SEASON PREVIEW: Midland Lee’s potential success highlights list of District 2-6A storylines

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The next stop in 6A previews is in west Texas in District 2-6A.

It is a combination of District 2-6A and District 3-6A from last year as Amarillo Tascosa drops down to 5A, while Abilene and San Angelo Central come over from District 3-6A to join the other five teams in the district. With a team running the vaunted triple option attack, another team with state aspirations, and others looking to rebound from last season, it will certainly be a district with plenty of storylines. Here is a look at what to watch for in District 2-6A play this season.

Abilene Eagles (2288)
Last season: 3-7
Head Coach: Mike Fullen: 2nd season as head coach
Non-District game to watch: 9/4 vs. Abilene Cooper- The annual Crosstown Showdown is always a great matchup. Cooper is coming off an 11-2 season and took last year’s matchup in a 23-14 victory. The Eagles will be out for revenge and will look to record another victory in the series which Cooper leads 34-24-1
Player to watch: RB Phonzo Dotson- Ran for 766 yards and 4 touchdowns a year ago. He will be relied upon in the backfield this season for the Eagles after being a second team all-district selection.
Storylines: In addition to Dotson, the Eagles return quarterbacks Matthew Ezzell, who threw for 823 yards and four touchdowns, and junior Abel Ramirez, who threw for 167 yards and two touchdowns while filling in for the injured Ezzell and now graduated Eric Abbe. Athletic 5’10” receiver Jeshari Houston returns after catching 36 passes for 435 yards and a touchdown last season. There are more holes to fill on defense after nine players who received district honors last year on the first and second team graduated. “We will be relying on young players stepping into those roles along with returning lettermen that got playing time,” Fullen said. “Our defense has been in place for 17 years so guys coming through our program always have a good grasp of it. It will be a quick learning curve because we were unable to have spring football.” CB Jaryn Talmadge was a first team all-district selection a year ago and will bring much needed experience to the secondary. With the pieces returning on offense, the Eagles look for their defense to gel quickly as they look to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2016.

Midland Bulldogs (3234)
Last Season: 2-8
Head Coach: Tim Anuszkiewicz: 4th season as head coach
Non-District game to watch: 8/28 @El Paso Montwood- Midland will travel 300 miles to open their season against Montwood, who went 7-4 last season and earned a playoff berth. This will be a big road test for the Bulldogs to open their season.
Player to watch: RB Daniel Garcia- Returns after leading the team with 1184 yards and 9 touchdowns. He was named second team all-district and will serve as a key cog in the Bulldog offense this season.
Storylines: Garcia and junior Jordan Springer, a power back at 6’1” and 225 pounds, will make a formidable tandem in the backfield for the Bulldogs. This is important as no receiver returning for the Bulldogs this year had over 100 yards receiving last season. Junior Landry Walls will be an option at quarterback this year after throwing for 326 yards a season ago while splitting time with now graduated Nick Peralta. On defense, junior S Brannan Mannix, who has an offer from Nevada from all the way back in 8th grade, is a player to watch. At linebacker, Springer is also a threat, while senior Seth Gardea returns after racking up 50 total tackles a year ago. The Bulldogs will likely rely on their backfield tandem as they look to get back to playoffs in their 100th year as a program after missing out last season.

Midland Lee Rebels (3199)
Last Season:11-2; Defeated by Southlake Carroll in Regional Semifinals
Head Coach: Clint Hartman: 5th season as head coach
Non-District game to watch: 9/4 @Amarillo Tascosa- A district showdown a year ago in which Midland Lee won 55-36. Tascosa went on to make a remarkable run in the playoffs to the regional finals and will be a good test for the Rebels in their first road game of the season.
Player to watch: QB Mikey Serrano- A versatile athlete who played wide receiver as a sophomore. Last season as a junior, he threw for 3,735 yards and 48 touchdowns while rushing for 966 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was named first team all-district and will be expected to lead a Rebel offense that has a lot of talent back.
Storylines: This is a team not only to watch in this district but at the state level too. Serrano is back and he has a lot of weapons at his disposal. Shemar Davis can play both running back and wide receiver after amassing over 1,300 yards of offense last season. He returns with receiver Christian Romero who had 54 catches for 896 yards and 12 touchdowns. At running back, junior Makhilyn Young, a second team selection last season, rushed for 758 yards and 6 touchdowns a year ago and will be a key piece of the backfield this year. On defense, Kameron Curry, last season’s District 2-6A Defensive Newcomer of the Year, returns alongside fellow defensive lineman Elijah Nunez, who had 15 tackles for loss a year ago. S Jacob Maltos is the defense’s leading returning tackler from a year ago after compiling 65 total tackles. This team will be a force to be reckoned with, especially with all those key pieces returning to an offense that averaged over 53 points per game last season.

