Recognize: San Antonio/Austin
ESPN RISE takes a look at the teams to watch this month in the San Antonio/Austin area:
Football -- Warren
Coaches always say that a little bit of luck is necessary to advance deep into the Texas high school football playoffs. With so much talent spread around on so many great teams, one fluke play can mean the difference between a first-round playoff exit and a trip to the state championship game. If that's the case, the Warren football team must have some luck coming to it this season after suffering excruciating playoff losses the past two years. The Warriors lost a 24-17 nail-biter to MacArthur two years ago and then dropped a 17-13 contest to Madison last year. Warren appeared to win last year's game on a miraculous last-second hook-andladder, but the referees ruled the initial pass incomplete to negate the play. Even if the Warriors don't have a little karmic payback coming their way in 2008, they can at least rest assured knowing they have one of the most talented teams in the state. Warren's defense is a juggernaut anchored by Calvin Howell, a 6-foot-4, 280- pound defensive lineman who has committed to Texas. Defensive backs Joseph Bonugli and Tyler Smith are two of the best in the state. Bonugli was the District 28- 5A Defensive Player of the Year in 2007 and has scholarship offers from the likes of Arizona and Colorado State. Wide receiver-turned-quarterback Anthony Johnson will be the main man offensively, while versatile senior Aaron Salinas can line up virtually anywhere on offense.
Girls' Swimming -- Westlake
The two-time defending Class 5A state champs were dealt a serious blow when senior Mary Beck announced she'd graduate in December and skip her senior season for the swimming team. But if any team can overcome that kind of loss, it's Westlake. Junior Samantha Tucker is poised to take over Beck's spot as a state swimming superstar, having already won eight medals in her two trips to state. Steady senior Camille Hendrix is also back after picking up two golds and two bronzes at state last season.
Boys' Cross Country -- Churchill
The Chargers will be a team to reckon with this fall thanks to the return of Paul Snyder. The senior ESPN RISE All-Area pick was second at the Region IV-5A meet and sixth at the Class 5A state meet last year, and he is poised to challenge for titles in both events in 2008. Fellow All-Area pick Daniel Alvarado, a senior, is a terrific No. 2 runner for Churchill who will push Snyder every day in practice. Experienced seniors Cameron Clark and Taylor Carlson return as well.
Girls' Volleyball -- S.A. Reagan
The Rattlers made a statement that they are a state championship contender by winning the 76-team Pearland Nike Classic on Labor Day weekend. Senior outside hitter Amber Tatsch picked up tournament MVP honors, junior Preslie Alexander earned the Most Outstanding Hitter award and senior Allie Murray took home Outstanding Setter honors. The Rattlers have advanced to the Class 5A state tourney in two of the past three years but failed to win it all both times. That may change in 2008.
Breakout teamsGIRLS' CROSS COUNTRY -- GEORGETOWN
The Eagles have high hopes thanks to the return of senior Courtney Hale and junior Aubrey Borges.
FOOTBALL -- TEMPLE
Led by junior running back Lache Seastrunk, the Wildcats look to build on last year's district title.
GIRLS' SWIMMING -- LBJ
Senior Alicia Zhang and junior Lara Slesnick are carrying the Jaguars to Class 4A prominence.
BOYS' CROSS COUNTRY -- CEDAR PARK
With six ESPN RISE All-Area picks, the Timberwolves are serious Class 5A state title contenders.
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