2017 Region Outlooks: 4A DI Region IV — Will anyone overtake La Vega or China Spring?
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.
Today’s spotlight: Class 4A DI Region IV
District 13-4A has been the toughest in Class 4A DI over the last two years and that was the case again last season as Waco La Vega and China Spring met up in the regional championship game. Outside of those established powers, Beeville Jones and Somerset are two teams capable of playoff runs behind seasoned quarterbacks this season.
Waco La Vega
After winning the state championship in 2015, La Vega opened last season with 13 straight wins before falling to China Spring in the regional championship game. The Pirates had knocked off the Cougars in District 13-4A play, but were unable to replicate the result in the postseason.
The year certainly didn’t end the way La Vega planned, but things are looking bright for the Pirates heading into 2017. With QB Jamal Williams (2,247 total yards, 24 TDs), RB John Richards (1,564 yards, 20 TDs) and RB Cameron Henry (979 yards, 8 TDs) there is an explosive offensive backfield coming back. RB/LB Kemoche Hobbs (787 yards, 15 TDs, 125 tackles) missed the playoff loss to China Spring with an injury and will certainly be key on both sides of the ball. DE Braylon Watkins (70 tackles, 5 sacks), DB Donte Stuart (77 tackles, 9 INTs) and LB Jared Rogers (156 tackles) round out a loaded group of defensive leaders. The Pirates have won 29 of their last 30 games and look to be a favorite for both the regional and state title this year.
In one season under coach Jerry Bomar, Beeville Jones exploded onto the scene in Region IV with the third most improved offense of any team in the state, going from 22.5 points per game in 2015 to 48.8 ppg. After combining to win seven games from 2013-2015, the Trojans won nine games last year and took home the District 15-4A championship.
With some key parts from that explosive offense back and a year in Bomar’s system, Beeville Jones is primed for another big year. The Trojans return QB Justin Gomez (3,619 yards, 44 TDs) and RB Paul Wessels (1,141 yards, 14 TDs) to lead the way offensively. The loss of Wake Forest signee WR Waydale Jones will hurt on the outside, but Bomar has enough talent to work with to compete for a district championship and a run in the playoffs again this year.
China Spring had trouble getting past La Vega over the last few years before finally knocking off the Pirates in the regional championship game last season. The Cougars are 25-4 over the last two seasons but are just 1-3 against their District 13-4A rival.
After knocking off the Pirates to advance to the state semifinals last year, China Spring fell in a tightly contested battle against Carthage. Heading into 2017, the Cougars have a lot of key pieces to replace in order to continue their recent success. QB Cutter Haigood, LB Kody Fulp, RB Keaton Dudik are just a few of the big losses from last season’s team. LB Cayden Johnson and WR Tyrick James return as first team all-district selections, but coach Mark Bell has some holes to fill heading into the fall.
The Bulldogs finally got a full season with highly touted quarterback Zadock Dinkelmann under center, and the latest star in the Detmer family line didn’t disappoint. Somerset won 10 games for the second straight year and advanced to the third round of the playoffs as Dinkelmann (1,927 yards, 22 TDs) was named the District 15-4A Newcomer of the Year.
Coach Sonny Detmer has Dinkelmann and more back on the offensive side of the ball as the Bulldogs look for a big year this season. RB Salvador Solis (850 yards, 6 TDs) and FB J.P. Gonzalez (176 yards, 5 TDs) return to form a strong backfield while WR Isaiah Rivera (546 yards, 11 TDs) and WR Martin Ramos (784 yards, 5 TDs) are back as top targets on the outside. DE Taylor Bryce was named first team all-district and will be the anchor of a defense looking to build on last season’s average of less than 15 points allowed per game. Beeville Jones and Rockport-Fulton provide tough competition in district play, but the Bulldogs will be looking to make some noise in Dinkelmann’s final season.
Brady Keane is a Contributing Writer for Dave Campbell’s Texas Football. Follow him on Twitter: @BradyKeane.