2013 Football Preview: Longview Primed for Strong Season in District 12-5A
Longview and Mesquite Horn are the early front-runners for the 2013 District 12-5A championship.
When they meet Oct. 18 at Lobo Stadium, they could potentially decide the district title. Regardless of the winner, both teams should be difficult playoff matchups in the Class 5A Region II playoffs, Horn in Division I and Longview in Division II.
Here's ETSN.fm's breakdown of what to expect in the 12-5A race.
District 12-5A Preview
- Conner Dyer, Jr., OL, Mesquite Horn
- Charles Grant, Sr., DB, Mesquite
- Rico Henderson, Jr., RB, Rockwall-Heath
- Zaycoven Henderson, Sr., DT, Longview
- Dorian Leonard, Sr., WR, Longview
- Stephan Maxey, Sr., S, Longview
- Andrew Morris, Sr., DT, Mesquite Horn
- Chris Warren, Jr., RB, Rockwall
- Matthew Weeks, Jr., OT, Tyler Lee
- Destri White, Sr., QB, Mesquite Horn
- Sept. 27 -- Mesquite at Longview
- Oct. 11 -- Mesquite at Mesquite Horn
- Oct. 18 -- Mesquite Horn at Longview
- Nov. 8 -- Longview at Rockwall
1. Longview Lobos
Coach: John King
2012 finish: 9-4 (5A Division II Region II semifinalist)
Returning starters: 4 offensive, 4 defensive
Players to watch
- DT Zaycoven Henderson, Sr., 6-1, 293 (committed to TCU; 48 tackles, 10 for loss, 2 sacks)
- WR Dorian Leonard, Sr., 6-4, 198 (committed to Texas; 22 catches, 440 yards, 4 TDs)
- S Stephan Maxey, Sr., 5-11, 186 (72 tackles, 4 forced fumbles)
- S Travin Howard, Sr., 6-0, 179 (62 tackles, 2 INTs, 1 recovery)
- QB Dezmond Chumley, Jr., 6-0, 188 (1,187 passing yards, 14 TDs, 4 INTs; )
- RB JaMycal Hasty, Jr., 5-9, 181 (338 rushing yards, 5 TDs)
- DL DeRodrick Alexander, Sr., 6-0, 240 (41 tackles, 2 forced fumbles)
- OT Broderick Washington, Jr., 6-2, 285
- OT Kenny Andrews, Sr., 6-2, 261
- C Vernon Hutchinson, Sr., 5-10, 290
- CB Chris Coby, Sr., 6-0, 155 (27 tackles, 1 INT)
- TE/WR Jordan Whitaker, Sr., 6-4, 190
- CB Jhavaurian Moore, Sr., 5-7, 165 (1 INT)
- OL Shedrick Borens, Sr., 5-9, 304
- LB Jaylon Jackson, Jr., 5-11, 197
- RB L'darrius Peterson, Sr., 5-7, 150
- WR Chris Pellum, Sr., 5-10, 175
- FB Jeremy Powell, Sr., 5-6, 206
- WR/FS Antonio Carter, Jr., 6-2, 174
Offense: Longview sputtered off and on offensively for much of the 2012 season, but that had much to do with the predicament that an early-season injury caused. When ULM commit Bivins Caraway tore a knee ligament in the Lobos' season-opening loss to Coppell, Longview's offensive plans for the player who threw for 2,200 yards as a junior were completely derailed, forcing veteran head coach John King to go to Stephon Dunn (now at Hallsville) and later then-sophomore Dezmond Chumley to run the offense.
Being forced into the fire should wind up being a good thing now for Chumley, who got the chance to develop virtually an entire year ahead of schedule. He threw for almost 1,200 yards and started nine games, including two playoff wins, and should give the Lobos a realistic dual-threat option at the quarterback spot.
Chumley will have what may be the largest offensive line in King's tenure blocking for him. Longview's spring depth chart had five O-line starters that averaged 282 pounds. They will block for a new starting tailback in JaMycal Hasty, one of East Texas' most popular recruits in the 2015 class. Hasty is primed for a breakout season, but don't be surprised if speedy senior L'darrius Peterson pushes for playing time.
