Today’s spotlight: Class 6A Region IV
UIL Realignment once again split the Austin area in half as there’s one district in Region II and one Austin area district in Region IV for the next two seasons. That’s potentially bad news for the rest of Region IV as that Austin area district once again includes Lake Travis and Austin Westlake, both have dominated the region the past couple of years. On paper, 26-6A looks to be once again an absolute meat grinder with Alamo City powers Judson, Steele and Smithson Valley, along with always tough Schertz Clemens. But added to that mix for 2018 and 2019 is ever-improving San Marcos, fresh off a district title and area round appearance in 2017. The big news out of the Rio Grande Valley was the UIL’s interesting decision to make 32-6A just a six-team district as Weslaco and Weslaco East moved over to 31-6A along with Donna North and Edinburg CISD. It definitely made non-district scheduling a challenge, but also will make every district game that much more important.
The Cavaliers followed up their sensational 2016 state title run with a trip to the state title game before falling to Allen. The headliners all return for another possible title run and it starts with wideout Garrett Wilson who is a highlight waiting to happen on offense. The senior had nearly 100 receptions a year ago and accounted for 30 total touchdowns. He’s going to attract plenty of attention and that could mean big things for the next in the lineage of outstanding Lake Travis signal callers, Hudson Card. The junior played receiver as a sophomore and showed incredible promise. Then, in the state title game he filled in after quarterback Matthew Baldwin’s injury and nearly led LTHS to an epic come-from-behind victory. Card is a true dual threat and adds a viable rushing threat to the spread offense. There’s some work to be done to replace a good group of seniors on defense but adding Cedar Park transfer John Hunter Henry to the mix certainly helps along with getting LB Matthew Peterman back after missing all of 2017 with a torn ACL.
Known as a coach who has earned much of his success with a high flying spread offense, Westlake’s Todd Dodge showed his versatility as a coach in 2017 reinventing the Chaps into a physical, grind-it-out team that relied on a bruising rushing game and defense. That reinvention led Westlake to a 14-1 mark a year ago, but with the personnel returning for 2018, expect Coach Dodge’s team to go back to their roots with a powerful, up-tempo pass-oriented scheme. QB Taylor Anderson’s return should spark that change as the senior is back after throwing for 32 touchdowns against just six interceptions a year ago. His ability to make big plays down the field and limit mistakes will be key as the Chaparrals have to retool at many of the skill positions. There’s some major talent back on the defensive side of the ball with DE David Neil (101 tackles, 13 sacks) and LB Jake Ehlinger (104 tackles), so expect 25-6A and maybe Region IV to come down to a Westlake-Lake Travis.
The Rockets have to feel like they let one slip away a year ago, as a team that many felt was a favorite to win the state title fell in the area round of the playoffs. The Rockets have to replace all-everything QB Julon Williams and six other offensive starters, but eight back on defense should have head coach Sean McAuliffe’s squad right in the mix. The offense will be more ground-oriented as the Rockets have multiple backs who can make plays in Sincere McCormick (a four-year letterman), Rashad Wisdom and talented sophomore DeAnthony Lewis. If a suitable replacement can’t be found at QB, don’t be surprised if McCormick gets the nod at QB. The defense for the Rockets has the potential to be downright dominant with the return of DE DeMarvin Leal who at 6’7, 285 pounds has the college scouts flocking to campus. LB Kevin Wood (111 tackles, 5 sacks, 2 INTs), DE Corey Parks (45 tackles, 6 sacks) also return to give Judson what should be one of the state’s top defenses. Several offensive players could see time on defense as well, so staying healthy will be crucial.
After a rough start to 2017, the Knights got their act together behind freshman QB Wyatt Beagle and an improved defense to make a run all the way to the Regional Finals before falling to Austin Westlake. A year older and with nine starts under Beagle’s belt now, expect the Knights to let the sophomore signal caller spread his wings in 2018. The Knights will need to find some receivers to replace the loss of Onyx Smith, but they’ve got good experience returning up front and talented junior RB Dequavion Thomas. On defense, the Knights will be a bit young but expect them to be a bit bigger and stronger in the front seven after fielding a relatively undersized group last year. The big concern will be replacing a several players from fantastic secondary unit.