The Brownwood Lions and all the six-man programs in Brown County are projected to make the playoffs in 2018, according to the preseason predictions of Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine, which was recently released.
The 59th annual edition of “the bible of Texas football” revealed that Brownwood senior quarterback Tommy Bowden has been selected the District 5-4A Division I preseason offensive MVP, while the Lions are picked the place fourth in the league and secure of the district’s four playoff berths.
Bowden competed 143 of 228 passes for 2,194 yards with 26 touchdowns and one interception while rushing for 548 yards and nine scores as a junior.
The Lions — coming off a 6-5 campaign as they prepare for their first season under head coach Sammy Burnett — are picked to placed behind preseason No. 3 Stephenville (12-3), No. 4 Waco La Vega (14-1) and No. 14 China Spring (9-4), while Gatesville (7-4) is projected to finish fifth.
District 5-4A Division is tabbed as one of the three toughest districts in all of Class 4A, along with 10-4A Division I and 13-4A Division I.
To go along with their stellar district schedule of opponents, the Lions will scrimmage Class 4A Division I No. 5 Liberty Hill (10-3) then face 4A Division II No. 5 Graham (14-1) and 3A Division I No. 1 Brock (13-3) during the pre-district slate, as well as 5As Abilene Wylie and Wichita Falls Rider.
In the Class 3A ranks, the Early Longhorns (3-7) are picked sixth in District 3-3A Division I behind No. 7 Wall (12-1), Breckenridge, (5-6) Jim Ned (9-3), Eastland (8-4) and Clyde (6-5). Early, under fourth year head coach Blake Sandford, will be seeking its first postseason berth since 2008.
Meanwhile, the Bangs Dragons are projected to come in eighth in District 4-3A Division II behind No. 13 Cisco (9-3), No. 20 Merkel (7-6), Ballinger (3-8), Anson (5-6), Coleman (3-8), San Angelo TLCA (3-7) and Grape Creek (1-10). The Dragons, who went 0-10 last year, are under the guidance of former Brownwood head coach Kyle Maxfield this season.
Staying in Brown County, the May Tigers (12-1) are ranked No. 7 in Class A Division I and are the District 14 favorites, trailed by Lingleville (3-6), Gorman (6-5) and Santa Anna (0-10). Head coach Craig Steele will be starting his 15th season at the helm of the Tiger program.
In District 15-A Division I, the Zephyr Bulldogs (10-2), under new head coach Brent Williamson, are picked to place second behind reigning state finalist Jonesboro (13-2), but ahead of Evant (7-3) and Lometa (7-4) in the playoff race.
Returning to Class A Division II are the Blanket Tigers (5-5), who welcome back head coach Tyler Tabor from a one-year retirement, as they are tabbed as the District 15 favorite.
The Brookesmith Mustangs (5-6), seeking their third straight playoff trip under head coach Scott Edmondson, is picked to place second in District 15-A Division II followed by Mullin (5-5), Sidney (1-8), and Rising Star (2-8).
Outside Brown County, the eight-time state champion Richland Springs Coyotes (10-2) — under new head coach Thomas Tipton — are ranked No. 8 in Class A Division II and favored to win District 16 ahead of Panther Creek (9-2), Cherokee (4-7), Rochelle (1-9) and Lohn (2-8).
The Comanche Indians (12-2), who slid to Class 3A Division II and were shipped out east, are ranked No. 14 and the District 6 favorite over No. 19 Jacksboro, Tolar, Millsap, Dublin and Rio Vista. Running back Kade Mercer has been tabbed the district’s preseason offensive MVP.
And in District 7-2A Division I, the Goldthwaite Eagles (4-7) are picked to take the last playoff berth over the fifth-place San Saba Armadillos (3-7). The rest of the league features No. 4 De Leon (12-1), No. 13 Crawford (11-3) and Hico (7-4) as playoff favorites, with Valley Mills (0-10) coming in sixth.
The 2018 high school season kicks off the weekend of Aug. 30 through Sept. 1.