2018 Region Outlooks: 5A Division II Region I – Abilene Wylie joins the 5A pack and Lubbock Cooper tries to build off a strong 2017
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 5A Division II Region I
UIL Realignment brought massive changes to the landscape in Class 5A and Region I in Division II is one of the most heavily impacted regions. The biggest note may be that gone from Region I is perennial powerhouse Aledo, who has moved over to Region II.
We start in El Paso where the split has caused an odd division and alignment in the Sun City with a six and seven team district. El Paso ISD occupies district 2-5A Division II, while the outer suburban districts occupy 1-5A Division II.
3-5A Division II is where things get wild as there are very few schools between El Paso and Fort Worth, so you have a massive six-team district that stretches from the panhandle, down to Abilene back up to Wichita Falls.
Region I is rounded out by 4-5A Division II which features Fort Worth ISD, joined by Justin Northwest.
El Paso Parkland
The Sun City’s best chance at a deep playoff run lies on the Northeast side of town as the Matadors are primed for a run after a 10-3 mark in 2017. A big reason for the optimism is the return of RB Deion Hankins who holds multiple FBS offers and looks poised to break many of El Paso’s city rushing records. There are a lot of holes to fill at the other skill spots and along the offensive and defensive lines but expect the Matadors to be strong in the secondary with the return of Zed Estrada and Dontavious Campbell as well. If Parkland’s young players in the trenches can step up their usual allotment of outstanding skill talent will be enough to make them a contender in a wide-open region.
Perennial Class 4A powerhouse Abilene Wylie finally makes the jump to Class 5A as explosive growth south of Abilene pushes the Bulldogs up a class. Don’t let the lack of returning numbers or the less than stellar record fool you about Wylie, it’ll be in mix. Head coach Hugh Sandifer’s squad always loses a lot of seniors but have the advantage of big numbers and tradition on their side. Expect the usual early season struggles from Wylie as they always play an incredibly difficult non-district slate, but once district rolls around it’ll be a major threat and contender in Region I.
The Pirates posted a solid 7-5 mark a year ago before being eliminated in the area playoffs by surging El Paso Parkland. Offensively, head coach Max Kattwinkel’s squad has embraced a physical run-first mentality and they’ll try to use what should be solid depth to wear teams in Division II down. The Pirates’ defense was very good for the most part a year ago and the return of LB’s Jared Gibson and Reese Wagnon can only mean good things for that unit in 2018. The Pirates have a chance to do some damage if their young talent can step up. Major growth to the southwest edge of Lubbock has seen the Pirates numbers explode so they need to make the most of their time in Division II because it could be short lived.
The Texans got a huge lift in realignment, not only being dropped to Division II but being place with the Fort Worth ISD schools. From a numbers and resource perspective, they have significant advantages over their district opponents and that could mean a district title and possibly more come playoff time. RB DeMareus Hosey (1,460 rushing, 14 TDs) and WR Quentin Lee (1,090 receiving, 14 TDs) are dynamic playmakers for the offense while the staff is excited about the potential of new QB Austin Ahmad. The defense, with eight returning starters, looks to be the strength of the team. NG Moore (75 sacks, 3 sacks) is the anchor of the defensive line, while S McDonald (104 tackles, 3 INTs) had a sensational sophomore campaign and should only get better after a solid off-season. Head coach Bill Poe thinks he’s got a great set of skill players, but in order for the Texans to be a regional title contender their offensive line will need to rise to the occasion.