2017 Region Outlooks: 4A DI Region I — Will Argyle return to the head of the table?
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 I
Class 4A DI Region I became more competitive last season and heavyweights like Argyle and Abilene Wylie will be gunning for the top spot again this year. But with Sanger’s senior-laden offense prepping for one last run and teams like Decatur, Brownwood and Stephenville on the rise, the race for the regional championship has a lot of competitors heading into 2017.
After making the move to Region I last season, Argyle paid the price by meeting Abilene Wylie in the regional semifinals. Wylie was the only team to knock off the Eagles last year, stopping Argyle short of the state championship game for the first time since 2012.
Hayden Clearman (734 yards, 6 TDs) will take over full-time at quarterback, but the Eagles’ offense will again go through RB Don Williams (1,499 yards, 23 TDs). WRs Cale Nanny (622 yards, 4 TDs) and Chase Estrada (598 yards, 4 TDs) are back on the perimeter, giving coach Todd Rodgers a lot of weapons to work with. While some top defensive talent is gone, Argyle has a loaded secondary to lead the way. The rivalry with Wylie will continue, but the Eagles enter the year with more experience – especially on the offensive side of the ball.
Sanger struggled at times last season, but pulled off some big wins while going 6-5 on the year. Cole Ford takes over as head coach entering this season after serving as offensive coordinator for four years, and the Indians return the majority of their offensive talent heading into 2017.
QB CJ Jackson (2,285 yards, 25 TDs) has gradually improved each year since starting at the end of the 2014 season as a freshman. Both RB Dameon Moser (1,473 total yards, 15 TDs) and RB/WR Gavin Brown (739 total yards, 7 TDs) are three year starters, and a young defensive group led by LB Brock Howard (71 tackles, 6 TFL) is back, as well. Sanger has high expectations entering the season and will look to finally break through in a tough region.
Stephenville has totaled just seven wins the last two seasons, but coach Greg Winder returns 16 starters heading into his second season at the helm of the program. The Yellow Jackets fell to Decatur by just a touchdown in a first round shootout last year and will be looking to build off that game heading into 2017.
QB Easton Jones (2,770 yards, 21 TDs) and RB Krece Nowak (1,704 yards, 11 TDs) are back as the top two weapons and give Stephenville a lot to build on. With a strong offensive line and talent in both the secondary and at linebacker, the Yellow Jackets have a much brighter outlook heading into this season.
Last season marked the third straight year with at least 10 wins for Hugh Sandifer’s team and the Bulldogs were able to stand atop the region even with the addition of Argyle clouding things up earlier in the playoffs. Abilene Wylie loses a lot of talent on offense and will be extremely inexperienced on that side of the ball to start the season, but the defense will be tough again in 2017.
Sandifer returns five starters from a unit that allowed less than 15 points per game on average last season. LB Anthony Guerrero (76 tackles, 5 sacks), DT Ryan Hamar (53 tackles), LB Josh Goodnature (62 tackles) and Gatlin Martin (5 INTs) bring senior leadership to the group. The Bulldogs won’t be as explosive or as dominant in District 1-4A as they were last year, but they will compete again for the top spot.
Brady Keane is a Contributing Writer for Dave Campbell’s Texas Football. Follow him on Twitter: @BradyKeane.