For the first time in more than a decade, the Katy district has a new king. Tompkins shocked the high school football world last season when it upset Katy High to snap the Tigers' strong of 12 consecutive district championships.
Katy, however, went on to win a ninth state title, so the Tigers ended up in great shape.
The question is this: is Tompkins a sincere threat year in and year out to Katy's reign in district play, or was last year a one-hit wonder?
Katy figures to return to the top of the district this season, but the rest of 19-6A is wide open. It should be a fun year.
(Bold Denotes Playoffs)
Most Valuable Player: Seth Davis, Katy
Offensive MVP: Gavin Rutherford, Cinco Ranch
Defensive MVP: Ty Kana, Katy
Breakout Player of the Year: Jhase McMillan, Tompkins
Sleeper Team: Mayde Creek
Katy has eyes on state title No. 10, and who's to say no? Coach Gary Joseph's team has what it takes.
The Tigers return 11 starters from last year's 13-1 Class 6A-Division II state champion. Junior QB Caleb Koger (1,552 passing yards, 24 TDs- 2 INTs), junior RB Seth Davis (1,755 rushing yards, 18 TDs) and senior 6-foot-5, 180-pound WR Nic Anderson (480 yards, 5 TDs) are relentless playmakers.
Katy is loaded again defensively, led by senior 6-foot-6, 220-pound DE Malick Sylla (Texas A&M commit, 12 tackles for loss, 6 sacks, 2 fumbles caused), senior 6-foot-2, 210-pound LB Ty Kana (USC commit, 72 tackles, 3 sacks), senior DB Bobby Taylor (Texas A&M commit, 33 tackles, 2 fumble recoveries, INT) and senior DB Hamilton McMartin (53 tackles, 5 for loss, 2 INTs).
Seniors Caleb Webb and Dylan Erickson return on the offensive line, but keep an eye on 6-foot-6, 240-pound junior Devin Garrison up front. Junior DB Arian Parish (50 tackles, 2 fumbles caused, INT), who holds multiple DI offers, is also due for a breakout season.
Coach Todd McVey's program moves into a new era following the graduation of star quarterback Jalen Milroe, now at Alabama.
The Falcons return 13 starters from last year's 10-1 Regional Finalist but are missing sure-fire answers at quarterback and running back. Quarterback will be a competition between senior Cole Francis, who led the JV to a district title, junior Chris Gilbert and sophomore Wyatt Young.
There's also a three-man battle at running back with sophomore Jhase McMillan, and seniors Collin Marshall and Ashton Vazquez. Senior WR Joshua McMillan II (522 yards, 8 TDs), an HBU- commit, is a speedster who can break the top off defenses and brings veteran stability to the offense. Sophomore TE Rhys Phillips could play a role as well. Tompkins has experience on the offensive line in seniors
Tyler Lynch, Luke Snyder and Ethan Vazquez, and an attacking defense highlighted by senior 6-foot-2, 240-pound DE Sean Dubose Jr. (40 tackles, 8 sacks), senior 6-foot-2, 235-pound LB Bryce Shaink (85 tackles) and senior 6-foot, 285-pound NG Eti-ini Bassey (56 tackles, 4 sacks).
Katy Taylor Mustangs
Taylor coach Chad Simmons expects to have more explosiveness offensively and better team speed this season while dealing with inexperience in the secondary and defensive front. The Mustangs return 10 starters from last year's 9-3 Regional Finalist.
Junior Joe Jefferson (6-2, 185 pounds) takes over at quarterback after playing safety last year. The dual-threat signal-caller will have capable weapons in senior RB Michael Whitaker (804 rushing yards, 9 TDs; 334 receiving yards, 2 TDs), senior RB Tyler Irving (145 rushing yards, TD; 62 receiving yards, TD) and sophomore 6-foot-4, 230-pound RB Ian Flynt. Senior 6-foot-3, 280-pound OL Nolan Hay will pave the way.
Defensively, the Mustangs have stalwarts in senior CB Jaden Burr (36 tackles, 4 INTs), senior DT Will Bynum and sophomore DT Ashton Coker (17 tackles, sack). Junior CB Cortez Hunter has an offer from Baylor. Junior SS/RB Andrew Meza and senior FS/WR Hollis Robinson are invaluable two-way playmakers. Intriguing newcomers are junior WR Alei Sabek, sophomore FS Cyrus Reyes, senior WS/WR Justin Byrd and SS/RB Ethan Jackson.
Cinco Ranch Cougars
Cinco Ranch went 1-7 last season, but four of those losses came by eight or fewer points for a sophomore-laden team. Now those sophomores are veterans and Cinco Ranch, which returns 13 starters, could compete for its first playoff berth since 2017.
Coach Chris Dudley's team returns experience and talent at quarterback, receiver, linebacker and the secondary. Junior playmakers in 6-foot-1, 195-pound QB Gavin Rutherford (1,372 passing yards, 11 TDs-8 INTs) and WRs Noah Abboud (570 yards, 5 TDs) and Seth Salverino (481 yards, 3 TDs) lead an offense that can put up big numbers. The Cougars need to find a running game, though. Their lack of one did Rutherford and Co. no favors last season. Cinco Ranch also needs depth on the O-line.
