Texas High School Football 2020 Season Preview: District 15-6A

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District 15-6A is located on the north side of Houston and consists of seven teams from Klein ISD and Tomball ISD. The Klein ISD schools were together in this district last year, while the Tomball ISD schools will replace the Conroe ISD schools. Tomball moves up from 5A, while Tomball Memorial comes over from District 14-6A.

This is a district loaded with talented, returning running backs, including one of the best juniors in Texas. Throw in the fact that six of these seven teams finished at .500 or better last season and that there is a homecoming and a key transfer at Klein Forest, the lone school who finished below .500, and you have a district that will be extremely competitive with plenty of Division I talent on display.  

Here is what to watch for in District 15-6A this year.

Klein Bearkats (3218.5)

Last Season: 5-5

Head Coach: Shane Hallmark: 11th season as head coach

Player to watch: TE Mason Tharp- A Texas Tech commit, he will be a valuable target in the passing game especially as the Bearkats must find a new quarterback. Tharp caught 30 passes for 523 yards and 12 touchdowns a year ago on his way to earning first team all-district honors.

Storylines: The Bearkats have work to do under center as they must replace quarterback Bryce Corriston, a first team all-district selection a year ago. Luckily, they have a reliable presence in Tharp who will help settle in the new starter. The running game is also in good hands as running backs Kenzo Viteri, a Navy commit who was a first team all-district selection last season, and Quentin Curtis, who can play linebacker too for the Bearkats, both return. “Having two great backs return is obviously an advantage for us. Both Kenzo and Q bring a toughness to our football team that makes everybody better,” Hallmark said. “They are both solid leaders and high character guys that love the game and love to win. With Bryce graduating, we will be starting an untested quarterback this season, so we will rely heavily on Kenzo and Q to be leaders in our offensive backfield.” Another player of note for the offense is Gerald Hanson, a rangy receiver at 6’1” and 195 pounds. On defense, the Bearkats lose six out of the eight players who earned first or second team honors last season. Curtis could contribute at linebacker for the Bearkats after being a second team all-district selection last season, while Darius Peterson and Roderick Martin are two players to watch in the secondary. “We are a team that believes in running the football and playing defense wins games,” Hallmark said. The Bearkats will look for that combination to bring them success this year as they look to make it back to the playoffs after they missed out last year for the first time since 2015.

Klein Cain Hurricanes (3406)

Last Season: 6-5; Defeated by Spring Westfield in bi-district

Head Coach: James Clancy: 4th season as head coach

Player to watch: RB Jaydon Blue- Learn his name now. He burst onto the scene last season rushing for 1,612 yards and 16 touchdowns, earning District 15-6A Offensive Newcomer of the Year honors. He currently has 26 Division I offers, including ones from Alabama, LSU, and Texas and is regarded as one of the top junior running backs in Texas.

Storylines: Klein Cain turned some heads last season as their first senior class in school history led the Hurricanes to their first playoff berth in just their second season as a varsity program. Offensively, Blue will lead the backfield alongside fellow running back Aaron Jordan, 453 rushing yards and first team honors a year ago. “Both Jaydon and Aaron are very versatile players that take pride in having a well-rounded skill sets as well as blocking. They support each other and enjoy each other’s successes,” Clancy said. “I look forward to watching them competing and doing what is necessary to help our program be successful.” The Hurricanes also have their top receiver and return man back as Matthew Golden, who has six Division I offers, will be a player to watch after racking up 799 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns a year ago. One thing to watch on offense heading into the season is the quarterback battle for the Hurricanes as they will need a new starter after Luke Pardee graduate. Looking to the defensive side of the ball, Lukia Rawls, 52 tackles, and Cash Saxton, eight tackles for loss, will anchor the defensive line, while Isaac Hudson Jr., 63 total tackles and three interceptions, is a key returner in the secondary. These Hurricanes have a lot of talent to work with and will be favorites to make it back to the playoffs for the second year running as they look to earn their school’s first ever playoff victory.

