This district has a lot of moving parts. At the top remains the Crosby Cougars, who have been a persistent 5A power in the city for the past few seasons.
Barbers Hill has plenty of weapons at receiver, while Port Arthur Memorial’s defense is salty. The fight for the final playoff spot will be interesting between the Goose Creek CISD programs. But don’t count out Porter or Kingwood Park to make a run at it.
PREVIOUS DISTRICT PREVIEWS (2022)
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District 8-5A-DI Preseason Rankings
Crosby Cougars Barbers Hill Eagles Port Arthur Memorial Titans Baytown Lee Ganders Goose Creek Memorial Patriots Baytown Sterling Rangers Porter Spartans Kingwood Park Panthers La Porte Bulldogs
VYPE PRESEASON AWARDS
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Cyrin Myles, Crosby OFFENSIVE MVP: Josiah Herndon, Barbers Hill DEFENSIVE MVP: Jelani Chevalier, Port Arthur Memorial BREAKOUT PLAYER OF THE YEAR: LeVay Duncan Jr., Baytown Lee SLEEPER TEAM: Goose Creek Memorial
The Crosby Cougars have been to back-to-back State Semifinals, reaching the 5A Division II State Championship game in 2020, and have become one of Houston’s power programs in Class 5A. Jerry Prieto enters year four leading the program with a 30-12 mark. The offense will be solid with seven starters returning, including District Offensive MVP Cyrin Myles at quarterback. Myles passed for 2,500 yards and 32 touchdowns and rushed for another 1,300 yards and 20 scores. That is 52 combined scores if you are counting. First-team, all-district receiver Braden Womack (671 yards, 9 TDs) will be one of his top targets. Womack can also flip around on defense, where he was a firstteam, all-district safety in 2021. Levi Fontenot will be looked at to tote the rock (457 yards, 4 TDs) along with Wesley Yarbrough. Other names to remember include Ayden Jones (LB), Copelin Windfont (ILB), Kristian Roberson (WR/DB), Matthew Jordan (OLB), David Ards (TE), Kade Eudy and Luke Smith (WR). The motto for Crosby in 2022 is “FTF” – For the Family.
BARBERS HILL EAGLES
Last season under first-year head coach Carl Abseck, who had come from State Finalist Cedar Park, the Eagles flew into the playoffs and reached the Area Round. Barbers Hill finished 6-6 overall and fell in the second round after defeating Fort Bend Marshall in the opening round. Abseck returns four starters on each side of the ball. Offensively, they will have District Newcomer of the Year Josiah Herndon (815 yards, 16 touchdowns) back at receiver. Second-team, all-district receiver Trevaun Dixon (520 yards, three touchdowns) and honorable-mention picks Ryan Webb (OT) and Brady Thompson (WR) are also set to be back. Thompson had 480 yards and four scores a year ago. With a trio of top receivers back, quarterback Kody Fuentes will have plenty of targets to choose from. Defensively, honorable-mention, all-district pick Theron Price will return at cornerback. Other names to remember include Trey Bright (LB), Gabriel Guzman (DE), Brandon Wilson (DE), Miller Malone (LB), Landen Gaskamp (LB), Lane Bench (S) and Coen Pagan (CB). Keys to success for Abseck’s crew will be “gaining experience at QB and LB” and rebuilding the offensive and defensive lines.
PORT ARTHUR MEMORIAL TITANS
Is 2022 the year that Port Arthur Memorial makes its deepest playoff run since 2017 and snap the streak of first-round exits? For the past two years, the Titans have seen their season come to an end at the hands of Fort Bend Hightower in the first round. It has been four-straight first-round exits. Ultra-athletic quarterback Jah’mar Sanders is off to the University of New Mexico, while four-star cornerback Jaylon Guilbeau is at Texas. Brian Morgan has three starters on offense and five on defense for his squad in 2022. Heading into the fall, three-star offensive tackle Cayden Bowie, a University of Houston-commit, will lead the front line. Defensively, cornerback Jelani Chevalier, who is listed at 5-foot-10, 170 pounds, will be dynamic in the secondary along with defensive back Daevon Iles. Other names to remember include Caden Pitre (DE), Danny Jaramillo (OL), Quinton Harper (WR/DB), Harvey Jones (DT) and Michael Roles (DE). The defense will be the calling card early on for the Titans.
