In 2020, they reached the playoffs for the first time since 2009 – a huge accomplishment. They followed that up last season going 7-3 and just barely missing the playoffs. Now, what can they do this year having to replace quite a few big-time pieces – including Trudell Berry (Vanderbilt) – on both sides of the ball?
The Ganders do return second-team, all-district offensive lineman Keven Ortiz to lead the line. On defense, first-team, all-district outside linebacker Josh Huerta is back along with second- team, inside linebacker Harold Gibson, who is a four- year starter for the Ganders.
At quarterback expect LeVay Duncan Jr. to be slinging the rock and can let it fly. Some of his targets will include Josiah Joseph in the slot and Huerta, who will also flip to receiver at times. Ehret Calloway will be a nice big target as well, while Dominic Medina and Carlos Zamarripa hold it down up front. Watch for Wanyae Barnes and Denzel Taylor to come rumbling out of the backfield as well.
Defensively, Taylor will play some free safety for the Ganders along with Nelson, while Gibson holds it down at linebacker.
Top to bottom, this all-Katy ISD district will be one of the toughest in the state. There are no pushovers, and four teams have a great shot at making deep runs into December. Katy, of course, is a state power and seeking State Title No. 10. Tompkins is a perennial monster in the region.
Paetow is coming off a Class 5A-DI State Championship and makes the jump to 6A. Cinco Ranch is coming off its best season since 2016.
There will be teams left out of the playoff picture that would finish third or fourth in almost any other district. Buckle up!
PREVIOUS DISTRICT PREVIEWS (2022)
Cinco Ranch Cougars
Morton Ranch Mavericks
Mayde Creek Rams
Seven Lakes Spartans
VYPE PRESEASON AWARDS
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Seth Davis, Katy
OFFENSIVE MVP: Wyatt Young, Tompkins
DEFENSIVE MVP: Alex Kilgore, Paetow
BREAKOUT PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Dakyus Brinkley, Seven Lakes
SLEEPER TEAM: Taylor
Katy is Katy. Only one program has more state titles than Katy’s nine—Aledo (10). Only two have more playoff wins than Katy’s 125—Refugio (134) and Mart (128). Expect nothing less than more greatness as the Tigers return 11 starters (6 offense) from last year’s 14-1 State Semifinalist. Three-year starters in senior QB Caleb Koger (2,068 yards, 22 TDs) and senior RB Seth Davis (2,460 yards, 28 TDs) are back to lead the offense. Davis is a Mississippi State-commit. Junior OL Jacob Egg is the anchor up front. The defense is, per usual, stacked with premier talent like senior Colorado-commit DB Johnathan Hall (99 total tackles, 2 fumble recoveries, 4 INTs), senior CB Damian Neveaux (111 total tackles, 4 tackles for loss), senior 6-foot-2, 230-pound DE Broderick Johnson (8 tackles for loss, 4 sacks), senior DB Arian Parish, senior DB Micah Sweat and senior DB Torik Aigbedion. Legendary coach Gary Joseph said the run game, experience at QB and the O-line are strengths. The secondary, consistency at outside linebacker, wide receiver play, and overall depth are concerns.
The Falcons look to sustain optimism and momentum from a tough 6-point loss in the Regional Semis to eventual State Champ North Shore and return nine starters (5 offense) from last year’s 11-2 team. Tompkins’ only losses were to Katy and the dynastic Mustangs. Top returners are senior DB/RB Caleb Komolafe (86 tackles, 8 pass breakups; 331 yards, 6 TDs rushing), junior WR/QB Wyatt Young (539 yards rushing; 670 yards receiving; 20 total TDs), junior RB Caleb Blocker (1,017 yards, 13 TDs), junior 6-foot-6, 290-pound LT Ashton Funk (40 pancakes), senior OL Pedro Da Silva (20 pancakes), senior 6-foot-1, 170-pound WR Matthew Ogunrin (375 yards, 3 TDs), junior 6-foot-2, 205-pound DE Eduwa Okundaye (26 tackles, 2 sacks) and senior DB Cody Chapman (31 tackles, 4 INTs). Keep an eye on newcomers in junior 6-2, 215-pound TE Rhys Phillips and senior QB Chris Gilbert. Coach Todd McVey said skill positions are strengths. Depth on the offensive and defensive lines is a concern.
