Newton put up monster numbers a year ago en route to a District 10-2A Division I championship.

Don't be surprised if that happens again.

Head coach W.T. Johnston must replace Arkansas defensive back signee D.J. Dean at quarterback, but the Eagles are loaded and ready for a potential run at a state championship this fall.

District 10-2A Division I Preview

Newton ATH Kevin Shorter. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

PLAYMAKERS

  • Cody Casey, Sr., LB, Winnie East Chambers
  • Josh Cooper, Sr., QB, Anahuac
  • Grayland Arnold, Soph., CB, Kountze
  • Ta'Roy Delahoussaye, Sr., RB, Hardin
  • Anthony Hadnot, Sr., LB, Newton
  • Brandon Johnson, Sr., RB, Newton
  • Brandon Johnson, Sr., QB, Winnie East Chambers
  • Kevin Shorter, Sr., ATH, Newton

 

TOP GAMES

  • Sept. 27 -- Kirbyville at Anahuac
  • Oct. 4 -- Kountze at Woodville
  • Oct. 18 -- Kirbyville at Winnie East Chambers
  • Nov. 1 -- Anahuac at Winnie East Chambers
  • Nov. 8 -- Kountze at Anahuac

 

1. Newton Eagles

Newton LB Anthony Hadnot. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Coach: W.T. Johnston

2012 finish: 13-1 (Class 2A Division I state semifinalist)

Returning starters: 8 offensive, 7 defensive

Players to watch

  • ATH Kevin Shorter, Sr., 6-0, 190 (151 carries, 1,810 yards, 31 TDs; 15 catches, 315 yards, 5 TDs; 58 tackles, 3 INTs, 1 fumble recovery)
  • RB Brandon Johnson, Sr., 5-10, 185 (173 carries, 1,249 yards, 17 TDs)
  • DE/LB Anthony Hadnot, Sr., 5-9, 223 (119 tackles, 12 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, 2 recoveries, 2 punt blocks, 1 FG block)
  • QB/DB Roney Elam, Jr., 6-2, 167 (3 of 5, 68 yards, 1 TD; 16 carries, 128 yards, 2 TDs; 57 tackles, 6 INTs, 1 forced fumble, 1 recovery)
  • RB/DB Calum Foster, Jr., 6-0, 158 (34 carries, 362 yards, 6 TDs; 1 receiving TD; 67 tackles, 1 INT, 1 recovery)
  • OL Tyler Gibson, Sr., 6-0, 240
  • OL Brent Simmons, Jr., 6-3, 275
  • LB Chedrick Hanks, Sr., 6-1, 205 (81 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 3 recoveries)
  • OL Jordan Mattox, Sr., 5-10, 265
  • OL/DL Jason Cochran, Jr., 6-3, 260
  • DL Justin Williams, Sr., 6-0, 205 (68 tackles, 5 sacks, 1 INT, 2 recoveries)
  • DB Carlton Myers, Sr., 5-10, 160 (97 tackles, 1 sack, 1 recovery, 1 FG block)
  • SS Raylin Davis, Jr., 5-7, 160 (108 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT)
  • TE/LB Keyaun Seastrunk, Sr., 6-1, 215 (39 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 INTs, 1 forced fumble, 1 recovery, 1 punt block)
  • OL Bailey Caycoya, Sr., 5-10, 210

 

Newton TE/LB Keyaun Seastrunk. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Offense: Newton averaged a staggering 53.1 points per game last season, eclipsing the 60-point plateau six times during a 13-win state semifinal run.

Matching that figure may be tough without D.J. Dean at quarterback. The Arkansas defensive back signee was 1 of 3 1,000-yard rushers for the Eagles in 2012 and accounted for 2,076 total yards and 32 total touchdowns.

But there is no doubt Newton has the firepower to once again overwhelm opposing defense. Kevin Shorter has two dozen college offers and is back after a huge junior season along with Brandon Johnson. That duo combined for 3,000-plus yards and 53 total touchdowns last season. A veteran offensive line is back to block for them.

Roney Elam, who had a team-high six interceptions as a sophomore, is likely to flip to the offensive side of the field and pull double-duty as the Eagles' new quarterback. The tall, rangy athlete should give Newton the home-run threat it usually has at QB.

Newton DB Carlton Myers. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Defense: As powerful as Newton's offense was last season, the defense was equally impressive.

Newton limited opponents to 14.1 points per game, including only 9.3 per contest during the regular season. Seven starters return from that unit, including Anthony Hadnot, who had a huge junior season off the edge.

He, Justin Williams, and Chedrick Hanks will spearhead what should be a strong front seven, while the Eagles will once again have one of the best secondaries in 2A, despite losing Dean to the SEC and Shorter to a potentially limited defensive role. Elam, Calum Foster, Carlton Myers, and Raylin Davis will lead that group and give head coach W.T. Johnston plenty of athleticism in his defensive backfield.

Newton OL Tyler Gibson. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

2013 Outlook: There's not really any other way to put it -- Newton is the favorite to win the 2A Division I state championship. Fifteen starters are back from a team that believes it should have won last year's title if not for a second-half falter in a 39-22 state semifinal loss to Cameron Yoe, which beat Daingerfield 38-20 in the title game.

