Just barely a week removed from the conclusion of the local high school baseball season, and football has once again risen to the forefront — thanks to the arrival of the 50th anniversary issue of Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine.
With two-a-days scheduled to begin in less than two months, the magazine’s staff again has taken a crack at predicting how the season will end. Predictions can be a tricky game, however, as was the case last season when the Brownwood Lions (3-7) started the year as a Top 10 team in Class 3A, only to fall short of a postseason trip.
Coming off those struggles of a year ago, and with only four offensive and seven defensive starters returning, the magazine isn’t as Brownwood-friendly this summer. The 2009 Lions, who will be playing their first season under new head coach Bob Shipley, are picked to finish third in District 2-3A behind Abilene Wylie and Graham, however, which would end a two-year playoff drought.
New to the magazine this year, it lists the projected 2-3A key game of the year as the Week 10 Snyder-Brownwood contest at Gordon Wood Stadium, implying the Lions and Tigers — who are picked fourth in the district — will decide the district’s final playoff berth on that night.
In another new feature, Graham quarterback Case McCoy is listed as the district’s preseason offensive player of the year, while Sweetwater defensive back Ken Norman is projected as the top defensive player.
Abilene Wylie (11-3), at No. 8, and Graham (3-7), at No. 20, are the only District 2-3A teams ranked in the preseason top 25. The rest of the top 10 features Gilmer (12-2) at No. 1, followed by Carthage (14-2), West Orange-Stark (12-1), Celina (12-4), Wimberley (5-5), Giddings (11-4), Bellville (12-2), Wylie, Cuero (11-2) and China Spring (12-1).
In Class 2A, the Bangs Dragons (9-3) — who stunned the members of 8-2A by running the table to capture the district championship in 2008 — are picked to defend their crown. The Dragons, who return five starters on each side of the ball, are also the lone 8-2A team in the top 25, as Bangs earned the No. 23 ranking.
Comanche (3-7) and Brady (11-2) are projected as the other two playoff teams from 8-2A, as the magazine expects the four-year postseason run for the Early Longhorns (5-6) to end. Early returns just four offensive and three defensive starters, and only 12 of 32 lettermen.
Bangs running back DeShawn Johnson is tabbed as the preseason offensive player of the year, while the defensive honor goes to Brady’s Makenzie Hirt.
Comanche’s Week 8 visit to Early in a rematch of last year’s wild 39-38 Indian victory has been selected as the district’s biggest game.
The Class 2A top 10 features Daingerfield (15-1) at No. 1, trailed by Arp (11-1), Bushland (10-1), Kirbyville (13-1), Boyd (5-6), Altair Rice (12-1), Holliday (10-1), Refugio (13-1), Omaha Paul Pewitt (9-3) and Newton (9-4).
In the six-man ranks, the only local team to earn a preseason ranking is the Richland Springs Coyotes (10-1), who were tabbed No. 3 in Division I. The Coyotes will be looking to claim their fourth state championship in six years this season.
Coyote spread back Haustin Burkhart was an honorable mention selection for six-man cover boy, as well as being named preseason offensive player of the year in District 10.
In District 11, a Rising Star resurgence is expected as the Wildcats (4-6) are projected to finish second in the district behind defending state champion Strawn (14-1). Rising Star has not played a postseason game since 2004.
May (7-3), which does not return a starter and just one letterman total, is tabbed to come in third in District 11, with Blanket (7-3) picked to finish fifth.
The Zephyr Bulldogs, who will debut a new stadium this fall, are expected to finish second in Division’s II District 13 behind Panther Creek. Zephyr’s Lacy Culpepper is the preseason defensive player of the year pick in the district, while the Bulldogs’ (8-3) Week 9 trip to Panther Creek (7-4) is the district’s game of the year.