Tyler Lee's district is in a period of transition.

Gone are the dominant running backs that carried Rockwall and Garland to playoffs berths last season. This year's version of the league should have much more of a finesse feel with each team in the perceived top half bringing back an accomplished signal caller.

But offense is still the name of the game. It looks like it's going to take a lot of points to get out on top once again this season for the Red Raiders.

Fortunately, Lee is loaded on the offensive side of the ball. Could this be a breakout year after snapping a three-season playoff skid in 2014?

And what's the limit if Darrell Piske's squad produces a stronger defense than last season?

Welcome to the world of District 11-6A.

District 11-6A Preview

Tyler Lee senior receiver Isjuwan Barker. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

PLAYMAKERS

  • WR/DB Isjuwan Barker, Sr., Tyler Lee
  • QB Logan Bonner, Sr., Rowlett (committed to Arkansas State)
  • WR/DB Corree Compton, Sr., Garland
  • WR Devin Duvernay, Sr., Sachse
  • WR Donovan Duvernay, Sr., Sachse
  • WR Ladarius Dickens, Sr., Rowlett
  • LB Christian Feaster, Sr., North Garland
  • QB Zach Hall, Sr., Tyler Lee
  • LB Chib Ihediwa, Sr., Rockwall
  • WR/DB Tamba Juanah, Sr., Rockwall
  • DB Jared Mayden, Sr., Sachse
  • RB Kobe Morrow, Jr., Rowlett
  • OL Miller Nguyen, Sr., Garland Naaman Forest
  • WR/DB Major Norman, Sr., Garland Lakeview Centennial
  • QB Will Reed, Sr., Rockwall
  • RB Tavon Wesley, Sr., Tyler Lee
  • QB Jacoby Williams, Sr., Garland

 

TOP GAMES

  • Tyler Lee at Sachse, Sept. 17
  • Rowlett at Tyler Lee, Sept. 24
  • Sachse at Garland, Sept. 24
  • Tyler Lee at Garland, Oct. 16
  • Sachse at Rowlett, Oct. Oct. 16
  • Rockwall at Rowlett, Oct. 23
  • Tyler Lee at Rockwall, Oct. 30

 

1. Rockwall Yellowjackets

  • Coach: Rodney Webb
  • 2014 finish: 12-1 (6A D-II regional semifinalst)
  • Returning starters: 5 offensive, 7 defensive
Players to watch
  • QB Will Reed, Sr., 6-1, 182
  • WR/DB Tamba Juanah, Sr., 5-11, 180
  • LB Chib Ihediwa, Sr., 6-0, 250
  • DL Kenneth Tobias, Sr., 5-11, 239
  • DB James Taylor, Sr., 5-5, 160
  • RB A.J. Blacknall, Jr., 5-7, 180
  • RB Caleb Broach, Sr., 5-8, 192

 

2015 outlook: Rockwall has some proving to do without blue chip running back Chris Warren III -- a member of the Texas roster these days -- but there are positive signs the Yellowjackets can repeat as district champions. The defensive side of the ball is in great standing with seven starters back from a unit that allowed 28.4 points per league game last season, good enough for an 11-point margin of victory average, en route to a perfect district season and run to the Class 5A Division II regional semifinals. Defensive lineman Kenneth Tobias, linebacker Chib Ihediwa and safety James Taylor give the Yellowjackets a proven playmaker at each level. The district is choked with quarterback talent. Rockwall's Will Reed is no exception. He passed for 2,455 yards and 33 touchdowns last season. The receiver and running back spots needed overhauling during the offseason, but the program has not been short on athleticism in recent years.

To give themselves the best chance at a postseason run, however, Rockwall would be best served by winning the district. That would almost certainly help it skip out on state power Hewitt Midway in the first round should Midway be placed in the Class 6A Division II bracket. The Yellowjackets will play in the Division II bracket if they reach the playoffs as the league's second-smallest school. There's no bigger game on the schedule for Rockwall than its Oct. 30 meeting with Tyler Lee, which is also expected to go the Division II route.

