2018 Region Outlooks: 2A Division I Region I – Who comes out as the new favorite after realignment?
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 I Region I
Things have opened up some in Region I with the departure of Stratford who dropped to Division II where it will no doubt be a favorite.
That opens the door for not only the teams listed below but maybe a few other dark horse candidates as well as Region I in 2A Division I looks wide open. District 1-2A Division I is based in the panhandle headlined by Panhandle, West Panama High and Sunray they’ll match up in bi-district with Lubbock based 2-2A Division I headlined by New Deal and Post along with Sundown and Hale Center, both of whom have new coaches for 2018.
Although most of the power in this region lies in the panhandle and South Plains the races in 3-2A Division I and 4-2A Division I should still be fun to watch. 3-2A is a Big County/Permian Basin loop but look for the power to lie to the east in the Big Country with Hawley and Stamford. After a three-deep run in Division II last year Lindsay makes the move to Division I with a new coach and they’ll look to battle always tough Seymour for supremacy in 4-2A Division I. Chico and Olney will both have new coaches as well in 4-2A Division I.
The Panthers got on a roll late in the year and made a surprise run all the way to the quarter-finals a year ago. That experience plus the return of some key skill guys has head coach Dane Ashley confident his team can be in the Region I mix once again. A big reason why the Panthers should still be outstanding is the return of all-around player QB/DB Braden Durst, who as a junior, accounted for 3,827 total yards, 43 touchdowns and he picked off five passes in the secondary as well. His top receiver Luke Ray returns as well and had 1,297 yards receiving and 14 touchdowns while also intercepting seven passes in the secondary. The big key for Panhandle to repeat or exceed last year’s magical run will be how its young players grow up front.
The Lions are poised for contention in Region I as it’s fresh off a 10-2 season and return 15 total starters, including nine on the offensive side of the ball. The return of QB Jett Whitfield and 6’6 WR DK Blaylock will make the Lions a very difficult matchup for most 2A defenses. Add in 6’4 WR Layton Reed who can go up and get the football as well and the nightmares for defenses continue. Speaking of defense, New Deal should be pretty salty on that side of the ball with DB Kendell Dunn (five interceptions) and LB Dylan Jerden (105 tackles) setting the pace.
Stinnett West Panama
The Comanches offense brings back eight starters from a strong 8-3 squad and could be a real sleeper as most of the attention will likely sit with Panhandle. QB Jaylin Conyers is back for his senior year after rolling up 2,307 yards of offense and 33 touchdowns as a junior. He’ll lead what should be a very potent offensive attack. Coach David Flowers knows his defense has some big shoes to fill after graduation depleted the ranks, but that potent offense could carry West Panama a long way in 2018.
The Antelopes are a throwback and don’t get caught up in flashy offense or big numbers. They do things old school with a powerful rushing attack and hard-nosed defense. That makes them generally a tough matchup and despite being devastated by injuries last year, the “Bold Gold” still managed a 9-4 record and a trip to the third round of the playoffs. QB Taytem Thetford impressed as a sophomore and will team with RB Damontre Curtis to give Post a solid 1-2 punch on offense, but graduation thinned the ranks so Coach Michael Pittman will need some young guys to make a mark at the varsity level quickly.