2018 Region Outlooks: 2A Division II Region II – Can Albany reload or are Wellington’s returning numbers too much?
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 II
One of the bigger surprises of UIL realignment regardless of classification was the addition of a district in the panhandle to Region II. The Permian Basin loop that comprised 5-2A Division II moved to Region I, thus pushing the district in the southeast corner of the panhandle over to Region II. That district features last year’s Region I champion, Wellington, along with always tough Memphis and Munday.
6-2A Division II is based mostly around the Wichita Falls area with four teams Archer City, Electra, Windthorst and Petrolia joined by a pair of teams on the eastern fringes of the Big Country in Ranger and Santo.
7-2A Division II is a traditional alignment in the Abilene area headlined by Albany and Hamlin who look to be among the regional favorites, along with Haskell, Cross Plains, Roscoe, Baird and Roby. 8-2A Division II is based primarily in the Concho Valley with Christoval, Miles, Menard, Eldorado and Irion County all situated within a short drive of San Angelo, Rocksprings which is located 76 miles south of their closest district opponent Eldorado, rounds out this district.
The Skyrockets rolled to an impressive 13-2 mark a year ago, falling in the state semifinals to eventual state champion Muenster. The move to Region II was a bit surprising for Wade Williams’ squad but with 15 returning starters, they are certainly the team to beat. The headliner is a guy in the trenches as OL Trevor Roberson gets a lot of attention for his size (listed at 6-11, 365 pounds) but he’s a heck of a football player as well and there’s a reason he holds over 20 FBS offers. RB JoJo McKnight (1,374 rushing yards, 19 touchdowns) and WR/DB Arturo Tellez (888 total yards, 127 tackles, seven interceptions) are the key playmakers, but there’s good skill depth across the board, especially in the secondary.
Even when Albany looks like it may have a down year on paper, the Lions always manage to be playing at least four rounds deep most years under head coach Denny Faith. The Lions definitely suffered some key losses but expect more of the same this fall as AHS welcomes back versatile RB Cutter Edgar to lead the offense. The coaching staff has plenty of confidence in new QB Ryan Hill and WR/DB Cameron Dacus could be in for a big season as well. The key for Albany will be in the trenches, where it’s been good in recent years. If some of the youngsters can step up this is a team that should again be playing well past Thanksgiving.
Last year’s 10-3 campaign probably caught head coach Russell Lucas off guard as his Pied Pipers posted a three round playoff team in what most thought would be a rebuilding year. Now he has an experienced team to lean on with eight starters returning on both sides of the ball as he hopes Hamlin can contend for the regional title. QB Braydin Warner started the final 11 games of the season as a freshman and really impressed throwing for 1,580 yards and 15 touchdowns. He has plenty of playmakers back in WR Nathaniel Villanueva and versatile Jevon Williams. Hamlin has the skill players to compete but are going to go as far as the guys in the trenches will take it as the past few seasons later in the playoffs, Hamlin has been overwhelmed up front.
The Trojans will be a deep sleeper in Region II returning half their starters from a team that posted a 6-6 mark a year ago. However, if they get the right draw, this is a team that could possibly extend their season past the Thanksgiving weekend in the area playoffs. They have some young weapons from a 7-3 JV team coming up and depth is certainly something that favors the Trojans at the Division II level. WHS has a three-year starter at QB in Hunter Wolf and his top target Nathan Bales (758 receiving, seven touchdowns) is back along with multiple other playmakers on the outside. The big concerns will be finding a featured running back and replacing some key personnel in the trenches on both sides of the football.