5A-II preview: Region 1 notable for balance


Overview: Of the four regions in the two 5A brackets that include Dallas-Fort Worth area teams, Division II Region I is the only one without a state-ranked team. But what the region may lack in top-end talent, it makes up for with depth. Because of that, there should be very few blowouts, even in the early rounds.

The top half of the bracket features an Abilene team that always seems primed for a run at a state title, but the winner between Denton Guyer and Hebron in the first round might be headed for the region finals instead. Arlington and Mansfield also have the potential to make noise. The bottom half of the bracket seems to come down to two teams – Flower Mound Marcus and Colleyville Heritage, which might be the two best teams in the area not ranked in state. Mansfield Timberview and Abilene Cooper could be factors as well.

Favorite: Flower Mound Marcus. With most of the heavy hitters in Region I going in to the Division I bracket, the Marauders (9-1) have the potential to make a serious run at a state title. Their running game – led by bruiser Harvey Giddens and speedster Jeff Smiley – is as good as it’s ever been. Marcus hasn’t relied on its passing game much this year but it has the potential to blossom in the playoffs behind sophomore quarterback Cole Erwin.

Watch out for: Arlington. In a bracket full of dark horses, the Colts (6-4) might be the most dangerous if they can get by Abilene in the first round. The area round would pit Arlington against a west Texas team before facing a comparable team from the Metroplex (Denton Guyer, Hebron, Mansfield). Running back Tavarreon Dickerson has rushed for 1,686 yards and 22 touchdowns in averaging about 10 yards per carry.

Can’t wait to see: Hebron-Denton Guyer (2 p.m. Saturday, Cowboys Stadium). Colleyville Heritage vs. Mansfield Timberview might be just as good, but we’ll let the venue break the tie. If the young Wildcats (7-3) can come of age quickly, they have the raw talent to make another run through the 5A Division II bracket. Hebron (6-4) is back in the playoffs after missing out last year, and its defense and experience in close games could have the Hawks playing after Thanksgiving if it can pass this tough opening test.

We hope to see: Flower Mound Marcus-Colleyville Heritage. The region may be won in the area round with this presumed matchup. Both teams have forgivable blemishes on their records in the form of close losses to Allen and Euless Trinity, respectively. And the matchup would pit one of the area’s best running games (Marcus) against one of the area’s best passing games (Heritage).

Talent pool (FBS recruits): El Paso Americas: RB Jack Fields (Boise State). Arlington: RB Tavarreon Dickerson (uncommitted). Mansfield: DE Hassan Ridgeway (Texas). Denton Guyer: DL Dominic Ramacher (Oklahoma State); WR Conner Crane (Stanford); DT Cody Henessee (Rice); OL John Ferguson (uncommitted); DT Daniel Kottman (San Diego State). Hebron: WR/DB Kiante’ Griffin (Baylor); DE Deatrich Wise (Arkansas). Abilene Cooper: QB Clayton Nicholas (Texas Tech). Colleyville Heritage: DE Rex Montes (uncommitted).