Texas High School Football 2020 Season Preview: District 14-6A

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District 14-6A contains eight teams from Houston Aldine ISD and Spring ISD on the north side of Houston. This district is identical to District 16-6A from the previous two realignments, meaning this will be the fifth year in a row that these teams have shared a district.

With star quarterbacks in Spring ISD, the “fastest player in Texas” at Dekaney, a revitalized Aldine side, and plenty of familiarity among these eight teams, it is a district loaded with talent and storylines.

Here is what to watch for in District 14-6A this year.

Aldine Mustangs (2906.5)

Last Season: 1-9

Head Coach: Hank Semler: 4th season as head coach

Player to watch: WR Draylon Haynes- A key player as the leading returning receiver for the Mustangs. He caught 34 passes for 317 yards and 4 touchdowns last season, earning second team all-district honors.

Storylines: It’s been a whirlwind of an offseason for the Mustangs as they instituted changes this offseason to shift their team’s culture as they look to improve after back-to-back 1-9 seasons. “This past December, we made the decision that those who will not put the team first just had to go.  We created a Leadership Council of our top seven character guys, and they are consulted for their opinions about player discipline and actions, with me as a guide,” Semler said. “Once the team figured out the status quo was no longer going to be accepted, we lost some great players, but we became a stronger team.  Players started working harder and pushing each other harder.  Players started staying late to get extra lifts and extra runs. Character became the main focus, and we took a 3D approach to each kid (physical, mental, and spiritual health).” On the field, there is promising news for the Mustangs too as they return key players at each of the skill positions on offense. Johnny Toups, who is also a star baseball player for the Mustangs, threw for nearly 1,000 yards and six touchdowns last season. Junior Elijah Teamer will join him in the backfield after rushing for 655 yards a season ago, while Haynes will be a key target at receiver. “Elijah, Johnny, and Draylon are going to be important parts of our overall scheme.  They are all great teammates, and respond very well to our Leadership Council encouragement,” Semler said. “They are three of the more coachable players in our system, and we feel that when they are on their game, we have great opportunities to move the ball and score against anyone in the state.” On defense, Lazaro Escobar is a player to watch on the defensive line after being a second team selection last season. “We still have a long way to go, but everyone in our program now sees and embraces the culture, and those outside the program know something is different, but can’t put their finger on it,” Semler said. “We are excited to see the culture shift in action on the field this fall!” After a busy offseason of instilling this new culture in their program, the Mustangs will certainly be a team to watch on the gridiron this fall.

Aldine Davis Falcons (3396)

Last Season: 3-7

Head Coach: Scott Joseph: 2nd season as head coach

Player to watch: LB Savon Johnson- He will be a key playmaker at linebacker and one of the leaders for this Davis team this season after earning first team all-district honors a year ago.

Storylines: The Falcons have plenty of options and a lot of competition at several positions heading into the season. Joseph said that there will be a four-way battle for the starting quarterback position between juniors Josh Garuba, Tylan Charles, and Anderson Branch as well as sophomore Darius Hicks. The running back room is loaded for the Falcons as well with Joseph listing seniors Nate Dorcesus and Myron Walker, juniors Azavion Kegler, Dequan Gray, and Terrell Walls, and sophomore Jamauree Coleman as players who can all contribute in the backfield. “Offensively we have great talent at running back and no shortage of it,” Joseph said. “[These six running backs] all have the potential to go over 1,000 yards for the year. Combined they could be the best position group we have.” Joseph believes the receiving corps “could be as talented as the running back group.” He noted that Isiah Harrell and Devenondre Barlow both return along with juniors Jalen Jones and Keily Chavis. Joseph also said to keep an eye on Elton Edwards, a “sophomore looking for a breakout year.” Up front on the offensive line, Eric Rodriguez returns after starting last year, while senior Rishard Walker also has varsity experience. There is plenty of experience back for the Falcons on defense. “Competition for all spots will be heated with 13 guys back that have started and played as well as the new players and sophomores coming in,” Joseph said. Joseph said that two seniors, Johnson and fellow outside linebacker Konkheis Sipsey, will be the leaders on the defensive side of the ball. According to Joseph, “inside linebacker is the deepest position on defense.” Junior Xavier Vaughan, a player who Joseph believes “possibly was the best defensive player in 2019,” returns after suffering an injury in the first game of last year. Contributing alongside Vaughan will be three more experienced returnees in junior MyShawn King and seniors CJ Phillips and Josiah Light-Joseph. On the defensive line, Joseph noted that senior Sterlin Adams “started every game he played” last season while senior Dylan Simon also returns along with junior Xavier Graham. The secondary has a wealth of options too as Nycolis Prudehomme, who Joseph said “had a great sophomore year,” is back with experienced seniors Tippy Tidwell and Darius Howard and junior Johnny Perry, “who has started and played in all 10 games [last season].” Joseph also said to keep an eye on newcomers Chris Hall, a junior, and Darius Adams, a sophomore, who will compete for starting jobs in the secondary. The Falcons have a plethora of options on both sides of the ball. They will hope that the healthy competition among players helps the team reach its full potential as they look to get back to the playoffs after missing out last season.

