2017 Region Outlooks: 3A DII Region IV — Tons of returners should lead to plenty of fireworks

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 / Region III

Today’s spotlight: Class 3A DII Region IV

When realignment shifted Waskom over to Region III, it appeared to open things up for East Bernard to reclaim its spot at the top of the region. But Boling was the story in 2016, advancing all the way to the state championship game before falling to Gunter. Lexington, a reigning district champ, looks loaded this season, but the District 14 race is again home to a heavyweight fight with big playoff implications.

Boling

Coach Stephen Dorr has led the Bulldogs to a 25-5 record over the last two seasons, and Boling isn’t going anywhere with 12 returning starters from last year. The team finished second behind East Bernard in District 14 and will look to claim its first district championship in more than 10 years this season.

The Bulldogs attack – on both sides of the ball – starts with ATH Vernon Jackson. At quarterback, Jackson accounted to 2,872 yards and 41 touchdowns while also recording 68 tackles and 3 INTs as a linebacker. He’s a bruising runner and will be behind an experienced offensive line with Jose Haro, Robby Sanchez and Vincent Rodriguez all back. Boling did lose a lot of talent from its senior class, but its hopes will again ride on the shoulders of Jackson.

Lexington

Since taking over at Lexington in 2013, coach Kirk Muhl has transformed the Eagles from a two-win team into a real competitor among the region’s top programs. The team cruised through District 13 with no issues and advanced to the regional final before falling just short against Boling.

After winning 11 games last year, Lexington enters 2017 with even higher expectations. The Eagles return eight starters on both sides of the ball, including key pieces in an offense that averaged an eye-popping 51 points per game. QB Walker Hess (3,389 yards, 49 total TDs) set the school’s single-season passing record last year and has one of his top weapons in WR Ja’Kobe Cooper (646 receiving yards, 18 total TDs). WR Sam Perry (751 yards, 12 TDs) is back as well, while first-team all-state OL Jordan Higgins anchors the offensive line along with returners Cade Hawley and Wyatt Retzlaff. The defense will be tough again too behind MLB Aaron Allert (94 tackles, 4 FF), who was dominant as a freshman, DT Nate Jones (113 tackles) and FS Caleb Meyer (120 tackles, 4 FR, 3 INTs). The talent is certainly there for Lexington to repeat as district champions and return to the regional final.

East Bernard

Coach Wade Bosse took over last season and led the Brahmas to their sixth straight 10-plus win season. East Bernard went undefeated through District 14 but fell in the regional semifinals after running into Lexington.

The team enters 2017 with six returning starters on both sides of the ball and gets its entire backfield back in the dominant Slot-T attack that averaged 40 ppg. RB DeLeon Perkins (1,518 yards, 22 TDs), FB Locke Rowley (1,367 yards, 15 TDs), HB Will Anderson (690 yards, 10 TDs) and QB Hunter Goudeau (936 yards, 9 TDs) all return. Several top playmakers are back on the other side of the ball, including Anderson (83 tackles) in the secondary, DE Logan Baird (91 tackles, 9 TFL, 7 sacks), LB Jared Fuechec (110 tackles), DT Sebastian Muniz (87 tackles) and LB Layton Swoboda (87 tackles, 7 TFL). The Brahmas have to compete with Boling and improved Tidehaven and Brazos teams in district, but will be gunning for a revenge and a return to deep December football.

Odem

The Owls have gone a combined 35-5 over the last three seasons, but have fallen short of reaching the regional championship in each of the last two seasons. Odem loses its top weapon in QB Michael Everett and will have to find a replacement, but the team returns six starters on offense and seven on defense after claiming another district championship. The Owls also lost head coach AJ Martinez, who moved on to Corpus Christi Carroll. Armando Huerta takes over and hopes to keep up the high-flying momentum.

ATH Jackson Bueno (1,100 total yards, 9 TDs) has the speed to be a go-to weapon on offense while WR Matt Ramirez (600 yards, 8 TDs) and WR Rudy Pizana (650 yards, 6 TDs) are back as weapons on the perimeter. LB/S Tevin Moreno (145 tackles, 5 FF), LB Jacob Garcia (130 tackles) and S Christian Martinez (62 tackles) headline the returners on defense while LB James Chapa will look to provide a boost after missing last year with an injury. Some of the pieces are there, but Odem will need to find its quarterback to continue its trajectory.

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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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