the offense switches to the Wing-T. Drake Boykin enters his second season of leading the Raiders at quarterback. Boykin was only a sophomore last year and was selected as a second-team, all-district QB at year's end. Also, back on offense is offensive/defensive lineman Champ Roach. Defensively, Brittain Alfaro (Safety), Waylon Drake (Defensive End) and Hayes Chizer (Defensive Tackle) are all back. Alfaro and Drake were both first-team, all-district selections. This group went 6-6 last season and reached the second round of the playoffs. The Raiders will try to get to the third round this year, which would be the first time since 2007.
The Bears enter this season seeking their fourth-straight playoff appearance. Making the postseason last year set the record for the longest playoff streak in LCM program history. Once they get there, getting a victory will be key. The Bears haven't won a playoff game since 1997. Start with the big returners, which includes Special Teams MVP Darian Williams and Offensive Newcomer of the Year Brandon Pollock. Other key returners on offense include first-team, all-district receiver James Williams (584 yards, 5 TDs) and offensive lineman Carter Cates. Defensively, watch for Matthew Lopez (DE), Ethan McCollum (DB) and KenTeon Champine.
Bridge City Cardinals
Bridge City enters year two of the Allen DeShazo-era. Last season, the Cardinals went 2-8. Heading into 2019, the Cardinals will try to make the playoffs for the first time since 2016 but it will be an uphill climb in this district. Bridge City returns first-team, all-district fullback Andy Lara (501 yards) and second-team, all-district running back Rylan Ply (517 yards). This will be a one-two punch rumbling out of the backfield. Defensively, watch for Jackson Tims and Thomas George Fleming at the linebacking position.
The first year for Finis Vanover at Livingston was rough. The Lions went 0-10 and the program now hasn't won a game since 2016, when they went 4-6. So, who turns the tide in 2019? The Lions return second-team, all-district running back Debrian Rains, who rushed for more than 450 yards last year. Also watch for Chris Washington at wideout as well. Two-way player Cody Dupas will be one to watch as he will be a threat out of the backfield and at linebacker. Dupas had 104 tackles and nine sacks a year ago. He was a second-team, all-district pick. Getting that first win of the season will be the key to start turning this program in the right direction.