2017 Region Outlooks: 5A Region III — Could a Buffalo breakout be coming?
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 5A Region III
Last season, Class 5A Region III was extremely competitive as the Division I (Temple vs. Manvel) and Division II (College Station vs. Fort Bend Marshall) regional finals were decided by a combined five points. All four have a lot of talent coming back and with teams like Cedar Park and Crosby looking to bounce back, Region III looks to be one of the most loaded in the state this season.
Fort Bend Marshall
After an 11-3 season last year that ended with a 31-27 loss to College Station in the regional final, Fort Bend Marshall returns almost its entire starting unit on both sides of the ball. With 10 starters back on an offense that averaged almost 38 points per game last year and another eight starters back on defense, coach James Williams and the Buffalos enter the year as a legitimate state title contender.
QB Jabari James racked up 2,478 total yards and 39 touchdowns last season and now enters his senior year with some experience and a loaded offense to work with. The dynamic backfield duo of Jerry Davis (1,425 yards, 12 TDs) and Antonio Brooks (907 yards, 11 TDs) provide balance on the ground while Henry Thomas and Korey King look to build off a big year on the perimeter. The offense is absolutely loaded and while Manvel provides stiff competition in District 23-5A, the Buffalos will look to claim the district title building on last season’s playoff run.
After moving down from Class 6A last year, Manvel was a favorite to win its first state championship without having to worry about Katy in the playoffs. The Mavericks coasted through District 23-5A, including a dominating 63-6 win over Fort Bend Marshall, and advanced to the regional final in Division I before falling to Temple in a 24-23 heartbreaker.
Manvel enters this season with seven consecutive 11-plus win seasons and this year should be no different. QB Kason Martin will pace the offense after throwing for 3,443 yards and 46 touchdowns to bring home all-state honors last season. ATH Jalen Preston is one of the top recruits in the state and WR Kam Scott is poised for a breakout season, as well. On defense, the Mavericks get back playmakers in DB Trent Gordon, LB Brian Johnson and LB DePreist Taylor. Like Fort Bend Marshall, Manvel is stocked with talent, which sets up a heavyweight battle for the district crown.
Cedar Park’s streak of consecutive state championship appearances ended at three last season when the Timberwolves fell to Manvel in a high-scoring third round matchup. Coach Carl Abseck is 28-1 in two seasons at the helm of the program and Cedar Park will be right back up at the top of the region behind a strong returning core.
The Timberwolves had a balanced offensive attack and a stingy defense that allowed less than 12 points per game while pitching six shutouts last season. The defense will again be a strength behind a strong group of linebackers led by rising senior Jackson Buckingham, who had 71 tackles and 14 TFL as a junior. QB Mak Sexton (2,670 yards, 22 TDs) enters his third season as the starter with only one loss at the varsity level, and has an experienced offensive line in front of him. Cedar Park should have no trouble in District 19-5A and will again be a tough out throughout the playoffs.
Like several of the top teams in the region, College Station returns a strong group of key players from last season’s team that advanced to the state semifinals before a devastating 31-30 loss to Calallen. It was the Cougars most successful season since the school opened back in 2012 and the team has improved its record each year under Steve Huff.
Now, College Station will look to break through to the state championship. Marquez Perez (3,346 total yards, 43 TDs) is the driving force of the offense while DaDa Anderson, Jaelin Campbell and Quandree White provide playmaking ability, as well. Brandon Joseph will be an impact player in the secondary and Marquis Conchola is the anchor on the defensive line. The Cougars have a lot of competition in the region, but return enough key pieces to make some noise again this season.
Brady Keane is a Contributing Writer for Dave Campbell’s Texas Football. Follow him on Twitter: @BradyKeane.