The receiving corps appears to be among the best in Longview history. Dorian Leonard is committed to Texas and has Lobo fans thinking that Malcolm Kelly is back running routes at Lobo Stadium. Jordan Whitaker was Longview's most consistent pass-catcher during summer 7-on-7, while Chris Pellum and Stephon Anthony also played well. If the line can protect Chumley, he should have a big year delivering the ball to a slew of capable receivers.
Defense: Longview graduated a lot of experience and talent in the front six of of its 4-2-5 defensive scheme, including linebackers DeMarkus Lathan (138 tackles) and Torean Sheppard (138 tackles), plus sack leader Tre Allen (12 sacks), speedy pass rusher Jalen Porter (5 sacks), and interior anchor Cornelius Williams (16 tackles for loss).
An equally big hit came Aug. 19, when TCU-bound defensive tackle Zaycoven Henderson underwent surgery to repair a Jones fracture in his foot. He's not out for the year, but is expected to miss at least the Lobos' first five games, which includes the District 12-5A opener vs. Mesquite.
Longview does have veteran lineman DeRoderick Alexander back to help new faces acclimate to the front, plus a fairly experienced secondary. Corey Bartley (138 tackles, 7 INTs) graduated, but safeties Stephan Maxey and Travin Howard give King and company one of the most athletic tandems in East Texas and probably all of 5A football. King is also complimentary of cornerbacks Chris Coby and Jhavaurian Moore, who are expected to start on the outside for the Lobos.
Longview surrendered only 18.4 points per game last season. That may be difficult to match with eight new starters -- essentially nine until Henderson returns in October -- but the Lobos will have the athleticism to play the type of physical, frantic defense they always prefer.
2013 Outlook: Longview graduated a large group of seniors that played major roles in some very good Lobo teams, including a 10-5 state semifinalist squad when some of the played on varsity as sophomores and an 11-2 regional semifinalist team in 2011. They won't be easy to replace, but King is well-versed in replacing top talent, as evidenced by his 100-23 record in nine years as the Lobos' boss.
This year's seniors joins a strong junior class highlighted by players such as Hasty, Chumley, and Washington to give Longview a team that enters the season as ETSN.fm's pick to win the 12-5A crown, which would be King's ninth league title in 10 years as the helm. Longview's offense should be significantly more versatile and difficult to defend than last season when Chumley was forced into the starting role, which means it could possibly carry the young defense until the newcomers get the hang of it (and Henderson returns to anchor the front).
ETSN.fm believes Longview is flying under the radar from a statewide perspective and is a serious contender for the 5A Division II Region II title, which the Lobos will likely pursue along with the three other teams that reached last year's regional semifinals: Austin Westlake, Plano West, and rival Lufkin. Perhaps the Sept. 20 home game vs. the Panthers is a preview of the Region II championship game?
2. Mesquite Horn Jaguars
Coach: Mike Overton
2012 finish: 8-4 (Class 5A Division I Region II area finalist)
Returning starters: 5 offensive, 6 defensive
Players to watch
- QB Destri White, Sr., 6-0, 195 (committed to Rice; 178 of 280, 2,196 yards, 28 TDs, 6 INTs; 140 carries, 805 yards, 8 TDs)
- DT Andrew Morris, Sr., 6-2, 290 (committed to Baylor; 47 tackles, 1 1/2 sacks)
- OL Jonathan Alvarez, Sr., 6-3, 300
- CB Jorian Clark, Sr., 5-9, 175 (62 tackles, 2 INTs, 1 recovery, 1 FG block, 1 punt block)
- CB Nehemiah Wagner, Sr., 6-0, 170 (32 tackles, 2 INTs, 7 PBUs)
- WR Del'Michael High, Sr., 6-2, 180 (26 catches, 412 yards, 4 TDs)
- WR Jarrison Stewart, Jr., 5-11, 180 (24 catches, 303 yards, 2 TDs; 25 carries, 194 yards, 2 TDs)
- ATH Justyn Oliphant, Sr., 5-9, 170 (68 carries, 399 yards, 1 TD; 16 catches, 160 yards, 3 TDs)
- S Darreon Jackson, Jr., 5-11, 170 (29 tackles)
- S Larry Bridges, Sr., 5-9, 165 (23 tackles, 1 recovery)
2013 Outlook: Mesquite Horn's high-powered offense should once again be strong with third-year starting quarterback Destri White pulling the strings. The Rice-bound signal caller is District 12-5A's best dual-threat playmaker after amassing 3,001 total yards and 36 total touchdowns during the Jaguars' 8-4 season in 2012, when Horn averaged 39.5 points per game.
