2017 Region Outlooks: 3A DII Region III — East Texas throwdown will be fun to watch

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.

PREVIOUSLY
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

Today’s spotlight: Class 3A DII Region III

Entering 2017, Region III has several traditional powers and teams looking to break through to compete for a championship. Arp fell just short of a state title appearance last season and was hit hard by graduation while regional finalist Newton and semifinalists Elysian Fields and Crockett will look to experienced rosters for another deep run this season.

Arp

The Tigers have been a consistent force in Region III under coach Dale Irwin and advanced to the state semifinals before falling just short of a state championship in a 19-18 loss to Boling. The Tigers lost a ton of talent from a 21-man senior class and will have to fill a lot of holes, but still have some key pieces that will help them compete. The district race will be tough however, as Elysian Fields, West Rusk and Troup will all be looking to knock Arp off the top.

S/RB Demarvion Overshown (170 tackles, 5 INTs) is one of the top recruits at any level in the state and has picked up offers from more than 25 schools heading into his senior year. OL Blake Hays will anchor the offensive line as a junior while RB Demontrae Wade (1,200 yards, 12 TDs) returns in the backfield. The defense returns just two starters from last year and will have to adjust quickly for the grinding district schedule.

Newton

The Eagles were dominant throughout the season last year, winning their first 13 games before falling in a stunning 13-6 game to Arp in the regional final. Newton has won at least two playoff games each of the last five years and will enter 2017 looking to get back to the regional championship behind what looks to be a more athletic team.

RB Darwin Barlow (1,356 yards, 13 TDs) brings strength, speed and good hands out of the backfield while ATH Tamuazia Brown (1,283 total yards, 14 TDs, 5 INTs) is explosive at different spots on both sides of the ball. Brock Barbay is gone after a productive year at quarterback, but coach WT Johnston is confident in rising junior QB Josh Foster’s ability to step in and have a big year. LB Corbin Foster (207 tackles, 5 FR, 3 INTs) flies all over the field and is the team’s defensive leader while DL Evander Williams (75 tackles, 5 sacks) and DE Bryson Thomas (84 tackles, 20 TFL) are extremely talented up front. The Eagles have been competitive in Region III over the last few years and are poised for another run this season, but will have to fight past an up-and-coming Garrison team and Crockett in district play.

Elysian Fields

Elysian Fields broke out with a 12-win season last year for the first time in almost 10 years and advanced to the regional semifinals before falling to Newton. The team has taken a step forward each year under coach Scott Ford and will now turn to a strong offensive unit returning to lead the way this season.

RB Christavian Smith (990 total yards, 8 TDs) had a big impact as a freshman and will be a key player on both sides of the ball while RB Nathan Johnson (927 total yards, 8 TDs) adds another weapon to the backfield. The Yellow Jackets are loaded in the trenches behind Jade Ashlantubbi, Justiss Dudley and Malik Johnson. The team will have to fill a big hole at QB left by the graduation of Logan Hughes, but experience across the board will help Elysian Fields compete again in a loaded district with West Rusk and Arp.

Crockett

After Crocket went 1-9 in 2012 and 3-7 in 2013, coach Jimmy Thompson took over and has quickly transformed the program into a legitimate contender in Region III. The Bulldogs won 11 games last year and advanced to the regional semifinals before falling 35-32 to Arp.

The loss of dynamic ATH Lucky Daniels is a big one, but Crockett had a lot of underclassmen preforming at a high level last season. DL Dae’Jacon Bibbs, WR/DB AJ Owens and WR/DB DeMarcus Richardson were all first-team all-district selections as sophomores and return with another year of experience under their belt. All-state LB Ahmad Brown and first-team all-district LB Reginald Lockhart will anchor the middle of the defense, while WR/DB Derrick Sherman is back after taking home all-district honors on both sides of the ball last season.

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Brady Keane is a Contributing Writer for Dave Campbell’s Texas Football. Follow him on Twitter: @BradyKeane.

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