There might be one team that can go toe-to- toe with Carthage prior to the state championships, and that’s the Pirates of Waco La Vega.
La Vega returns its quarterback and an entire stable of running backs, a big offensive line and some salty defenders. Not to mention, the Pirates are steaming mad having lost to district rival China Spring in the state quarterfinal last fall to end a 29-game win streak.
Coming off a 16-0 season and state championship in 2015, La Vega rolled through regular season unscathed in 2016 and began its quest for a repeat.
The Pirates beat Fredericksburg in the bi-district and rocked Rockport-Fulton in the area round. After handling a pretty good Somerset squad in the regional, they locked up with China Spring in the regional final. The Cougars took down their 13-4A DI foe, 21-10, before bowing out to eventual state champion Carthage the following week.
The path is similar in 2017, as it looks like La Vega and Carthage will be on a crash course state semifinal collision. However, La Vega most likely will have to go through China Spring again to get there.
WR Sir Morgan Loud, OL DeMarcus Mason, DT Fred Rogers III
Sir Morgan Loud was a star on both sides of the ball as a defensive back and receiver. Mason and Rogers were named to the first-team all-district squad.
QB Jamal Williams, OLB/RB Kemoche’ Hobbs, DE Braylon Watkins
The Pirates will be good on both sides of the ball — really good. Jamal Williams was the district’s Offensive Player of the Year after passing for 1,718 yards and rushing for 529 with 25 touchdowns.
A trio of returning running backs had great years, and it could be better this season. John Richards had 1,564 yards and 20 touchdowns, Cameron Henry had 979 yards and eight scores and Kemoche’ Hobbs had 787 yards and 15 touchdowns. Hobbs also has 125 tackles last season.
Jared Rogers returns at linebacker as well as defensive back Donte Stuart, who had nine interceptions a year ago, returns.
Simply stacking the box on defense may not be enough to stop the La Vega running attack in 2017. If it does work, then quarterback Jamal Williams can go over the top with his arm.
La Vega will be loaded on both sides of the ball this year and should wreak havoc on opponents this year, starting at Fairfield on Sept. 1. District starts Oct. 13 at a really good Liberty Hill, and the district championship could be decided the following week when China Spring visits La Vega.
The Pirates have made the playoffs 11 straight seasons. Expect No. 12 this season, with perhaps an ending just like two years ago.
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