White has several weapons who gained valuable experience a season ago, including Justyn Oliphant, Del'Michael High, and Jarrison Stewart, who all figure to take a bigger role this season, which is the first for the Jags under head coach Mike Overton after former coach Rodney Webb left for 12-5A foe Rockwall.
Horn used home-field advantage to beat Longview 25-17 last year. The teams' Oct. 18 encounter should decide the 12-5A title. Horn will need Baylor-bound defensive tackle Andrew Morris to be at the top of his game to counter Longview's rushing attack.
3. Mesquite Skeeters
Coach: Robbie Robinson
2012 finish: 11-1 (Class 5A Division I Region II area finalist)
Returning starters: 3 offensive, 2 defensive
Players to watch
- DB Charles Grant, Sr., 5-10, 180 (81 tackles)
- LB Jalen Montgomery, Sr., 5-10, 206
- RB Shadavian Reed, Sr., 5-8, 178 (61 carries, 598 yards, 8 TDs; 11 catches, 86 yards)
- WR Octavious Miles, Sr., 5-9, 170 (1 receiving TD)
- ATH Robert Blythe, Soph., 5-7, 166
- OL Christian Castleberry, Jr., 6-3, 235
- OL Joseph Pena, Sr., 5-10, 260
- OL Taylor Willingham, Sr., 5-10, 200
- QB Trey LeBlanc, Sr.
2013 Outlook: Mesquite graduated a very strong senior class that led the Skeeters to an 11-win season and District 12-5A championship in 2012. Replacing 17 starters will be extremely difficult, though being the largest school in the district gives the Skeeters a numers advantage in that quest.
Alex Cooper's graduation costs Mesquite about 3,500 total yards and 36 total touchdowns. His top five receivers from last season are also gone after combining for 221 receptions in the Skeeters' spread offense.
Shadavian Reed will likely be a big part of the Skeeters' plans this fall. He'll have a couple of experienced offensive linemen back, but everyone else on offense is new. The same goes for defense, where defensive back Charles Grant will be the leader after a strong junior campaign. Mesquite will be hard-pressed to match the 21.1 points per game the Skeeters allowed last season.
Right now, Mesquite does not look like it has a great shot at repeating at 12-5A champ, but the Skeeters should have enough talent coming up to fill the void of 17 graduated starters to qualify for the playoffs and potentially be a tough matchup for league favorites Longview and Mesquite Horn.
4. Rockwall Yellowjackets
Coach: Rodney Webb
2012 finish: 3-7
Returning starters: 6 offensive, 4 defensive
Players to watch
- RB Chris Warren, Jr., 6-2, 214 (174 carries, 1,059 rushing yards, 13 TDs; 10 catches, 100 yards, 2 TDs)
- LB Chris Hinckley, Sr., 6-2, 218 (127 tackles, 8 for loss, 2 sacks)
- LB Josh Rippy, Sr., 6-0, 209 (71 tackles, 3 1/2 sacks)
- LB Luke Termin, Soph., 6-1, 233 (35 tackles, 7 for loss, 2 sacks)
- WR Xavier Castille, Jr., 5-11, 185 (48 catches, 528 yards; 4 rushing TDs)
- OL Hayden Harper, Sr., 6-2, 265
- DB John Wright, Jr. (1 INT)
2013 Outlook: Rockwall may have the most upside of any of the teams chasing Longview and Mesquite Horn. New head coach Rodney Webb comes over from Horn and has a strong 2015 class led by tailback Chris Warren, the son of the former NFL running back of the same name who finished his pro career with four 1,000-yard seasons.
