2008 1A Mid-Season Report
2008 1A Mid-Season Report
2008-10-02 00:00:00

By Travis Stewart/TexasFootball.com

CLASS 1A FAST FACTS
  • -- 4A Standings
  • -- 4A Top 25
  • Preseason ranked teams still ranked: 19 of 25 (out: Sundown, White Deer, Windthorst, Collinsville, Munday, Morton)
  • Unranked teams now in Top 25: (No. 7 New Deal, No. 14 Bremond, No. 20 Albany, No. 23 Wellington, No. 24 Clarendon, No. 25 Goldthwaite)
  • The undefeateds: 23 teams (Canadian, 5-0; Wellington, 5-0; Wheeler, 5-0; New Deal, 5-0; Hale Center, 4-0; Iraan, 5-0; Archer City, 4-0; Albany, 5-0; Era, 5-0; Boles, 4-0; De Leon, 5-0; Maud, 4-0; Bowie, 4-0; Itasca, 5-0; Bremond, 4-0; Chester, 1-0; Bosqueville, 4-0; Flatonia, 4-0; Shiner, 4-0; Menard, 5-0; Rocksprings, 4-0; D'Hanis, 4-0; Bruni, 4-0)
  • Highest risers (These teams have made the highest climb in the Padilla Poll, a ranking service used by TexasFootball.com): No. 34 Menard (opened at 123); No. 30 Rock Springs (opened at 110); No. 25 Burton (opened at 100); No. 58 Era (opened at 126); No. 65 Rotan (opened at 133)
  • Lowest droppers (These teams have dropped the farthest in the Padilla Poll): No. 138 Ranger (opened at 37); No. 143 Winters (opened at 74); No. 85 White Deer (opened at 17); No. 141 Cumby (opened at 75); No. 128 Thorndale (opened at 64)

STATE CHAMPIONSHIP PICKS
Best guesses at DI, DII champions
Jake Shaw's picks:
DIVISION I:
Region I final: Canadian over New Deal
Region II final: Archer City over Quinlan Boles
Region III final: Mart over Alto
Region IV final: Shiner over Mason
Semifinals: Canadian over Archer City; Shiner over Mart
State final: Canadian over Shiner
DIVISION II:
Region I final: Stratford over Iraan
Region II final: Roscoe over Albany
Region III final: Maud over Tenaha
Region IV final: Chilton over D'Hanis
Semifinals: Roscoe over Stratford; Maud over Chilton
State final: Roscoe over Maud
Travis Stewart's picks:
DIVISION I:
Region I final: Canadian over New Deal
Region II final: Quinlan Boles over Albany
Region III final: Itasca over Alto
Region IV final: Shiner over Junction
Semifinals: Canadian over Quinlan Boles; Itasca over Shiner
State final: Canadian over Itasca
DIVISION II:
Region I final: Stratford over Iraan
Region II final: Archer City over Era
Region III final: Maud over Bremond
Region IV final: Chilton over Rocksprings
Semifinals: Maud over Chilton; Stratford over Archer City
State final: Maud over Stratford

BMOCs
Top MVP candidate per region
  • Region I: Westin Williams, Wellington: When Williams made the move over to Wellington from 2A Hico, it gave the formerly under-powered Skyrockets a potential all-state quarterback and punter to help supercharge the offense. Now, 238 total points later, Wellington is scoring the ball like crazy so far in 2008, and with Williams at QB -- and his father holding the coach's whistle -- this team looks poised for great things in the playoffs.
  • Region II: Joe Gilliard, Quinlan Boles: Gilliard is one of the few players in the state that could make a legitimate claim as a Player of the Week in every game so far. Case in point -- in Week 0, Gilliard had 268 total yards, 6 TDs and 2 INTs, and in Week 1 he had 344 yards, 6 TDs and six tackles. Not many guys can equal his production week in and week out.
  • Region III: Traylon Shead, Cayuga: The embodiment of statistical prowess. The Beast from the East already has 1,237 rushing yards -- on just 113 attempts, meaning he's STILL maintaining a 10+ yards per carry average -- and 18 touchdowns in just five games. Take him away from Cayuga and I'm not sure what you have. But keep him there, and you have a legitimate state title contender.
  • Region IV: Adrian Lighteard, Flatonia: Only nine other players in the entire greater San Antonio area have rushed for more yards than Lighteard (and a few, like Madison's Aaron Green, we're not yet convinced are human). A 2007 district offensive MVP, Lighteard's on pace for even more than last year's 1,400 rushing yards, which could mean he might upgrade his MVP hardware, too.

COACHES OF THE YEAR
Best coaching performances so far
TOP COACHING JOB: Ronnie Casey, Menard: You could argue that Menard's 3-7 record last year was a bit unrepresentative of the team's actual talent, since the top three QB's all broke bones during the season and in doing so left the Yellow Jackets a bit undermanned. You could argue that Casey's squad returned 18 starters and was expected to play well this year. You could argue that Menard's opponents' combined record is just 9-15. I, on the other hand, argue that this team was supposed to finish last in the district and instead is 5-0 and blowing every opponent away. This team was the epitome of dismissed, and now it looks like a group with a chip on its shoulder. Hats off to Casey, who has pointed these guys in the right direction.

