2018 Region Outlooks: 5A Division I Region III — Hutto ready to make a regional finals run and Friendswood drops back down
AS WE LOOK AHEAD TO THE 2018 TEXAS HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL SEASON, DCTF'S MATT STEPP TAKES A LOOK AT HOW EACH REGION SHOULD SHAKE OUT WHEN FALL ROLLS AROUND.
Today’s spotlight: Class 5A Division I Region III
Region III now only consists of two Houston districts after the split hit Class 5A in February. They occupy Districts 9 and 10, while the Austin area sits in Districts 11 and 12.
One head coach in 10-5A Division I called his new district “The Little SEC” and for good reason. It features some high-powered competition with 6A drop downs Friendswood and Galveston Ball joining Angleton and Richmond Foster, who dominated in Region IVC the past two seasons. Throw in ever-improving Galveston Ball and the wildcard Alvin Shadow Creek and you have a weekly battle royal.
11-5A Division I looks to be plenty strong as well with traditional powers Cedar Park and Georgetown, with new power Hutto along with 6A drop downs Manor and Pflugerville. Although Seguin and Dripping Springs move to Region III after being in Region IV, both should be the favorites in 12-5A Division I with Austin ISD.
The Mustangs, after a couple of strong seasons as a small Class 6A program, move back to the 5A ranks with an offense that looks to be extremely explosive. Sophomore QB Luke Grden returns after impressing in his four starts last year and he has a veteran group on the offensive line to work behind. Several capable receivers return as well. The only question will be settling on a featured running back. Head coach Robert Koopman’s squad has some rebuilding to do on the defensive side of the ball, but the experience of playing three rounds deep in the 6A playoffs the past two years should pay some dividends with younger players getting that extra practice time.
The Falcons got a scare this off-season when head coach Shaun McDowell had, for a week, taken a job on staff at Baylor. After some strong thinking during spring break, McDowell made Foster fans happy by staying home. The Falcons made the state semi-finals a year ago and lost to district rival Angleton in the regional finals last year but bring back 10 total starters, but Coach McDowell is really excited about some of the young talent in the pipeline as his two JV teams went 14-5 and both his freshman squads were unbeaten.
“We’ll be younger this year in a lot of spots, but we have some really good talent, it’s just going to be a matter of how quick we grow up and with our schedule, they better grow up in a hurry,” said McDowell.
The Eagles pushed eventual champion College Station to the limit last year in the area playoffs and despite some big graduation losses head coach Jason Dean’s squad is getting the “reload” mantra instead of “rebuild.” RB RJ Moreno along with WRs Dylan Cahill and Noah Drum give the Eagles a solid group of skill players to build around while a new QB works himself into the system. The defense is led by playmaking defensive linemen Mason Meyer and Tyler Noles and DB Gage Leggett. The Eagles have some inexperience at linebacker and in the secondary that will be a concern but this is a team that has depth and is an incredibly tough out come playoff time.
Now is the time for Hutto. The Hippos posted an 11-2 mark in 2017 and with eight starters back on offense this is a team primed for a big run. There is a big question mark after the sudden departure of head coach Steve Van Meter right after spring break. That will be an impact, but this team has enough senior leadership to overcome any transitional issues with a new coach. QB Chase Griffin is back after throwing for 4,145 yards and 41 TDs. He has plenty of playmakers at WR in D.J. Baptist (1,173 receiving, 16 TDs) and Caleb Forrest (1,255 receiving, 16 TDs) along with versatile Chux Nwabuko (1,724 total yards, 21 TDs). Add in a veteran offensive line and the Hippos will be among the state’s top offenses. The defense showed signs of being much improved last year and should continue to trend up with LB Jacob Berry (107 tackles) and sophomore DL Landyn Watson who made a big impact as a freshman. If Hutto’s defense can continue to trend up, the Hippos will be a regional title contender.