This past June, MaxPreps released it’s pre-season Xcellent25 power rankings and five familiar faces made the cut.
Topping the list of Texas teams, is #5 Cedar Hill. Not only will Cedar Hill bring its usual division one talent to the table, but with 15 returning starters (nine on offense alone), Joey McGuire’s squad will be returning with an abundance of experience as well. Led by Notre Dame quarterback commit Avery Davis, this Longhorn offense is stacked with talent and explosiveness from top to bottom. With an early first round exit in the playoffs this past year, the Longhorns are coming back with a chip on their shoulders and will most definitely be a force to be reckoned with. They will start off their 2016 campaign at home against Tate Martell and #3 ranked Bishop Gorman on ESPN2.
The #8 DeSoto Eagles, the second highest ranked team from Texas, was the only other team able to notch a top 10 spot. Though they finished the regular season at 5-5 last fall, they had a very impressive playoff showing making it to the second round where they fell to eventual state semi-finalist Allen 41-40. While they lost key playmakers in Dee Anderson and Tristen Wallace, the Eagles gained an incredibly talented player in duel-threat quarterback Shawn Robinson who will be surrounded by returning talent. With three offensive lineman and two receivers already committed to power five conference schools, DeSoto’s offense will be exciting to watch. Robinson, who transferred from Denton Guyer where he was a two year starter for the program, will be seeing familiar faces when the Eagles face off against the Wildcats at home on September 2nd. Todd Peterman’s team will also travel to Cedar Hill on September 23rd.
Coming in at #12 is Cibolo Steele. The Knights are coming off a very impressive 14-1 2015 season, that only loss was in the state semi-finals to eventual state champion Katy. 12 of Scott Lehnhoff’s Knights will be returning including starting quarterback Xavier Martin. However, the real story is on defense where the Knights will be losing just three starters from last season. The Knights let up 20+ points just three times last season, and with a host of talent and experience returning, that stat could very well drop even lower. While Steele doesn’t have anyone from the top 25 on their regular season schedule, they will host state runner up Lake Travis on September 2nd and state semi-finalist Converse Judson on the 23rd.
Next up on the list, the 6A division 2 defending state champion Katy Tigers find themselves ranked at #13. While that may seem a little low coming off an undefeated season and a state championship, this Tigers team will be lacking the experience that teams ranked higher than them will have. They will have just seven starters returning, and only three of those being from their impenetrable defense that allowed just 18 points over the course of last years regular season. Losing playmakers on both sides of the ball such as safety Colin Wilder and running back Kyle Porter will definitely hurt; however, Gary Joseph’s Tigers always seem ready to step up and fill the shoes of those who came before them. The Tigers start off their season on August 26th traveling to state runner up Austin Westlake.
The fifth and final Texas team to make the Xcellent25, are the Lake Travis Cavaliers. Here we have another team who’s perfect season was ended by the Katy Tigers (Cibolo Steele). With an incredible 15 starters returning to this state champion runner up, there’s little doubt the Cavaliers will once again find themselves as one of the top teams contending for the title. Wisconsin wide receiver commit Cade Green looks to dominate again on the offensive side while defensive lineman Sammy Ochoa patrols on the defensive side of things. Hank Carter’s team is once again loaded with talent, and I’m sure they’re itching to return to the field after falling just one game short last season. After opening the season against state semi-finalist Converse Judson on August 26th, Lake Travis will continue to be tested with a tough schedule that includes state runner-ups Vista Ridge and Austin Westlake and state semi-finalist Cibolo Steele.