Your password needs to be at least 8 characters and one number.
Ridge Point is the familiar name, having firmly established itself as a premier brand in the Greater Houston area.
Coach Rick LaFavers has the Panthers on the up, up, up. Hightower, however, is the new kid on the block; not just in 20-6A, but 6A. The Hurricanes are making the move up in class but return much of the dynamic athleticism and potent playmaking that led it to the 5A-DI Regional Final last year.
As far as the rest of the district, Clements is hoping to sustain last season’s momentum and Travis is a playoff contender year in and year out. But don’t sleep on anyone else. All—as in, every other team—return substantial experience and could upset anyone if taken lightly.
PREVIOUS DISTRICT PREVIEWS (2022)
PRESEASON RANKINGSRidge Point PanthersHightower HurricanesClements RangersTravis TigersBush BroncosDulles VikingsGeorge Ranch LonghornsElkins KnightsAustin Bulldogs
VYPE PRESEASON AWARDS
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Jeremy Payne, HightowerOFFENSIVE MVP: Ezell Jolly, Ridge PointDEFENSIVE MVP: Taylor Davis, Ridge PointBREAKOUT PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Joseph Stewart Jr., HightowerSLEEPER TEAM: Dulles
RIDGE POINT PANTHERS
With 13 starters returning (8 defense) from a Regional Semifinalist, coach Rick LaFavers is hopeful the Panthers are “on the road to AT&T (Stadium).” Finding a way to go deeper in the playoffs is the next step for the perennial Region III-6A power (five double-digit win seasons in the last eight years). LaFavers likes his team’s overall speed and athleticism, playmaking and defense. Depth on the O-line is a concern. Leading the pack for the Panthers are senior DB Taylor Davis (87 tackles, 4 INTs, 2 pick-6s), senior 6-foot, 190-pound RB Ezell Jolly (864 yards, 12 TDs), senior DB Ryan Ramey (32 tackles, 4 fumble recoveries, 2 INTs), senior 6-foot-7, 270-pound OT Peyton Farmer, senior 6-foot-2, 215-pound LB James Walley (73 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 4 sacks) and junior 6-foot-1, 180-pound ATH Mason Dossett (433 yards, 5 TDs rushing; 127 yards, 3 TDs receiving). Senior 6-foot-3, 270-pound DT DK Kalu will be welcomed back with open arms after missing most of last year due to injury. Keep an eye on senior DT James Eaglin, junior WR Ashton Bethel-Roman, senior 6-foot-3, 210-pound TE Carter Groen and junior QB Samson Wheeler.
FORT BEND HIGHTOWER HURRICANES
Cornelius Anthony had a terrific debut leading his alma mater to the Class 5A-DI Regional Final last year. Now the Hurricanes make the step up to 6A. Twelve starters (7 offense) return, including a pair of dynamic skill players in junior RB Jeremy Payne (1,099 yards, 9 TDs) and junior 6-foot-3, 195-pound WR Zion Kearney (233 yards, 2 TDs). Payne is rapidly emerging as one of the elite talents in the Class of 2024. Defensively, senior CB Santana Wilson (27 total tackles, 2 fumbles caused, INT) and senior 6-foot-1, 225-pound DE Treylon Beloney (18 tackles for loss, 7 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries) star, along with steady complement of playmakers in junior 6-foot-2, 235-pound DE Robert Staten Jr. (14 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 4 fumbles caused) and junior 5-foot-11, 290-pound DT Dailon Ellis (5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks). Hightower has question marks in depth along the offensive and defensive lines, as well as at quarterback. Speaking of QB, keep a close eye on sophomore Joseph Stewart Jr., who could be special because of his athleticism and raw ability.