Defensively, Cinco Ranch has stability in senior DB Fordham Parks (29 tackles, 7 passes defensed, INT), senior LB Kasey Murry, senior DB Odera Nsboundu (49 tackles, INT), senior DE Zach Dycus and senior DT Rhett Rodabaugh. Sophomore CB Taytum Johnson, junior DE Riete Nesiama and sophomore DB Yextiel Perez-Gilbes could make noise as newcomers.
Seven Lakes Spartans
Seven Lakes making the playoffs last year pushed Katy to the Division II bracket of the playoffs, which obviously influenced the state championship. The Spartans are likely key to the 19-6A playoff picture once again, but coach Jimmy Hamon's team only returns eight starters.
Senior Grayson Medford is making the transition from WR to QB. He has experience around him in junior 6-foot, 180-pound WR Beau Clewett (248 yards, 2 TDs) and senior OL DJ Nechvatal and Filbert Presley. Dual-threat sophomore QB A.J. Bates could take over under center if Hamon feels Medford is more effective at receiver (403 receiving yards, 3 TDs). Sophomore Barrett Hudson, senior Michael Amico and junior Marcel Davis figure into the running game.
Defensively, senior 6-foot, 190-pound LB Scott Stanford (40 tackles, sack, INT) is the anchor and a first-team, all-state punter. Senior 6-foot-5, 220-pound DE Shashwat Singh and sophomore 6-foot-2, 200-pound LB Daykus Brinkley have impressed.
Hamon has concerns protecting against edge rushers, as well as downfield coverage in the secondary, but likes his run-game and Medford's playmaking.
Mayde Creek Rams
For the third straight season, Mayde Creek has a new head coach. But the leader this time is a familiar face in J Jensen, a former Rams offensive lineman and 1998 graduate. He has his dream job. Mayde Creek returns nine starters from last year's 4-6 team. Speed and athleticism are strengths, but depth and size are concerns.
Key returners include junior CB Tay'Shawn Wilson (20 tackles, 2 pass deflections, fumble recovery), senior DB Chris Brown, junior LB Donovan McKey, senior 6-foot-2, 205-pound DE Greg Meeks (13 tackles, 5 sacks), senior LB James Rhodes, junior ATH Leroy Turner (13 receptions, 136 yards, TD), senior OL Emiliano Gonzalez, senior WR Jordan Kelly (11 receptions, 115 yards), sophomore RB Tavious Mitchell, junior 6-foot-3, 205-pound QB Carldell Beard, senior DE Xavier Hansen, senior DB Deavon Coyle and senior LB Kendrick Simpo.
Wilson is the signature name of the Rams. The 5-foot-10, 170-pounder had four DI offers (Louisiana Tech, Baylor, Texas, Houston) as of June 25. Jensen, a defensive-minded coach who will work the offensive and defensive fronts, wants a fast, physical team that is disciplined. Winning the turnover battle will be an emphasis.
Morton Ranch Mavericks
The issue Morton Ranch has dealt with over the last few seasons is the numbers, or lack of, within the program. Going into the 2017 season, Morton Ranch had an enrollment of 3,639. Going into 2021, coach Ron Counter said the school's enrollment is 2,450. Still, the Mavs have been competitive, finishing one win from making the playoffs each of the last two seasons.
Morton Ranch returns nine starters from last year's 3-6 team. The core is senior RB Karsten Christopher, senior OL Ja'Kobe Hinton, senior 6-foot, 215-pound DE Benen Lee, senior LB Alexis Lima, senior DB Rene Luna, senior FB Jacob Pittman, senior OL Manuel Rivas, senior DB Ki'Juan Tavarez, senior K/P Juan Arriagae, junior DT Daniel Alequin, senior 6-foot-2, 185-pound QB Josh Johnson, junior DB Chris Releford, junior RB Santana Scott and junior 6-foot-4, 290-pound OL Zach Session.
Junior defensive tackles Emmanuel Ekuma and Jamall Lindsey could have an impact, and Counter has a strong sophomore class in QB Mike Gerald, LB Dean Ford, DB D'Isaac Fernandez and LB/ RB Ryan Hall.
The Cougars were a surprise last season, climbing out of fourth place in a rough and rugged District 19-6A to make an inspiring run to the Regional Quarterfinals, where they fell to eventual state champion and district foe Seven Lakes.
Cinco Ranch graduated eight seniors from that club, mostly impacting the defensive side.
Junior 5-foot-10 outside hitter Courtney O'Brien is back to lead the way after averaging 3.6 kills per set to go with 2.7 digs per set and 31 aces.
Senior setter Catalina Martinez will assume a greater role defensively and as a ball handler. She averaged 3.7 assists and 1.5 digs per set.
O'Brien's younger sister, Kassidy, is a freshman and expected to play a significant role as one of the prominent up-and-coming talents in the Greater Houston area.
Watch out for junior middle/ right side hitter Camryn Moon around the net. Moon had 20 blocks in only 49 sets last season.
Another player to watch in 2021 will be senior outside hitter and University of Arkansas Monticello-commit Emily Presley.