District 10-2A Division I has a couple of schools that could make deep playoff runs in 2018.

Carlisle loses its coach and quarterback, but returns enough key contributors from a team that made the regional quarterfinals this past season to make some noise. Gerald Turner will take the reigns at quarterback after playing receiver and defensive back for the Indians in 2017. He could be one of the best players in the district, a real contender for MVP.

Big Sandy, the other school with a chance to make a big splash, brings back 2,000-yard rusher Khameron Pippins, as well as a couple of top-notch linebackers. They’ll be in the hunt for the district title.

Below them, Alto’s Fred Thacker has all-district potential and Union Grove looks poised to once again make the playoffs.

Even the teams at the bottom of the district could surprise, as Hawkins and Cushing both return more than half of their starters and are relatively young teams.

This district should be a fun one, so without further ado, here is the ETSN.fm 2018 10-2A Division I district preview.

District 10-2A Division I Preview

Carlisle MLB/OL Walker Adams. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

Playmakers

  • ATH Gerald Turner, Sr., 5-11
  • WR/DB Jay Price, Sr.
  • LB/OL Walker Adams, Sr.
  • RB/LB Luis Adame, Sr.
  • RB Khameron Pippins, Sr., 5-9, 185
  • WR Josiah Johnson, Sr., 6-2, 180
  • LB Sammie Green, Sr., 6-0, 181
  • LB Erick McFall, Jr., 6-3, 240
  • QB Mikie Webb, Sr., 6-0, 170
  • LB Cade Judd, Sr., 6-0, 185
  • WR Camron Taylor, Sr.
  • WR C.J. Mays
  • QB Deuce Garrett, So., 5-8, 138

Top Games

  • Big Sandy at Carlisle, Nov. 2
  • Carlisle at Union Grove, Oct. 26
  • San Augustine vs. Big Sandy (at Beckville), Aug. 30
  • Big Sandy at Alto, Oct. 12
  • Alto at Union Grove, Nov. 9
  • Cushing at Hawkins, Oct. 19
Carlisle QB/DB/SB Gerald Turner. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

1. Carlisle Indians 

  • Coach: Clay Baker
  • 2017 finish: 9-4 (2A D-I regional quarterfinalist)
  • Returning starters: 6 offensive, 7 defensive

Players to Watch

  • ATH Gerald Turner, Sr., 5-11
  • WR/DB Jay Price, Sr.
  • LB/OL Walker Adams, Sr.
  • RB/LB Luis Adame, Sr.
  • OL/DL Madison Taliaferro, Sr.
  • DB/WR Trey Rutherford, Sr.
  • LB/OL Alex Garza, Jr.

Offense: Carlisle returns a plethora of offensive talent from 2017.

Carlisle WR/DB Trey Rutherford. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

The Indians bring back Gerald Turner, who will take over at quarterback after playing receiver this past season. He’ll have plenty of options to throw to, including Jay Price and Trey Rutherford, both big contributors on Carlisle’s regional quarterfinal squad a year ago. Turner, who rushed for 524 yards and 15 touchdowns last season, should create plays when receivers aren’t open, too. Luis Adame will gain a larger portion of the carries in the backfield after splitting time last season. Meanwhile, veterans Walker Adams and Madison Taliaferro should help keep the line in check.

Carlisle OL/DL Luis Rocha. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

Defense: Turner was a force on defense in the playoffs, recording four interceptions twice in the postseason. Adams had a knack for getting into the backfield and should keep the Indians steady. Defensive backs Price and Rutherford also return, setting up Carlisle for another successful season on defense.

2018 Outlook: Clay Baker enters his first season at the helm following the retirement of his father, Rocky. The transition from father to son should be smooth, as Baker already knows the players and can skip the building a relationship step that slows down most first-year coaches. Turner and Adams will be two-way forces, giving the Indians leaders on both sides. Although Carlisle loses quarterback Tristan Craig and safety Max Jackson, it shouldn’t regress too much. The Indians have plenty of players returning and more ready to move up to fill the gap. They’re the clear favorites in this district.

