Just like last year, the District 16-4A championship figures to come down the regular-season finale between state-ranked Whitehouse and John Tyler.

Defending league champ John Tyler is replacing a ton of firepower from last year's state semifinalist squad, while Whitehouse brings back the majority of its starters and looks to take the next step with its program.

 

District 16-4A Preview

Whitehouse's Patrick Mahomes. (© Christopher R. Vinn/www.etsn.fm)

PLAYMAKERS

  • Terry Ausborne, Sr., DB, John Tyler
  • Devontay Bell, Sr., QB, Corsicana
  • Jacob Bragg, Sr., OL, Nacogdoches
  • Nate Brooks, Jr., DB, Whitehouse
  • Justin Dunning, Jr., WR/DB, Whitehouse
  • Delenis Garrett, Jr., RB, Lindale
  • Reggie Gipson, Sr., RB, John Tyler
  • Reggie Long, Sr., LB, Whitehouse
  • Patrick Mahomes, Sr., QB, Whitehouse
  • Carter McCown, Jr., QB, Jacksonville
  • Travaughn Moore, Sr., OL/DL, John Tyler
  • Greg Roberts, Sr., DE, Nacogdoches

 

TOP GAMES

  • Corsicana at John Tyler, 7:30 p.m., Oct. 11
  • Nacogdoches at Jacksonville, 7:30 p.m., Oct. 11
  • Whitehouse at Corsicana, 7:30 p.m., Nov. 1
  • Jacksonville at Lindale, 7:30 p.m., Nov. 1
  • John Tyler at Whitehouse, 7:30 p.m., Nov. 8

 

1. Whitehouse Wildcats

Whitehouse's Justin Dunning. (© Christopher R. Vinn/www.etsn.fm)

Coach: Adam Cook

2012 finish: 10-2 (Class 4A Division II area finalist)

Returning starters: 8 offensive, 7 defensive

Players to watch

  • QB Patrick Mahomes, Sr., 6-3, 200 (committed to Texas Tech; 237 of 418, 3,839 yards, 46 TDs, 9 INTs; 107 carries, 258 yards, 6 TDs)
  • WR/DB Justin Dunning, Jr., 6-4, 200 (61 tackles, 5 INTs, 5 pass break-ups, 3 fumble recoveries)
  • LB Reggie Long, Sr., 5-10, 205 (76 tackles, 6 for loss, 2 INTs, 2 pass break-ups, 1 fumble recovery)
  • DB Nate Brooks, Jr., 5-11, 150 (42 tackles, 1 for loss, 4 INTs, 5 pass break-ups)
  • WR Jake Parker, Sr., 6-0, 165 (69 catches, 976 yards, 9 TDs)
  • WR Coleman Patterson, Sr., 6-1, 180 (46 catches, 758 yards, 9 TDs)
  • WR Jaylon Dews, Sr., 6-0, 160 (35 catches, 532 yards, 8 TDs)
  • DB Chris Reese, Sr., 6-0, 165 (53 tackles, 7 for loss, 1 sack, 1 INT, 1 pass break-up, 4 forced fumbles)
  • RB Vincent Dunning, Sr., 6-3, 195 (51 carries, 401 yards, 3 TDs; 11 catches, 144 yards, 3 TDs)
  • DB Isaiah Burton, Sr., 5-8, 160 (31 tackles, 5 INTs, 3 pass break-ups, 2 fumble recoveries)
  • RB/LB Dominique Hollie, Jr., 6-1, 215 (46 carries, 164 yards, 4 TDs; 20 tackles, 1 INT)
  • OL/DL Kostin Wallace, Sr., 5-11, 340

 

Whitehouse's Jake Parker. (© Christopher R. Vinn/www.etsn.fm)

Offense: There weren't too many offenses better than Whitehouse during the 2012 season as the Wildcats averaged 45 points and 476.3 yards per game. With eight starters returning, expect more of the same this fall.

Mahomes is one of the top quarterbacks in the state and is coming off an incredible season that earned the strong-armed, multi-sport star ETSN.fm Super Team Newcomer of the Year honors. He isn't alone, as Whitehouse returns three of its top four receivers from a season ago in Parker, Patterson and Dews.

The running game, which averaged 124.7 yards a game last year, could be even better if Vincent Dunning can stay on the field. He missed five games last season, but still managed more than 400 yards and an average of 7.8 yards per attempt in 2012. There will be some new faces along the offensive line, but expect center Austin Dickerson to be the anchor.

Whitehouse's Reggie Long. (© Christopher R. Vinn/www.etsn.fm)

Defense: The Wildcats were vastly improved on defense last season. Whitehouse allowed 29.5 points a game in 2012, but it was a major upgrade after allowing the opposition 43.5 the previous year. And with seven defensive starters back, expect the number to go down once more.

