Change is inevitable. This is especially true when it comes to the bi-yearly redistricting, as mandated by UIL. However, in what brings a sense of nostalgia for some old-school ballers, the old Lufkin-Conroe ISD district has been brought back to life. This will surely be a treat for the former and current players. In addition, Beaumont Westbrook was added to the 12-6A play, an outsider in terms of regional play and distance. Lastly, Montgomery takes a break from a strenuous two years of challenging district games from the Klein/Spring 15-6A district and returns to a level of play more suitable for their smaller size and talent.
At first glance, the eye test doesn't appear to be in favor for Beaumont Westbrook. Only returning four starters, Westbrook will be relying on younger and more inexperienced players to fill voids left by a larger senior class that departed last year. Talent is in their favor though. With help from all-district running back Joel Denley and speed on the defensive side of the ball, Westbrook has the tools to possibly make another playoff run this year.
After a dismal 4-6 season last year, there wasn’t much silver lining to be found in “The ‘Roe”. But after a promising spring ball session, hope has been rejuvenated with the Tigers. Colby Kizzie, a three-year returning starter at quarterback, will be dangerous in both the air and on the ground. Cornerback Quentin Brown is back to attack the ball in the air as well. The only major concern lies within the men upfront in the trenches. Smaller offensive lineman may hinder the Tiger’s and Kizzie’s production this year, but only time will tell with this years Conroe Tigers.
College Park Cavaliers
It’s tough being the little brother sometimes. College Park isn’t new to that feeling of being bullied either. For years, The Woodlands has overshadowed an otherwise average College Park team. And with only two returning starters on the roster, experience and depth may prove to be too much of a challenge for the Cavaliers this year. That is unless Jordan Turnquest has anything to do a bout it. Turnquest a senior quarterback and multi-sport athlete, will be counted on to lead his Cavaliers to the promise land—the playoffs. Though a place not often ventured to for College Park, wins over Conroe, Montgomery, and Oak Ridge could propel them to a third or fourth seed.
Lufkin’s return to the highest classification in Texas football comes as a sigh of relief, but also a feeling of burden. With all prodigal sons, the expectations upon return are higher than ever. While Lufkin faired more than well in 5A play the last two years, the promotion to 6A and the competition that comes with it could shellshock some players who aren’t used to the size, speed, and pace of the game at this level. However, with an offense that is littered with all-district players and guys who have logged starts over multiple seasons, the production on this side of the ball could be just as good, if not better, than what it was last year. On top of that, a ferocious defense, led by safety Savon Fields, should disappoint haters and doubters of the Panthers.
Lufkin has the speed and experience to win four or five games in district play and compete for the district championship.
Despite what was supposed to be a promising season, Montgomery finished with a .500 record last year. This in turn has created what is now a two year streak of failing to make the playoffs for a team that at one time was a perennial state title contender. The loss of key members to both sides of the ball, including all-state safety Anthony Thomas, has reduced to the team much smaller lineups, especially with the offensive line and linebackers. The only hope for this year’s Bears lies within exceptional play from junior quarterback Jordan Hood and savage-like play from the senior defensive end Cameron McLeod and senior linebacker Joshua Pruett, which under the genius play call of defensive coordinator Scott Herman shouldn’t be too tough of a task. The difference makers will be defensive turnovers and a solid passing game which could help propel the Bears to the playoffs.
Oak Ridge War Eagles
This year’s War Eagles retain many starters from last year, led by fullback Contrell Green-Warren, wide receiver Kyle Townsend and linebacker Brennan Young. Warren and Townsend, both first-team, all-district honors players, will play a large part in the success of the War Eagle’s offense this year. A hefty roadblock however may be the amount of staunch, punishing defenses that are included in the 12-6A district. But Head Coach Dereck Rush is no rookie when it comes to adversity. He helped turn around a failing John Tyler program years ago to one of the best teams in the state before his departure to “The Ridge” in 2012. With help from a talented corps of linebackers that includes Brennan Young, an above .500 average in district play is closer than ever before.
The Woodlands Highlanders
The Woodlands knows a thing or two about the of winning. After all, they are coming off a 10-2 season, sweeping their old district as they went to the area playoffs to lose to eventual state title contender Austin Westlake. Though the playoff run wasn’t as deep as many expected last year, the fire and belief in the team this year is just as high. With multiple returners on both sides of the ball and dastardly elite play out of the senior quarterback Eric Schmid, nearly every game for the Highlanders this season will be in their favor. Head Coach Mark Schmid, Eric’s father, is most definitely salivating over a monster defensive line and pretty much an endless supply of offensive weapons. TWHS is more than ready for the teams they’re slated to compete against this season and are set to make a deep, deep playoff run.
Predicted district standings (bolded indicates made playoffs)
- The Woodlands
- Beaumont Westbrook
- Oak Ridge
- College Park