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DICKINSON - John Snelson admitted that the past week had been hard.
A 37-0 season-opening loss to Atascocita on the road was "as tough as we've had", the veteran coach admitted. Despite being beaten down, held to just 122 total yards and zero trips into the endzone, that didn't deflate the offensive or defensive units.
Instead, it fueled them.
On Friday, Dickinson (1-1) regained a bit of its offensive rhythm behind the running of John Solomon, while the defense pitched a shutout en route to a 14-0 victory over Ridge Point.
"Offensively, there wasn’t a whole lot of confidence," Snelson said after last week. "For those kids to believe in each other and their coaching staff and lock in, even though we weren’t clean, we were much better versus a quality defense.”
Ridge Point (0-2) has now lost to Austin Westlake and Dickinson to start the 2022 season.
When Snelson and staff went back and turned on the film from that Atascocita game, the one thing that was glaring was the fact of people trying to do other people's jobs.
The step forward from Week 1 to Week 2 was clear on Friday night. Solomon was able to run more, while incorporating Missouri-commit Marquis Johnson into the offense more. De'Rion Crooms also saw a more active role in the offense, while the offensive line held up to allow Solomon time to work.
“You ask any coach, the biggest improvement that a team will make in the course of a season is from week one to week two," Snelson said. "Because you have so many brand-new guys, the first week sometimes something happens. But they’re just more comfortable.”
VYPE/@KPRC2 Player of the Game: @DickinsonFB QB @johnsolo102 talks with us after the big win. Had some big runs and throws in the 14-0 victory. #txhsfb @KPRC2RandyMc @vjglover2023 @derioncrooms @tredevious @Donovangreen23 @LaydenRoque @TThomas06x @DickinsonISD pic.twitter.com/2eWEI52H5x— VYPE Houston (@vypehouston) September 3, 2022
Defensively, the Gators were forcing turnovers and causing havoc in the backfield led by Layden Roque, Kaleb Walker and Diego Sanchez. Evan Wiltz and La'Ron Nelson also came up with some big sacks in the win as well.
“They kept us in that football game and will continue to throughout the course of the season,” Snelson said about the defense.
As the Gators turn their attention to Dobie next week, Snelson wants to see the offense take the next step as they did much better at "everybody locking in and doing their own job" this week.
And, of course, they'll watch some film.
“Whenever you win and you go back and watch film, it’s never as good as you think it is,” Snelson said with a smile. “Whenever you lose and go back and watch film, it’s never quite as bad as it feels.
Dickinson earned its second district title in three years in 2021 and is looking for another gold trophy. The Gators are set to do so but it won’t be easy.
Clear Falls and Clear Springs are poised for dominant campaigns as well. Keep an eye on the fourth and final playoff spot in 24-6A. It could come down to a battle of attrition between three teams: Clear Lake, Clear Creek and Brazoswood. Clear Brook also won’t be a slouch.
Top to bottom, 24-6A is one of the more competitive districts in the Greater Houston area.
PREVIOUS DISTRICT PREVIEWS (2022)
Dickinson GatorsClear Falls KnightsClear Springs ChargersClear Lake FalconsClear Creek WildcatsBrazoswood BuccaneersClear Brook Wolverines
VYPE PRESEASON AWARDS
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: David Smith, Clear FallsOFFENSIVE MVP: Xai’Shaun Edwards, Clear SpringsDEFENSIVE MVP: VJ Glover, DickinsonBREAKOUT PLAYER OF THE YEAR: John Solomon Jr., DickinsonSLEEPER TEAM: Clear Creek
The Gators look primed to repeat as district champs, returning 10 starters (6 defense) from a 9-3 Area finalist. Coach John Snelson said defense will be the strength of his bunch, and for good reason. Dickinson is loaded in the secondary with senior three-year starter and TCU-commit DB VJ Glover, senior DB Jabari Ellison (81 tackles) and junior DB Diego Sanchez (60 tackles, 2 INTs). Up front, senior DL Tre Ford and junior DL Ja’Marcus Anderson will handle business, while the linebacking corps is solid with senior Layden Roque, junior Jontue Fears and senior Kaleb Walker. Offensively, the Gators are potent on the perimeter with senior WR and Missouri-commit Marquis Johnson (220 yards, 3 TDs receiving; 125 yards, TD rushing) and senior DeRion Crooms (364 yards, 4 TDs). The question is who is going to get them the ball? Keep an eye on junior ATH John Solomon Jr. (487 yards, 9 TDs rushing; 266 yards, TD passing) to possibly take the reins at QB. Sophomore 6-foot-3, 200-pound TE Jeremiah Scoby and sophomore OL Tyler Thomas figure into plans, as well as junior RB Malachi McNair and junior FB Izaak Arias. Snelson said youth is a concern.