FORT BEND CLEMENTS RANGERS
Clements enjoyed its best season since 2009 last year, going 7-4 and making it to the playoffs. What’s the encore? Well, for one, 13 starters (8 offense) are back, which is a nice start. The Rangers will be led by junior 6-foot-2, 195-pound QB Gunner Chenier (1,164 yards, 8 TDs), senior WR Gabriel Moacyr (126 yards, 12.6 yards per catch), senior 6-foot-2, 195-pound ATH Michael Kasemervisz, senior WR Joey Mongogna (55 yards), junior 6-foot-1, 360-pound OL Carson Talley, junior 6-foot-4, 250-pound OL Zack Yuan, senior OL Lex Demeris and senior OL Brian Navarro on offense. Defensively, it’s senior 6-foot-1, 225-pound ILB Ferris Refai (95 tackles, 2 sacks) and senior DL Alex Aguirre (15 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 2 sacks in 8 games) pacing Clements. Key newcomers are junior RB John Lewis, sophomore WR Max Cimino and senior RB Julian Wilson. Coach Bobby Darnell said he hopes the offensive and defensive lines are strengths. The secondary has the least experience as a unit and is a concern.
FORT BEND TRAVIS TIGERS
The Tigers are on a streak of nine straight years of making the playoffs. It’s likely they make it 10 in a row. Nine starters (6 offense) return from a 6-5 Bi-District finalist. Travis is young on defense and will need to find a No. 1 back. Still, there is still enough talent in the cupboard. Senior 6-foot-1, 175-pound WR Robert Sims (589 yards, 9 TDs) and junior 6-foot-1, 165-pound WR Brent Johnson make for a dynamic duo for senior QB Dru Sissom, the coach’s son. Sissom played sparingly as a backup last season but completed 4 of 6 passes for a TD. Defensively, the linebackers are solid in senior Anthony Oliver (35 tackles, 2 fumbles caused, sack in 6 games), junior Tomison Olorunfemi (51 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 fumbles caused) and junior 6-foot, 185-pound Temi Osinaike. The Tigers are otherwise thin on defense.
FORT BEND BUSH BRONCOS
Bush coach Allen Aldridge likes what he has coming back this season. Thirteen starters (7 offense) and 26 lettermen return from a 5-6 Bi-District finalist. Leading the way is senior 6-foot-2, 185-pound DB/WR Paul Omodia (26 tackles, INT), senior 6-foot, 220-pound RB/LB Allen Aldridge III, senior 6-foot-1, 200-pound LB/DE Isaac Buoye (36 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 4 fumbles caused), senior 6-foot-3, 230-pound TE Broc Boutte, senior 6-foot-2, 315-pound OL/DT Ikenna Nwakor, senior 6-foot, 195-pound DB/LB Bryce McDonald (43 tackles, 5 tackles for loss), senior 6-foot, 195-pound LB Preston Davis (24 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 2 fumble recoveries in 4 games), senior 6-foot, 220-pound LB/DE Kosy Okoroafor (39 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 3 sacks) and senior WR Jamon Cooley. Bush will need to find stability at QB and RB. Keep a watch out for senior OL Douglas Lawson, senior WR Jose Citan, junior WR/DB Nathaniel Walker, junior LB Joachim Nicolau, junior QB Antione Eakins, junior DB/WR Reginald Williams and junior OL Fernando Padilla.
FORT BEND DULLES VIKINGS
Twelve starters (7 defense) return from a 4-6 team. Coach Shane Byrd said the linebackers and secondary are strengths. The O-line is a concern. Paving the way in Dulles’ Wing-T offense is senior RB Cole Hodges (161 yards), junior 6-foot-3, 225-pound TE/DE Victor Aderungboye (108 yards, TD receiving), senior OL Chaseton Bobino, senior OL/DL Tyler Clayton and junior Jonah Talamantez. Leading the defense is senior DE/TE Anthony Garza (13 tackles, sack), senior 6-foot, 220-pound LB Trayveon Richard (44 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, INT), junior 6-0 DB/WR Carter Truscott (42 tackles, 10 passes defensed, 3 INTs), senior DB Maxwell Cotton (40 tackles, INT) and senior LB Justin Ofoma (38 tackles). Newcomers expected to make an impact are junior 6-foot-2, 170-pound QB Kason Byrd, senior RB Ade Simaze, senior DL Jackson Prong, sophomore Micah Owens and junior Adrien Phan.
