High School: 2011 Preseason Countdown

4A No. 1: Gray, Aledo have been unstoppable

August, 19, 2011
8/19/11
12:05
AM CT
ESPNDallas.com gets ready for the start of the high school football season by unveiling its preseason rankings, one spot at a time:

4A NO. 1: ALEDO BEARCATS

2010 record: 16-0

Predicted 2011 regular-season record: 10-0

ESPNDallas.com spring ranking: No. 1

[+] EnlargeJohnathan Gray
Travis L. Brown/ESPNDallas.comJohnathan Gray, who broke the state record with 59 touchdowns last season, will try to lead Aledo to its third straight state title.
Division I commits: RB Johnathan Gray (Texas), OL Michael Wilson (Texas A&M).

Why they’re here: What’s not to like about this Parker County powerhouse? Sparkling facilities, two consecutive Class 4A Division II state titles, an active 29-game winning streak and, most importantly, senior Johnathan Gray, ESPN RISE Mr. Football USA national player of the year in 2010. While Gray (351-3,221, 59 TDs) seems a sure bet to end his career owning a couple of state career touchdown records, Aledo is far from a one-man team. Quarterback Matthew Bishop threw for 2,709 yards and 32 touchdowns and rushed for 781 yards in 2010. Michael Wilson anchors the line and Michael Mann (57-1012, 11 TDs) is the leading returning receiver. Aledo returns eight starters from an offense that averaged 48.8 points per game. Safety Dayne Davis, one of five returning defensive starters, contributed 118 tackles last season.

Holes to fill: Cornerback James Place will help shore up the secondary, an area hit hard by graduation. The defensive line also must re-tool after the graduation of Slaiter Vandertuin and Danny Edwards, who combined for 146 tackles last season. Look for defensive end Jaylen Hill to improve on his 2010 numbers, 77 tackles and four sacks. Extra points were an adventure at times last season, but sophomore Chance Nevarez takes over the job full-time this fall. If all goes according to coach Tim Buchanan’s plan, Nevarez should be very busy.

Key game: vs. Lake Travis, Sept. 9

5A NO. 1: ALLEN EAGLES

2010 record: 10-2

Predicted 2011 regular-season record: 10-0

ESPNDallas.com spring ranking: No. 1

[+] EnlargeJonathan Williams and Alex Morris
Travis L. Brown/ESPNDallas.com Running back Jonathan Williams and quarterback Alec Morris give Allen plenty of offensive firepower.
Division I commits: QB Alec Morris (Alabama), RB Jonathan Williams (Missouri), LB Thaddeus LaGrone (Baylor).

Why they’re here: Why wouldn't Allen be here?

With its high participation numbers and seemingly endless talent pool, the Eagles are a perennial state title contenders even in years when they don't have a lot of returning experience.

This year Allen has seven starters coming back on each side of the ball, a high number for a team that usually relies heavily on its senior classes.

It's not just quantity coming back, but quality, and at key positions. QB Morris shouldn't have any trouble improving on the 2,533 yards and 22 touchdowns produced as a junior. Williams has the potential to lead 5A area players in rushing after passing the 2,00-yard mark in 2010.

Morris has experienced receivers returning in Andrew Rodriquez and Oliver Pierce. OLs Jake Trotter and Mark Massey return after all-district seasons at a position where the Eagles never have a problem excelling.

With so much talent and experience, expectations are soaring in Allen, and anything short of a state title will be considered a disappointment.

Holes to fill: For any team, 14 returning starters is a big number. It's even bigger at Allen. There aren't many holes. Allen has to fill out its offensive line and secondary, but head coach Tom Westerberg's primary concern coming into the season was establishing depth.

Key game: at Plano, Sept. 23

5A No. 2: Trinity sets standard for excellence

August, 18, 2011
8/18/11
12:01
AM CT

ESPNDallas.com gets ready for the start of the high school football season by unveiling its preseason rankings, one spot at a time:

5A NO. 2: EULESS TRINITY TROJANS


2010 record: 15-1

Predicted 2011 regular-season record: 10-0

ESPNDallas.com spring ranking: No. 2

[+] EnlargeTrinity
Travis L. Brown/ESPNDallas.com UCLA recruit Hiva Latui anchors what is, as usual, a dominant offensive line for Euless Trinity.
Division I commits: OL Hiva Lutui, (UCLA).

