2018 Region Outlooks: 2A Division II Region III – Both 2017 state champions in the same region? Who makes it out?
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 III
New faces dot the landscape in Region III in 2A Division II as last year’s regional champion Tenaha is gone to Division I along with last year’s runner up, Timpson. In their place, are both of the Class 2A state champions from 2017 in Mart and Muenster.
District 9-2A Division II is headlined by defending state champion Muenster who moves over from Region II, but also joining the fray are six-man move-ups Campbell and Tioga. 10-2A Division II is a northeast Panama based loop with Clarksville, Detroit and Maud being joined by Mount Enterprise, Overton and Simms Bowie.
11-2A Division II is a Central Panama based loop that is headlined by defending Division I state champion Mart dropping down to Division II. Highway 31 between Corsicana and Waco will have some traffic on it in this loop with Hubbard and Dawson joining Mart along with Frost and Wortham and Meridian. Region II is rounded out by 12-2A Division II which may be the deepest district in the region as Grapeland and Lovelady are the favorites and they are joined by fellow Piney Woods schools Evadale, Colmesneil, Burkeville and Golden Triangle programs Sabine Pass and West Hardin. Lovelady is another of the new faces in Division II as they are a drop down from Division I.
The Hornets lose a highly-decorated group of seniors that led the program to state titles in multiple sports including last year’s 16-0 run to its first football state title, but the cupboard is far from bare for Coach Brady Carney’s squad. QB Parker McGrew (3,971 total yards, 59 touchdowns) is back to lead the offense after a dazzling performance as a junior. His favorite target Danny Luttmer (598 receiving, 10 touchdowns) is back after a sensational effort in the playoffs as well. Logan Bayers (145 tackles) will lead the defense for the Hornets. There are some concerns especially with youth up front but don’t count the Hornets out for a repeat run to glory in 2018 just yet.
The Panthers enter 2018 as the favorite to win another state title as despite losing some outstanding seniors, including an FBS signee. The drop to Division II combined with some key returners puts Mart at the top of the pre-season heap. No team in Division II will feature the 1-2 punch of running back of Tyrek Horne and Shatydrick Bailey who combined for (3,792 total yards, 58 touchdowns), but the question is, can Mart replace the playmaking ability of a three-year starter lost at QB? Elijah Green and Roddrell Freeman are two outstanding DE’s and will lead the Panthers speedy defense. That experience in the trenches will hopefully offset some inexperience at key skill spots according to head coach Kevin Hoffman.
The Sandies had a breakout season in 2017 advancing to the third round with an impressive 8-5 mark and with 15 returning starters back, Coach Wayne Mahaffey’s squad is poised to contend for a regional title. QB Rick Frauenberger (2,904 passing, 29 touchdowns) is back for an encore campaign, he has super sophomore WR B.J. Howard (1,032 receiving, eight touchdowns in eight games) back as his primary target. WR/DB Ackley is a two-way monster (612 receiving, 11 touchdowns, 174 tackles, two interceptions) and will lead the defense along with LB James Coleman (103 tackles). If the Sandies can develop a featured running back and some depth in the trenches they have the talent to make some big noise.
The Lions hope that a drop to Division II combined with 13 starters returning can put them in the discussion for a regional title. Two-way playmaker Jay Robinson (658 receiving, six touchdowns) is also the team’s punter and will be a force on defense in the secondary. WR Michael Price (618 receiving, four touchdowns) is more than capable of making teams pay if too much attention is paid to Robinson, while the return of RB Timothy Johnson (1,209 rushing, 14 touchdowns) gives the offense balance. Logan Lowrey is the coach’s son and will bring that typical coaches kid savvy to the QB position in addition to his ability as a passer. There’s improved speed on the defensive side of the ball with LB Deontrae Hawkins, the district’s newcomer of the year returning as a team leader.