BAYTOWN LEE GANDERS
In 2020, the Ganders reached the playoffs for the first time since 2009 – a huge accomplishment. They followed that up last season going 7-3 and just barely missing the playoffs. Baytown Lee returns second-team, all-district offensive lineman Keven Ortiz. On defense, first-team, alldistrict outside linebacker Josh Huerta is back along with second-team inside linebacker Harold Gibson, who is a four-year starter for the Ganders. At quarterback, expect LeVay Duncan Jr. to be slinging the rock and he can let it fly. Some of his targets will include Josiah Joseph in the slot and Huerta, who will also flip to receiver at times. Ehret Calloway will be a nice big target as well, while Dominic Medina and Carlos Zamarripa hold it down up front. Watch for Wanyae Barnes and Denzel Taylor to come rumbling out of the backfield as well. Defensively, Taylor will play some free safety for the Ganders along with Nelson, while Gibson holds it down at linebacker.
GOOSE CREEK MEMORIAL PATRIOTS
Former GCM offensive coordinator Daniel Ragsdale takes over the reins for Shannon Carter who took a job at the collegiate level. The Patriots, who last made the playoffs in 2020, will have to replace some pieces but do return second-team, all-district defensive end Joseph Holmes. He will be the anchor of that unit. Staying on defense, Ragsdale believes they will be bigger up front and his linebackers and secondary will be “pretty salty” led by Eli Lewis, Ahmad Kerl and Holmes. Other names to remember on defense include Luis Salas (DE) and Verdell English (OLB/S). Offensively, Brian Samuel will be a gamechanger at receiver who is “super-talented” and Desmond Wade-Johnson is a “dynamic kid” also a receiver. There will be youth on the offensive line, but Ragsdale believes they will be good to go. Also, watch out for Darius Carr (WR), Jermaine Garcia (FB/ TE) and Cadin Sharp (OT). BAYTOWN
The ultra-talented Reece Sylvester (Washington State), who was the District 9-5ADI Multi-Purpose Player of the Year in 2021, is gone, so someone will have to step up in his role and they have some people to do that. First-team, all-district fullback Enijah Evans returns along with second-team, all-district receiver Robert Adams. The Rangers also bring back Jace Greer and Kody Arceneaux at receiver. Up front, Gage Woodard, Antonio Salazar and Malachi Godfrey bring back some experience in the trenches. Entering fall camp, the quarterback spot was still being battled for. Other names to remember include Trenton Smith (RB), La Javian Hagan (OL/DL) and Caleb Smith (RB/LB). On the defensive side, it is going to be a pretty new group, especially up front. Toomer is set to build up the unit, led by Smith at linebacker, Issac Solorio at safety, Eugene Dersone at outside linebacker and Jaden Clark at corner.
Last year, Porter was in one of the strongest Class 5A districts in the Houston area, which included State runner-up College Station. The Spartans went 2-8 overall and 2-6 in district play. Their two wins came against Cleveland (21-0) and Caney Creek (24-12). Heading into this season, Porter will be under new leadership as Billy Russell enters year two of leading the Spartans. He has some solid pieces back, especially on offense. Ryan Evans-Pickens returns at running back after being named first-team, all-district a year ago. Fullback Sam Garms was named second-team, all-district. On the defense, Ryan Gilliam (DE) enters his junior season and will anchor that unit. Other names to remember include Payton Evans-Pickens (S), Blake Russell (QB) and Kyle Rigsby (OL).
KINGWOOD PARK PANTHERS
Clayton Maple enters year eight leading the Panthers of Kingwood Park. The last two seasons have ended in disappointment, both years going 4-6 overall and missing the playoffs. Kingwood Park last reached the playoffs in 2019 when they went 6-5 overall. The 2021 season did end on a bit of a high note though for the Panthers, who won their last three district contests of the year – Santa Fe (46-3), Nederland (35-22) and Dayton (51-34). The Panthers return first-team, all-district receiver Pierce Richards and offensive lineman Erick Zapata. Another name to remember is tight end Patrick Overmyer, who this offseason received offers from UTSA, Princeton, Penn, Jackson State and Lamar.
LA PORTE BULLDOGS
The Bulldogs are coming off a year where they went 2-8 overall and 2-5 in district play, finishing sixth and out of the playoff picture. In the offseason, Jackson Tarr departed after just one year. Stepping in was Dobie head coach Kevin Berneathy to take over the program. In four seasons at Dobie, Berneathy was 33-10 overall. Now, can he sprinkle his magic on La Porte? The Bulldogs return some pieces on defense, including second-team, all-district defensive lineman Nathan White and second-team, all-district cornerback Jaylon Fisher. Their two wins in district play a year ago came against Baytown Sterling (24-19) and Goose Creek Memorial (10-0).