Before the season starts, everybody's an expert, making predictions here and there about which teams will make noise in the rankings and which players will dominate on the gridiron. But with the midway point of the Texas football season upon us, now it's time to see who has really lived up to their billing, along with a few surprises.
And what better way to commemorate this time than with awards? So I now present to you the ESPNHS Texas midseason football awards (Feel free to offer your thoughts because, like I said, everybody has an opinion):
Player of the Year: Johnathan Gray, Aledo RB
Were you expecting anyone else? There's really not much needed to justify Gray's name here except:
-93 carries, 1,384 yards (that's 14.88 yards per carry) 24 touchdowns.
-He's rushed for at least 209 yards and four touchdowns in all five of Aledo's games.
-He's the new state career leader in total points (932 and counting) and touchdowns (160 and counting), and he's moving up the national lists for total yards and touchdowns.
Offensive MVP: Alec Morris, Allen QB
This spring, Morris had zero college offers. Now, with Allen sitting as the nation's No. 3 team at 5-0, the senior has a commitment to BCS power Alabama under his belt and plenty of national attention (This Thursday, the Eagles play Plano East on ESPN2). Morris has thrown for 1,387 yards, 19 touchdowns and zero interceptions, completed more than 61 percent of his passes and also rushed for two scores. Mind you, most of this production came as standout RB Jonathan Williams missed most of the first four games with a back injury. Perhaps his biggest performance came on the road in a tough Longview environment, where he threw for 368 yards and five scores in a 42-23 win.
Defensive MVP: Mario Edwards Jr., Denton Ryan DL
He entered the season as the nation's No. 1 recruit and Edwards Jr. has not disappointed. Through five games, the senior has 8.5 sacks and three forced fumbles despite suffering an ankle injury. With teams constantly throwing double teams at him, Edwards Jr.'s big numbers are all the more impressive.
Breakout Player: Baker Mayfield, Lake Travis QB
When first-year starter Colin Lagasse went down with a shoulder injury in the Cavaliers' first game, the season outlook appeared bleak for the four-time defending state champs. Six weeks into the season, the 5-0 Cavaliers stand as the undisputed top squad in Class 4A, with much thanks going to Mayfield. Since stepping under center, the junior has thrown for 1,630 yards, 15 touchdowns and just one interception.
Breakout Team: Skyline
Entering the season, the odds were stacked against the Raiders. Not only were they coming off their a 9-3 — marking the first time in three years they haven't won 12 games — but they opened the season against two out-of-state opponents (Ridgeway of Tennessee and Cocoa, Fla, who had won 38 of its last 39 games) and a tough Arlington Bowie squad. But the Raiders breezed past all three, and have outscored their five opponents 228-48.
Dylan Sheffield, Witchita Falls QB
This past Friday, Sheffield broke the Texas state record for passing yards in a single game with 683. The senior bested the old mark of 634 yards on an 81-touchdown strike in the final seconds of a 53-29 win against Denton. Sheffield's effort also places him second in the national record book behind Pacific Palisades' (Calif.) David Koral, who threw for 764 yards in a 2000 contest.
Jordan Barnes, Van Alstyne RB
Before his team's Sept. 23 contest against Farmersville, rushing for a lot of yards was nothing new for Barnes. But the senior took things to another level on that night, as he racked up 522 yards and six touchdowns in a 62-55 win. According to the UIL record book, Barnes' effort ranks fourth among the state's all-time single-game rushing performances.
Brandon Parker covers Texas for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.