Aldine Eisenhower Eagles (2831)

Last Season: 4-6

Head Coach: Eric Jackson: 3rd season as head coach

Player to watch: LB/RB Waymon Finley- The District 14-6A Utility Player of the Year in 2019, he will play a key role for the Eagles again this season after being a contributor on both sides of the ball a year ago.

Storylines: The Eagles narrowly missed out on the playoffs last season, falling short after being on the wrong end of a three-way tiebreaker. This year, they are younger than the past few years but still return five starters on offense and five on defense, according to Jackson.  Garyaun Carruthers will be one to watch at running back after contributing last season as a sophomore on varsity. “[Carruthers] had a great sophomore year. He has gotten bigger and stronger,” Jackson said. “We’re looking for him to be a good player. He has excellent hands and he’s a good running back.” Finley is another key player that will contribute at the running back position. “[Finley is] probably one of the better football players on my team,” Jackson said. “[He’s a] real tough kid, hard-nosed, good running back, runs with a low center of gravity. He’s just a good football player.” Senior JaMarcus Martin, meanwhile, will bring varsity experience to the receiver position. On defense, Finley will anchor the team at linebacker, while the secondary has a lot of returning talent. “On our defense, that’s where our most experience is. We have three out of the four starters that’s coming back,” Jackson said. “We think they’re going to do a great job this year. We’re looking for a lot of good things out of our secondary” Christian Dunbar, a 2019 first team selection and three-year letterman, returns at cornerback for the Eagles.  “I’m looking for great things to come with [Dunbar],” Jackson said. “He’s a good football player, understands the game, very knowledgeable, technique fundamentally sound. He’s going to be a great football player.” Lorenzo Taylor and Chance Gardner, who also is a talented track star at the 400 meters for the Eagles, are two other key returners in the secondary. “It was [Gardner’s] first year starting. He has a lot of potential. He could be a great football player and he’s just starting to understand how good he’s going to be. We’re looking for a lot of good things out of him,” Jackson said. “And the same thing with Lorenzo Taylor. He understands the ball game. He’s a smart football player.” The Eagles came up agonizingly short of the playoffs last season after making them back in 2018, but Jackson is excited about this year’s group. “I feel real good about our team,” Jackson said. “We have a combination of youth and experience. I’m really looking forward to our football team.” This year the Eagles will look for that aforementioned mix of experience and youth to gel quickly as they aim to get back to the promised land of the postseason after coming so close last season.

Aldine MacArthur Generals (3668)

Last Season: 5-6; Defeated by Klein Oak in bi-district

Head Coach: Wayne Crawford: 3rd season as head coach

Player to watch: QB RaShaun Jackson- Threw for over 1,200 yards a year ago on his way to earning second team all-district honors. An electric athlete, he is on the MacArthur track team as well and will lead the Generals from behind center again this season.

Storylines: Crawford and the Generals are coming off a memorable season where they made the playoffs for the first time in 12 years. And although they lose their starting running back to graduation, they still have Jackson and senior running back Maurice Woods, who had over 350 rushing yards a year ago and an offer from Tulsa, to lead the backfield. In the passing game, the Generals must replace two receivers and a tight end that earned district honors last season after all three graduated. Up front, offensive lineman Demonta Missouria, who is attracting the attention of college recruiters, will provide key blocks for MacArthur’s backfield stars after earning second team all-district honors last season. Defensively, Woods will also be a player to watch at linebacker after earning second team honors there a year ago. The Generals will rely on Jackson’s playmaking ability and Woods’ presence on both sides of the ball to lead them as they look to make it back to the playoffs for the second straight year.

Aldine Nimitz Cougars (2670)

Last Season: 3-7

Head Coach: Richard Slater: 6th season as head coach

Player to watch: RB Jayvon Davis- He enters his third season as a key contributor on varsity. He rushed for 1,800 yards as a sophomore in 2018 and ended his junior year with a bang, rushing for 274 yards and five touchdowns in a 51-35 win over Aldine in the final game of last season.

Storylines: Despite only winning one district game last season, things are looking up for the Cougars as they return key players on both sides of the ball. Austin Remo graduated, but J’Cauri Morris could be an option at quarterback after seeing playing time last year. Davis will lead from the backfield and will be joined by Justin Eaglin, who formed a one-two punch with Davis last year. The defense will be led by linebacker Sean Roy, who was a first team all-district selection last year and recently committed to Central Arkansas. Jeremiah Jones Jr. is a player to watch in the secondary after having a breakout season last year as a freshman.. With this talent returning on both sides of the ball, the Cougars will hope to be in the mix for their first playoff berth since 2015.

