PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
Division 1 Team in all caps
8. Longview Pine Tree
The top six teams in this district are all very evenly matched and could all compete for a playoff spot. Whitehouse was the Cinderella story in East Texas last year but how will they respond now with the bulls eye on their back now? Marshall should bounce back with a vengeance after a down year in 2006, while Nacogdoches was a nice story of their own in 2006 making the playoffs. Traditional powers Kilgore, Jacksonville and Hallsville are all going to be solid as well but with the depth in 12-4A 3 very good teams will be home come playoff time once again.
2006 Record: 10-3 (lost to Waco 42-7 in Division II Regional Semi-Finals)
Outlook:It was a magical run in 2006 for Whitehouse as they advanced to the third round for the first time school history, led by sensational sophomore QB Brady Attaway. Attaway has missed summer workouts and will get a late start but he's still the man for the Wildcats, he's got a solid group of receivers who won't beat anyone deep but they run great routes and don't drop passes. DB Steven Hicks is one of the best in all of East Texas and he leads the Wildcats D. Key questions for WHS are can they replace do it all RB/QB/LB Luke Shivers and RB Jimmy Kennedy.
2006 Record: 6-4 (lost to Aledo 28-12 in the Division 1 State Quarter-Finals)
Outlook:After back to back trips to the State Championship game the Mavericks fell to 6-4 in 2006 and missed the playoffs outright for the first time since 2003. New HC Thedrick Harris inherits an experienced crew as 13 starters return including some talented skill players. MHS has a nice 1-2 punch in the backfield of Andrew Clough who had over 1100 yards and 11 touchdowns and Keilan Johnson who topped 500 yards and scored 11 touchdowns. Darius Jones takes over at QB after playing WR in 2006 and gives the Mavs a nice threat running, but he's got a good WR in Damien Smith and also keep an eye on sophomore WR Aaron Franklin. The defense should be improved as well as 7 starters are back including all 12-4A FS A.J. Wilson. Marshall's returning talent could be enough to get them to the district title, but the playoffs at minimum look to be a near certainty.
2006 Record: 6-5 (lost to Texarkana Texas High 31-9 in bi-district)
Outlook:NHS had a breakout season last year, as they earned a playoff berth for the first time since 1992. The Dragons lost their big time running back, but they do have back QB Justin McAninch who topped 2100 yards and 13 touchdown passes. He'll be counted on much more this year as only 3 other starters are back on the offense. The Dragons may be counting on a defense that has 7 starters back including all-state LB James Ervin, he'll be joined by first team all 12-4A LB Octavion Matthews to give the Dragons one of the top group of LB's in East Texas. If the Dragons young offense matures a second straight trip to the playoffs will be in order.
2006 Record: 6-4
Outlook:Two seasons removed from a 16-0 season and a state championship, the Bulldogs missed the playoffs for the first time since 1994. KHS is led by LB Rick Thomas who posted over 110 tackles and was first team all 12-4A. Thomas has excellent speed and is built like a bowling ball and he can fill a hole to stop the run with the best of them. QB Eric King is back after throwing for 833 yards and 7 touchdowns last year and he'll count on RB Frank Reddic and Hakeen Colbert to give the Bulldogs their usual strong ground attack. The offensive line must replace Michael Huey who was a dominant force for three seasons.
2006 Record: 6-4
Outlook:Back to back non-playoff seasons isn't the norm in Cherokee County and it may be 3 years in a row for Coach Copeland's squad as 12-4A will be a chore for the Indians to get into the top 3. JHS had a strong summer and that could bode into more success than anticipated on the offensive side of the ball, OL Joe Villavisencio is considered one of the top prospects in the state and is an early Texas A&M commit. WR Courtney White gives the Indians a big time threat in the passing game, but the question is will JHS find themselves a number one running back to tote the mail?
2006 Record: 7-4 (lost to Paris North Lamar 29-17 in bi-district)
Outlook:Hallsville did make the playoffs last year for the second straight season, but the year ended in disappointing fashion as they were upset by Paris North Lamar. Now there will be some rebuilding as the Bobcats lost a really strong senior class. The Bobcats return the bulk of their lineman on both sides of the ball and that is never a bad thing as play in the trenches is crucial in a tough district. If the Bobcats young skill players can step up and make plays they could easily jump back into the playoff mix. On defense 6 starters return led by DL Josh Schattel, LB Kevin Dawson and DB Vic Williams.
2006 Record: 1-9
Outlook:Look for major improvement from Henderson in 2006 after a miserable 1-9 season in HC Dickey Meeks' first year. Henderson brings back six starters on both sides of the ball and that experience coupled with help from a JV that went 7-3 bodes well. OL Austin Wright is the top player on offense but keep an eye on TE Justin Horton who at 6'3 220 boasts big time speed and has emerged into a sleeper prospect. The defense will be led by Torin Hart whose talent could be utilized on offense as well, he'll team with Joseph Price to give the Lions a solid secondary.
LONGVIEW PINE TREE PIRATES
2006 Record: 2-8
Outlook:25 letterman are back including 14 starters and that will spell improvement for the Pirates but it doesn't look like they'll get out of the cellar this year. PTHS is seeking their first playoff appearance since 2001 and its unlikely. They should be able to move the ball with 8 starters back including a deep backfield with three capable backs. WR/DB Dylan McJimsey is the top threat in the passing game, but keep an eye on 6'5 200 pound WR Terrance Sparkman who could have the scouts headed to Longview to check him out as he's just a junior and he's already got big time size.
FIVE PLAYERS TO WATCH
Brady Attaway, QB, Jr. Whitehouse
Joe Villavisencio, OL, Sr. Jacksonville
Andrew Clough, RB, Sr. Marshall
James Ervin, LB, Sr. Nacogdoches
Steven Hicks, DB, Sr. Whitehouse