2. Tyler Lee Red Raiders

Tyler Lee senior quarterback Zach Hall. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)
  • Coach: Darrell Piske
  • 2014 finish: 5-6 (6A D-II bi-district finalist)
  • Returning starters: 7 offensive, 5 defensive
Players to watch
  • QB Zach Hall, Sr., 5-11, 170
  • WR Isjuwan Barker, Sr., 6-3, 186
  • RB Tavon Wesley, Sr., 5-11, 190
  • OL Xavian Gardner, Sr., 6-0, 212
  • LB Campbell Miller, Jr., 6-2, 245
  • DL John Samples III, Sr., 6-3, 250
  • WR Jordan Devers, Sr., 6-0, 178
  • WR Tyrec Grayson, Sr., 5-8, 145

 

 

Tyler Lee senior receiver Tyrec Grayson. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

Offense: It could be the district's best, and it is the clear-cut strength of the 2015 Red Raiders team. Lee is loaded at the offensive skill positions, especially within the passing sector. Senior receiver Isjuwan Barker is a player to keep an eye on this season from a recruiting standpoint while Tyrec Grayson and Jordan Devers give head coach Darrell Piske other known quantities at the receiver spots. Senior running back Tavon Wesley will headline a solid group of runners. The real trump card is senior dual-threat quarterback Zach Hall, a holder of offers from Baylor, Missouri and Texas Tech. Hall passed for 2,072 yards and 19 touchdowns last season and made up a majority of the run game with 1,512 rushing yards and 22 scores. The quarterback is the team's best athlete and will find himself with natural space by taking the snap. In total, Lee has seven starters back from a unit that came in second behind Rockwall in total district points scored. Truth be told, Lee's offense floated the team into the postseason last year so it's a safe bet it can do more with experience this season.

 

Tyler Lee junior linebacker Campbell Miller. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

Defense: The Red Raiders didn't have very good answers in a district full of standout running backs last season. The defense averaged 37.4 points surrendered in each league game and made the offense work hard late into the night. It has to improve, and six newcomers will be tasked to join the five returning starters in the effort. Fortunately, competitive district opponents will lean more on their passing games this season. The Red Raiders are built better for that with good athleticism at the linebacker spots and in the secondary. Expect defensive end John Samples III to make even more of an impact in his senior season as a pass rusher. Junior linebacker Campbell Miller will anchor the front. Isjuwan Barker can shore up anything missing in the secondary if it comes to that as a safety.

2015 outlook: We're in a minority by picking the Red Raiders to finish second in the district. Most preseason publications have Lee finishing in fourth place. But any improvement whatsoever on defense should be enough to push Darrell Piske's squad from a playoff contender to a district championship contender and beyond. The offense was good enough on its own last season to send the team dancing in November. With a playmaker at each level of the defense, it should not be terribly difficult for new starters to find a supporting role. Lee is in a spot to flex between the Class 6A Division I and Division II playoffs, depending on how the teams around it perform. Adjacent District 12-6A has some good things going for it, but no team as strong as Hewitt Midway. Midway can flex between the two 6A playoff divisions as well. Lee will be playing not to run into Midway in the opening round for a second consecutive season. No game would help odds more than a home win against Rockwall on Oct. 30.

3. Rowlett Eagles

  • Coach: Doug Stephens
  • 2014 finish: 8-4 (6A D-I area finalist)
  • Returning starters: 7 offensive, 3 defensive
Players to watch
  • QB Logan Bonner, Sr., 6-2, 200 (committed to Arkansas State)
  • WR Ladarius Dickens, Jr., 5-9, 188
  • RB Kobe Morrow, Jr., 5-10, 185
  • DB Trenton Gordon, Jr., 5-10, 176

 

2015 outlook: Offense will obviously be the Eagles strength with seven of the 10 returning starters. Logan Bonner, an Arkansas State commitment, makes a case as the district's best passing quarterback after throwing for 2,177 yards and 19 touchdowns despite missing games due to injury as a junior. Ladarius Dickens was named the league's sophomore offensive player of the year after eight touchdowns and 785 receiving yards on 53 catches. Kobe Morrow, also a junior, looks poised to break 1,000 rushing yards this season. He had 947 yards as a sophomore. Depending on how quickly the defense can catch up to the very productive offense, Rowlett should have an edge for the top spot in the Class 6A Division I bracket.