Newton should have the offensive firepower and the defensive versatility to live up its preseason consensus No. 1 ranking. The Eagles' only weakness might be their regular-season schedule. Newton's average victory margin in its first 13 games -- when the Eagles were 13-0 -- was 43.4 points. That included seven victories of at least 47 points.

Newton's closest wins were a 35-12 season-opener vs. Bridge City and a 40-17 district victory against Kirbyville. In other words, perhaps when the Eagles found themselves in a close game against Yoe, they were in a bit of unfamiliar territory.

Newton is expected to again roll through the District 10-2A Division I schedule and first couple of playoff rounds. Will the Eagles be ready in the event of a close contest? Will that occurrence even rear its head and force the issue? Those are the questions that will be answered this fall for a Newton team heavily favored for a state championship appearance.

 

2. Winnie East Chambers Buccaneers

Coach: Russ Sutherland

2012 finish: 9-3 (Class 2A Division I Region III area finalist)

Returning starters: 7 offensive, 4 defensive

Players to watch

  • LB Cody Casey, Sr., 6-4, 250 (148 tackles)
  • QB Brandon Johnson, Sr. (1,249 passing yards, 6 TDs; 199 rushing yards, 4 TDs)
  • WR Lane Simon, Jr. (17 catches, 243 yards)
  • RB Dylan Silcox, Soph.
  • DB Jarrod Guillory, Sr., 5-10, 165
  • DB Dominique Marshall, Jr.
  • TE Nick King, Sr. (7 catches, 114 yards, 2 TDs)

 

2013 Outlook: East Chambers returns half of its starters, the majority of whom come from an offense that averaged 31.3 points per game in 2012. Replacing Tarleton State signee Glenn Roberts -- who ran for 4,131 yards and 63 touchdowns during the last two seasons -- will be extremely difficult, but Brandon Johnson had a solid junior season under center and should be the Buccaneers' leader in 2013.

Bruising linebacker Cody Casey will play that role on defense. The Bucs allowed only 15.0 points per game in the 11 games other than their 74-7 loss to Newton, which shot that average 19.9 for the course of all 12 games. East Chambers should once again finish second in 10-2A D-I behind the heavily favored Newton Eagles.

 

3. Kountze Lions

Coach: Tracy Franklin

2012 finish: 5-5

Returning starters: 8 offensive, 9 defensive

Players to watch

  • CB Grayland Arnold, Soph.
  • FS Jaydon Cunigan, Soph.
  • SS Deontra Morgan, Jr.
  • QB Justin Harper, Jr.
  • ATH Blake Best, Sr.
  • LB Ashton Whittle, Sr.

 

2013 Outlook: Kountze returns the most starters of any team in District 10-2A Division I. The Lions were 2-5 in district last season, but three of those losses were by single digits -- 18-16 vs. Woodville, 28-22 vs. Kirbyville, and 15-14 vs. Anahuac.

The catch? Kountze must play all three of those teams on the road in 2013. But the experience is definitely there to compensate for not having home-field advantage. The secondary should be the Lions' strength with highly athletic sophomores Grayland Arnold and Jaydon Cunigan, as well as junior Deontra Morgan. The final three playoff spots behind Newton are a virtual tossup entering the season, but ETSN.fm thinks Kountze has a good shot at snagging one of them.

 

4. Kirbyville Wildcats

Coach: Greg Neece

2012 finish: 5-5

Returning starters: 1 offensive, 4 defensive

Players to watch

  • DL TyAndre Cooper, Soph.
  • DB Tevin Samuel, Jr.
  • DE Monte Diggles, Jr.
  • RB Brycton Hughey, Sr.
  • RB Brandon Rodriguez, Sr.
  • C Daylon Nichols, Sr.
  • LB Dillon Kroner, Sr.
  • TE Josh Breed, Jr.

 

2013 Outlook: Kirbyville narrowly missed the postseason last year with a senior-laden team. Head coach Greg Neece must rebuild virtually his entire offense and much of his defense, but there is talent coming up, as always, in Kirbyville.

A pair of defensive ends -- junior Monte Diggles and sophomore TyAndre Cooper -- could have big years, as well as junior defensive back Tevin Samuel. Brycton Hughey may be the Wildcats' primary ball carrier after getting some experience last year.

Kirbyville will have 17 new starters, but the Wildcats should still be in the thick of the race for a playoff berth in a crowded District 10-2A Division I hunt.

 

5. Woodville Eagles

Coach: Steve Fentress

2012 finish: 4-6

Returning starters: 5 offensive, 5 defensive

Players to watch

  • RB Phillip Noble, Sr., 6-0, 165
  • FB Reggie Williams, Sr., 5-10, 175
  • QB Marqui Jackson, Jr.
  • FB Trent Daniels, Sr., 5-10, 175
  • RB Charles Fentress, Sr., 5-7, 145
  • C Colin Pate, Jr.
  • RB/LB Tim Moye, Jr.
  • OL/DL JaTavion Rigsby, Jr.
  • OL/DL Miguel Falcon, Sr.

