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As football season gets underway, five storylines to watch across Texas.
We made it.
The last time that a football game of true consequence was played in the state of Texas was back on January 5, when the Houston Texans edged out the Cincinnati Bengals in an AFC Wild Card playoff game. That was 233 days ago.
And yet on Thursday, that far-too-lengthy streak ends, as high school football will return across the Lone Star State.
Rejoice: it’s game week, y’all.
Obviously, when you go 235 days without football, there’s going to be a lot of storylines to talk about. We’ve touched on most of them over the offseason on TexasFootball.com – and we’ll touch on many, many more as the season gets underway – but with so much going on, there’s almost too much to keep up with. Some storylines are going to fall through the cracks.
That’s what we’re here for. As the 2013 Texas high school football season gets tantalizingly close, here are five storylines you absolutely should be paying attention to.
1) Can Blake Feldt return the Mojo Magic to Odessa Permian?
It’s been a while – really, since coach Darren Allman left for Austin Westlake – since Odessa Permian has been a statewide power. The most famous Texas high school football program hasn’t won a playoff game since 2009. Enter Blake Feldt, who knows a thing or two about turning around down-on-their-luck programs – see: what he did at Breckenridge, Pilot Point and, most recently, Buda Hays. He’s the newest hope for Mojo; can he return them to former glory?
2) Cibolo Steele: now what?
As successful as Cibolo Steele has been, it’s easy to forget how young the Knights program is. But the 2010 5A DII state champions are facing something they’ve never had to before this year: a head coach other than Mike Jinks, who took the running backs coach job at Texas Tech in the offseason. In steps coach Scott Lehnhoff, the Knights’ longtime offensive coordinator, and he inherits a team that has both talent (RB Justin Stockton, for one) and holes to fill. Can Steele keep the Knights’ tradition alive?
3) Who has a repeat in the cards?
Last year, across the 12 public school state championships, only two of them – six-man champs Throckmorton and Richland Springs – won back-to-back titles. But there are a number of teams that look like they could repeat this season, from 5A Katy all the way down to 1A Munday. But if you’re looking for the best chances to repeat, look at 4A DII champ Cedar Park, 2A DII champion East Bernard, 4A DI champion Denton Guyer and 5A DI champ Allen.
4) Is this the year of the defensive line?
In talking with Randy Rodgers, DCTF’s recruiting guru, you’ll hear that he thinks that the defensive back crop in the class of 2014 is about as good as he’s ever seen. And with playmakers like Hebron’s Jamal Adams, Beaumont Ozen’s Tony Brown and Mansfield Timberview’s Ed Paris, you can see why. But keep an eye on the defensive line crop as well – from Coppell’s Solomon Thomas to Manvel’s Koda Martin to Abilene’s Jake McMillon and on and on and on, this could be a season in which dominance in the defensive trenches leads the way.
5) North Texas, Houston…or somewhere else?
In 2012, it’s hard to identify where the “power region” truly lied. In 2013, that also seems to be the case, but with two prime suspects: DFW/North Texas, and Houston/southeast Texas. With plenty of firepower at all levels, those two regions look like the top candidates to be the most powerful regions in the state. But could a place like East Texas, San Antonio or even Central Texas up and become the dominant power in the Lone Star State?
There’s always plenty to talk about in high school football in Texas. And luckily for us, we’re just getting started.
Greg Tepper is the associate editor of Dave Campbell's Texas Football and TexasFootball.com.