4A DI: Region I
Today’s spotlight: Class 4A Division I Region II
There was some shuffling in Region II after realignment and an already brutally tough region may have gotten tougher (if that’s possible). We start in 5-4A Division I where three Waco area powers Waco LaVega (state semi-finalist), China Spring (state quarter-finalist) and always-dangerous Gatesville are joined by perennial powers Stephenville and Brownwood in what could be the “District of Doom-West.” The other big change was in 7-4A Division I as the northern DFW is combined with the two Paris schools in a bit of an odd (but predicted by DCTF) realignment. Argyle, Anna and the two Paris schools are joined by Division II move-ups Celina and Melissa in what should be a difficult district as well. Kennedale is joined by Fort Worth ISD schools and Northwest Tarrant County foes in 6-4A Division I, while Argyle and Carrollton Ranchview team with Dallas ISD in 8-4A Division I.
The Pirates have a new coach for the first time since 1990 as Willie Williams moves into an athletic director role and longtime defensive coordinator Don Hyde takes over. It’ll also be the first time in four years Jamal Williams isn’t running the offense as he’s finally graduated (to the delight of many of his opponents). The Pirates will still be very strong, fresh off a 14-1 campaign the Pirates bring back an outstanding RB in John Richards (1,542 rushing, 22 TDs) and one of the most physical defensive units in the state led by LB Jared Rogers and S Donte Stuart.
Kennedale is fresh off its best season in school history advancing all the way to the state title game before running into the buzz saw that was Carthage. Kennedale has a dynamic set of playmakers returning, but the question is can it overcome some key losses in the trenches. RB DJ Kirven (2,319 rushing, 42 TDs) will be the key cog in the vaunted Wing-T offense. He burst on the scene as a freshman in the playoffs a few years back and is the latest in a line of outstanding backs. Don’t be fooled though, Kennedale can throw it when needed with QB Evan Jowers (1,869 total yards, 20 TDs) and WR Jaden Smith (475 receiving, 6 TDs). LB Jalen Myers (92 tackles, 8 sacks) and FS JD Coffey (94 tackles, 7 INTs as a freshman) will lead the defense.
2017 ended in disappointment as a team that looked destined to play for a state title felt the sting of injuries late in the year. Argyle, however appears primed for another big run with QB Hayden Clearman (1,124 passing, 10 TDs) who stepped in last year after an injury and showed plenty of ability to pilot the Eagles’ multi-faceted offensive attack. Noah Lang (856 rushing, 17 TDs) split time last year at RB and will be the feature back. WR Alex Gonzales (353 receiving, 4 TDs) saw extensive action as a sophomore and will be the lead receiver. Chase Petter (112 tackles, 15 sacks) is the returning Class 4A Defensive Player of the Year and the headliner of the defense which is known for being one of the state’s most aggressive units.
Stephenville made a surprise run all the way to the state semi-finals a year ago before falling to Kennedale. The ‘Jackets have to deal with losing a three-year starter at QB and their top WR, but a solid offensive line and the return of outstanding RB Krece Nowak will help ease in the new signal caller. 3-4A Division I District MVP Gage Graham returns and will be a two-way force as well for Stephenville. Expect his time on offense to be significantly increased in 2018. LB Blu Caylor will anchor what should be a much improved defense as well. The new district will be extremely challenging but this is a playoff tested squad that will be in the mix in Region II.