Why they’re here: Trinity has lifted its football excellence to a new level in the last five years, reaching the state championship game four times, emerging victorious on three occasions. While the Trojans have had their share of great players, head coach Steve Lineweaver and his veteran coaching staff are masters at melding individuals from varied backgrounds into cohesive units.

Since 2004, Trinity has either won the state title or lost in the playoffs to the eventual state champion.

The Trojans can build their defense around linebacker Brian Nance, who recorded 174 tackles to go with four interceptions and three sacks in an all-state junior season. Defensive tackles Polo Manukainiu and Moahengi Latu and defensive back Iliau Moeakiola are other key returnees.

On offense, Kailahi Kautai completed 46-of-83 passes for 666 yards and four touchdown in a part-time quarterback role last season. The staple of all Trinity teams is its massive offensive line. This season should not be any different with guard Hiva Lutui, center Dillon Dillard and tackle Henry Lea’aetoa, three all-district selections.

Holes to fill: Graduation of running backs Terrence Tusan and Tevin Williams along with QB/WR Brandon Carter represented 4,000 yards of rushing yards last season. Joel Kimpela is the leading returning rusher with 410 yards and a 13-yard average per carry, but spent most of 2010 on the junior varsity. Enrique Oquendo is the leading returning receiver with four catches for 152 yards.

Key game: vs. Colleyville Heritage, Sept. 22

4A No. 2: Denton Ryan boasts dominating D

August, 18, 2011
8/18/11
12:01
AM CT
4A NO. 2: DENTON RYAN RAIDERS

2010 record: 15-1

Predicted 2011 regular-season record: 10-0

ESPNDallas.com spring ranking: No. 2

[+] EnlargeEdwards
Travis L.Brown/ESPNDallas.com Top-ranked Mario Edwards Jr. isn't the only big-time recruit on Denton Ryan's defense.
Division I commits: DE Mario Edwards (Florida State), LB Alex De La Torre (Texas), LB Jordan Richmond (Texas A&M), DE Dominique Banks (Baylor)

Why they’re here: Not many opposing quarterbacks will be able to maintain bladder control lining up against Denton Ryan this year.

Mario Edwards, the No. 1 recruit in the nation, lines up on one end of the defensive line. Banks, a Baylor commit, lines up on the other end.

Don't even ask if the Raiders decide to bring some heat with a blitz in their 4-2-5 defense. That's two three-year starters who are headed to the Big 12 coming at you in De La Torre and Richmond.

And if the quarterback actually manages to get the ball out of his hands before getting crunched? Ball-hawk safety Trey Mohair, a two-sport star who's been Ryan's starting point guard since he was a freshman, might just take it the other way for six.

Those five returning starters, the primary defensive players who fueled Ryan's run to the Class 4A Division I state title game in 2010, give the Raiders the foundation for what may be the best defense in the state -- 4A or 5A.

Holes to fill: For the second straight year, Ryan will have turnover at the most important position on the field -- quarterback. Kevin Carpenter will run the offense after serving as a backup last season. Ryan plans to take advantage of his running ability.

Key game: at Wichita Falls Rider, Oct. 6
ESPNDallas.com gets ready for the start of the high school football season by unveiling its preseason rankings, one spot at a time:

4A NO. 3: HIGHLAND PARK SCOTS

Highland Park Football
Travis L. Brown/ESPNDallas.comQuarterback Brady Burgin (left) and running back Preston Miller provide a solid foundation for Highland Park's offense.
2010 Record: 12-1

Predicted 2011 regular-season record: 10-0

ESPN Dallas spring ranking: No. 3

Division I commits: OT Tanner Stone (Duke)

Why they’re here: Highland Park returns a triple-threat attack on offense in WR Dalton Stogner, RB Preston Miller and QB Brady Burgin after a playoff run that was cut short by Mesquite Poteet in 2010.

