2016 Football Preview: Crockett Looks to Challenge Newton Again For 10-3A D-II Title
Once again, District 10-3A Division II is expected to be one of the best leagues in all of East Texas.
Perennial powerhouse Newton returns a talented nucleus of players from last year's regional semifinalists, while Crockett hopes it will have enough to challenge the Eagles for league supremacy.
District 10-3A Division II Preview
- WR/DB Kirkland Foster, Sr., Newton
- RB Broderick Spikes, Sr., Newton
- QB Brock Barbay, Sr., Newton
- WR/DB Lucky Daniels, Sr., Crockett
- OL/DL Tim Riley, Sr., Crockett
- RB Jaylon Williams, Sr., Corrigan-Camden
- DB Fredarion Johnson, Sr., Corrigan-Camden
- ATH L.A. Bradford, Sr., Frankston
- RB Christian Shepherd, Jr., Garrison
- WR Makendric Collins, Jr., Garrison
- Newton at Silsbee, Sept. 2
- Crockett at Newton, Oct. 7
- Frankston at Garrison, Oct. 7
1. Newton Eagles
- Coach: W.T. Johnston
- 2015 finish: 8-5 (3A Division II regional finalist)
- Returning starters: 7 offensive, 9 defensive
Players to watch
- WR/DB Kirkland Foster, Sr., 6-0, 160
- RB Broderick Spikes, Sr., 5-8, 162
- QB Brock Barbay, Sr., 6-2, 200
- OL John Kalafatis, Sr., 6-1, 250
- LB Blake Kelly, Sr., 5-9, 155
- DL Deviun Kennebrew, Sr., 6-0, 208
- DB D.J. Seastrunk, Sr., 6-0, 168
Offense: Newton has been a well-oiled machine for some time now, and especially on the offensive side of the ball where the Eagles welcome back seven starters. Quarterback Brock Barbay, running back Broderick Spikes, and receiver Kirkland Foster give Newton's high-powered offense the ammunition it needs to continue lighting up opposing defenses. Last season, the Eagles put up an average of almost 33 points per game. But following a tough 1-4 stretch to begin the 2015 campaign, Newton put it in high gear by averaging 42.8 the rest of the way. Don't be surprised if the Eagles' offensive production soars this upcoming season.
Defense: The defensive side of the ball has certainly been a strength for Newton over the years as well, and with all but two starters from last year's regional semifinalist squad returning, the Eagles may be as stingy as ever moving forward. Deviun Kennebrew provides stability along the defensive line, Blake Kelly is a sure tackler at the linebacker spot, and Foster and D.J. Seastrunk are rangy playmakers out of the secondary. During Newton's seven-game winning streak last season, opposing offense were limited to an average of just 7.8 points per game. That stretch included a pair of shutouts.
Outlook: Not only does Newton have an surplus of experience returning to the field in 2016, the Eagles have an awfully deep pool of talent coming up through the ranks at the sub-varsity level. While the focus for head coach W.T. Johnston is definitely on the present, Newton could very well be in position to compete for state championships for the next several seasons.
2. Crockett Bulldogs
- Coach: Jimmy Thompson
- 2015 finish: 10-4 (3A Division II quarterfinalist)
- Returning starters: 5 offensive, 10 defensive
Players to watch
- WR/DB Lucky Daniels, Sr., 5-10, 175
- OL/DL Tim Riley, Sr., 5-10, 325
- QB Octavius Anderson, Sr., 5-11, 160
- OL/DL Javon Colter, Sr., 5-10, 265
- RB Xavion Dixon, Sr., 6-1, 203
- LB Tyler Elmore, Sr., 5-11, 198
- RB/LB Dekeidrian Rollins, Sr., 5-11, 180
- WR/LB Latavian Jones, Sr., 6-3, 183
Offense: There may not have been a more exciting offense in all of East Texas last season than the one piling up points in Crockett. During the Bulldogs' run to the state quarterfinals in 2015, Crockett posted an average of 44.7 points per game, including three games of at least 50 points. The catalyst for the high-scoring attack, quarterback Case Robison (Lamar), is gone, and so is receiver A.J. Phillips, who put up more than 1,600 yards of offense with 27 touchdowns. But there's plenty of firepower returning, including senior wideout Lucky Daniels, who collected 1,266 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns a season ago. Octavius Anderson, a dynamic athlete, takes over at quarterback, and senior Xavion Dixon is a physical specimen at running back.