Spring Lions (3456) 

Last Season: 8-3; Defeated by The Woodlands in bi-district

Head Coach: Trent Miller: 4th season as head coach

Player to watch: QB Aldyn Bradley- A playmaker at quarterback, who earned first team all-district honors last season and has picked up an offer from Army. He rushed for 1,196 rushing yards during the regular season last year and will use this athleticism to be a key player for the Lions again this season, whether it be at quarterback or elsewhere on offense.

Storylines: These Lions have an incredible amount of talent returning offensively for them this season. Bradley is back, while Bishop Davenport saw playing time as a sophomore, including a start against MacArthur, and is another option at quarterback. At running back, Joey Fussell Jr. is a promising prospect for the Lions in the backfield. Cadyn Bradley, Aldyn’s brother, returns to be the Lions’ number one receiver after being a first team all-district selection last year. Cadyn will also be one to watch on special teams as he is an explosive return man, evidenced by his three punt returns for touchdown during district play last season. There is just as much talent on the other side of the ball. Cornerback DK Friend, 12 pass breakups and two interceptions as a sophomore, safety Bruce Davis, first team all-district last year as a sophomore, and Nick Charles, second team selection last season, will anchor what should be a talented secondary. DT Jamori Gardner also returns after being a first team selection, while LB/DE Darryl Doherty and DE Joseph McNeese are back after earning second team honors in 2019. Bra’lon Jones is another player to watch at linebacker after picking up an offer from Baylor back in May following a promising sophomore season last year. These Lions have a ton of talent back and they will have high hopes that they can make a run in the playoffs after last year’s first round exit to The Woodlands. 

Spring Dekaney Wildcats (2638)

Last Season: 6-5; Defeated by Klein Collins in bi-district

Head Coach: Anthony Williams: 8th season as head coach

Player to watch: QB Daelyn Williams- The District 16-6A MVP last season. He led the Wildcats in both passing and rushing yards, throwing for 1,776 yards, rushing for 552 yards, and totaling 28 touchdowns. He is poised for another big season and currently has five Division I offers, including ones from Air Force, Army, and Navy.

Storylines: The Wildcats are primed for a big season, especially on defense. Williams is back to lead the offense and, while the top two receivers from last season are gone, there are still some weapons back at his disposal. 6’3” and 230-pound TE/DE Var’Keyes Gumms, who has nine Division I offers, including ones from LSU, Houston, and North Texas, and WR/DB Omarion Thomas-Keener, 257 receiving yards, will be key players again after contributing on both sides of the ball for the Wildcats a year ago. Meanwhile, the Wildcats’ defense will be one to watch in this district. On the defensive line, Arizona commit Kevon Garcia, four sacks and 26 tackles, Rice commit Elroyal Morris, and DT Larry Champion, 20 tackles and 2 sacks, all return and will certainly be a handful for opposing offensive lines this season. In the secondary, first team selection safety Dylan Early, four interceptions, and Ronnie McNeal, 36 tackles, both return, while fellow defensive back Jaiden Robertson, 39 tackles, will bring plenty of speed and has been dubbed “the fastest man in Texas” after being clocked running a mind-boggling 4.22 second 40-yard dash. The Wildcats have a lot of talent back, and, with Williams leading the way offensively, they will hope to make it to the playoffs for the second year in a row.

Spring Westfield Mustangs (3167)

Last Season: 13-2; Defeated by Denton Guyer in state semi-finals

Head Coach: Matt Meekins; 6th season as head coach

Player to watch: QB Cardell Williams- Had a breakout season last year as a sophomore. He threw for 2,811 yards and 30 touchdowns, earning District 16-6A Offensive Newcomer of the Year honors. He will be a player to watch in this district and already has offers from Houston and William & Mary.

Storylines: The Mustangs made a memorable run to the state semifinals last season for the first time since 2014. If Westfield is to make another deep run this season, they have their work cut out for them at the skill positions offensively. Williams is back to lead the offense, but there are holes around him after the leading two rushers and top three receivers from last season graduated. Junior Rodney Smith, 283 rushing yards, is a player to watch in the backfield as he is the leading returning rusher. Nathan Lewis, 159 receiving yards, is back at receiver, while fellow returnee TE Kailon Golston is a solid blocker and was a first team all-district selection last year. Defensively, DE A.J. Holmes, seven sacks and two forced fumbles last year as a sophomore, will anchor the defensive line after being the District 16-6A Defensive Newcomer of the Year. Ashton Harris, a first team selection last year, will play a key role at outside linebacker. There is a talented tandem in the secondary too as second team selections CB Kayden Craig and safety Jaden Perkins, a Central Arkansas commit, both return to stifle opposing passing attacks. The Mustangs have a lot of talent back on defense and will rely on Williams to lead the offense as they reload at the skill positions and aim for another memorable season. 

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