Our dark horse picks for 3A in 2017

They don't have glitzy preseason rankings, but we could see these teams storming through the playoffs if things fall right.

Every year there’s a team or two that surprises most of the observers with a longer than anticipated playoff run. There are always a lot of variables involved with making that run, but — as always — a little challenge never deterred us at DCTF. So we take a look at one team from each region that we think has a chance to make a little noise in 2017.

Region I: Shallowater

2016 was a forgettable season for Shallowater, which posted just a 2-9 record, but the enthusiasm is back in town with the arrival of Bryan Wood, who had a very successful run at Canyon Randall. Coach Wood welcomes back six returning starters on both sides of the ball and he brings his son Koby Wood to the mix. Wood can play QB, RB, WR or DB and immediately gives Shallowater another weapon to work with. Region I in 3A Division I is always tough, but this is a team that could be sneaky good if the bracket breaks the right way.

Region II: New Diana

After an 0-10 season in 2015, first-year head coach Robbie Coplin got the Eagles to 3-7 and if not for a couple of close losses, the Eagles would have been in the playoffs. With eight returning on both sides of the ball and a second season in the system, Coach Coplin thinks his squad is poised for a breakout season in what is a tough district. New Diana is battle tested after last year and won’t be intimidated by any of the traditional powers in 7-3A Division II. They have a potentially favorable first round matchup and could be a factor to play multiple playoff games.

Region III: Groesbeck

District 9-3A Division I features two of the state’s most powerful teams in Malakoff and Teague and they hog most of the attention, but Groesbeck head coach Steve Hale has a track record of taking underdog teams and doing some big things and 2017 could be no different for the Goats. Groesbeck went 5-6 last year in their first year in Class 3A, and with seven returning offensive starters, they could be a real threat if they can win what should be a difficult first round game against 10-3A Division I.

Region IV: Tidehaven

After turning around Louise’s downtrodden program, David Lucio went to Tidehaven last year and immediately saw the Tigers post an 8-3 record. District 14-3A Division II features Boling, who played for the state title last year, and perennial power East Bernard, but with eight starters back on both sides of the ball, Coach Lucio’s squad could be poised to be a major player in the Region IV bracket.

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Matt Stepp is the Texas High School Football Inside for Dave Campbell’s Texas Football. Find him on Twitter: @Matt_Stepp817.

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