Can Paetow duplicate the success it had in Class 5A in 6A? We’re about to find out. Only seven starters (4 defense) return from last year’s 15-1 Class 5A-DI State Champion. Also, in is a new head coach in former Denton Ryan offensive coordinator Lonnie Teagle. Paetow’s defense is absolutely LOADED. Senior 6-foot-3, 270-pound DE David Hicks, the No. 4 overall player in the country who transferred from Allen, and junior 6-foot-3, 205-pound DE Loghan Thomas (43 total tackles, 16 tackles for loss, 9 sacks) are beasts up front, 6-foot-2, 210-pound Alex Kilgore (116 total tackles, 24 tackles for loss, 10 sacks) and 6-foot-2, 200-pound Daymion Sanford (91 total tackles, 26 tackles for loss, 13 sacks) are dominant senior linebackers, and senior DBs Christian Hurd (58 total tackles, INT) and CJ Johnson are gifted playmakers on the ball. Offensively, Paetow has a workhorse in junior RB Damyrion Phillips (1,358 yards, 21 TDs), but lacks experience and stability at QB, WR and on the line outside of 6-foot-1, 240-pound senior Nicolas Lira. Keep a watch on sophomore CB Deyjohn Pettaway, senior QB Koby Truehill and 6-foot-2, 260-pound senior DL Jarra Anderson, a transfer from Cy-Park.
CINCO RANCH COUGARS
The Cougars reached the Regional Semifinals for the first time since 2016 last season and return eight starters (6 offense). The offense could be one of the best, if not THE best, in the city behind senior 6-foot-1, 195-pound QB Gavin Rutherford (2,752 yards, 29 TDs; 401 yards rushing) and a trio of chain-moving senior pass-catchers in 6-foot-1, 187-pound Seth Salverino (1,034 yards, 12 TDs), Noah Abboud (13.4 yards per catch, 9 TDs) and Fischer Reed (436 yards, 2 TDs, 12.5 yards per catch). Senior 6-foot, 185-pound RB Sam McKnight (566 yards, 11 TDs) is back. He gave Cinco the productive ballcarrier it desperately lacked in 2020. Junior CB Taytum Johnson (63 tackles, 2 INTs), senior 6-foot-2, 207-pound LB Braden Williams (59 tackles, 5 sacks) and junior DB Yetxiel Perez-Gilbes (61 tackles, 3 pass breakups) lead an otherwise inexperienced defense. Keep an eye on sophomore newcomers HB/Rec Kellen LeCronier and CB Superior Hill. Coach Chris Dudley likes what he has coming back at the skill spots and secondary. Inexperience at defensive tackle is a concern.
After making the State Semifinals in 2019 and the Regional Final in 2020, Taylor took a step backward last season, finishing 2-8 largely because of youth and inexperience. But the Mustangs return 18 starters (10 defense) and are once again a team to be wary of. Leading the offense is senior WR/K/P Alei Sabek (195 yards, 2 TDs), junior RB Dante Archie (245 yards, 3 TDs), senior 6-foot-2, 170-pound QB/WR Joe Jefferson (433 yards, 3 TDs passing; 157 yards, 2 TDs rushing), junior 6-foot-2, 160-pound WR/QB Chase Cobbin, senior RB Alexandro Zubia, junior 6-foot-5, 240-pound TE Ian Flynt, senior WR Brandon Wallace and junior 6-foot-1, 170-pound RB/IR Daniel Bruns. Pacing the Mustangs’ 3-4 defense are senior C Jamon Hines, senior OLB Andrew Meza, senior OLB Jase Forester, junior C Josiah Rodriguez, sophomore ILB Landon Saurage, senior ILB Jayden Williams (47 total tackles, sack), junior S Ethan Jacobson, junior DB Cyrus Reyes (31 total tackles, INT), junior DL Ashton Coker (55 total tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 3 passes defensed) and senior DL Jose Abreu. Coach Chad Simmons likes his roster’s improved experience and player leadership. His concerns are overall team speed and depth.