Big Sandy LB/WR Sammie Green. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

2. Big Sandy Wildcats

  • Coach: Larry Minter
  • 2017 finish: 10-2 (2A D-I area finalist)
  • Returning starters: 6 offensive, 6 defensive

Players to Watch

  • RB Khameron Pippins, Sr., 5-9, 185
  • WR Josiah Johnson, Sr., 6-2, 180
  • LB Sammie Green, Sr., 6-0, 181
  • LB Erick McFall, Jr., 6-3, 240
  • OL Tyler Hallman, Sr., 5-11, 185
  • OL Peyton Poole, Sr., 6-0, 230
  • QB Caden Minter, Jr., 6-2, 190
  • LB Harmon West, Jr., 6-2, 200
  • RB/DE Fred Thacker, Sr., 6-3

Offense: Khameron Pippens is coming off a 2,000 yard season and ready for more. The speedy running back also tallied 27 touchdowns this past season as the Wildcats advanced to the area round in the playoffs.

Big Sandy RB/LB Khameron Pippins. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

Pippins will have a couple of senior linemen to run behind in Tyler Hallman and Peyton Poole, and the familiar should be beneficial. Caden Minter will start at quarterback. When the Wildcats aren’t handing it off to Pippins, Minter will likely be scouting the field for an open Josiah Johnson, who, at 6-2, brings the size that a coach might desire at receiver.

Big Sandy DE/RB Erick McFall. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

Defense: Big Sandy returns two of the strongest linebackers in East Texas. Sammie Green and Erick McFall combined for just shy of 300 tackles a season ago, and McFall also netted 17 tackles for loss. They will anchor the defense, along with Poole and Hallman, who should spend some time on the defensive line. But with those two in the middle, teams should find it hard to get a ground game going against Big Sandy.

2018 Outlook: Big Sandy will be in the hunt for the district title, along with Carlisle. The Wildcats lose five starters on each side of the ball, and working to fill those voids will be key in just how far they can advance this season. The foundation of Pippins, Green and McFall should be strong enough to keep them in contention, though.

Alto RB/LB Vi'Dareous High. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

3. Alto Yellow Jackets

  • Coach: Ricky Meeks
  • 2017 finish: 4-7 (2A D-I bi-district finalist)
  • Returning starters: 5 offensive, 6 defensive

Players to Watch

  • RB/DE Fred Thacker, Sr., 6-3
  • WR/DB Skylar Atkins, Sr.
  • LB Harmon West, Jr., 6-2, 200
  • LB Cayle Irvin, Jr., 6-0, 220
  • RB Vi’Darious High, So., 6-1, 190
  • OL/DL Todd Duplichain, Jr., 6-1, 185
  • OL Foster Hall, Jr., 6-2, 195

Offense: Fred Thacker will lead the way for Alto on offense.

Alto RB/DL Fred Thacker. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

Thacker, a bruising running back, tallied 1,414 yards and 22 touchdowns in 2017. If there’s anyone who will give the linebackers of Big Sandy a challenge, it’s Thacker. He’ll run behind an offensive line headed by Todd Duplichain and Foster Hall, both juniors. When the Yellow Jackets aren’t running the ball, Skylar Atkins could prove a dangerous weapon in the passing game. Thacker will be spelled by Vi’Darious High, a sophomore who is already starting to fill out at 6-1, 190.

Defense: Harmon West was a force this past season, racking up 102 tackles and a couple of interceptions.

Alto QB/LB Harmon West. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

He returns, and will be the main force on a defense that will also be stacked at the linebacker position. In addition to West, the Yellow Jackets bring back Cayle Irvin. Thacker will also put his large frame to work on the defensive line. He’ll get help from Duplichain, who will also be a two-way player.

2018 Outlook: The Yellow Jackets have the tools to fight for a playoff spot. They lose a decent amount of starters on offense and defense, but return two of their best players from last season. Thacker has all-district potential as does West. If one or two more stars emerge, Alto will be right in the thick of the district race.

