Welcome to the 2021 Texas High School Football season!!
The 14th annual VYPE Houston Football Magazine Preview presented by Academy has arrived! We will count you down to kickoff with district previews, top recruit lists and more!
VYPE PRESEASON AWARDS
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Rueben Owens, El Campo
OFFENSIVE MVP: Johntre Davis, El Campo
DEFENSIVE MVP: Isaiah Bogerty, Stafford
BREAKOUT PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Bryce Nirider, Needville
SLEEPER TEAM: West Columbia
El Campo Ricebirds
The reigning undefeated district champs are under new leadership as coach Chad Worrell takes over. Fortunately for Worrell, formerly at Brock, he takes over a program that returns 14 starters and 46 lettermen from a 9-2 Area playoff finalist.
A dominant run game is El Campo's go- to, spurred by junior 6-foot, 185-pound RB Rueben Owens (1,511 yards, 22 TDs, 10.8 yards per carry) and senior 6-foot, 195-pound RB Johntre Davis (1,486 yards, 21 TDs, 8.4 yards per carry). Sophomore 6-foot, 185-pound RB/LB Stephen Norman could also factor into that potent backfield.
El Campo hardly throws the ball, and for good reason with that amount of talent and physicality in the backfield. The Ricebirds will have to work in a new quarterback as well.
In the trenches, senior 6-foot-1, 265-pounder Kerry North and senior 5-foot-11, 255-pounder Juan Leal anchor both sides of the ball. Senior 6-foot, 175-pound DB Isaiah Anderson leads the defensive secondary. He intercepted four passes last season.
Stafford has what it takes to seriously threaten for the district title. Though the Spartans finished third in district last year, they won a playoff game, made it to the Area playoffs and return 16 starters.
The offense is loaded behind junior 6-foot, 175-pound QB Brayden Batiste (1,516 passing yards, 15 TDs-7 INTs) and an army of playmakers in sophomore RB Jamaal Wiley (562 yards, 7 TDs) and senior WRs Jordan Barrett (496 yards, 7 TDs) and Terrence Lewis (372 yards, 4 TDs). The Spartans could easily best the 25.8 points per game they put up last year.
Defensively, Stafford will have no problem getting to the quarterback behind senior DEs in 6-foot-4, 218-pounder Isaiah Bogerty (74 tackles, 8 sacks, 2 fumbles caused, 2 fumble recoveries) and 6-foot- 4, 230-pounder Quardale Patt (57 tackles, 5 sacks), who is a University of Houston-commit. Keep an eye on junior DE Andrew Huff and junior WR Caleb Jones.
Needville Blue Jays
Coach Mike Giles said his team's keys to success this year are filling in holes at quarterback, running back and the defensive line. All those starters from last year graduated and are now playing for DI programs, and Needville is the youngest it's been in the last few years.
Only eight starters return from last year's 7-5 Area playoff finalist. The Blue Jays will be leaning heavily on senior QB and Katy High transfer Bryce Nirider, a 5-foot-11, 190-pounder with smarts, big-game experience and a strong arm. Sophomore RB Sherman Jones returns after having 394 yards and five touchdowns as a freshman. Other key players are senior WR Blake Maresh (771 yards, 5 TDs), senior 6-foot, 270-pound OL Eddie Jones, senior WR/DB Cole Todd and senior RB/LB Andrew Bonilla.
"Young players will have to grow up in a hurry," said Giles, who added it's crucial his team uses the non-district portion of its schedule effectively for a tough district slate.
Freeport Brazosport Exporters
A tiebreaker gifted the Exporters a playoff berth last season and they capitalized, winning a postseason game and finishing as an Area finalist after a 4-7 season.
Brazosport returns 10 starters, seven on offense. Senior RB Paul Woodard (1,417 yards, 17 TDs) and junior QB Randon Fontenette (234 passing yards, 2 TDs; 178 rushing yards, TD) lead the way for the Exporters' attack. Fontenette split time at QB last season, but that position should be all his this year.
Defensively, Brazosport lacks experience, but has a considerable playmaking core in junior LB Darius Roberson (79 tackles) and junior 6-foot-3, 220-pound DE Christian Scharrer (54 tackles, 3 sacks).
West Columbia Roughnecks
The Roughnecks lost out on a tiebreaker against Brazosport for a playoff berth last year and will again have their work cut out for them if they wish to make the postseason. Nine starters return from a 4-5 team.
Key returners are senior 5-foot-9, 175-pound RB Jordan Woodard (1,210 yards, 14 TDs), junior 5-foot-6 RB Xavier Butler (235 yards, TD, 6 yards per carry), senior 6-foot-1, 210-pound OL Konor Owens, senior 5-foot-8, 190-pound OL Samuel Burton and senior 5-foot-10, 190-pound LB Justen Bess (71 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 fumbles caused).
Owens and Burton paved the way for a Roughnecks rushing attack that averaged 338 yards per game last season.
Bay City Black Cats
The Black Cats started last season in impressive fashion, winning five of their first six games, but went 0-4 in district play to close the year.
Nine starters return from that team, including six on defense. Junior 6-foot-1, 185-pound WR/DB Brice Turner is Bay City's primary offensive threat. Otherwise, that side of the ball is raw with youth.
Defensively, the Black Cats have a bit more firepower in sophomore 6-foot-2, 240-pound DE Carlon Jones and junior LBs Ayden Smith (84 tackles) and Karius Luster (76 tackles, 1.5 sacks, INT).
Team speed will be a strength of the Black Cats' this season, but inexperience and lack of depth are concerns.