2017 Region Outlooks: 2A DI Region I — Abernathy has plenty of company at the top
AS WE LOOK AHEAD TO THE 2017 TEXAS HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL SEASON, DCTF'S BRADY KEANE TAKES A LOOK AT HOW EACH REGION SHOULD SHAKE OUT WHEN FALL ROLLS AROUND.
The 2017 Texas high school football season will be here before you know it, and in a year without UIL realignment, we have a grasp on who should challenge for region — and state — titles across the state. We’ll take a closer look at the frontrunners in each region throughout the spring doldrums.
Class 6A: Region I / Region II / Region III / Region IV
Class 5A: Region I / Region II / Region III / Region IV
Class 4A DI: Region I / Region II / Region III / Region IV
Class 4A DII: Region I / Region II / Region III / Region IV
Class 3A DI: Region I / Region II / Region III / Region IV
Class 3A DII: Region I / Region II / Region III / Region IV
Today’s spotlight: Class 2A DI Region I
With Canadian out of the way in 2016, Abernathy quickly emerged as the top team in Region I while advancing to the state semifinals. But while the Antelopes return looking to defend their crown, Post, Anson and Hawley all have a strong core back with hopes of climbing to the top. District 4 looks to again hold the region’s most talented teams, as three of its four playoff qualifiers advanced to the regional semifinals last season. Oh, and Stratford is always lurking out there, as well.
Abernathy cruised to 11 straight wins and a District 2 title after getting off to a 1-3 start last season and did so with a freshman quarterback running the offense. Bryson Daily (2,721 total yards, 25 TDs) will be even better this year and will have to be just as explosive to lead the offensive unit. WR Kole Carlisle (221 yards, 3 TDs) is back as the team’s leading receiver while Nathan Sullivan (57 tackles, 6 TFL) brings experience on the offensive and defensive line.
New Deal is coming off a 10-2 campaign last season, and the Antelopes won that game by just one point in district play. The matchup between those two teams will likely determine the district champion and will be important in determining playoff matchups down the road.
Post saw its season come to an end in the regional semifinals against Abernathy despite winning an earlier game in the regular season between the two teams. Regardless, it was another 10-win year for the Antelopes. District 4 is a tough one with Anson, Hawley and Forsan all extremely competitive, but coach Michael Pittman will look to a bruising running game and stingy defense to lead the way again this season.
RB Mike Phergson (1,186 yards, 9 TDs) will have to step up to fill an even bigger role with the loss of 2,500-yard rusher AJ Reed. Defensively, Post returns all of its top players headlined by Brandon Britton (162 tackles, 24 TFL), Kobe Ammons (111 tackles, 7 TFL), Damian Garcia (105 tackles) and Austin Britton (99 tackles, 25 TFL) among several others. The defense gave up an average of 20 points per game, but appears to have all of the pieces needed to build on that mark this season.
Anson finished first atop the tough District 4 leaderboard and coasted through the playoffs before meeting up with Abernathy in the regional final. The Tigers fell just short in that game, but it was another year of improvement in coach Chris Hagler’s third season.
Heading into 2017, Anson will begin the year relying on its defense to set the tone. The Tigers return seven starters on defense, including LB Chris Jones (154 tackles, 9 sacks), DE Brandon Padilla (101 tackles, 9 sacks) and LB Jason Soliz (89 tackles, 6 INTs). Jones is also a weapon on the perimeter of the offense after going for 690 yards and 7 touchdowns last year, but Anson will have a new quarterback leading the way. If the offense can mature early, the Tigers will be just as tough this season.
Coach Mitch Ables returns a lot of experience from last season’s team that won eight games before falling to Abernathy 22-21 in the second round of the playoffs. It was a tough end to the season, but the Bearcats have high expectations and look bounce back in a big way this season.
QB Quay Stokes (4,028 total yards, 51 TDs) is one of the best signal callers in all of Class 2A and has experience on his side entering the year having started 34 straight games. Stokes has a talented offensive line in front of him as well with seasoned veterans Damion Ray Leon and Kole Smith returning. The linebackers will lead the way defensively with LB Michael DeLaGarza (73 tackles, 7 TFL) and LB Colton Marshall (43 tackles, 5 TFL) among those expected to have productive seasons. Stokes will have to develop some new options in the passing game to keep the offense going, but the Bearcats look to have the pieces in place for another big year.
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Brady Keane is a Contributing Writer for Dave Campbell’s Texas Football. Follow him on Twitter: @BradyKeane.