Union Grove QB/FS Mike Webb. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

4. Union Grove Lions 

  • Coach: Roger Adams
  • 2017 finish: 7-4 (2A D-I bi-district finalist)
  • Returning starters: 6 offensive, 7 defensive

Players to Watch

  • QB Mikie Webb, Sr., 6-0, 170
  • RB Gabe Henderson, Sr., 6-0, 170
  • LB Cade Judd, Sr., 6-0, 185
  • WR Kyle Turner, Sr., 5-11, 165
  • OL Nathan Ferrell, Jr., 6-1, 230
  • LB Kooper Smith, Jr., 5-10, 180

Offense: Mikie Webb was more effective as a runner than a passer this past season, but it was a strategy that worked for the Lions en route to the playoffs.

Union Grove RB/CB Gabe Henderson. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

Webb, who rushed for 1,388 yards in 2017, returns this season. He should again lead the charge with his legs, though don’t be shocked when he makes the occasional pass play. Gabe Henderson and Kyle Turner are also back and will serve as secondary options in Union Grove’s attack.

Union Grove RB/DE Blain Burge. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

Defense: Cade Judd and Cooper Smith make it two more linebackers District 10-2A Division I has to worry about. The tandem will lead the charge for the Lions, who also return defensive lineman Josh Rhodes and defensive back Noah Mayhan.

2018 Outlook: The Lions should be a playoff team once more, barring drastic improvement from either Hawkins or Cushing. Webb will be the main player to watch, as his dual-threat abilities will keep opposing defenses on their toes. The defense should be solid, too.

Hawkins QB Zach Conde. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

5. Hawkins Hawks 

  • Coach: Scott Evans
  • 2017 finish: 2-9 (2A D-I bi-district finalist)
  • Returning starters: 10 offensive, 9 defensive

Players to Watch

  • LB J.D. McGowan, Jr.
  • DB Akim Richmond, Sr.
  • OL/DL Jacob Wilson, Jr.
  • DB Caden Westmoreland, Sr.
  • QB Zach Conde, So.
  • WR Camron Taylor, Sr.

Offense: Sophomore quarterback Zach Conde will begin his high school football career.

Hawkins CB/WR Caden Westmoreland. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

He’ll have a veteran weapon in Camron Taylor to seek out and an experienced lineman in Jacob Wilson. Although the Hawks return 10 starters from last season, it likely won’t translate to much success. The group that started last year won only two games.

Defense: Wilson will likely lead the defense, but watch out for defensive back Akim Richmond.

Hawkins FB/LB Jordan McGowen. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

Caden Westmoreland will provide veteran leadership in the secondary. Like the offense, the defense returns many starters. However, fans should temper expectations with this group.

2018 Outlook: The Hawks bring back a lot of starters and should be better than last season. If things go right, they could end up fighting with Union Grove for the last playoff spot. For right now, expect Hawkins to be on the outside looking in come postseason time.

6. Cushing Bearkats

  • Coach: Josh Moore
  • 2017 finish: 4-6
  • Returning starters: 8 offensive, 8 defensive

Players to Watch

  • WR C.J. Mays
  • QB Deuce Garrett, So., 5-8, 138
  • LB Cade Willis, So., 6-0, 180
  • TE Marlin Reeves, So., 6-2, 190
  • FB/LB Thomas Wallace, Jr.

Offense: Deuce Garrett will lead an offense that returns receiver C.J. Mays. The familiar connection should lead to offensive success. He’ll also have big tight end Marlin Reeves, just a sophomore, to throw to. This is a young group and though there may be talent, they will likely struggle as they adjust to the high school game.

Defense: Thomas Wallace returns after recording 28 tackles and six sacks a season ago. Sophomore linebacker Cade Willis joins him and the two should form a formidable duo.

2018 Outlook: After starting 4-1 in non-district last season, Cushing was unable to win a district contest. The Bearkats return more starters from last year than they lost, and the team is young. They also have a new coach in Josh Moore, the former Alto defensive coordinator. Cushing could end up surprising a few people, but making the playoffs seems unlikely.