2017 Region Outlooks: 5A Region II — The road goes through the defending state champs

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

Today’s spotlight: Class 5A Region II

Highland Park was crowned the 5A Division I champion after knocking off Temple, and Mesquite Poteet advanced to the Division II state semifinals before falling to Aledo to highlight Region II last season. The Scots will be a force again in 2016 and the departure of Eno Benjamin from Wylie East will make the path to the regional final easier for teams like The Colony and Lancaster. South Oak Cliff and Mansfield Lake Ridge had strong seasons last year, and could compete deep into the playoffs again this season.

Highland Park

Highland Park dropped down from 6A last year, but they weren’t necessarily considered to be one of the top teams in the Region II entering the season. Their defense ended up paving the way to the Division I state championship after giving up an average of fewer than 14 points per game, but the offense was underrated and gets a lot of its firepower back next season.

John Stephen Jones’ play in the state championship game was one of the biggest stories of December as the junior was named the offensive MVP. His numbers weren’t great in the season finale, but he threw for more than 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns on the season and is primed and ready for a big senior season. Paxton Alexander had a huge state championship game and will lead the way in the backfield, and Jones gets his three top receivers back, as well. Look for the Scots to make another deep run if they can fill some holes on defense.

Lancaster

The Tigers rattled off 12 straight wins behind an explosive offense last season before falling to Poteet in the third round of the playoffs, and while a lot of top talent is gone, Lancaster has some key pieces returning to build around.

Coach Chris Gilbert has posted back-to-back 10-plus win seasons and gets QB Trevor Hatton (3,083 yards, 38 touchdowns) back to take another run at a tough District 5-5A championship. Top receivers Cartrell Thomas (Boise State) and Omar Manning (TCU) are off to Division I schools, leaving big holes to fill on the outside. Lancanter’s hopes will rely on Hatton’s shoulders, and his ability to sling the ball without two top tier prospects.

Mansfield Legacy

The Broncos had an explosive offense that carried them to the fourth round of the playoffs before falling just short in a 14-7 loss to Highland Park. Coach Chris Melson loses a lot of talent on both sides of the ball and will have almost an entirely new skill group on offense, but after compiling the most wins since in school history last year, Legacy will be primed for another strong season.

Jalen Catalon will guide the defense this season, looking to build off a ridiculous all-state campaign last year in which he accumulated almost 200 tackles while hauling in nine interceptions. Clayton Franks is a key returner on the offensive line, but the Broncos will likely have some growing pains offensively after losing QB Kendall Catalon and their top RB Kameron Session.

The Colony

After a seven-win regular season, The Colony advanced to the second round of the playoffs before being knocked out by Eno Benjamin and Wylie East for the second straight year. But with some key pieces returning and a lot of talent gone from the Wylie East roster, the Cougars have a chance get past the area round and potentially make a run.

The Colony will go as far as quarterback Jemel Jones Jr. (1,512, 13 TD’s passing and 1,037 yards, 6 TD’s rushing) takes them. Jones became the first player from The Colony in more than 15 years to take home the district’s MVP award, and will be relied upon even more with the departure of leading rusher Kendrick Johnson. The Cougars get some key pieces back on defense and while Prosper will provide another tough challenge in the district race, coach Rudy Rangel will look to build on what was a promising season.

Brady Keane is a Contributing Writer for Dave Campbell’s Texas Football. Follow him on Twitter: @BradyKeane.

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