The Yellowjackets boast perhaps the district's best linebacking corps in Chris Hinckley, Josh Rippy, and Luke Termin, who had an impressive season as a freshman last year. If Rockwall can quality quarterback play and defensive consistency -- something the Jackets lacked when they allowed 37.8 points per game last year -- Webb and company could experience a turnaround season that puts Rockwall in the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
Rockwall's Sept. 27 game at Rockwall-Heath and the Nov. 1 trip to Mesquite are pivotal dates in the Jackets' attempt to get back to the postseason.
5. Rockwall-Heath Hawks
Coach: Mickey Moss
2012 finish: 6-5 (Class 5A Division II Region II bi-district finalist)
Returning starters: 6 offensive, 5 defensive
Players to watch
- RB Rico Henderson, Jr., 5-11, 190 (140 carries, 781 yards, 7 TDs; 34 catches, 186 yards, 1 TD)
- OL Trevor Elbert, Jr., 6-6, 292
- LB Clay Wilkerson, Sr. (88 tackles, 1 sack, 4 forced fumbles)
- RB Tyler McAlister, Soph., 6-0, 190
- QB Jordan Hoy, Jr. (41 of 69, 469 yards, 9 TDs)
- WR R.J. Williams, Sr. (38 catches, 551 yards, 4 TDs)
- WR Jake Fisher, Sr. (38 catches, 299 yards)
- WR Austin O'Dell, Sr. (11 catches, 101 yards, 2 TDs)
- CB Justin Peters, Sr. (44 tackles, 1 INT, 1 forced fumble, 1 recovery)
2013 Outlook: Rockwall-Heath averaged 28.4 points per game last season, but played inconsistently on offense during District 12-5A play, when the Hawks scored 24.7 per contest. Six returning starters should help remedy that, especially with quarterback Jordan Hoy, who gained some experience as a backup last year, and three proven receivers back in the mix for head coach Mickey Moss.
Rico Henderson and Tyler McAlister are expected to be strong options in the running game, which Trevor Elbert should spearhead. A junior, Elbert is probably Heath's best player and already holds offers from Alabama, Texas, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech.
The question marks arise on defense, where the Hawks graduated two Texas A&M signees on the defensive line: Jay Arnold and Jordan Points. Even with them the Jackets allowed 26.8 points per game in district. Clay Wilkerson and Justin Peters will be the leaders for a fairly inexperienced unit that may have to catch up to the offense as the season progresses.
Rockwall-Heath is contender for one of the final two playoff spots after going 6-5 a year ago, but the Hawks may have to catch a few breaks and grow up fast on defense to qualify for the postseason this fall.
6. North Mesquite Stallions
Coach: Mike Robinson
2012 finish: 2-8
Returning starters: 8 offensive, 9 defensive
Players to watch
- OT Dezmand Candelarie, Sr., 6-3, 270 (committed to New Mexico State)
- RB Ta'Varius Luke, Sr. (841 rushing yards, 5 TDs)
- RB Corey Hunt, Sr., 5-10, 190 (746 rushing yards, 8 TDs)
- QB Cody Williams, Sr. (60 of 137, 889 yards, 6 TDs, 8 INTs)
- LB London Spain, Sr., 5-10, 188 (85 tackles, 3 sacks)
- LB Roger Johnson, Jr., 6-2, 215
- DB Da'Trel Davis, Jr., 6-0, 175
- WR Bryston Cummings, Soph., 6-3, 165
- OL Mike Nichols, Sr., 6-2, 265
- DB Andrew Jones, Sr., 6-0, 170
2013 Outlook: North Mesquite endured a disappointing 2012 season, but the Stallions return more starters than any team in District 12-5A.