CLEAR FALLS KNIGHTS
The Knights return 10 starters (6 offense) from a 9-2 Bi-District playoff finalist. Coach Zach Head said the strengths will be the O-line, RBs, CBs, LBs and QB. Inexperience at safety and depth, or a lack thereof, in the trenches on both sides of the ball are concerns. Leading the way for Clear Falls will be senior 6-foot-2, 180-pound CB/WR Max Williams (7 pass breakups, INT), who will see extensive time on both sides of the ball; senior 6-foot-4, 215-pound OLB/TE Corey Kelly (71 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 7 pass breakups); senior RB David Smith (1,569 yards, 18 TDs), who is already the Knights’ all-time leading rusher; senior 6-foot, 180-pound DB/QB Cam Roberson (870 yards, 7 TDs passing; 239 yards, 3 TDs rushing), who will play both ways; junior 6-foot-2, 185-pound QB Landon Vessel (947 yards, 7 TDs); junior OL Jude Edwards, who has started every game since freshman year; senior CB/ WR Josh Moore; junior 6-foot-4, 215-pound DE Le’Kell McGowan; junior RB/WR Payton Greer (650 yards, 8 TDs rushing); sophomore 6-foot-3, 275-pound OL Jacob Lockstein; and junior OL Skylar Luzader. Clear Falls is going to be a problem this season.
CLEAR SPRINGS CHARGERS
Fourteen starters return from a 7-5 Area finalist, so keep an eye on Clear Springs (2020 district champs) to make a run at its second district title in three years. The Chargers have a slew of difference-makers in senior 6-foot-3, 240-pound DL Serigne Tounkara, senior 6-foot-4, 275-pound OL Nick Fattig (57 pancakes, 0 sacks allowed), senior 6-foot-6, 230-pound TE Hayden Davis (28 pancakes), senior 6-foot-3, 185-pound WR Ashton Schumann (558 yards, 4 TDs), junior 6-foot-5, 280-pound OL Blake Ivy (31 pancakes), junior RB Xai’Shaun Edwards (1,621 yards, 15 TDs), senior DB Keelan Morgan (49 tackles, 5 fumbles caused, 4 fumble recoveries, 2 INTs, 9 pass breakups), junior 6-foot-3, 210-pound OLB Michael Sylvalie (39 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 fumbles caused, 2 fumble recoveries) and senior DL Branson Winter (37 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 3 sacks). That’s a lot of talent. It’d also be wise to keep an eye on sophomore 6-foot-3, 185-pound WR Muizz Tounkara and senior 6-foot-3, 215-pound Jackson Ehlers.
CLEAR LAKE FALCONS
The Falcons went through a serious youth movement last season as 14 sophomores started at one point or another. They hope the pains of 2021 grows into pleasure in 2022. Fifteen starters (8 defense) return from that 4-6 team, led by junior 6-foot-3, 220-pound QB Devin Lippold (354 yards, 4 TDs) and junior RB Elijah Harris (826 yards, 6 TDs) on offense, and junior 6-foot, 185-pound DB Damani Maxson and junior LBs 6-foot-1, 210-pound Cecil Dressendorfer (85 tackles) and Tyler Best (88 tackles). Keep an eye on dynamic 6-foot-1, 175-pound junior two-way talent Hunter Moddon and senior WR Rodney Searles.
CLEAR CREEK WILDCATS
The Wildcats are hoping to make it four consecutive years as playoff participants. They’ll certainly have the experience. Clear Creek returns 15 starters (9 defense) from a 3-8 team. Senior RB Rocky Ketchum (981 yards, 6 TDs) will be the rock on the offense, running behind senior 6-foot-3, 260-pound OL Campbell Melcher en route to many, many touchdowns. The Wildcats will have to figure out who will be handing him the ball, however. Junior Bryson Drake and senior 6-foot-3, 170-pound Dante Frederick are expected to compete for the job in fall camp. Defensively, Creek could be a monster. Junior S Cah’lil Ward and senior DB Landen Gunter are the anchors of a talented secondary. Also look out for senior CB Stephen Jurbala, senior LB Dylan Russo, junior CB Quinton Gray, senior LB Isaiah Thomas and senior DB Denis Anderson. That’s a lot of talented depth in the secondary. If Clear Creek can find a consistent pass-rush, it’ll be in business.
Joe Dale Cary is the new man in charge of the Bucs. His mission? Revive a program that hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2012. Should not be a problem for Cary, who comes over after leading Hondo to the postseason each of the last two seasons. He’ll also have plenty to work with as 15 starters return from a 4-6 team. Senior 6-foot-2, 185-pound WR Kade Bengston and senior QB Isaac Ponce (1,105 yards, 11 TDs) give the Bucs some athletic, dynamic playmaking. Senior 6-foot-3, 270-pound OL Dawson Scott is a rock up front. Defensively, Brazoswood is not as experienced as the offense but still has some tools. Senior LBs Croix Rivera and Ronnie Jones will anchor the unit. The 6-foot-1 Rivera bringing length and size and the 215-pound Jones adding physical toughness and strength.
CLEAR BROOK WOLVERINES
Clear Brook is under new leadership after Deer Park defensive coordinator Patrick Sanders was named head coach in late June. Sanders takes over a program that returns 11 starters (6 defense) from a 3-6 team and hasn’t made the playoffs since 2018. Sanders doesn’t have long to exert his ways but he will have some talented pieces to build around, starting with gifted senior WR Michael Lewis (859 yards, 8 TDs) and senior DB Jaylen Price (42 tackles, 5 INTs). The Wolverines are steady on the offensive front with junior 6-foot, 242-pound Jude Effinger and junior 6-foot-4, 250-pound Charles Holt. The QB spot is an unknown. In all, there is a substantial amount of youth and inexperience dotting the roster