Our dark horse picks for 6A 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: Odessa Permian
On the surface, 2016 looks like a lost season for the Panthers who went 6-4 and missed out on the playoffs, but when you peel the layers back you see that maybe the adversity will result in a big season. Permian was beset by injuries last year, but the positive is MOJO had to play a ton of young guys who probably weren’t ready for the varsity level. Because of that, Permian — when healthy — has depth that would rival some big schools from the DFW area. The Panthers lost two district games by a single point last year and played San Angelo Central tighter than anyone else in 2-6A. That experience in close games should come in handy this year as Permian will be battle tested. With 17 starters returning, plus good depth, MOJO could potentially rise again out west. Plus, if the bracket breaks right they could avoid regional favorite Allen until the fourth round.
Region II: Longview
The Lobos were stunned in the first round of the playoffs a year ago, and despite a relatively young team, we don’t expect a falloff and in a wide-open Region II Division II. Coach King’s squad is absolutely a sleeper to win the entire region. The biggest reason is tradition. Longview just finds ways to win big games in district play no matter if it’s in 6A or 5A. Longview’s going to be battle tested as 11-6A is one of the deepest districts in the state, but if King’s squad can survive that gauntlet they’ll be ready for the playoffs. The Lobos will be young, but VERY talented and this group of sophomores is a group that folks in Longview have been waiting on. Finally, Longview could simply benefit from the region being so up for grabs. There are about 10 teams with a legit case for winning the region.
Region III: Cypress Creek
Much like in Region II, the Region III race in Division II is wide open. We saw it last year as Katy Cinco Ranch made a surprise run all the way to the state semifinals. Things in Cy Fair ISD are always too close to call, but with seven starters back on each side of the ball from a 5-5 team last year, head coach Greg McCaig’s squad could be poised for a breakout campaign. The Cougars have one of the top playmakers in the state in WR Miles Battle and if an experienced defense can make strides, expect Cy Creek to be right in the race in Region III.
Region IV: San Benito
After an upset loss in the second round of the playoffs a year ago, the Greyhounds know it’s now or never with sensational senior QB Erick Retta returning for an encore. San Benito has the offensive firepower to be a threat to just about any team in Region IV. The key for them to make a run to Round 3 and possibly beyond will be the defense that returns five. They lost their top DB in Isaac Pope, who moved to Yoakum. That will be a challenge, but head coach Dan Gomez is a wily veteran coach and we believe his staff has some aces in the hole for 2017.
Matt Stepp is the Texas High School Football Inside for Dave Campbell’s Texas Football. Find him on Twitter: @Matt_Stepp817.