Best of ...
Region I: Tom Harvey, Plains -- After a disappointing 4-6 2007 season, Harvey could only hope that the experience gained from the long year would translate into wins in 2008. So far, after starting the season 3-1, it has. The Cowboys' only loss was a three-point defeat at the hands of Farwell, and aside from that, Harvey's squad has generate the kind momentum necessary to make the playoffs in a district with Sundown lurking in the waters.
Region II: Brad Hutton, Perrin-Whitt -- Usually, bringing back eight starters after a difficult season is a bad omen for the following year, but Hutton has gotten PW off on the right foot with a win over 2A Chico and a close loss to 2A Millsap, with dominant wins over WF City View and Frost sandwiched in between. Like Plains, Perrin-Whitt has some real contenders (Gorman, De Leon) sitting atop its district standings, so a good start like this one was essential.
Region III: Janey Thomas, Simms-Bowie -- Throwing in the figurative towel when realignment hit the news stands probably could have been a reasonable option for Thomas after his squad got lumped in with state title-favorite Maud and 2A drop downs Big Sandy and Hawkins. But while the latter two have struggled, Bowie's defense has powered it to a 4-0 start and into contention for a playoff spot. We'll know more about this team after its matchup with Maud later in the season.
Region IV: Arturo Lozano, Jr., Bruni -- Following up a long-time coach who gave his team its only taste of success is one thing. But when it's your own father you're trying to live up to? That's another thing entirely. After the younger Lozano took over during the offseason, one thing was clear -- whatever's in the water at the Lozano family reunion, we all need some. The Badgers' new coach has them on target for their third straight playoff appearance ... and their third in the history of the school.

PUT ON YOUR RADAR
Five unranked teams to watch
  • Burton (5-5 in 2007; 3-1 in 2008) - Yet another team picked to finish last in its district, Burton has already gotten off to a 3-1 start behind the efforts of Daniel Patterson. There's a long way to go for the Panthers -- Flatonia and Shiner still stand in its path -- but maybe this team finally has what it takes to make the postseason for the first time since 1982.
  • Era (4-6 in 2007; 5-0 in 2008) - After Era won its season opener against Celeste, 32-22, it became obvious that the Hornets were not going to be the cake walk they were predicted to be in the preseason. Four wins later, Era is 5-0 and, at least right now, far and away the class of 13-1A. QB R.J. Metzler, one of the class's top dual-threat QBs, has been stellar so far for the Hornets. If he keeps his current level of play up, he'll not only eclipse last year's numbers, he'll get this team back to the playoffs.
  • Meridian (10-2 in 2007; 4-1 in 2008) - The question isn't "Why don't I know about this unranked team", but "Why isn't this team ranked?" After a 10-2 season last year, the Yellow Jackets returned 11 total starters and have already jumped out to a 4-1 start. Were it not for an uncharacteristic 50-26 loss to undefeated Itasca, this team would likely be sitting right in the middle of the 1A rankings; if it can fight its way through a hyper-competitive 25-1A, it'll jump even higher than that.
  • Rocksprings (4-6 in 2007; 4-0 in 2008) - Sometimes schedules mean something, and sometimes they're overrated. But in Rocksprings case, the only thing you need to know is that the Angoras have allowed one score -- be it field goal or otherwise -- all season long, a sole touchdown to Christoval in a game Rocksprings won 45-7. That gives it, for the season, a scoring breakdown of 143 points scored, 7 allowed. It doesn't matter who you play -- that's pretty incredible.
  • Wheeler (4-6 in 2007; 5-0 in 2008) - One of the 4-1A trifecta of dominance (Wellington, Wheeler and Clarendon), the Mustangs have been just about unbeatable on defense, allowing only 28 points through five games and shutting out two opponents that are a combined 3-6. The offense started a bit slowly at first, but after scoring 129 points in their last three games, the Mustangs look to officially be firing on all cylinders.

