Texas Football magazine projects five Brown County programs in the playoffs

DERRICK STUCKLY BROWNWOOD BULLETIN derrick.stuckly@brownwoodbulletin.com
Carson Cloy (24) and the Brownwood Lions are picked to place fourth in District 3-4A Division I behind No. 1 Stephenville, No. 10 Abilene Wylie and No. 16 Big Spring..

By now, many football fans have seen the cover of Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine, which officially hit newsstands on Friday. But how many have taken the time to delve inside the publication long known as the “Bible of Texas high school football” and take a closer look at its projections for the 2014 campaign?

With opening night less than 70 days away, here’s a peak at DCTF’s crystal ball for high school football teams within the Bulletin’s coverage area.

The Brownwood Lions will call District 3-4A Division I its home for the next two seasons, as the former 3A classification is now split into two divisions as the smaller classifications have been for the last few seasons. While the enrollment at Brownwood, and most other schools in the Bulletin’s coverage area, changed little from the previous realignment, last year’s UIL shake up resulted in the highest classification being relabeled 6A and the former six-man ranks taking the status of Class A.

The Lions, who finished fourth in the former District 8-3A, are again tabbed to come in fourth this season in their new district, behind Stephenville, Abilene Wylie and Big Spring, and ahead of Snyder. Four members of the five-team district will advance to the postseason.

Stephenville is ranked No. 1 in Division I-4A and is predicted by the magazine to win its second state championship in three seasons, defeating Navasota in the state final. Abilene Wylie is ranked 10th, while Big Spring is No. 16.

Brownwood, which returns five offensive and four defensive starters from last year’s 4-7 squad, also has No. 3 Graham and No. 8 Liberty Hill on its non-district slate.

In Class 3A Division I, the Bangs Dragons are picked to come in third in District 3 behind No. 5 Wall and Brady and ahead of Clyde. The Early Longhorns, looking to make their first postseason appearance since 2008, are tabbed to place sixth behind fifth-place Jim Ned and ahead of seventh-place Merkel.

Bangs is coming off a 9-4 playoff campaign and returns five starters on each side of the ball, while Early went 4-6 last year and is bringing back five starters on offense and nine starters on defense.

Staying in Brown County and sliding down to Class A, or six-man, reigning Division I state runner-up May is picked to place second in District 10-A Division I behind No. 4 Strawn and ahead of Gordon, Lingleville and Gustine. The top two teams advance to the playoffs, and May returns two starters on each side of the ball from last year’s 14-1 squad.

Also, the 2013 May Tigers were listed as the Army Strong Texas Football Team of the Year in the six-man ranks. The Tigers, not projected to make the playoffs, advanced to the Six-Man Division I state championship game — the first six-man game ever played at AT&T Stadium. May, which previously won a state championship in 1977, made its first appearance in a state final since 1984.

In District 11-A Division I, the Zephyr Bulldogs have been selected as the district favorite ahead of Evant, Lometa and Santa Anna. The Bulldogs bring back three offensive and five defensive starters from last year’s 7-3 squad.

The Blanket Tigers are also expected to capture a district title as DCTF listed them as the favorites in District 8-A Division II, in front of Rising Star, Panther Creek and Sidney. The Tigers welcome back three offensive and four defensive starters from last year’s 8-4 playoff team.

The Brookesmith Mustangs are picked fourth in District 13-A Division II behind six-time state champion and preseason No. 1 Richland Springs, Cherokee and Mullin and ahead of Lohn.

All four of Brown County’s six-man programs are in separate districts for the next two years, a rarity that hasn’t occurred in more than a decade.

Outside of Brown County, the Goldthwaite Eagles are tabbed to place second in District 7-2A Division I behind Hico, while the San Saba Armadillos are projected to finish sixth in the same league behind Tolar, Hamilton and De Leon.

In District 3-3A, the Coleman Bluecats are picked to finish second behind Post and in front of Stanton, Colorado City, Ballinger and Coahoma, while in District 9-3A Division I the Comanche Indians are expected to come in fifth behind Grandview, Glen Rose, McGregor and Whitney and in front of West and Hillsboro.

DCTF also features American Southwest Conference predictions and sees Howard Payne, coming off a 4-6 campaign, placing fifth in the six-team conference behind favorite Mary Hardin-Baylor, Louisiana College, Hardin-Simmons and East Texas Baptist and ahead of Sul Ross.