The chemistry between the three is easily recognized, and Burgin can make an arsenal of throws that key off the skill sets of the other two.

Former HP quarterback Jake Howeth said Burgin had worked hard last season and this offseason to step into a leadership role and build a connection with all of his receivers.

Part of that included being active in a summer conditioning program that had this year’s squad in amazing shape before fall practice even started, coach Randy Allen said.

Holes to fill: Allen was quick to say his defense had the most questions going into the season, but that unit had the upper hand in the team's first scrimmage.

Even if the defense needs a few games to develop -- which isn't likely -- the offense should put enough points on the board to make up for it.

Key game: at Wylie, Oct. 7
ESPNDallas.com gets ready for the start of the high school football season by unveiling its preseason rankings, one spot at a time:

5A NO. 3: DALLAS SKYLINE RAIDERS

2010 Record: 9-3

Predicted 2011 regular-season record: 9-1

ESPNDallas.com spring ranking: No. 3

Peter Jinkens & Thomas Johnson
Courtesy of Davide De PasLinebacker Peter Jinkens (left) and receiver Thomas Johnson, both Texas commits, give Skyline star power on both sides of the ball.
Division I commits: WR Thomas Johnson (Texas); LB Peter Jinkens (Texas)

Why they’re here: Skyline is one of the most talented all-around teams in the area -- or country, for that matter -- and will have a chance to prove it.

Coach Reginald Samples has scheduled a small taste of America before Skyline begins district play, facing Memphis (Tenn.) Ridgeway and Florida powerhouse Cocoa. Top-notch performances against these teams would not only help propel Skyline toward a Texas state title, but perhaps win over voters for a national title.

Skyline has FBS talent throughout both the offense and the defense, but LB Jinkens is the standout. He leads another speedy and athletic defense that will have no trouble shutting down opposing offenses, especially the ground game.

Holes to fill: Skyline really has no glaring holes going into the 2011 season, but the Raiders need to get off to a better start on offense then they did last year.

In his first year as a starter last season, QB Devonte Kincade needed several games to find a rhythm, and the offense never reached its full potential after suffering several injuries. If Kincade and the offense can hit the ground running and make it through a tough predistrict schedule, Skyline could be on its way to a state title.

Key game: at Dallas Jesuit, Oct. 7

5A No. 4: Martin in position to build on success

August, 16, 2011
8/16/11
12:01
AM CT
ESPNDallas.com gets ready for the start of the high school football season by unveiling its preseason rankings, one spot at a time:

5A NO. 4: ARLINGTON MARTIN WARRIORS


2010 record: 10-3

Predicted 2011 regular-season record: 9-1

ESPNDallas.com spring ranking: Unranked

Division I commits: DE Devonte Fields and K Jaden Oberkrom (TCU); OL Steven Baggett (Boise State); DB Eric Amoako and DB Stephen Amoako (Oregon).

Why they’re here: The Warriors won a school-record 10 games in 2010 and appear capable of building on that success with 12 returning starters, including eight on defense. Martin’s defense returns stars at every level: twin brothers Eric and Stephen Amoako in the secondary, Devonte Fields at end and Cameron Williams at linebacker. Offensively, the run-oriented Warriors return two blockers in Steven Baggett and Trey Enterline. Chris Turner, with 18 catches for 150 yards and two touchdowns last season, is Martin’s top returning receiver. Kicker Jaden Oberkrom’s strong leg gives Martin another weapon should the situation call for a field goal. The Warriors have made the playoffs in five straight seasons, only to be eliminated by Euless Trinity four times.

Holes to fill: Brodie Lambert’s MVP play in leading Martin to the Red Bull Game Breakers 7-on-7 national title this summer eases concern about replacing Michigan-bound quarterback Russell Bellomy. But there is still the matter of the loss of Oklahoma-bound running back Danzel Williams, who rushed for 30 touchdowns and over 1,600 yards as a senior. Cameron Williams saw limited two-way duty as a running back duty last season and junior Kyle Hicks is another possibility.

