The China Spring Cougars will open the season with a familiar foe and old district rival the Lorena Leopards. Until the separation of D1 and D2 schools in class 4A these two teams were in the mix year in and year out for playoff berths, but now China Spring is D1 and in a district with La Vega, Liberty Hill, Gatesville, Burnet, and Lampasas. Lorena is D2 and in a district with Robinson, Salado, Connally, Fairfield, and Mexia. Last season when these two faced off it was all China Spring, as the Cougars won in dominating fashion by a 49-12 score, holding Lorena to 274 yards of total offense.
China Spring went on to finish the 2016-2017 season with a 13-2 record and runner’s up in district behind La Vega, before losing to Carthage 26-20 in the semifinals; while Lorena finished the 2016-2017 season with a 8-4 record and a district championship, coming up short to Liberty 28-14 in the area round of the playoffs.
China Spring is returning 5 offensive and 6 defensive players and will be breaking in Hobbs Price as their new QB this season, who is replacing last season’s starter, Cuter Haigood. Luckily for Price, he will have a key weapon to throw the pigskin to in TE Tyrick James (6-3, 240). Last season James accumulated 53 catches and 11 touchdowns, while receiving offers
from Tulane, Kansas State, UL-Monroe, Sam Houston, SMU, and Texas State. In the backfield for the Cougars, RB Erik Hart will be looking for running lanes behind OL Charles Booker and Logan Schutez.
The China Spring defense, which was a major contributor to last season’s run, will be lead by LB Brayden Mathis the team’s leading tackler the past two seasons. Mathis will be receiving help from fellow linebackers Cayden Johnson, Chris Slater, Garrett Moorefield and Tyler Stewart, while the DB’s Peyton Spell and Trae Cherry look to become fully fledged ball-hawks.
Lorena is returning 5 offensive and 7 defensive players this season, including 4 players with all-district honors from the 2016-2017 squad. The running attack will likely play a key role for the Leopards in this match-up and who better to give the ball to than Thor; RB Thor Hoffmann is a dual threat out of the backfield who assembled 889 rushing and 376 receiving yards last season leading to 13 touchdowns.
Ben Johnson will likely be the QB this season, the former WR is a versatile athlete whose field vision can help lead to some big plays. After last season’s lack of production in the passing game,(5-17 for 66 yards) wide receivers Alec Brem, Coree Cleveland, and Ben Craig will need to step up and help spread the field. The Lorena defense will be stout and lead by the trio of DL Hunter Isham (78 tackles, 6 TFL’s, 4 sacks), LB Colin Highfill (99 tackles, 9 TFL’s), and DB Cam Bryant (64 tackles, 4 INT’s). DB’s Hayden Schrader and Braden Smith will help secure the secondary, while DL Jacob Byrd and LB Greg Martinez will look to stop the run.
Don’t look for this years game to be a lopsided ordeal, with the experience that Lorena gained last season by playing a tough non-district schedule, along with winning a district title and making a playoff run, these Leopards will be eager to attack. However the Cougars are no stranger to big games and will be looking to make a statement in the 2017-2018 opener, letting the state of Texas know that the mindset of the team is a State Championship.
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