Klein Collins Tigers (3387)

Last Season: 11-2; Defeated by Dallas Jesuit in regional semi-finals

Head Coach: Adrian Mitchell: 3rd season as head coach

Player to watch: QB Colby Powers- Threw for 1,329 yards and seven touchdowns last season on his way to earning second team all-district honors. He is an Arizona commit and will play football as a tight end and baseball as well in Tucson.

Storylines: The Tigers have been impressive since Mitchell took over, winning 21 games the past two years. Powers is back to lead behind center, but 2,000-yard rusher Braelon Bridges graduated and must be replaced. Fortunately for the Tigers, Jonathan Lewis is back to help fill that gap at running back after rushing for 672 yards and five touchdowns in 2019. At receiver, 2019 second team all-district selection Frank Hickerson, 247 receiving yards, is the only returnee from the top four receivers from last season. Seven out of the ten players who earned district honors last season on defense also graduated. However, on the defensive line, Trent Ward, a North Texas commit, Donavan Phenix-Niman, a second team selection, and Clayton Peng, a district honorable mention, all return to anchor a defense that only gave up just under 14 points per game last season. “Our front three will be a big part of this year’s defensive success. Trent Ward and Donnie Phenix-Niman are two of the leaders for the group and the entire defense. Clay Peng is an up-and-comer with a huge upside. Each of these guys bring something special to the table,” Mitchell said. “Versatility is the one constant across the board for our defensive line. They can all play each position at a high level which give us lots of flexibility. These young men along with several others will have to step up in a major way for us to continue being one of the top defenses in our league. I give Coach Powers and Coach Grimm a lot of credit for the job they do with the defense and [the] defensive line.” There is another key player back in the secondary as Tulane commit Donald Lee returns after having 21 tackles and an interception last season. With Powers back to lead the offense and the Tigers’ reputable, staunch defense, Klein Collins should be a team to watch again when the playoffs roll around in November.

Klein Forest Golden Eagles (3598)

Last Season: 0-10

Head Coach: Johnathan Wilson: 1st season as head coach

Player to watch: RB Ahmonte Watkins- A four-star recruit who has 20 Division I offers. He is a huge addition for the Golden Eagles as he transfers in from Riverside Academy in Louisiana and will be a player to watch out of the backfield this season.

Storylines: After Ajani Sanders stepped down after four seasons at the helm this past offseason, the Golden Eagles decided to go with a hometown hire, tabbing Klein Oak’s running backs coach Johnathan Wilson, a Klein Forest graduate, to be the program’s next head coach. He has been pleased with what he has seen so far. “My first impression of our team is that we have a bunch of kids who are eager to learn and ready to put the work in to be successful,” Wilson said. “The kids are very coachable and open to change. We have a ton of athleticism and speed in the skill positions.” The Golden Eagles are in the midst of a 19-game losing streak, but their running back room is extremely talented as Watkins joins 2019 first team all-district selection Kendrick Bradley and promising sophomore Parker Jenkins in the backfield. “Our backfield with Watkins, Bradley, and Jenkins will be a huge part of our game plan,” Wilson said. “They are great athletes with positive attitudes that will spread throughout our team.” Senior Delvin Jones will be an option at quarterback, having seen playing time at the position the past two years. On defense, all three players that earned first or second team all-district honors graduated, but Devante Samuel is a key returnee at defensive back. “We are looking forward to a much improved 2020 season as we continue to build the culture and change the mindset of Klein Forest Football,” Wilson said. With the talent in the backfield leading the way, Wilson will look to restore some hometown pride and get the Golden Eagles heading back in the right direction.

Klein Oak Panthers (3584)

Last Season: 10-3: Defeated by Rockwall in regional semi-finals

Head Coach: Jason Glenn: 4th season as head coach

Player to watch: RB Charles Garrett- Rushed for 576 yards and 5 touchdowns last season, earning first team all-district honors. He enters his third year on varsity and will be a key part of a loaded backfield for the Panthers this season.