MORTON RANCH MAVERICKS
Going into his sixth season at the helm of the Mavs, coach Ron Counter said this year’s senior class is probably the best he’s had since he’s been at Morton Ranch. The Mavs return 12 starters (6/6) and 20 lettermen from last year’s 4-6 team. Standout returners include senior 6-foot-2, 185-pound QB Josh Johnson (1,080 yards, 8 TDs passing; 280 yards, 8 TDs rushing), senior RB Santana Scott (1,242 yards, 12 TDs; 369 yards, 4 TDs receiving), junior RB Ryan Hall (326 yards, 2 TDs), senior 6-foot-4, 300-pound OL Zach Session, senior C Adrian Covarrubias, senior OL Jamill Lindsay, senior OL Nicholas Rial, junior WR Mike Gerald, senior DL Danny Alequin, senior DL Jamall Lindsey (43 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks), junior LB Dean Ford, senior LB Carsen Luna, senior LB Colbie Pullin, senior LB Matthew Ortiz and senior CB Vontez Hood. Counter said he hopes his team can win the close games this year. The Mavs lost two last season that doomed their playoff hopes.
MAYDE CREEK RAMS
The Rams return 14 starters (7/7) from last year’s 2-8 team and have a year’s worth of experience in head coach J Jensen’s systems. There is an ideal blend of youth and veterans. Leading Mayde Creek are senior 6-foot-3, 205-pound QB Carldell Beard (917 yards, 6 TDs), senior DB/ATH Tay’Shawn Wilson (32 tackles, INT, 4 pass breakups), senior DB/ATH Braden Turner, senior LB Donovan McKey (69 tackles, 4 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries), senior RB Marvin Bodden (145 yards rushing; 185 yards, 2 TDs receiving), senior OL Chidi Adighibe, senior DL Nicholas Buena (17 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 2 sacks), senior DL Nic Johnson (22 tackles, 3 tackles for loss), junior LB Trevin Lucius (55 tackles, 3 tackles for loss), sophomore DS Tate Dietz and junior OL Anthony Escoto. Newcomers to watch are sophomore WR/RB Eric Nelson, sophomore QB Reggie McNeal Jr., sophomore DB/WR Zaylen Cormier and senior 6-foot-3, 190-pound WR Beau Bankston. Jensen likes his team’s leadership, speed and competitive spirit. Depth, experience and size are concerns.
SEVEN LAKES SPARTANS
In his four years at the helm, coach Jimmy Hamon has turned the Spartans into a consistent playoff contender. The next step is winning a playoff game for the first time, which won’t be easy to do in a tougher district. Seven Lakes returns eight starters (5 defense) from last year’s 7-4 team. The key talents are junior 6-foot-4, 219-pound OLB Dakyus Brinkley (38 tackles, sack), senior DE Chika Ezima (30 tackles, sack), senior S Bryce Turner (53 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 3 pass breakups), junior RB Barrett Hudson (862 yards, 6 TDs) and senior 6-foot-3, 215-pound TE Landon Ross (281 yards, 2 TDs). Keep a close eye on newcomers like junior RB Jake Ferris, junior DL Tripp Cox and junior ILB Ayden Fletcher. Hamon likes what he has in the running game, which he hopes will open the play-action, and the physicality of the defensive front seven. The passing game is an unknown with unproven quarterbacks and receivers, and the O-line is inexperienced as well.
Jordan is the newest Katy ISD high school. The Warriors went 3-6 against a rogue varsity schedule last year. Jordan will feature seniors for the first time and already boasts an impressive number of athletes that are being highly recruited, such as sophomore 6-foot-1, 160-pound WR Andrew Marsh, junior WR Zechariah Sample, senior WR Nathan Salz and senior 6-foot-2, 270-pound DL Eli Fullerton. Other names to watch are junior QB Colin Willetts, junior RB Ifeanyi Monye, sophomore RB Chad Gaspar, junior OL Jovanni Melchor, sophomore DB Zion Jones, junior WR Deacon Stanfield, senior LB Josh Gulizia, senior DB Ryan Miller, senior DB Brayden Franklin, senior DL Tosin Odulate, sophomore RB Patrick Broadway and junior DL Tyler Beascochea. Coach Mike Rabe likes his team’s experience and chemistry. The concern, of course, is inexperience at the 6A level.
There is so much fun to be had at a VYPE Media Day!
From team and individual pictures, social media shout-outs, and video interviews it is all there for the student-athlete to feel like a superstar! VYPE traveled out to The Woodlands for the The Woodlands Christian Academy 2022 Fall Media Day.
Check out the Behind the Scenes Video!
Join the #VYPETEAM
Get up to date news from all over the country!