How does one district follow a season in which two of its teams played for Class 4A state championships? By having three teams ranked in the preseason Top 10 of Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine.
The 2007 edition of the most celebrated high school football publication in the state will hit newsstands on Monday, but an advance copy arrived at the Bulletin Friday afternoon.
The Brownwood faithful will be pleased to know the Lions are ranked No. 7 in Class 4A, but that ranking is only third-best among District 16-4A programs. Division I state finalist Copperas Cove is the preseason No. 1 Class 4A team in the state, while Division II state finalist and defending district champion Waco High received the No. 4 ranking.
What was arguably the toughest district in the state a year ago — and there weren’t many arguing against it — appears as if it will be even stronger in 2007.
Brownwood head coach Steve Freeman will have seven offensive and seven defensive starters back from last year’s 7-7 team, which caught fire in November after winning a three-way coin toss for the third playoff seed and advanced to the Region II-4A finals.
Waco High ended the Lions’ season in the regional championship round, and five offensive and seven defensive starters are back from last year’s 13-3 team that lost to La Marque, 34-14, in the Division II state title game.
Copperas Cove welcomes back seven offensive and five defensive starters from last year’s 12-3 squad that reached the Division I championship game before falling to San Antonio Alamo Heights, 40-28.
The Lions could have faced a third ranked team this season, but archrival and second-ranked Stephenville (10-2) will be off Brownwood’s schedule for the second year in a row.
Comprising the rest of the Top 10 are No. 3 Wolfforth Frenship (12-3), No. 5 Wichita Falls Rider (9-5), No. 6 La Marque (15-1), No. 8 Rosenberg Lamar Consolidated (13-1), No. 9 Corpus Christi Calallen (12-1) and No. 10 Aledo (12-2).
Waco High defensive back Victor Johnson (6-1, 175 lbs., 4.6) was chosen for the preseason Super Team first-team defense, while a trio of Lions — quarterback Casey Pachall (6-4, 190 lbs., 4.5), offensive lineman Stavion Lowe (6-5, 295 lbs., 5.0) and defensive back Kenny Vaccaro (6-1, 175 lbs., 4.4) — were listed as juniors to watch.
The magazine is also predicting another solid season for the area with eight other schools projected to make the playoffs, including four from Brown County.
After two straight district championships, the Early Longhorns — ranked No. 21 in Class 2A — are picked to come in second in District 6-2A behind preseason No. 3 Coleman (9-4). Head coach Robbie Tindol’s Longhorns (10-3) lost 20 lettermen from last year’s squad and return only four offensive and three defensive starters.
Bangs (4-6) — which finished its first year under head coach Eddie Pettit with four wins in its final five games — is expected to be on the outside looking in as the Dragons are tabbed to finish fourth behind Wall. But the Dragons — who welcome back six offensive and five defensive starters — upset Wall in the season finale last year, which allowed Early to grab a piece of the 6-2A title.
In the Class A ranks, Goldthwaite (11-1) slipped to No. 15 in the preseason rankings, but the Eagles are still expected to capture the District 13-A championship. The Eagles return six offensive and five defensive starters from a team that won its first 11 games before falling to eventual Division II state runner-up Windthorst in the third round.
Defending Six-Man Division I state champion Richland Springs (15-0) is picked to capture its third state championship in four seasons. The Coyotes — who ran past Rule, 78-58, to claim their second state title since 2004 — are ranked No. 1 in the state and are again picked to claim the District 15 championship.
Record-setting senior spread back Tyler Ethridge was selected as the six-man cover boy as he enters the season with 175 career touchdown passes. With 11 more this season, Ethridge will pass former Florida Gators quarterback Chris Leak for the national high school career TD passes record for all divisions.
The May Tigers (10-1), who went undefeated in the regular season before falling to Richland Springs in the playoffs last year, are picked to defend their District 13 championship. Tigers head coach Craig Steele returns three offensive and five defensive starters.
Brookesmith, in District 13, and Santa Anna, in District 15, are also favored to repeat as district runners-up.
The Mustangs welcome back just two offensive and two defensive starters from last year’s 7-4 squad, which reached the playoffs for the first time since 1997 in head coach Eric Clawson’s initial campaign.
The Mountaineers (8-3) will be looking for their third straight postseason berth as Santa Anna returns all six starters on both sides of the ball.
The Blanket Tigers (4-6) are tabbed to finish third in District 13 of Division I.
In the Division II ranks of six-man, the Zephyr Bulldogs are favored to repeat as District 13 champions.
Landon Buffe is taking over for longtime Bulldogs head coach Robert Lee, who led Zephyr to an 8-4 record and a state quarterfinals appearance in 2006. Three offensive and three defensive starters are back from that squad.