The Dekaney Wildcats went 5-6 in their 2016 campaign, with a 5-5 mark in regular season. But taking a look at their five losses, it’s easy to see why the Wildcats had a rather good year.

The season began with a loss to eventual state quarterfinalist North Shore, and then they lost a nail biter in Week 2 to state semifinalist Atascocita, 14-6. In Week 3 Dekaney lost to an Alief Taylor team that went 9-2. The combined record of Dekaney’s non-district foes was 33-6.

Dekaney then went on to win five of its seven district games to sow up third place in district and a playoff appearance for the first time in three years — and only the second time since winning the 2011 state championship.

The Wildcats outscored its opposition by a 25-21 margin average last year, and they fell to Klein Collins (another state semifinalist) in the first round of the playoffs.

Key Losses

LB Elliot Albert, ATH Joshua Bledsoe, DE Leverek Scott

Elliot Albert led the defense in tackles and was the District 16-6A Defensive Player of the Year last season. Leverek Scott led the team with seven sacks. Bledsoe was the district’s All Purpose Player of the Year.

Key Returners

TE Malcolm Epps, DB Jalen Baldwin, OL Ladarius Carey, WR James Young

Senior tight end Malcolm Epps (6-6, 225) is a 4-star pass catcher who’s already committed to play at the University of Alabama. Epps also had interest and offers from Texas, Texas A&M, Ohio State, Michigan, UCLA, Florida State and seven other SEC schools.

Carey, who will be a junior this season, is a mountain of a player at 6-1, 305. He’ll once again anchor the offensive line along with senior center Cameron Washington (6-1, 295) along with Epps.

Baldwin was the district Defensive Newcomer of the Year as a junior. James Young was a unanimous first-team all-district pick, and he’ll be joined by wideout Aren Thomas, giving quarterback Cedrick Montgomery plenty of options.

The Verdict

What the Wildcats lose on defense they more than make up for on offense. Quarterback Cedrick Montgomery will have a bevvy of weapons to choose from, starting with big tight end Malcolm Epps and a big offensive line.

The schedule is not forgiving once again. They open the season at North Shore, get Atascocita at home and travel to Alief Taylor. Dekaney should be able to avenge last year’s one-point loss to district runner-up Spring, and the district championship could be decided in Week 5 when Dekaney faces Westfield.

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