Key game: vs. Arlington Bowie, Sept. 22

4A No. 4: Wylie defense as strong as ever

August, 16, 2011
8/16/11
12:01
AM CT
ESPNDallas.com gets ready for the start of the high school football season by unveiling its preseason rankings, one spot at a time:

4A NO. 4: WYLIE PIRATES

2010 record: 11-4

Predicted 2011 regular-season record: 8-2

ESPN Dallas spring ranking: No. 4

Division I commits: DE Noble Nwachukwu (West Virginia); DB Terrell Burt (Baylor)

Why they’re here: Simply put: defense.

[+] EnlargeSean Watts
Travis L. Brown/ESPNDallas.com Linebacker Sean Watts is the field general for Wylie's stout defense.
Wylie returns six starters on defense, including two FBS commits and an FBS prospect in DT Azuka Akozar who is yet to commit.

Each position group on defense returns at least one starter, including LB Sean Watts, who head coach Bill Howard said will be his field general. Howard said Watts, besides being a speedy player with tons of football skill, is the team’s emotional leader as well, which keeps team chemistry intact from last season’s state semifinal run.

Howard said he believes this season’s defensive backfield, led by Burt, might be the strongest in the history of the program.

The Pirates will depend on strong defensive play to carry the team through the first few weeks of the season while an inexperienced offense finds traction.

Holes to fill: Wylie was not as lucky in returning starters on the offensive side the ball.

All of the skill positions have some question marks but cannot be completely evaluated until the replacement for Nico Ramirez at quarterback is named.

The competition is between Donald Slay and Leland Dotson.

Once Howard and his staff decide on a quarterback, the rest of the pieces can begin falling into place.

Key game: vs. Highland Park, Oct. 7

4A No. 5: Everman plans to hit ground running

August, 15, 2011
8/15/11
12:01
AM CT
ESPNDallas.com gets ready for the start of the high school football season by unveiling its preseason rankings, one spot at a time:

4A NO. 5: EVERMAN BULLDOGS

[+] EnlargeEverman Bulldogs
Travis L. Brown/ESPNDallas.com With the lowest enrollment numbers in District 7-4A, depth will be a key concern for Everman.
2010 record: 8-3

Predicted 2011 regular-season record: 8-2

ESPNDallas.com spring ranking: No. 5

Division I commit: DB Torrey Boozer (Missouri)

Why they’re here: Coach Dale Keeling ignores the current spread formation fad, insisting that his Bulldogs do what they do best: run the football.

It’s hard to argue with success. Everman’s record the last 12 seasons is 132-29. Its “old-school’’ offense averaged 407 yards and 37.5 points.

With Lincoln Richard and Boozer, the Bulldogs have one of the best linebacker duos in the state. Quantance Walker and Horace Richardson add stability in the secondary.

Senior quarterback Devynn Birdow was inserted in the second half of the 2010 season opener and held the job the rest of the way.

Holes to fill: Everman’s commitment to the ground game requires talented running backs and the Bulldogs graduated a couple of good ones in James Bailey (7-4A MVP) and Cory Franklin (7-4A Offensive MVP).

Keeling toyed with moving defensive end Jacob Kennedy to running back in the spring and another consideration is Terrance Cook.

There’s also a matter of replacing three blockers.

Depth is a concern at almost every position since Everman owns the lowest enrollment numbers in District 7-4A.

Key game: vs. Mansfield Summit, Oct. 21

5A No. 5: DeSoto has holes at skill positions

August, 15, 2011
8/15/11
12:01
AM CT
ESPNDallas.com gets ready for the start of the high school football season by unveiling its preseason rankings, one spot at a time:

5A NO. 5: DeSOTO EAGLES

[+] EnlargeDontre Wilson
Travis L. Brown/ESPNDallas.com Dontre Wilson is DeSoto's leading returning receiver, but he caught only 11 passes last season.
2010 record: 11-3

Predicted 2011 regular-season record: 8-2

ESPNDallas.com spring ranking: No. 7.

Division I commits: DB Bryson Echols and OL Curtis Riser (Texas); DE Michael Richardson (Texas A&M); DB Jalen Mills (LSU); RB Devin Rushing (Air Force Academy.)