Defense: The Bulldogs' defense was a sticking point at times in 2015. In four losses, Crockett allowed an average of 51.5 points, including a 76-50 loss to eventual state finalist Franklin in the quarterfinals. Fortunately for head coach Jimmy Thompson, Crockett's "D" will be comprised mostly of seasoned veterans. The Bulldogs will be breaking in just one new starter on the defensive side of the ball. Senior defensive lineman Tim Riley and Javon Colter will try to fortify the front, while linebackers Tyler Elmore and Dekeidrian Rollins will anchor the middle of the defense. Daniels is also capable of making game-changing plays from the secondary.
Outlook: Crockett missed out on the district title to Newton last season by three points with a 38-35 loss. Aside from a potential playoff rematch with Franklin, Bulldogs players are likely most looking forward its next encounter with Newton, which comes in the 10-3A D-II opener. Beyond another rigorous league schedule, Crockett has its sights set on another long postseason run, and with the right mixture of veterans and promising newcomers, the Bulldogs believe they have the perfect formula to do just that.
3. Corrigan-Camden Bulldogs
- Coach: Seven Armstrong
- 2015 finish: 8-5 (3A Division II regional semifinalist)
- Returning starters: 5 offensive, 6 defensive
Players to watch
- RB Jaylon Williams, Sr., 5-8, 160
- DB Fredarion Johnson, Sr., 6-2, 180
- QB Ty Love, Jr., 6-4, 165
- OL Thomas Casper, Sr., 6-1, 185
- TE/DL Tyreke Foreman, Sr.
- OL Byrd Purvis, Sr.
Offense: Scoring the football was not a problem for Corrigan-Camden last year. Not even close. The Bulldogs' powerful Wing-T attack helped head coach Seven Armstrong's bunch pile up an average of 38.2 points per game. The going may be a little tougher in 2016 with the graduation of six offensive starters off last year's offense. Coach Armstrong does return the services of tailback Jaylon Williams, who has his eyes locked in on a 1,000-yard campaign, and quarterback Ty Love, who gained positive traction as a sophomore one year ago.
Defense: If Corrigan-Camden had an Achilles heel last season it was on the defensive side of the field. Opponents averaged almost 32 points per game a year ago, and in the Bulldogs' five losses it was worse -- the tune of 50.4. Corrigan-Camden brings back roughly half of its starting defenders, so the hope is that stark improvement is on the way. Senior lineman Tyreke Foreman and defensive back Fredarion Johnson are potential difference-makers on defense.
Outlook: Corrigan-Camden is a virtual guarantee to reach the playoffs every season, and there is nothing to suggest 2016 will be any different. However, the Bulldogs will need a plethora of newcomers to step up if they are to legitimately challenge either Newton or Crockett, which outscored Corrigan-Camden 161-46 in three games last year, for district supremacy.
4. Frankston Indians
- Coach: Jonny Louvier
- 2015 finish: 6-4
- Returning starters: 7 offensive, 8 defensive
Players to watch
- ATH Jordan Allen, Sr., 5-8, 152
- QB Garret Bean, Soph.
- ATH L.A. Bradford, Sr., 6-0, 160
- DL D.D. Fields, Sr., 6-3, 235
- TE/LB Dale Kummer, Sr., 5-11, 200
- FB/LB Drew Lewis, Jr., 5-9, 184
- DL Madison Fields, Sr., 5-11, 235
- OL/DL Josh Porter, Jr., 5-10, 248
Offense: The Indians return seven of their 11 starters on the offensive side of the ball, but graduated perhaps their three most important -- receivers Kendrick Rogers and Justice Bean (Texas A&M) and quarterback T.J. Brumley. But first-year coach Jonny Louvier has quite a few playmakers at his disposal, including ATH's Jordan Allen and L.A. Bradford, who may be used in a variety of roles this fall. The offensive line returns almost intact, which could be good news for new quarterback, sophomore Garret Bean, and company.
