64 DAYS UNTIL KICKOFF
Rockdale is tabbed as the runner-up in shiny new District 18-3A behind perennial league champions Navasota and all-state quarterback Kadarius Baker.
Navasota has made it to five straight regional finals.
The Tigers are aiming to make a return to the playoffs after missing out last season after a school-record four straight appearances (2007- 10).
“This stuff is voted on by the district coaches so its great that they recognize that we have things going in a good direction,” said Rockdale Coach Jeff Miller. “After Navasota, you project any of the four remaining teams from two to five.”
Eight teams in Region III grace the top 25 pre-season rank ings, including No. 2 through No. 5, which include LaMarque, Carthage, Coldspring and Navasota.
West Columbia (21), West Orange-Stark (23) and brand new 3A team Houston Yates (25) take care of the eight from the region.
“I don’t think people understand that we play as tough a non-conference schedule as we do, because when you get out of district, it’s an uphill climb,” Miller said.
Stephenville—with pre- season player of the year in quarterback Tyler Jones—is the pre-season No. 1 team in Class 3A.
Battle of the Bell foe Cameron— who played in the championship game in 2010, but slipped to 6-5 last season—has been re-annointed the king of the hill in Class 2A (Division I).
In Class 2A Division II, Lexington is ranked No. 2 behind defending champion Refugio.
While hot prospect Rock- dale linebacker James Dav id was not named to the pre-season allstate squad, he was mentioned as a player to watch.
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound David has already tendered an offer
Here’s how Texas Football sees the District 18-3A race shaking out in 2012:
from Oklahoma and was honorable mention all-state in 2011.
He was also named the preseason defensive player of the year in District 18-3A.
Two other Tiger standouts, senior quarterback Ethan Brinkley and junior lineman Josh Pelzel (6-foot-6, 275) also receive attention from the magazine.
Brinkley has the opportunity to become the Tigers’ all-time leading passer this season.
The Tigers open the 2012 season at Salado on Aug. 31.
The Eagles lost a huge cog in the machinery with the graduation of two-time all-state lineman John Jentsch, but do return the blue chip Dominique Messer at linebacker off a 10-2 area finalist team.
Milano’s district 13A-DII will see a new inclusion, but the Eagles are still predicted to be in the hunt for one of three postseason spots in what Texas Football calls the toughest district in Class A.
Milano is picked to finish second behind Burton in the league, followed by Granger, Bartlett, Snook and Somerville.
Milano, Burton and Granger all played at least 12 games last season and won at least 10.
Want tough? Despite 16 starters returning, Bartlett is stuck in fourth.
“I agree that Burton should be in that top spot and I would be very disappointed if we didn’t make the playoffs,” Eagles head coach Craig Jentsch said.
Senior all-state linebacker Messer, who has been the Eagles’ leading tackler for the past two seasons is the pre-season defensive MVP for the district and will be very important in Milano’s success on both sides of the ball.
“Dominique’s acknowledgement is very well deserved, as he has proven himself as a leader the past two seasons,” Jentsch said. “He will be very key and I am glad to see him get the credit due.”
The Eagles will also return senior quarterback Toby Sanders who was the league’s passing leader last season.
Back in the arms of Class A, after a two-year stint in 2A where they fashioned a very respectable 14-6 mark, big things are expected from the Dawgs who are the District 13A (Division I) favorites.
Fabien Gomez (6-2, 260) was tabbed as the defensive player of the year.
With just three starters back on offense, second-year coach Brent Brevard needs a big shovel to fill some holes.
One, will be junior Riley Schaefer stepping it at quarterback for graduated Tyler Miller, who set a new school record for passing in Brevard’s up tempo offensive attack.
A top-notch athlete, Schaefer (5-11, 175) started all 10 games for the Bulldogs in 2011 at free safety. He completed 10 passes for 106 yards behind Miller.
“He’s a very competitive player,” Brevard said.
Price Miller, Keon Mays and Eric Guzman should be his favorite targets.
Mays was second on the team last year with 19 grabs.
“We need some receivers and defensive linemen to pan out. We may be inexperienced, but we have tradition.”