2017 Region Outlooks: 4A DII Region IV — Cuero appears to have the pieces for a run
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
Today’s spotlight: Class 4A DII Region IV
Region IV has a lot of talented teams headlining the race for a berth in the state semifinals with Cuero, Navarro and Wimberley. While Navarro dethroned Cuero for the regional championship last season, the Panthers will be inexperienced this year and it appears to be Cuero’s race to lose in 2017.
The Gobblers dominated last season before running into Navarro in the regional final. In its first 13 games, Cuero allowed a staggering average of less than eight points per game. After showing dramatic improvement on the offensive side of the ball as well, the Gobblers have a loaded roster back to lead the way this season.
The Cuero defense was lights out, but the offense was the sixth-most improved in Class 4A DII last season. After averaging 29 points per game in 2015, the Gobblers scored more than 44 ppg last season with a predominately young roster.
ATH Jordan Whittington was just short of 2,000 all-purpose yards, scored 21 total TDs and had 6 INTs – all as a sophomore. He’ll be one of the most explosive playmakers in the state this season and has gained the attention of college programs across the country. QB Drew Riemenschneinder (1,508 yards, 20 TDs), RB Keiron Grant (839 yards, 13 TDs) and ATH Bralen Taylor (1,103 total yards, 14 TDs) are all back as well. This is all without even mentioning a defense that returns several key players including first-team all-state LB John Rodriguez. Cuero is absolutely stacked. The Gobblers fell short of the regional championship last year, but have a real chance to work their way back in 2017.
The Texans had their best season under coach Doug Warren last year, winning 10 games and advancing to the regional semifinals before falling to Cuero. Wimberley has to deal with Navarro in District 13-4A, but the Texans have a strong nucleus returning that should help the team take another step forward.
Wimberley returns seven starters on offense including QB JoJo Weeks (2,096 yards, 12 TDs), who settled into the starting role after the third game last year. Weeks has WR Gavin Martinez (661 yards, 3 TDs) back to work with and RB Thomas Carruthers (528 yards, 8 TDs) returns in the backfield. LB Jake Cockerham (99 tackles, 12 sacks) will lead a defense with five starters back as the Texans look to string together another 10-win season.
The Panthers were as equally as dominant as Cuero during last season before meeting up with West Orange-Stark in the state semifinals. Against teams not named WO-S, Navarro gave up less than 13 ppg while scoring more than 45 ppg en route to a 14-1 record. While coach Les Goad is sure to reload with more talent, the Panthers have some holes to fill to continue a streak of five straight 10-plus win seasons.
Navarro loses a 23-man senior class and returns just seven total starters, leaving the team inexperienced in several positions. However, QB/DB Will Eveld (1,567 total yards) returns to lead the offense and will be a key player in the secondary, as well. Garrett Dietert will anchor the offensive line along with Wyatt Tate, who was impressive as a sophomore. RB/LB Chris Gomez, RB/OLB Will Reyna, DE/TE Brady Butler are among those who will play at a high level on both sides of the ball while LB Tyler Law (141 tackles, 9 TFLs, 6 sacks) will lead the defense. Goad still has a lot of talent to work with, but how the team adjusts to some inexperience will be the story in 2017.
The Pirates struggled in the tough District 15-4A DII behind Cuero, Wharton and Sweeny, but still managed to win nine games and advance to the second round of the playoffs before falling to Wimberley. Coach Tom Allen has won at least nine games in nine straight seasons and Sinton returns top players in key positions heading into this year.
Both QB Colt Gorman (1,914 yards, 18 TDs) and QB Devyn Orta (1,331 yards, 13 TDs) are back after getting significant playing time last season. Orta filled in nicely as a sophomore when Gorman was hurt and gained some valuable experience. ATH Tristan Canales (1,508 total yards, 17 TDs) and WR Andrew Mcgowan (1,232 yards, 13 TDs) give the Pirates two of their top offensive playmakers back while Anthony Villarrel (116 tackles) and Christian Bess (86 tackles) are back to lead the defense. The district race and early playoff matchups are tough, but Sinton has experienced talent back looking to build on last season.
Brady Keane is a Contributing Writer for Dave Campbell’s Texas Football. Follow him on Twitter: @BradyKeane.