IN NEED OF REPAIRS
Teams on your playoff-watch list worth reconsidering
  • Big Sandy (3-7 in 2007; 1-4 in 2008) - When I spoke to one fellow 17-1A coach during the offseason, the one name he kept bringing up was Big Sandy; Big Sandy this and Big Sandy that and Big Sandy making a run at the district title. Well, that could still happen, but right now it looks like the only thing the Wildcats will be making a run at is last place with the offense on pace to give up nearly 35 points per game.
  • La Villa (8-2 in 2007; 0-3 in 2008) - Experts loved La Villa as a potential 32-1A champion in the preseason despite the losses of QB J.D. Cisneros and WR Rocky Rodriguez, but now it's looking like the Cardinals' best shot at a state title might've been last year. La Villa has stumbled to an 0-3 start while the offense has averaged just 11 points per game.
  • McCamey (8-5 in 2007; 1-4 in 2008) - What's been more frustrating for McCamey this season: falling so far after reaching a state quarterfinal in 2007 or playing well on offense and still not being able to generate wins? The saying goes that every champion is forged in the trenches, and considering the Badgers lost most of their offensive line in the offseason, maybe it holds true here more than anywhere else in the state.
  • Thorndale (6-5 in 2007; 1-4 in 2008) - Few teams have fallen as far in the Padilla Poll's estimation as Thorndale, which has dropped nearly 60 places since the season's opening kickoff. The playoff berth the Bulldogs earned in 2007 now seems a distant memory, and with the defense allowing almost 40 points per game, its pretty obvious what's been hurting Thorndale the most so far.
  • White Deer (10-2 in 2007; 1-4 in 2008) - White Deer lost a fair amount of players in the offseason, but 13 returning starters and several big name players on defense were supposed to keep the Bucks on track for the playoffs. Instead, coach Wade Wilson's squad just hasn't been able to get it done -- luckily, outside of Nazareth, every other team in the district is beatable. This team is certainly hurting but far from dead.

FIVE NAMES YOU SHOULD KNOW
Surprise performers who've made big impacts
  • Blaze Blackburn, Bosqueville QB - Blackburn really cropped up out of nowhere this year after missing most of 2007 with injury issues, but his arrival on the scene has been quite dramatic -- 1,408 total yards, 18 touchdowns and four wins for an undefeated Bosqueville team that was picked to miss the playoffs in the postseason. The real challenge is just beginning for Blackburn though, as district play opens in 25-1A, one of the state's toughest groupings.
  • Jason Durham, Sundown QB - Everyone knew that Sundown RB John Heffley was going to be a name to watch heading into the 2008 season, but QB Durham has been taking people by surprise all season, and if his passing continues to improve, he'll not only smash his 2007 totals, but possibly guide the Roughnecks to the one thign that eluded them last year -- a state title.
  • Melvis Hawkins, Hale Center RB - This just in: Hawkins can run. He hasn't been a complete surprise, considering he got close to 1,000 yards rushing last year, but performances like Week 4's (168 yards and three scores), Week 3's (185 yards and two scores), Week 1's (131 yards and four scores) and Week 0's (188 yards and four scores) make him arguably the most consistent performer out there.
  • Jared Hudson, Mason RB - His team may be just 2-3, but it's no fault of Hudson's, who has already run for 946 yards and 8 TDs, the highest yardage for any San Antonio-area back outside of 5A. Luckily, Mason has gotten the struggles out of the way in non-district play, while 27-1A rivals Rocksprings and Menard are showing what they can do. Perhaps the Punchers can land a sneak attack and swipe a district crown before this season is up.
  • Xavier Williams, Mart QB - The heir to the Lee McClendon throne, Williams has been pleasantly surprising in his role as Mart's QB. He hasn't been as efficient as hoped through the air (37-77-527-3, 4 TDs), but his running ability (529 yards, 6 TDs) has been a huge plus for the Panthers. Still sitting at 3-2, Mart could worm its way into the playoff race before season's end.

DOWN TO THE WIRE
Five district races that won't be decided until Week 10
  • DISTRICT 1-1A: It's not as much which three teams will be representing the playoffs -- odds are those bids will fall to Candaian, Statford and Sunray -- as who will be winning the district crown. From the second Canadian dropped down from 2A to 1A, they seemed like the class of, well, the class. But Sunray has looked like a gritty contender all season and Stratford has a distinguished reputation to uphold. This three-horse race will be heated, indeed.
  • DISTRICT 4-1A: The aforementioned trifecta of dominance -- Wellington, Wheeler and Clarendon -- could have a stranger petitioning for membership if Quanah can keep up the weak pulse it showed last week. RB Tevin Mitchell might still be the best player in the district, but will he be good enough to get the Indians into the playoffs with three ultra-talented teams in his way?
  • DISTRICT 12-1A: I'm always wary of districts that enter district play with one of the favorites on the bottom and one of the cellar-dwellers near the top, and with Winter struggling and Miles making a move to the top, that's exactly what we have here. Albany is likely the favorite to win a title, but the other two postseason bids will be very much alive until the final weeks of the season.
  • DISTRICT 25-1A: With all due respect to 1-1A, I still think this is the toughest district in 1A football. Those guys from up north have the star power, but the balance in 25-1A could intimidate any title contender. With Goldthwaite, Meridian, Chilton, Bosqueville and even Evant all in the hunt for more than just a playoff appearance, two deserving teams are going to end 2008 in bitter disappointment.
  • DISTRICT 31-1A: There's really no true state power in this six-team grouping, but as of right now there's not even a favorite to win the district. The standings are still log-jammed with two- or one-win teams as we enter district play, and at this point, no one really seems to be out or in it. Close your eyes and pick three teams -- that's about as good a guess as any for playoff representatives from 31-1A.


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