Storylines: Glenn has had a very successful tenure so far at Klein Oak, taking the Panthers to the playoffs all three years he has been the head coach. Heading into this year, Klein Oak must replace graduated quarterback Montrell Bolton, but there is a three headed monster back at running back comprised of Garrett and seniors Jamal Stephens, 570 rushing yards a year ago, and Troy Smith, 407 rushing yards. “Our running backs are extremely talented and can flat out run the ball,” Glenn said. “All three of them have their own style but [they’re] all very productive.” Senior Drew Berra will start at quarterback as the three other quarterbacks who saw playing time last year either graduated or transferred. He threw for 97 yards and a touchdown in limited action last year. “Drew Berra is our starter right now and he is an amazing leader and someone you want to lead your team,” Glenn said. “Yes, Montrell is not here but we feel extremely excited about what Drew will bring to our team.” On defense, AJ Broussard is a name to watch in the secondary after having four interceptions and earning District 15-6A Defensive Newcomer of the Year last season as a sophomore. Outside linebacker Kason Tullos and inside linebacker Max Roberts will be a duo to keep an eye on in the middle of the Panthers defense after both were first team all-district selections last year. Up front, Lance Bob will anchor the defensive line at nose guard after being a second team selection last season. “We are excited about where our team is at and what is to come for our young men,” Glenn said. With Glenn at the helm and important contributors back on both sides of the ball, the Panthers are primed for another playoff push.

Tomball Cougars (2448)

Last Season: 5-5

Head Coach: Kevin Flanigan: 4th season as head coach

Player to watch: WR Jayden Grey- A two-sport star for the Cougars in both football and basketball. He was a second team all-district selection last year and will be a key target as the Cougars settle in a new quarterback this season.

Storylines: Despite the Cougars having to replace their starting quarterback, there is still a wealth of experience returning offensively for Tomball. Grey and fellow receiver Arrington Eason return along with senior TE/WR Emil Asaf to provide weapons in the passing game. At running back, Jalen Johnny, a 2019 second team selection, and Jermaine Mayes, 739 rushing yards and four touchdowns, are back after impressive 2019 seasons. Up front, Ethan Schlundt, who has several Division I offers, and Tyler Lee both return to anchor the offensive line after being named second team all-district selections last season. On defense, Mickey Nolen is a key returnee at linebacker, while Jordan During and Travis Bates will look to be forces off the edge on the defensive line after earning district honorable mentions last season. As they move up to the 6A level, these Cougars have plenty of talent back and will look to make some noise in their new district this season.

Tomball Memorial Wildcats (2543.5)

Last Season: 10-2; Defeated by Spring Westfield in area round

Head Coach: Sam Parker: 4th season as head coach

Player to watch: WR Joseph Manjack- Had a big season last year with 69 catches for 1,246 yards and 15 touchdowns as well as 232 yards and three touchdowns on the ground and 217 passing yards. His performances for the Wildcats earned him first team all-district honors and the eyes of college recruiters as he currently has offers from 14 Division I schools.

Storylines: The Wildcats, who won their first district title in school history last season, are going to be a headache for opposing defenses this fall with the amount of pieces they have coming back offensively. Colton Marwill is back to lead the team at quarterback after throwing for 2,844 yards and 29 touchdowns a year ago. Manjack will contribute in a big way, while Jake Ferrell, 196 receiving yards, is also back after earning second team honors last season. Running back also has two important returnees in junior Richard Rodriguez Jr., 1,207 rushing yards, and senior Carbrey Barnes, 763 rushing yards. On the other side of the ball, seniors Hayden Davis, 70 total tackles including 12 for loss, and Tre Jordan, 44 total tackles and four interceptions, return in the secondary. On the defensive line, 6’6” Daniel Grobe is also back after racking up 43 total tackles, including eight for loss, last year. As they look to build off last year’s memorable season, these Wildcats will be a team to keep an eye on in what should be an extremely competitive district.

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