Why they’re here: With a streak of 15 straight playoff appearances, winning seasons are a matter of course at DeSoto.

Claude Mathis’ team reached the Division I Region II finals last year, and 14 returning starters would like to take the final two steps this time.

The confidence-builder was finally getting past Dallas Skyline for the first time in three area-round playoff tries, and DeSoto did it convincingly, 38-0.

Three members of the Eagles’ defense have already made college commitments. One that hasn’t, senior linebacker Alex Lyons, averaged 11 tackles a game a year ago.

Devin Rushing is the top returning rusher with 570 yards and seven touchdowns.

Holes to fill: Senior Raheem Wilson and sophomore Dezmond White are the top candidates to succeed Ryan Polite, who passed for over 4,000 yards and 37 touchdowns in the final season of his four-year varsity career.

Also graduating were Polite’s top five receivers, representing 239 catches and 3,419 receiving yards. Three of the 11 catches by junior Dontre Wilson, the leading returning receiver, went for touchdowns last year.

In the Eagles’ three losses last season, opponents scored an average of 52 points.

Key game: at Longview, Nov. 4
5A NO. 6: SOUTHLAKE CARROLL DRAGONS

[+] EnlargeKenny Hill
Travis L. Brown/ESPNDallas.com Kenny Hill has a year of experience as Southlake Carroll's quarterback and plenty of weapons around him.
2010 record: 10-4

Predicted 2011 regular-season record: 9-1

ESPNDallas.com spring ranking: No. 5

Division I commits: WR Peyton Williams (Colorado), LB Will Davis (Kansas State)

Why they’re here: The Dragons have the most important advantage a team can have going into a season -- a big-time, playoff-tested quarterback.

A year after controversy at the position, junior Kenny Hill gives the Dragons a proven playmaker who could become the next in a long line of Division I quarterbacks to come out of the school.

And Hill will have plenty of weapons around him. Williams is a three-year starter at receiver. Zach Thomason and newcomer A.J. Ezzard are threats out of the backfield.

Defensively, coach Hal Wasson believes his team will be exceptional at linebacker, where Davis leads Carroll into its second year in the 3-4.

Holes to fill: How good Carroll's offense becomes may depend on the offensive line, where the Dragons return just one starter, although that starter happens to be a good one -- James Prince.

Key game: at Denton Guyer, Nov. 4
4A NO. 6: DALLAS KIMBALL KNIGHTS

[+] EnlargeTeriyon Gipson
Travis L. Brown/ESPNDallas.comTeriyon Gipson rushed for more than 1,000 yards and scored 13 touchdowns as a sophomore.
2010 record: 9-3

Predicted 2011 regular-season record: 9-1

ESPNDallas.com spring ranking: No. 7

Division I commits: None

Why they’re here: Having already led the Knights to a share of a district title in 2010, Kimball's junior class appears to be one of the best in the area, which could spell trouble for opponents over the next two years.

The class includes QB Traveon Thibodeaux, RB Teriyon Gipson, WR Xzavier Alexander, LB Brandon Hines and DT Justin Manning. Thibodeaux is coming off a stellar year when he threw for 1,977 yards, 22 touchdowns and just four interceptions.

Gipson ran for 1,166 yards and 13 touchdowns in 11 games. Alexander caught 33 balls for 485 yards seven touchdowns.

With offers from Texas A&M and Texas Tech among others, Manning stands to be one of the most sought-after recruits in the area in 2013.

Sprinkle in standout seniors DE Andre Carter, SS Mike Jones, DL Josh Matthews and OL Sterling Porter, and Kimball has a roster poised to make a serious run.

Holes to fill: With 12 players returning, there aren't too many positions that lack experience on Kimball's roster. Linebacker is a spot that took a hit, but Hines has the potential to be a Division I recruit.