4. Sachse Mustangs

  • Coach: Mark "Red" Behrens
  • 2014 finish: 6-4
  • Returning starters: 6 offensive, 6 defensive
Players to watch
  • WR Devin Duvernay, Sr., 5-11, 185
  • DB Jared Mayden, Sr., 6-0, 180
  • WR Donovan Duvernay, Sr., 5-10, 175

2015 outlook: Sachse is loaded at the top with two players considered blue chip college recruits in receiver Devin Duvernay and cornerback Jared Mayden. Duvernay caught for 997 yards last season while Mayden made 42 tackles and recorded eight pass breakups in a 10-game season. Donovan Duvernay is another great weapons for a first-year starting quarterback to work with. The Mustangs return six starters on both sides of the ball, but they will have to improve from middle-of-the-road overall offensive and defensive performances to reach the playoffs this season. Fortunately, the teams behind it in the preseason rankings either lost major players or were non-competitive last year.

5. Garland Owls

  • Coach: Jeff Jordan
  • 2014 finish: 7-4 (6A-DI bi-district finalist)
  • Returning starters: 6 offensive, 7 defensive
Players to watch
  • WR/DB Corree Compton, Sr., 6-3, 185
  • QB Jacoby Williams, Sr., 6-3, 210
  • WR/DB Melvin Loveless, Sr., 6-3, 200
  • WR/DB La'Darreous Harris, Sr., 6-3, 185

 

2015 outlook: Garland is a perennial playoff team with 21 appearances in the past 23 seasons, but it's going to be tough to get over the loss of running back Markeith Miller to graduation and recreate the dynamic offense seen last season. The passing game is a clear strength with Corree Compton, Melvin Loveless and La'Darreous Harris back in the fold. Senior quarterback Jacob Williams, a rookie varsity starters, will probably factor into the run game. He's durable at 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds. Garland brings back 13 players in total. That's not a bad place to start. The preseason was a rebuilding project though. We'll see when district play begins Sept. 18.

6. Garland Lakeview Centennial Patriots

  • Coach: Kendall Miller
  • 2014 finish: 4-6
  • Returning starters: 6 offensive, 6 defensive
Players to watch
  • WR/DB Major Norman, Sr., 5-11, 185
  • RB/WR Kaleb McNac, Sr., 5-7, 160

 

2015 outlook: The Patriots don't have a lot of big name players on their team, but the squad was not all that far from snapping its postseason skid dating back to 1995 last season. Two blown fourth quarter leads proved to be the difference, and that helped Lee sneak in on the last night of the regular season. The offense will need to step up this year. It led the team to being outscored, 222-175, through the district schedule. Lakeview Centennial's offense averaged 25 points per game. That wasn't enough in the offensively dominated district.

7. Garland Naaman Forest Rangers

  • Coach: Melvin Sedberry, Jr.
  • 2014 finish: 1-9
  • Returning starters: 7 offensive, 7 defensive
Players to watch
  • OL Miller Nguyen, Sr., 6-1, 260
  • QB Terence Lawson, Sr., 6-2, 210

 

2015 outlook: Naaman Forest will have experience on its side this season with seven returning starters on both sides of the ball. That being said, there's a lot of work to do. The team lost all but one district game by an average of 49-26. Its lone victory of the season came against winless North Garland. Offense is the Rangers' strongpoint, which runs concurrently with the district trent. Miller Nguyen was an all-state candidate at center last season and Terence Lawson is another durable, dual-threat quarterback.

8. North Garland Raiders

  • Coach: Joe Castillo
  • 2014 finish: 0-10
  • Returning starters: 8 offensive, 6 defensive
Players to watch
  • OL/DL Salvador Romero, Sr., 6-1, 230

 

2015 outlook: Depth has been a problem at North Garland for years. It's not much better this season with 19 players coming back from a small 29-man roster last season, but the team will enjoy 14 total starters back. There's absolutely no room for injuries and the offense will have to outproduce last year's district average of nine points scored per game fourfold to be competitive.