The Wichita Falls area starts off another campaign to bring home a state title; the last of which claimed by Crowell and Throckmorton in 2014. Here are the top games to look for from Texoma:
Wichita Falls Rider @ Mansfield Legacy (9/1) R.L. Anderson Stadium
The Mansfield schools as a whole had a dominant 2016 season, Legacy being just a part of the overall success. The Broncos took a run to the regional finals last season and return key pieces for another playoff push; returning talent includes FS/WR Jalen Catalon (193 tackles, 9 INTs) and LB/RB Grant Johnson (311 yards rushing, 6 TDs).
Even though Rider suffered their first losing season under head coach Marc Bindel, the Raiders still qualified for playoffs for the seventh year in a row. Nine starters return on offense to continue the success, including QB Jorge Vargas (702 yards passing, 8 TDs); Rider will however have to find players on defense, as only four return.
Last Result: Mansfield Legacy 50, Wichita Falls Rider 19 (2016)
Graham vs. Sanger (9/1) Newton Field
Graham hasn’t missed out on the postseason since 2008, and the return of 14 total starters from last season’s area finalists may keep the streak alive. The returning talent is formidable, including the potent pass-catch duo of QB Tucker Horn (2,625 yards passing, 20 TDs) and WR Adam Groves (72 catches, 887 yards receiving, 11 TDs), as well as defensive standouts Joel Jones (134 tackles, 5 sacks) and FS Wes Martin (112 tackles, 3 INTs).
Sanger returns 13 total starters, but enter with a new coach; Cole Ford takes the reins after having served the last four seasons as offensive coordinator.
Last Result: Sanger 45, Graham 7 (2016)
Childress vs. Wellington (9/1) Fair Park Stadium
Childress successfully continued their playoff streak last season, not missing a beat since head coach Jason Sims took over in 2015. The Bobcats may have some growing pains this season however, with the return of only seven total starters. LB Isaiah Darter (84 tackles) is one of three starters returning on defense, look for him to take a leadership role in 2017.
Wellington on the other hand returns a bevy of talent from last season’s state semifinalist team. The Skyrockets offense is led by QB Luke Williams (2,370 total yards, 24 TDs); he’ll have WRs Cooper Richardson and Arturo Tellez returning as his favorite targets as well. Tellez (6 INTs) joins DT Drake Welch (91 tackles, 11.5 sacks) and LB Weston Wright (1-5 tackles) on defense.
Last Result: Wellington 26, Childress 21 (2016)
Munday @ Hawley (9/1) Forrest Field
Munday looks to be a powerful team again this season, with last season’s deep playoff run bolstering confidence. ATH Alex Thorn (675 total yards, 5 INTs) will see time all over the field for the Moguls.
Hawley returns 14 total starters from last season’s area round finalists, including dynamic QB Quay Stokes; Stokes is encroaching on 10,000 career rushing/passing yards to go along with 125 career touchdowns.
Last Result: Hawley 30, Munday 28 (2016)
Bryson vs. Milford (9/2) @ Hico’s Tiger Stadium
Bryson has the potential for a breakout season in 2017, the third year under head coach Jason Briles. The Cowboys return all but one starter, including QB Brayden Houser (2,263 yards passing, 44 TDs) and WR/S Paul Davidson (66 catches, 1,375 yards receiving, 30 TDs), both second team all-state last season.
Milford also returns plenty of talent, and is also a threat to mount a deep playoff run in 2017. Returning for the Bulldogs is SB/CB Ta’ron Smith (2,149 yards rushing, 30 TDs; 1,123 yards passing, 23 TDs), a two-time all state selection and still just a junior.
Last Result: N/A (First Meeting)
Crowell vs. Motley County (9/2) @ Jayton’s Jaybird Stadium
Crowell will be a talented team in 2017, but the recent powerhouse will need to find replacements, returning only five total starters. First team all-state tight end Skyler Hayes (982 yards receiving, 19 TDs) and second team all-state center Evan de los Santos (597 yards receiving, 11 TDs) highlight the Wildcats returning talent.
Motley County was a young team last season, but qualified for the playoffs. With the added experience, the Matadors should be stronger in 2017.
Last Result: Crowell 47, Motley County 0 (2011)
Knox City vs. Water Valley (9/2) @ Jayton’s Jaybird Stadium
After missing a postseason berth the season prior, Knox City returned in 2016, and pushed to the regional quarterfinals. The Greyhounds will need to reload however, as only six total starters return; back to lead this effort is WR Brady Hawkins (907 yards receiving, 16 TDs; 88 tackles).
Water Valley hit a rough patch this season, finishing with their first losing season since 2007. Back to lead the Wildcats hopeful resurgence is RB/DE Jeremy Jackson (1,500 yards rushing); WV also gets a boost from the return of DL/RB Eric Sharp, who missed all of last season with injury.
Last Result: Knox City 48, Water Valley 26 (2015)
Newcastle vs. Gordon (9/1) Bobcat Field
Newcastle claimed their seventh straight district title last season, but will have some reloading to do with the return of only four total starters. Back to guide the Bobcats is QB Gage Bozeman (501 yards passing, 8 TDs).
Jerry Tomlin takes the reins at Gordon this season, and will have six total returning starters to work with. Back for the Longhorns is RB/DB Julian Fraga (950 yards rushing, 16 TDs; 80 tackles, 6 INTs), a threat on both sides of the ball.
Last Result: Gordon 46, Newcastle 36 (2016)
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