Key game: vs. South Oak Cliff at Sprague Stadium, Sept. 30

ESPNDallas.com gets ready for the start of the high school football season by unveiling its preseason rankings, one spot at a time:

5A NO. 7: COPPELL COWBOYS

[+] EnlargeJake Larson
Travis L. Brown/ESPNDallas.com Jake Larson steps into Coppell's starting quarterback job.
2010 record: 13-1

Predicted 2011 regular-season record: 9-1

ESPNDallas.com spring ranking: No. 6

Division I commits: K Nick Jordan (Texas)

Why they’re here: It didn't take long for head coach Joe McBride to put his stamp on Coppell. During his two-year tenure, the Cowboys went from a threat to make the playoffs to a threat to win state.

McBride stresses playing extremely physical football in the trenches. That won't change 2011, particularly on offense where Coppell returns four linemen, including Division I prospects Sam Rice and Jake Williams.

Depth is the strength of Coppell's defensive line, but the unit also features top-end talent. DE William Udeh made first team all-district as a sophomore in 2010 and could blossom into a star this season.

Holes to fill: Coppell took a huge hit at the skill positions, losing QB Joe Minden and RB/WR Cam McDaniel, among others.

McBride likes what he has in new QB Jake Larson, who has the size and athleticism to develop into a Division I player. Sophomore Gavin McDaniel will likely take on his big brother Cam's role as running back and slot receiver.

Coppell also has to replace all of its linebackers, a unit that was arguably the best in the state in 2010.

Key game: at Southlake Carroll, Oct. 14

4A No. 7: RB Klutts returns to power Birdville

August, 11, 2011
8/11/11
12:01
AM CT
ESPNDallas.com gets ready for the start of the high school football season by unveiling its preseason rankings, one spot at a time:

4A NO. 7: BIRDVILLE HAWKS

2010 record: 9-4

Predicted 2011 regular-season record: 8-2

ESPNDallas.com spring ranking: Unranked

Division I commits: None

Why they’re here: Tyler Klutts is the No. 3 returning rusher in Class 4A with 1,956 yards in 2010. The 5-foot-10, 185-pound senior scored 24 touchdowns and averaged 21 carries per game in helping the Hawks reach the Division I Region I semifinals.

Klutts will operate behind an offensive line that includes two excellent tackles, Joas Aguilar and Juan Perez.

The Hawks' defensive leader figures to be tackle Nick Poole, who accumulated nine sacks last season.

Garrett Smith made a splash as a sophomore with 102 tackles last season, and is part a solid crew of linebackers that also includes Cody Frye and Brandon Connor.

The Hawks have put together seven straight winning seasons under coach Jim Skinner. They are coming off a year when they made their deepest playoff run and equaled the school record for wins.

Holes to fill: Last year’s No. 2 receiver, E.A. Northey, moves to quarterback this fall to take over for the graduated Tyler Skaggs, who threw for 2,747 yards and 31 touchdowns in 2010. Junior Collin Basinger, who had 16 catches for 197 yards last season, should be a top receiving target after the graduation of Braedon Bollinger (74-844, 11 touchdowns.)

Key game: vs. Aledo, Oct. 27

4A No. 8: Summit hopes to keep on climbing

August, 10, 2011
8/10/11
12:01
AM CT
ESPNDallas.com gets ready for the start of the high school football season by unveiling its preseason rankings, one spot at a time:

4A NO. 8: MANSFIELD SUMMIT JAGUARS

2010 record: 9-3

Predicted 2011 regular-season record: 8-2

ESPNDallas.com spring ranking: Unranked

Division I commit: DB Micah Awe (Texas Tech)

Why they’re here: Last year's drop from Class 5A to 4A produced the school’s first playoff season in three years. Summit hopes to build on that success with a solid group of returning players on defense that includes ends Bryan Ohene-gyeni and Cortez Harris and tackle Jacolby Robinson. Waiting to greet ball carriers should they get past the forward wall is a good group of linebackers that includes Awe, David Moses and Zach Coleman.

Holes to fill: Junior Ryan Cuevas is heir apparent at quarterback for Xavier Williams, who produced almost 3,000 yards of offense in his senior season. Jaylon Singleton, Donovan Ellis and Patrick Tshituka are likely are targets for Cuevas’ throws. A replacement must also be found at running back, where in 2010 Lewis Washington rushed for over 900 yards as a senior.

Key game: at Everman, Oct. 21

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