The offense should be in good shape with the return of quarterback Cody Williams and tailbacks Corey Hunt and Ta'Varius Luke, a duo that combined for 1,687 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns as juniors. Dezmand Candelarie and Mike Nichols are experienced linemen who will anchor the Stallions' offensive front.
Defense is where North Mesquite needs its bigger improvement after surrendering 33.8 points per game last year. The good news for head coach Mike Robinson is the return of nine defensive starters, including playmaking linebacker London Spain. Da'Trel Davis and Roger Johnson are two juniors to keep an eye.
North Mesquite has the experience to contend for the one of the final two playoff spots. The Stallions' games vs. Rockwall (Oct. 11), at Mesquite (Oct. 18), and at Rockwall-Heath (Nov. 1) will likely determine if they can surprise some people and reach the postseason.
7. Tyler Lee Red Raiders
Coach: Darrell Piske
2012 finish: 1-9
Returning starters: 6 offensive, 7 defensive
Players to watch
- OT Matthew Weeks, Jr., 6-5, 260
- OT Ameir Wilson, Sr., 6-3, 230
- DT Triston Taylor, Sr., 6-1, 243
- RB Tavon Wesley, Soph., 5-11, 175
- ATH Bryce Wilkerson, Sr., 5-8, 150 (19.9 KO return average)
- DL Etim Asangansi, Sr., 6-1, 240
- WR Marquiston Williams, Sr., 5-10, 160
- DB Patrick Udofia, Jr., 5-11, 175
- LB Brandon Durman, Jr.
- LB Rodderick Gaines, Jr.
- QB Trevor Carr, Jr.
- WR Diondre Allen, Sr.
- QB Raleigh Poster, Sr. (52 of 108, 645 yards, 2 TDs, 6 INTs)
Offense: Tyler Lee struggled mightily to produce points last season, averaging only 13.7 per game. Seven opponents held the Red Raiders to single digits, including their last five District 12-5A foes.
Six starters are back to help remedy those offensive issues. The Red Raiders should have an improved offensive line with tackles Ameir Wilson and Matthew Weeks, who played tight end last year but projects as a Division I FBS recruit on the offensive line. Weeks already holds an SMU offer.
Ball-carriers Marcus White and LaQuintas Wallace graduated, so the future might be now in sophomore Tavon Wesley. Second-year head coach Darrell Piske speaks highly of Wesley, who has good size and speed. Trevor Carr got the majority of first-team reps during summer 7-on-7 and is expected to be the starting quarterback, though Raleigh Poster started most of last season and is also an option.
Defense: Like the offense, Lee's defensive strength appears to be up front, where Triston Taylor returns after a solid junior season. He'll join classmate Etim Asangansi to give Piske two quality linemen, a much-needed commodity in a district that includes several strong rushing attacks. Brandon Durman and Rodderick Gaines should give Lee dependable linebacker play.
The Red Raiders struggled defensively in 2012, though some of the issues came as a result of the offense putting the D in less-than-ideal situations. Lee allowed 35.7 points per game, a number that increased to 42.2 during 12-5A play. Seven returning starters and a solid defensive front, which may also get some help from Wilson at defensive end, should go a long way in helping the Red Raiders cut into that number.
2013 Outlook: Lee competed well in its non-district schedule a year ago, hanging with quality playoff teams in Sulphur Springs and Lufkin and getting its only win of the season against Texas High, another postseason qualifier.
But 12-5A was not kind to the Red Raiders, who were outscored 253-49 during league play in 2012. Thirteen returning starters and a second offseason in Piske's system should help the Red Raiders make strides this fall, but that strong 2016 class is probably another year away from helping Lee make a push for the final playoff spot in 12-5A.
Nevertheless, Lee's development this year should be interesting to watch. Weeks and Wilson give Lee one of the better tackle tandems in East Texas, and Taylor should make plenty of plays on the defensive line. If the rest of the roster finds a way to play to their level, Lee might be a pest for the teams right ahead of it like North Mesquite, Rockwall-Heath, Rockwall, and Mesquite in their quest for playoff spots.