Up front, Wallace will anchor a defensive line that was hit the hardest by graduation. His big frame in the middle could have a major impact on shutting down opposing rushing attacks. The linebacking corps features Long and Hollie, whose size and speed make the duo one of the most complete in the area.

The strength of the defense, however, is its secondary. Justin Dunning is one of the best DBs in the entire state, while Brooks and Burton combined for nine interceptions a season ago.

Whitehouse's Nate Brooks. (© Christopher R. Vinn/www.etsn.fm)

2013 outlook: Whitehouse enters the season ranked No. 6 in the state by the Associated Press, and expectations are at an all-time high.

Former offensive coordinator Adam Cook takes over as head coach, replacing Randy McFarlin, the school's all-time winningest coach. The Wildcats came close to winning the 16-4A title last season, leading John Tyler by 24 points at one point in the regular-season finale before ultimately giving up the lead and the district crown.

With so many playmakers on each side of the ball returning, it'd be hard to imagine Whitehouse not being in the thick of the 16-4A title chase again this season. But that's not the only goal in Whitehouse as Coach Cook has stressed to his team the notion of going "from good to great."

 

2. John Tyler Lions

John Tyler's Terry Ausborne. (© Christopher R. Vinn/www.etsn.fm)

Coach: Ricklan Holmes

2012 finish: 13-2 (Class 4A Division I semifinalist)

Returning starters: 6 offensive, 5 defensive

Players to watch

  • DB Terry Ausborne, Sr., 5-11, 170 (86 tackles, 6 INTs, 3 pass break-ups, 1 fumble recovery)
  • RB Reggie Gipson, Jr., 5-10, 170 (39 carries, 272 yards, 4 TDs; 20 catches, 284 yards, 2 TDs)
  • OL/DL Travaughn Moore, Sr., 6-3, 270
  • LB Andrew Clark, Sr., 6-1, 205 (43 tackles, 1 forced fumble)
  • RB Dyran McDuff, Sr., 5-8, 160 (15 carries, 49 yards)
  • LB Malik Hubbard, Sr., 5-10, 180
  • LB/DE Darius Amie, Sr., 6-0, 227 (23 tackles)
  • QB Geovari McCollister, Jr., 6-2, 180
  • WR Rodney Bendy, Jr., 6-4, 180
  • WR Nick Cain, Jr., 5-9, 165
  • DB Isaac Warren, Jr., 5-11, 165
  • DE Jassavia Reese, Jr., 6-5, 215

 

John Tyler's Geovari McCollister. (© Christopher R. Vinn/www.etsn.fm)

Offense: The Lions graduated 92 percent of their offensive production from 2012, so duplicating last season's numbers of 42.3 points and 446.2 yards per game would be no easy feat. Coach Holmes has been high on McCollister since the spring and it's his turn to take over the offense after successful quarterback tenures from Jeremy Johnson, David Bush and Greg Ward.

Most of the receiving corps is being replaced as well, but expect Bendy and Cain to get a lot of targets in the passing game. Gipson, when healthy, was a very productive back in 2012 and is one of the fastest players in the area.

The offensive line returns a couple of starters, most notably Moore, who is expected to start on the defensive line as well. While not as seasoned as last year's group, JT's new corps of skill players feature great speed and athleticism, capable of changing the game in the open field.

John Tyler's Jassavia Reese. (© Christopher R. Vinn/www.etsn.fm)

Defense: The Lions also lost their best defender from a season ago in Tyus Bowser, who led all of East Texas with 24 sacks and was the ETSN.fm Super Team Defensive Player of the Year for 2012.

But Holmes is excited about Reese's size and athleticism and expects the junior to be a force rushing off the edge. Moore will be counted upon in the middle, giving the Lions great potential up front. JT also graduated its top tackler from 2012 in Richard Gipson, but Clark has the tools necessary to step right in and pick up where Gipson left off.

John Tyler's Reggie Gipson. (© Christopher R. Vinn/www.etsn.fm)

The secondary might be the defense's strength with the return of Ausborne at safety. Warren, who played sparingly as a sophomore, is expected to start at corner after showing flashes last fall and during the spring.

2013 outlook: Even though several important pieces from last year's state semifinalist are gone, Holmes has scoffed at the notion that JT will be in rebuild mode this season. The second-year coach has faith in his new cast of characters, and is excited to see how this group handles the always-high expectations at John Tyler.

On paper, the edge goes to Whitehouse in the race for the district title, but the 16-4A crown will most likely come down to the regular-season finale. And despite being heavy underdogs in 2012, Whitehouse nearly pulled off the upset on the road. So a JT upset, if it can be called that, is certainly not out of the realm of possibility.