RICHMOND GEORGE RANCH LONGHORNS
The Longhorns return eight starters (5 offense) from a 5-5 team that missed out on the playoffs. Three of those five returning offensive starters are linemen. Senior 6-foot-3, 300-pound tackle/guard Hanzlah Rana is the rock of that line. George Ranch will go with some experienced, yet unproven, skill players in junior QB Deion Drinkard (238 yards, 2 TDs passing; 32 yards, TD rushing), senior 6-foot-4, 180-pound WR Gregor Jones (101 yards, TD) and junior RB Jaden Shelton (270 yards, TD, 6.8 yards per carry). Defensively, the Longhorns have some consistent playmakers in junior CB Kennard McGuire (24 total tackles, 5 passes defensed), senior 6-foot-3, 200-pound DL Jacques Franklin (24 total tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 2 sacks) and junior LB Trevion Aikens (27 total tackles TD), but will need others to step up big-time, especially in the secondary.
FORT BEND ELKINS KNIGHTS
Knights coach Dennis Brantley said the offensive line, quarterback and defensive line are strengths this year. Depth is a concern. Fourteen starters (8 offense) return from a 2-8 team. There are viable stalwarts on offense in senior 6-foot, 195-pound QB Isaiah Smith (803 yards, 3 TDs passing: 89 yards, 8 TDs rushing), senior 6-foot-2, 220-pound RB/LB Avion Stewart (178 yards, 2 TDs), senior WR/DB Assad Abbas and senior WR Jakson Hart (361 yards, 3 TDs). Defensively, Abbas and Stewart will also have a profound effect. Other key returners are junior OL Armond Owens, senior OL Ben Feit, junior OL Deandre Pittman, senior center Cameron King, junior LB Israel Cheers, senior OL/DL Noah Tristan, senior DB/WR Dexter Jackson, senior DL Ashton Payne and junior DB/WR Braelon Thompson.
FORT BEND AUSTIN BULLDOGS
Austin coach Mike Arogbonlo said there are no glaring holes this season as 15 starters (8 defense) return from an 0-10 team. Arogbonlo said he feels very good about where the Bulldogs are as a team. They only lost eight seniors, and the strengths? QB play, O-Line, secondary, D-Line and receivers. Not shabby. Leading the charge are senior ATH Jamal Franklin (373 yards, 4 TDs receiving; 229 yards, 4 TDs rushing), senior 6-foot-2, 195-pound WR Daniel Oloso (391 yards, 5 TDs), senior 6-foot-3, 255-pound OL Aries Stevens, senior OLB Martell Jones, senior WR/DB Jayson Tanifum, senior 6-foot-3, 230-pound DL Lotanna Ume-ezeoke, sophomore WR Mason Cress, senior RB Thusuan Gibbs, junior DB Hugh Rolls (52 tackles), senior DB Royell Salmon, junior OL Da’leyon Benard and junior OL Cooper Rodden. Key newcomers are sophomore RB David Bishop, senior ILB Raylon Holmes and junior DL Mike Ume-ezeoke. Arogbonlo said he is excited about the defense under new coordinator Trey Herrmann, previously head coach at Danbury and Katy Taylor.
Ridge Point senior quarterback Bert Emanuel Jr.
ROSENBERG—'Fight,' 'finish,' 'effort.' Those were some of the words Ridge Point coach Rick LaFavers used in describing his team's 44-14 win over George Ranch in a pivotal District 20-6A showdown Thursday at Traylor Stadium.
"I'm proud of our guys," LaFavers said. "We gave up some plays, but they finished, and I was very proud of that."
The Panthers' 6-1 record, 4-0 in 20-6A, and plus-29.4-point differential may look gaudy, but LaFavers' boys are relying on grit, toughness and resilience these days with three key starters out for the season due to injury.
Oh, and Bert Emanuel Jr. Ridge Point is relying a whole lot on the star dual-threat senior quarterback, too.
Emanuel completed nine of 21 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 113 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries against George Ranch for his second five-touchdown game this season. He also had a five-touchdown game in a Week 2 win against Dickinson.
.@GRHS_Football is on the board, capitalizing on a fumble recovery on a botched RP snap in Panthers territory. Andr… https://t.co/rocW4mJSIa — Dennis Silva II (@Dennis Silva II)
Against the Longhorns, it was Emanuel's legs that got things going with two first-half touchdowns that enabled a 20-7 Ridge Point lead at halftime.