Defense: Rogers and Justice Bean were keys on defense as well in 2015, so there are voids that need to be filled. But just like the offensive side of the ball, the defense has quite a few experienced players returning. Defensive linemen D.D. Fields and Madison Fields constitute one of the best 1-2 punches along the defensive front in the entire district, while linebackers Dale Kummer and Drew Lewis were reliable a season ago. Expect Allen and Bradford to contribute greatly on defense as well.
Outlook: Frankston finished with six wins last year, which ordinarily would have been enough to secure a spot in the postseason. But a tough district consisting of state champion Waskom, quarterfinalist West Rusk, and perennial regional power Arp helped keep the Indians from extending their season beyond league play. Frankston no longer has to worry about Waskom, West Rusk, and Arp, but the UIL did not necessarily do the Indians any favors by placing them with the likes of Newton, Crockett, and Corrigan-Camden.
5. Garrison Bulldogs
- Coach: Larry Prince
- 2015 finish: 5-6 (3A Division II bi-district finalist)
- Returning starters: 5 offensive, 5 defensive
Players to watch
- RB Christian Shepherd, Jr., 5-9, 183
- WR Keondric Collins, Jr., 5-8, 148
- QB Charles Bass, Sr., 6-1, 190
- WR Makendric Collins, Jr., 6-3, 175
- DL Desmond Henderson, Jr., 5-7, 225
- OL Tyler Strawn, Sr., 5-8, 165
- RB Jakelen Tutt, Sr., 5-8, 185
- DL Sean Slowikowski, Sr., 6-0, 195
Offense: Garrison did enough to qualify for the 2015 playoffs, but an inconsistent offense kept the Bulldogs from taking their game to the next level. Garrison put up an average of a little more than 22 points per game last season, but during the Bulldogs' four-game losing streak to end the season, they managed only 14 per game. Head coach Larry Prince is hoping for better results form his offense in 2016, and he'll need junior running back Christian Shepherd to shoulder most of the load out of the backfield. Receivers Keondric and Makendric Collins are also potential game-changers in the passing game.
Defense: The Bulldogs defense held its own last season, allowing opponents a little more than 20 points per game on average. With just five defenders with starting experience returning, Garrison will need to rely on a few newcomers on that side of the ball. Junior defensive end Desmond Henderson returns, and will be counted upon to lead the way. Fellow D-lineman Sean Slowikowski is capable of a breakout campaign after showing flashes of his potential a season ago.
Outlook: With the addition of Frankston to the district, reaching the playoffs becomes more challenging for Garrison. The Bulldogs have less overall experience, but do have a couple more proven impact players returning to action. That could end up making all the difference in the battle for the final postseason slot out of 10-3A Division II.
6. Hemphill Hornets
- Coach: Gary Vanya
- 2015 finish: 3-7
- Returning starters: 8 offensive, 9 defensive
Players to watch
- OL Richard Bennett, Sr., 5-10, 285
- LB Jace Lowe, Sr., 6-0, 200
- DL Darren Lowe, Sr., 6-0, 225
- WR Tommy Williams, Sr., 6-4, 190
- RB Ty Owens, Sr., 5-6, 145
- OL Brady Welch, Sr., 6-1, 255
- RB Dre Blake, Jr., 5-8, 155
- OL Reese McGraw, Sr., 6-2, 245
Offense: What began as a promising start to the 2015 season for the Hemphill offense ended in disappointment. The Hornets averaged 34 points over their first four games in getting off to a 3-1 start, but Hemphill dropped its final six games of the year, averaging just 9.3 points per game in the process. Luckily for head coach Gary Vanya, Hemphill will have eight offensive starters from last year back on the field. Running backs Ty Owens and Dre Blake are expected to do most of the heavy lifting on offense, running behind Richard Bennett, one of the district's top offensive linemen.
Defense: It was up-and-down year for the Hemphill defense. The final numbers say the Hornets allowed an average of 34 points per game to opposing offenses, but that takes into account the final two contests of the season when Hemphill surrendered a total of 111 points to Crockett and Newton. With nine defensive starters returning, Hemphill is hopeful its defense can maintain a certain level of consistency for 10 weeks.
Outlook: Despite having the most returning starters (17) of any team in the district, Hemphill's battle toward playoff contention might be an uphill one. In their five league losses in 2015, the Hornets were outscored by an average of 30 points.