2018 Region Outlooks: 2A Division II Region I – The defending champs are gone, so who takes the crown this year?

AS WE LOOK AHEAD TO THE 2018 TEXAS HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL SEASON, DCTF'S MATT STEPP TAKES A LOOK AT HOW EACH REGION SHOULD SHAKE OUT WHEN FALL ROLLS AROUND.

Today’s spotlight: Class 2A Division II Region I

The landscape has changed somewhat as several entrenched Panhandle teams move to the east into Region II, so there will be guaranteed new regional champion as Wellington was one of those teams who moved over to Region II.

District 1-2A Division II is a far West Panama district that in the past two years was in Region II. It’s one of the few-four team districts in the state and the only one In Class 2A Division II. 2-2A Division II features teams along the western spine of the South Plains and Panhandle, with several schools being quite close to the state line with New Mexico.

3-2A Division II is a traditional Panhandle alignment and there will be some mileage with Clarendon on the southern edge of it. It’ll have district games all the way up to the border where Stratford and Booker are located. Stratford down from Division I is considered by most the Region I favorite after winning the regional title a year ago.

Rounding out Region I, we move to the South Plains where 4-2A Division II is based around the Lubbock area. The storyline to watch in this district is how New Home will fare in its first year playing 11-man football up from Class 1A. New Home had plenty of growth on the southern edge of Lubbock and it looks like in the next realignment, could be joined by nearby Ropesville Ropes in 2A.

Stratford
The Elks posted an impressive 13-2 record a year ago advancing to the state semi-finals in Division I falling to Mart (who ironically is also moving to Division II). Although Coach Matt Lovorn’s squad loses 15 starters, the pieces are in place for a strong run, mainly because of the Elks ability to control the line of scrimmage. Luis Mendoza returns as one of the state’s most versatile players as he plays tight end and defensive end most of the time but will also see time as a short yardage power back and also is the team’s kicker. Luden Romero had six interceptions as a sophomore and showed promise as a backup running back last year and could emerge as the feature back in the Elks ground-oriented attack.

Clarendon
The Broncos were outstanding in their first season under new head coach Clint Conkin, posting a 12-2 record and advancing to the state quarter-finals. Only nine seniors graduated but those nine consisted of several three and four-year starters, so the Broncos have a few holes to fill. QB Noab Elam is back after starting 14 games as a junior and throwing 16 touchdown passes. The Broncos bring plenty of experience up front back and could be more reliant on the passing game with Elam’s experience. The defense will be led by LB Dalton Benson (135 tackles) and DL Caton Grahn (99 tackles, 10 sacks).

Wink
Is this the year that Wink takes a major step forward? The Wildcats had a solid first season under head coach Brian Gibson posting a 7-5 record, and with seven returning starters on both sides of the ball there are high hopes for 2018. WR/DB Wade Halterman is a force on both sides of the ball with 830 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns and he posted eight interceptions a year ago. The big key for Wink will be finding a QB to guide its offense. The Wildcats typically have good playmakers at the skill spots and with good experience back in the trenches settling on the QB spot would go a long way in securing some district title hopes and regional title contention.

Crosbyton
The Chieftains took a bit of a step back in their first season under head coach Colby Huseman posting a 4-6 record a year ago. Don’t expect Crosbyton to be down long as a second year in the system along with seven returning starters on both sides of the ball gives good reason to think this will be a team that takes a big step forward. Maurice Carr is a force on the defensive line and also a pretty good TE when CHS decides to take to the air with QB Landon Clark who started in the secondary a year ago. If Crosbyton can settle on a featured back, its improved depth and new district alignment could mean competing for a district title and multiple playoff wins in 2018.

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