Emanuel ran the ball a lot last season, averaging 45.8 rushing yards on 7.5 carries per game with six rushing touchdowns. But he's running the ball even more this season, averaging 83. 7 yards on 10.7 carries per game with eight touchdowns.
"It's most definitely intentional," Emanuel said about being involved more in the run game. "I want defenses to not just have to worry about me throwing the ball."
LaFavers said the beauty of the offense is that it takes advantage of whatever the defense is giving. Teams choose often to give up the run to prevent the big-play ability of Emanuel and dynamic senior receivers Marvin Session and Wilson Batiste, each of whom caught a touchdown Thursday.
That opens opportunities for junior running back Ezell Jolly (87 yards on 15 carries) and, especially, the 6-foot-4, 205-pound Emanuel, who always keeps a defense on its toes.
.@RPHS_FB answers. Quickly. @BertEmanuel3 with another keeper for a score, this one from nine yards out. 20-7, 1:51… https://t.co/CRiOKRZBK1 — Dennis Silva II (@Dennis Silva II)
"We feel like we can attack people in the passing game, but if they give us lanes, he's such a big, fast runner, we'll take advantage of that," LaFavers said. "He has a will to win. He's a winner. He fights for yards, he has great vision, and he protects the ball. I'm so proud of him and proud that he's a Panther."
Emanuel said he has matured as a runner, getting better going out of bounds and not trying to pick up every single yard he can get.
"Especially on the sideline when defenders close in," he said. "Just don't put my body on the line."
Otherwise, he picks apart defenses thanks to an improved knowledge of the offense.
Ridge Point has the No. 1 offense in 20-6A, averaging 45.3 points on 442.1 yards per game. Aside from his rushing prowess, which ranks fourth in 20-6A, Emanuel has thrown for 1,296 yards and 16 touchdowns to no interceptions.
"This was a great game, very important," Emanuel said. "I feel like as an offense, we have more of an understanding of the playbook compared to this point last year. There's more chemistry with all of our coaches, being our second year with them."
>> STEPPING UP: The Panthers are a depleted bunch. Senior offensive lineman Calvin Harvey (Louisiana Tech commit) is out for the season with an ACL tear. Defensive linemen Clayton Cherry and DK Kalu are also out for the season with injuries. The defense, still, played admirably against George Ranch, as senior linebacker Dalton Plitt, senior linebacker Mason Hall, senior lineman Kameron Richardson and junior end Cortez Nichols, among others, led a potent, persistent pass rush that produced three sacks. "Those guys are really good," Plitt said of Cherry and Kalu. "It's been hard dealing with that, but it's next man up. We played our defense and made some plays. If we keep building, we'll keep winning." LaFavers was certainly pleased. "We run," he said. "That's one thing we've got is speed. We swarm the ball. It wasn't great all the time, but I love the effort. I'm proud of guys stepping up and finishing."
What a takedown on this sack by @RPHS_FB’s @hallmason8 for a six-yard loss. #txhsfb @RP_PantherPride @RPHS_Panthers https://t.co/OKkT9v4W9E — Dennis Silva II (@Dennis Silva II)
>> DRINKARD STARS: Senior running back Hymond Drinkard was terrific for George Ranch, rushing for 136 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. He accounted for 54 percent of the Longhorns' total offensive production. Drinkard leads 20-6A in rushing with 752 yards and 12 touchdowns.
>> DYNAMIC DAVIS: Ridge Point junior defensive back Taylor Davis produced the most spectacular play of the night with 2:10 left in the fourth quarter. Davis caught a pass tipped by fellow junior DB Ryan Ramey in the end zone and returned it 108 yards for a pick-6 and the final score of the game. It's Davis's second interception return for a touchdown this season. He leads 20-6A in interceptions with four.
FBL (V): Tip drill in the GR endzone to @TaylorDavis_27 for the 108 yard return!! Is there #SuchAThing? PAT by Gray… https://t.co/jZ7mCDnxc1 — Ridge Point HS (@Ridge Point HS)