‘Texas Football’ likes Spartans, Elks
Last year, Centennial and Burleson were tagged by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine to make the playoffs.
The Spartans proved the prognosticator right and the Elks fell short in 2016. Centennial shared the District 9-5A title with Crowley while Burleson lost three close district games that ended the Elks three-year postseason run.
In 2016, Spartans were selected to finish second in 9-5A with the Elks behind them in third place. Centennial went 6-1 in 9-5A play and won their opening-round playoff game before losing in the second-round. The Elks finished 2-5 in district play.
This year, the “Bible” of high school football has Centennial finishing third and Burleson just missing the playoffs in fifth place.
Texas Football tabs Crowley to win the 9-5A district title with Everman, Centennial and Arlington Seguin projected as the other playoff teams. The magazine predicts the rest of the district to finish like this: Burleson (fifth), Cleburne (sixth), Granbury (seventh) and Joshua (eighth).
Everman running back Kenneth Johnson, who rushed for 1,300 yards last season, is the magazine’s Preseason Offensive MVP pick while Crowley defensive lineman Cameron Preston is picked as the Preseason Defensive MVP.
Centennial returns seven starters on offense and five on defense, but must replace three-year starter, Payton Strambler, at quarterback. Spartans’ coach Kyle Geller said whoever he picks to run the tricky triple-option offense will need to “run the family business.”
The new quarterback will have plenty of weapons including slot back Kelton Tezeno (48 carries, 672 yards rushing, 10 TDs), running backs Kevan Romero (288 yards rushing, 2 TDs) and Darrell Williams (877 yards rushing, 10 TDs). Replacing all-state place kicker Ryan Reid is another large task.
Defensively, linebacker Blake Murphy and safety Tezino return to anchor the defense. The front line should be strong with Jacob Jackson, Thomas Godi, Delshan Mell, Cole Porter and Bryson Fleming back.
Burleson coach Gary McElroy welcomes back seven starters on offense and six starters on defense from a squad that posted an overall record of 3-7 last season.
Offensively, the Elks are loaded with wide receiver Jaylen Johnson (871 yards receiving, 10 TDs), running back Devin Stevenson (642 yards rushing, nine TDs) and quarterback Hayden Whitten (1,510 yards passing, 412 yards rushing, 14 TDs total) returning.
The defense will be led by lineman Jaterrius Pleasant, linebacker Issac Dagley, and back Chance Showers. This unit could be much improved from last year’s defense that never seemed to find its footing.
Region II is loaded with talent. Twelve teams in Region II made the DCTF’s Top 40 list including No. 4 Highland Park, No. 10 Lancaster, No. 12 Mesquite Poteet, No. 15 Frisco Lone Star, No. 17 Lake Ridge, No. 18 Legacy, No. 22 Dallas Wilson, No. 25 South Oak Cliff, No. 30 Timberview, No. 34 West Mesquite, No. 38 Prosper and No. 40 Marshall.
In the coach’s poll, Highland Park is ranked second followed by Lancaster at No. 8 and Legacy at No. 10.
The magazine has Highland Park beating Lake Ridge for the Region II Division I crown and Lancaster topping Poteet for the Region II Division II title. Highland Park is tabbed to fall to Manvel in the Division I state title game. Crowley is listed as a dark horse contender.