 

3. Corsicana Tigers

Coach: Steve Hoffman

2012 finish: 4-7 (Class 4A Division I bi-district finalist)

Returning starters: 6 offensive, 5 defensive

Players to watch

  • QB Devontay Bell, Sr., 5-11, 180 (327 passing yards, 3 TDs; 350 rushing yards, 3 TDs)
  • OL Chris Jones, Sr., 6-2, 285
  • TE Tiano McDonald, Sr., 6-2, 225
  • DE Darius Watson, Jr., 6-3, 215
  • RB/DB Tray Owens, Soph., 5-11, 190
  • RB/DB Donovan Fields, Sr., 5-10, 175
  • RB Tygarius Sheffield, Jr., 5-7, 150
  • OL Donavon Haley, Sr., 5-11, 230
  • DB Kaley Washington, Sr., 5-8, 150
  • WR Hector Calvillo, Sr., 6-2, 155

 

2013 outlook: Despite a fourth consecutive trip to the playoffs, last season may have been viewed as a disappointment for Corsicana, which had just its third losing season since 1978. Bell, who totaled more than 2,000 yards as a sophomore, struggled to stay on the field with injury problems in 2012. When healthy he's one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the district. The Tigers averaged 25.8 points per game last season, but the defense gave up more than 36 a game. Improvement in both areas are needed if Corsicana wishes to join the district's elite. And while it might not be in the class of Whitehouse or John Tyler, Corsicana is definitely a playoff contender and could make some noise in the playoffs if Bell can remain healthy and a few other playmakers emerge.

 

4. Jacksonville Indians

Jacksonville's Carter McCown. (© Christopher R. Vinn/www.etsn.fm)

Coach: Chris Taber

2012 finish: 4-7 (Class 4A Division II bi-district finalist)

Returning starters: 5 offensive, 3 defensive

Players to watch

  • QB Carter McCown, Jr., 6-3, 175 (99 of 189, 1,305 yards, 13 TDs, 10 INTs)
  • RB Stacy Cummings, Sr., 5-9, 185 (56 carries, 192 yards, 3 TDs)
  • WR Tony Lane, Sr., 5-7, 175
  • OL Justin Stewart, Sr., 6-4, 230
  • RB Lekendrick Anderson, Sr., 6-1, 210
  • OL Xavier Matthews, Sr., 6-1, 250
  • RB Braylon Parish, Jr., 5-9, 178
  • OL Curtis Landon, Jr., 6-3, 225
  • RB Datavian Thacker, Soph., 5-10, 170

 

Offense: It was the first year for Jacksonville to run Coach Taber's uptempo spread attack, and there were a few ups and downs for the Indians' offense in 2012. For the season Jacksonville averaged 27.6 points per game, and that was after having

Jacksonville's Stacy Cummings. (© Christopher R. Vinn/www.etsn.fm)

McCown out of action for about half the season. A full season with McCown calling the shots could do wonders for an offense that's dealing with heavy losses that include its top receivers from 2012 -- Darrell Minifee and D.D. Franklin. Coach Taber is hoping he can get better production in the running game with a talented group of ball carriers, highlighted by Cummings and Anderson. The offensive line is small, but quick and well-conditioned to run a no-huddle, hurry-up offense.

Defense: The graduation turnover is even greater on the defensive side of the ball for Jacksonville, which brings back just three starters from 2012. The Indians allowed opponents 31.2 points per game a season ago, a number Coach Taber would like to

Jacksonville's Lekendrick Anderson. (© Christopher R. Vinn/www.etsn.fm)

see come down a bit this fall. But in order for that to happen, several standouts will need to emerge. It's not out of the question to assume a few offensive guys will be used on defense as well, which could have mixed results given the amount of energy expended on the offensive end. Bottom line: Jacksonville must have a handful of players new to the varsity experience step up.

2013 outlook: Jacksonville might be more potent on offense, but several question marks linger on defense, so much so that another playoff appearance isn't a given. The Indians have a tough non-district schedule, which features matchups with 3A powers Carthage and Gilmer. We expect to know a lot more about Jacksonville once the district season rolls around. The Indians were able to corral the league's last playoff spot a year ago, but last season's wins over 2012's fifth- and sixth-place teams -- Lindale and Nacogdoches -- were by a total of 10 points. If McCown can remain healthy for the full season and the defense can round into shape by the time 16-4A play begins, Jacksonville should be OK.

