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Monday, November 7, 2011
5A-I preview: DeSoto, Skyline headline Reg. 2

By Randy Jennings

CLASS 5A DIVISION I REGION 2 PREVIEW

Overview: Each season, Region II provides surprises, in part because it is composed of schools from the big-city areas of Dallas, Houston and Austin. The teams rarely see each other until playoff time.

One familiar name is missing this season. Round Rock Stony Point, regional champion each of the last three years, failed to qualify for playoffs this year.

Dallas Skyline is the only unbeaten team in this bracket. DeSoto, Round Rock Westwood and The Woodlands are all 9-1.

Two of the more established programs in this grouping, The Woodlands and Austin Westlake, lost in the opening round a year ago and aren't usually down for long.

Westwood was aided by a pair of transfers, running back Ledeans Anderson from Mississippi and receiver Desmond Wyatt from Kansas, in its rise.

Favorite: DeSoto. The Eagles have made drastic defensive improvements, and the offensive output hasn’t really fallen off despite the graduation of record-setting passer Ryan Polite. The result is the Eagles are a better team than the one that lost to Stony Point 72-48 in the Region II final a year ago.

DeSoto opponents are averaging 15.8 points a game this season, half of the 32.4 opponents averaged in 2010. The defense has talent at each level with Texas A&M commit Michael Richardson at end, Texas commit Bryson Echols and LSU commit Jalen Mills in the secondary and uncommitted Alex Lyons at linebacker.

Watch out for: Garland. Since starting 0-2, the Owls have reeled off eight straight wins on the way to capturing another District 10-5A title. A quick exit in the 2010 playoffs should serve as motivation. The draw in the lower half of the bracket, away from the looming DeSoto-Skyline showdown, should be an advantage.

Garland has a lot of offensive weapons, but the main one is Kansas-bound quarterback Seth Russell with 12 touchdown passes and over 1,200 passing yards.

Can’t wait to see: Richardson Berkner-Garland (7:30 p.m. Friday, Garland's Williams Stadium). Berkner has a winning streak of five games and has shut out its last two opponents. The Rams and their triple-option offense are back in the playoffs after falling short in 2010. They depend heavily on quarterback Yedidiah Louis not only to keep defenses honest with his passing, but also for his skills as a runner. He leads the team with over 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns.

We hope to see: Round 4 of DeSoto-Skyline. The Eagles and Raiders have met in the second round of the playoffs the last three years with Skyline taking the first two (51-26 in 2008 and 41-36 in 2009) and DeSoto answering emphatically last season, 38-0.

A pretty intense rivalry has developed between the two schools. It was easy to see during combines in the spring when players went out of their way to avoid those from the enemy camp.

Only a couple of bi-district wins stand between a fourth meeting. The downside is a second-round meeting is far too early. A Region II final would be more fitting.

Talent pool (FBS recruits): A&M Consolidated: DT J.J. Bynum (Texas Tech); RB Quinton White (Texas Tech). DeSoto: DB Bryson Echols (Texas), OL Curtis Riser (Texas), DE Michael Richardson (Texas A&M), RB Devin Rushing (Air Force), Jalen Mills (LSU). Garland: LB Damien Neroes (SMU), QB Seth Russell (Kansas). Klein Collins: QB Tyler Stehling (Rice), DE Roland Leal (Air Force), Shane Rhodes (Boise State). Klein Oak: QB Nicky Baratti (Notre Dame), DT Daniel Shaul (UTEP), LB A.J. Hilliard (Arizona). McKinney Boyd: DE Jamal Palmer (Baylor). Mesquite Horn: DB Devante Harris (Oklahoma). Round Rock: DT Glen Antoine (UTEP). Dallas Skyline: LB Peter Jinkens (Texas), WR Thomas Johnson (Texas), WR Trey Rabone (Kansas State), RB David Greene (UNLV). The Woodlands: DE Mitchell Meyers (Iowa State), WR Blake Webb (Oklahoma State).