 

Offense: Woodville has five returning starters from a unit that averaged 21.9 points per game in 2012. Head coach Steve Fentress' run-first scheme will likely concentrate on getting the ball to Phillip Noble, Reggie Williams, and Trent Daniels as much as possible, in addition to wingback Charles Fentress.

Center Colin Pate will lead the group blocking for the aforementioned ball carriers, who will join a new quarterback -- Marqui Jackson -- in the backfield.

Defense: Woodville's sometimes anemic offense -- it averaged 20.7 points per game during District 10-2A Division I play -- put the Eagles' defense in tough situations a year ago. The result was a unit that yielded 25.0 points per game, but surrendered 51 twice in the final three contests of the year.

Miguel Falcon and JaTavion Rigsby could be two key players up front, while Daniels and Williams should log plenty of playing time on this side of the ball as well.

2013 Outlook: Woodville appeared on its way to a playoff berth last year before a three-game skid to end the season sent the Eagles from 3-1 in league play to 3-4.

Woodville must get better offensive consistency and production to snag a playoff berth this year. That's definitely not out of the realm of possibility. The Eagles are among the five teams along with East Chambers, Anahuac, Kirbyville, and Kountze that will fight for the final three playoff spots behind defending league champion Newton.

 

6. Anahuac Panthers

Coach: Marty Murr

2012 finish: 5-6 (Class 2A Division I Region III bi-district finalist)

Returning starters: 3 offensive, 3 defensive

Players to watch

  • QB Josh Cooper, Jr. (460 passing yards, 9 TDs; 700 rushing yards)
  • LB Chris O'Bannion, Sr., 5-11, 160 (96 tackles)
  • DB Tyre Raymond, Sr., 5-8, 160 (61 tackles, 3 INTs)
  • OL Alexis Grimaldo, Sr., 6-1, 230
  • OL Mason Boyer, Sr., 5-11, 220
  • WR Wesley Smith, Sr., 5-8, 165
  • RB Jacolob Lewis, Soph.

 

2013 Outlook: This season could be a rebuilding effort for Anahuac. The Panthers qualified for the playoffs last year after finishing 4-3 in District 10-2A Division I, but 16 starters have graduated, leaving very little experience for head coach Marty Murr.

The good news for Anahuac is Josh Cooper returns after accounting for almost 1,200 total yards as a sophomore. He'll have some experience in front of him in the form of Alexis Grimaldo and Mason Boyer, while Chris O'Bannion and Tyre Raymond will lead a defense that allowed 29.3 points per game last season. Anahuac could compete for one of the final two playoff spots in a crowded race for Nos. 2-6, but the Panthers will have to do it with a lot of new faces on both sides of the ball.

 

7. Warren Warriors

Coach: John Woodard

2012 finish: 5-5

Returning starters: 6 offensive, 6 defensive

Players to watch

  • RB Parker Lambright, Sr., 5-7, 165
  • OL Gayland Steubing, Sr., 5-9, 260
  • QB Tate Gore, Jr.
  • OL Rileigh Harrod, Jr.
  • LB Caleb Crittenden, Sr., 6-0, 195
  • WR Kyle Hathaway, Sr., 6-0, 175
  • RB Ryan Laqua, Sr., 5-9, 155

 

2013 Outlook: Warren notched back-to-back District 10-2A Division I victories last October vs. Hardin and Woodville, but couldn't break through against anyone else. Warren struggled to compete against the top teams in the district and doesn't appear to have the firepower entering 2013 to push for a playoff spot, but head coach John Woodard has 12 returning starters in his quest for the postseason.

His first year in Warren produced the Warriors' first .500 season since 2005, when they finished 6-4. In fact, the 5-5 record matched Warren's win total from 2008-1, when the Warriors were 5-35. It will be difficult, but after a competitive 2012, perhaps the Warriors can themselves into the five-team pack behind Newton in the fight for a playoff spot.

 

8. Hardin Hornets

Coach: Walter Fortune

2012 finish: 1-9

Returning starters: 8 offensive, 8 defensive

Players to watch

  • RB Ta'Roy Delahoussaye, Sr., 5-7, 165 (880 rushing yards, 10 TDs)
  • WR Chris Dumas, Sr., 6-2, 185 (640 receiving yards, 6 TDs)
  • QB Jameson Estep, Sr. (760 passing yards, 6 TDs)
  • OT Cory Mettlen, Jr.
  • DT L.J. Randolph, Soph.
  • LB Zane Drake, Jr.
  • FS Taylor Thompson, Jr.

 

2013 Outlook: Hardin has great experience back on both sides of the ball, especially on offense at the skill spots. Ta'Roy Delahoussaye is primed for a big season after a breakout junior campaign, while Jameson Estep and Chris Dumas will again be the Hornets' go-to pass-catch combination.

Despite 16 returning starters, Hardin has a significantly uphill battle fighting for a playoff spot. None of the Hornets' seven district losses was closer than nine points, and opponents averaged a 21.3 margin of victory over their 10-game schedule. Hardin's best bet is sneak up on Kountze and Anahuac at the begging of the league schedule and give itself an outside shot at qualifying for the final playoff spot.