 

5. Nacogdoches Dragons

Nacogdoches' Jacob Bragg. (© Christopher R. Vinn/www.etsn.fm)

Coach: Bobby Reyes

2012 finish: 0-10

Returning starters: 9 offensive, 9 defensive

Players to watch

  • OL Jacob Bragg, Sr., 6-3, 295 (committed to Kansas)
  • DE Greg Roberts, Sr., 6-5, 215 (committed to Baylor; 51 tackles, 8 sacks)
  • WR L.J. Barnes, Sr., 5-11, 165 (33 catches, 619 yards, 7 TDs)
  • DB Jamar Woodard, Sr., 5-9, 160
  • QB Hunter McClellan, Jr., 6-1, 165 (52 of 101, 720 yards, 6 TDs, 6 INTs)
  • RB Shawn Smith, Jr., 5-9, 190
  • DB Brandon Jones, Soph., 6-0, 180
  • LB Brian Scott, Sr., 6-1, 215 (90 tackles, 5 sacks)

 

Offense: The Dragons mustered just 16 points per game in 2012, but the pieces are in place for significant improvement on the offensive side of the ball. McClellan, who took over the quarterbacking duties midway through the season, is back and will have a few

Nacogdoches' L.J. Barnes. (© Christopher R. Vinn/www.etsn.fm)

solid options with which to operate. Barnes, a speedster, averaged more than 18 yards per catch in 2012 and could be primed for a huge senior season. Smith has great size and speed at the running back position, and could develop into one of the league's top rushers. The offensive line play will be anchored by Bragg, one of the best interior linemen in the state.

Defense: Nacogdoches is looking for better all-around play from its defensive unit, which allowed almost 38 points per game to opponents last fall. Roberts has terrific size and speed and could become a nightmare for opposing offensive tackles to block,

Nacogdoches' Brandon Jones. (© Christopher R. Vinn/www.etsn.fm)

while Scott looks to pick up where his solid junior season left off at linebacker. The Dragons have plenty of speed to burn in the secondary between guys like Woodard and Jones, who both had strong track seasons in the spring. If there's been one thing that's held the Nacogdoches program back in recent years it's been physicality on defense. Coach Reyes is hoping the tide has begun to turn.

2013 outlook: Despite positing its first winless campaign since 1985, there is reason to be optimistic in Nacogdoches. A solid spring practice has Coach Reyes and Co. thinking playoffs this season. And with a district-best 18 starters returning, there's no reason to think any differently. While Nacogdoches doesn't figure to challenge for any of the top three spots in the district, the fourth and final playoff berth is very much at play for the Dragons, making their district-opener at Jacksonville and regular-season finale at home against Lindale crucial.

 

6. Lindale Eagles

Lindale's Delenis Garrett. (© Christopher R. Vinn/www.etsn.fm)

Coach: Mike Meador

2012 finish: 2-8

Returning starters: 6 offensive, 7 defensive

Players to watch

  • OL D.J. Williams, Sr., 6-3, 280
  • OL Justin Young, Sr., 6-3, 290
  • RB Delenis Garrett, Jr., 5-10, 210
  • DB T.J. Griffin, Sr., 5-11, 177
  • WR Kolton Pierce, Jr., 6-0, 175
  • QB David Slice, Sr., 6-1, 180
  • WR Dee Jackson, Jr., 6-1, 195
  • LB Ryan Robison, Soph., 5-10, 190

 

Offense: The Eagles struggled a bit offensively in 2012, averaging less than 20 points per game. Some of that was because of injuries at the running back position, but the silver lining was that several underclassmen got their chance at starting on Friday nights

Lindale's David Slice. (© Christopher R. Vinn/www.etsn.fm)

and could reap the benefits in 2013. Garrett has all kinds of potential at running back, and has two huge offensive lineman to run behind in Williams and Young. Slice returns at quarterback and figures to rely on Pierce in the passing game quite a bit after both showed flashes last season. Jackson is also an intriguing prospect at the receiver position for Coach Meador. Depth is an issue at Lindale, the smallest school in the district, but if the Eagles' main threats can stay healthy throughout the season, a major turnaround on offense could be on the horizon.

Defense: Lindale allowed 31.7 points per game a season ago, which won't win too many football games. Improvement on this side of the ball is a must if the Eagles wish

Lindale's D.J. Williams. (© Christopher R. Vinn/www.etsn.fm)

to become a player in the district. Lindale has seven defensive starters returning, so the pieces are in place for a better showing in 2013. The Eagles got off to a decent start to the 2012 season defensively, but once district play rolled around, opponents averaged 35.8 points a game. Tightening up on defense will be a primary focus.

2013 outlook: The move back to 4A wasn't kind for Lindale, which enjoyed an 18-6 record as a 3A school in 2010 and 2011. But despite going 2-8 a season ago, Lindale wasn't that far removed from a playoff berth. Its loss to Jacksonville, which claimed the final postseason berth from the district, was by just four points. The Eagles have a tough non-district schedule that features Chapel Hill, Carthage and Hallsville, which should prepare Lindale well for district. The season will come down to Lindale's final three games -- vs. Corsicana, vs. Jacksonville, at Nacogdoches.