As we look ahead to the 2018 Texas high school football season, DCTF High School Football Insider Matt Stepp takes a look at how each region should shake out when fall rolls around.
Today’s spotlight: Class 5A Division I Region II
Changes abound in Region II and it starts with back-to-back state champion Highland Park, whose legendary head coach Randy Allen retired and then un-retired, but will still be working with a ton of new faces after graduating the majority of the core that won those titles. Allen will certainly have his hands full in the new realignment. The Scots have to contend with powerful Lancaster and Mansfield Legacy in district play. The other big news in Region II is in 8-5A Division I where defending Division II state champion College Station is joined by 6A drop down Lufkin to make up a powerful group of teams along with Magnolia, Magnolia West and up and comer Tomball. District 7-5A Division I looks to be outstanding as well as 6A drop down Tyler John Tyler and 5A Texarkana Texas High make up the East Texas contingent in a far flung alignment that includes schools from Mesquite ISD, Wylie, McKinney and Sherman.
There will be a lot of change for the Scots in 2018. Gone is a stellar senior class. How smooth the transition goes will certainly go a long way in determining the Scots fate in 2018. New QB Chandler Morris will have some playmakers to work with led by WR Finn Corwin (746 receiving, 11 TDs) and RB Benner Page, but there could be a few growing pains early. The Scots’ defense looks equipped to carry the load with the return of DE’s Prince Dorbah (63 tackles, 11 sacks) and Jack Jurgevon (67 tackles) and DB Hudson Clark (2 INTs).
The Broncos had sensational back-to-back seasons, advancing to the regional finals in 2016 and the state semi-finals in 2017 and they could be poised to contend for their first state title in school history this year. Two-way star Jalen Catalon, who is a two-time all-state performer is back to lead the way. The rising senior accounted for 2,134 yards of offense, 28 touchdowns, 93 tackles on defense and two interceptions. He’ll need to stay healthy for the Broncos to be a title contender, but he’ll also need some other weapons to rise to the forefront. WR Ife Afdeyi (7 TD receptions) started to emerge late in the year and should be a major force. If the Broncos can find a feature running back they could be real dangerous because that defense led by Catalon, Taurean Carter and Jayden Ishmael should be outstanding.
The Panthers rolled to an impressive 11-3 mark a year ago in Class 6A and there is excitement abound for this year as six starters return on both sides of the ball for a team that’s dropping down to 5A Division I. QB Kewone Thomas and WR JaLynn Polk put up some major numbers last year and they could really light the scoreboard up in 2018. The Panthers will be solid up front and if they can replace a 2,000-yard rusher they could really be scary on offense. The defense is led by one of the state’s most dominant defensive lineman in Carl Williams and a speedy group of linebackers and defensive backs. Last year’s big playoff run in 6A gives this time plenty of confidence and experience as they try to make a title push.
The Cougars broke through a year ago upsetting Aledo and winning the Class 5A Division II state title and now will have the target squarely on their backs in 2018. The Cougars suffered some heavy graduation losses and have to rebuild the offense from the ground up as nearly every key offensive skill player has graduated. RB Spencer Maxwell showed flashes in a backup role last year and could emerge as the lead back to replace Dada Anderson, but the big question mark is who replaces the production of do-it-all QB Marquez Perez. The defense returns some experience in the secondary as three starters return led by first-team all-district pick Brandon Joseph. The Cougars showed the ability to reload over this tremendous run the past four seasons and with the growth in College Station numbers in the program are as high as ever.