Odessa Bronchos (3926)
Last Season: 2-8
Head Coach: Danny Servance: 5th season with team
Non-District game to watch: 9/18 @Wichita Falls Rider- Rider was a regional finalist a year ago and will be a good road test for the Bronchos in the final game before they begin district play.
Player to watch: QB Diego Cervantes- Shared the quarterback role with now graduated Ivan Miranda last year as both battled injuries. A dual threat, he earned second team all-district honors as a sophomore last season and will be looked upon to lead the Broncho offense again this year.
Storylines: Cervantes may be back, but there are plenty of holes that need to be filled around him. Three of the Bronchos top running backs are gone from last year as well as their top receiver. However, WR Jovanni Flotte, a second team selection last year, and TE Nathan Calvery, a district honorable mention, do return to give Cervantes some targets with experience. On defense, DB Jesse Cervantes will anchor the secondary and can contribute on special teams, while DT Julian Adame will be a key part on the defensive line as both players were named district honorable mentions a year ago. The Bronchos will certainly need some players to step up to replace their outgoing seniors as they look to make it back to the playoffs for the first time since 2013.

Odessa Permian Panthers (3738)
Last Season: 7-5; Defeated by Arlington Martin in area round
Head Coach: Jeff Ellison: 3rd season as head coach
Non-District game to watch: 9/4 vs. Waco Midway- A good test as Midway comes to town after posting a 10-4 record last season and making a run to the regional semi-finals.
Player to watch: RB Malachi Medlock- A key contributor in the Panthers’ triple-option attack at 6’1” and 205 pounds. He made an impact as a sophomore a year ago, racking up 1,155 yards and 14 touchdowns and earning first team all-district honors.
Storylines: The Panthers triple option attack has been a staple in the state of Texas the past couple seasons. This season, Medlock will lead the way and will be joined in the backfield by quarterback Harper Terry, who threw for 453 yards and rushed for 368 more while splitting time with now graduated Easton Hernandez last season. Slotback Terran Limuel, who had 416 yards rushing and 149 receiving a year ago, returns alongside last year’s leading receiver Amarion Garrett to provide the talent for what could be a potent offense. Defensively, first team all-district LB Teo Banks, who is also a Tulane baseball commit, returns after racking up 162 tackles a season ago, while S Kendyn Armstrong returns to help anchor the secondary after having 64 total tackles a season ago. The Panthers have a lot of talent back on offense, meaning this triple option attack will be one to watch as the season unfolds.

San Angelo Central Bobcats (3087)
Last Season: 6-5; Defeated in bi-district by Arlington Martin
Head Coach: Brent Davis: 12th season with team
Non-District game to watch: 9/11 @Austin Vandegrift- A touch road matchup will test the Bobcats as they square off against a Vandegrift team that went 11-1 a season ago and made it to the area round.
Player to watch: QB Malachi Brown- The senior quarterback will be looked upon to lead the Bobcats as he enters his third season as the starter. A versatile athlete, he threw for nearly 2700 yards, rushed for 765 more, and totaled 41 touchdowns, earning him first team all-district honors last season.
Storylines: The Bobcats were realigned from 3-6A to 2-6A, placing them up against opponents in west Texas rather than teams located in the DFW area. In addition to Brown, the Bobcats also return slot receiver Jalen Leifeste, who caught 45 passes for 478 yards and was named first team all-district a year ago. Brown was the team’s leading rusher a year ago but RB Ashton Hartsfield is back after rushing for 312 yards while splitting time in the backfield. On defense, linebackers Ty Casey, a first team selection last year, and Bryson McNutt return after impressive sophomore seasons. Senior Kyson Snelson, a two-sport athlete who stars in baseball for the Bobcats, will anchor the secondary after being a second team selection last year. With Brown at the helm, he and the Bobcats will look to make noise in this west Texas district and return to the playoffs for the 11th consecutive season.

Wolfforth Frenship Tigers (2772)
Last Season: 7-4; Defeated in bi-district by El Paso Americas
Head Coach: Jay Northcutt: 4th season as head coach
Non-District game to watch: 9/11 @Lubbock Cooper- These two teams squared off in a 61-53 shootout last season in which Frenship came out victorious. Cooper will be out for revenge as they look to build off their run to the state semifinals last season.
Player to watch: RB William Bayouth: Returns after leading the team with 911 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns last season. He will bring much needed experience to the backfield.
Storylines: The Tigers have some holes to fill as the season nears after their starting quarterback, Texas Tech signee Donovan Smith, and top three receivers from last season graduated. There is no question at the running back position though as Bayouth will lead the ground game again this season. Klein Coker is the leading returning receiver after posting 345 yards receiving and five touchdowns a season ago, which earned him second team all-district honors. On defense, two of the leading tacklers from last season in Tristin Laughlin and Jake Gilbert return at linebacker, while Stefano Sanchez will be a key player in the secondary after being an honorable mention last season. Heading into the season, the Tigers will need to find their starting quarterback to lead the team as they look to make it back to the playoffs for the second consecutive season.

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