The toughest 1A district
Our countdown to the start of high school football season continues this week with a look at the toughest districts in the state. Today: Class 1A.
By Dennis Hall / Texas Football
This is becoming a familiar refrain, but once again the toughest district in Class 1A Texas high school football is the one that includes powerhouse programs Canadian and Stratford.
The new District 1-1A DI features two of the hottest football programs in the state. Both teams won 2009 regional championships after claiming a pair of state championships in 2008. Canadian also won the state title in 2007.
And here they are again, once again in the same district and once again ranked among the top teams in all of Class 1A. Stratford, coming off an 11-3 record in 2009, starts the season ranked No. 3 in Class 1A DI. Canadian, which was 12-2, opens at No. 4.
Both teams are loaded with returning talent. Stratford returns 14 starters (7 offense, 7 defense) and might have the best player in Class 1A in RB Bryce Cummings, who rushed for 1,934 yards last season while also playing great defense at linebacker.
Canadian returns 13 starters (6 offense, 7 defense) and has its own candidate for the best player in 1A in Ryan Alexander, a defensive end/tight end who already has 34 career sacks. Canadian also has a top recruit on the offensive line in tackle Taylor Chappell.
Of course, we couldn't call 1-1A DI the toughest district in the state if it only had two good teams. How about if we throw in another ranked team with No. 10 Sunray, which has 14 starters back from a 9-3 team.
Sunray looks like a third-place team in this salty district but very well could contend for the district title and potentially a regional crown. The Bobcats have one of the district's top two-way players in wide receiver/defensive back Braiden Cartrite.
The other two teams in this district are West Texas and Boys Ranch. West Texas has 16 starters back from a 4-6 team. Boys Ranch has 15 starters back from a 5-5 team. Either would be a strong playoff contender or possibly a district title contender in another district. But they will have a hard time breaking into the postseason with the quality competition they'll face every week in this district.
Boys Ranch OL LaQuan McGowan (6-6, 340) is ranked among the state's top recruits.
District 4-1A-DI: Albany is the clear favorite in this district, coming off a 15-1 state finalist season. But Haskell also made a long playoff run in 2009 to finish at 9-5, and Seymour has 13 starters back from a 9-2 squad. Stamford also could figure in the race after posting a winning record (6-4) in 2009.
District 5-1A-DI: You know a district is deep when the team we picked to finish fourth, Muenster, is coming off a 9-4 regional semifinalist season. Two of the favorites, Collinsville (7-6) and Lindsay (12-2), also are coming off outstanding playoff runs. And our other predicted playoff team is a Valley View team that is dropping to 1A after going 5-5 last season in 2A.
District 8-1A-DI: Here's another district with a couple of teams that have won state titles in recent years. Cayuga was the 1A-DII state champ last year, while Mart won a title in 2006. Both were state runners-up in 2008. Now, they'll fight each other plus a strong Kerens team for a district crown. Kerens drops to 1A after going 6-4 in 2A last year.
District 9-1A-DI: From 1-6, this district is as much of a tossup as any district in the state. Four teams made the playoffs last year: Simms Bowie, Price Carlisle, Maud and Hawkins. The two that didn't have reason for optimism in 2010: Big Sandy has 15 starters back from a 4-6 team, while Overton brought back the school's winningest coach, Bo Talkington after a disappointing 3-7 campaign.
District 3-1A-DII: All five teams in this district made the playoffs in 2009, but only three will advance this year. The favorite is Springlake-Earth, which is coming off an 11-2 season. The rest is pretty much a tossup: Bovina (8-2), Nazareth (6-5), Farwell (5-6) and Sudan (5-6) all are looking to build off last season's playoff appearances.