1.Newton Eagles

Coach: W.T. Johnston (second season, 9-3)

2011 Record: 9-3 (2A Division I Region III area finalist; lost 42-27 to Crockett)

Returning starters: 7 offensive, 7 defensive

Players to watch

  • QB/DB D.J. Dean, Sr., 5-11, 180 (1,280 passing yards, 672 rushing yards, 23 total TDs; 46 tackles, 5 INTs; committed to Utah)
  • RB Kevin Shorter, Jr. (1,250 rushing yards, 450 receiving yards, 20 total TDs)
  • RB Brandon Johnson, Jr. (1,150 rushing yards, 16 TDs)
  • LB Corey Jenkins, Sr. (135 tackles, 8 sacks)
  • DE Romondo Stewart, Sr.
  • DT Dave Lewis, Soph.
  • TE Keyaun Seastrunk, Jr.
  • DT Eric Van Pelt, Sr.
  • OL/DL Robert Kenebrew, Sr.

Strengths: Running game, defensive front. Newton should be able to run the ball and stop the run. The Eagles have a fearsome rushing trio back: QB D.J. Dean and tailbacks Kevin Shorter and Brandon Johnson. Shorter and Johnson had huge sophomore seasons, combining for 2,400 rushing yards and 36 touchdowns. Add Dean and that rushing yardage number balloons to more than 3,000 rushing yards. Newton should be strong in the box defensively with a few veteran defensive linemen and linebacker Corey Jenkins, who is back after a monster 2011 campaign.

 

Weaknesses: Schedule. With seven starters back on each side of the ball, Newton doesn’t have an obvious weakness between the white lines. But what may hurt the Eagles is a less-than-grueling schedule. Newton opens with a trio of Class 3A schools, but none advanced beyond the first round of the playoffs. None is anything close to the 3A brethren lurking further north, either. In district, Newton shouldn’t be challenged. The Eagles should expect a 9- or 10-win regular season, but will they be prepared for the postseason?

 

 

2012 Outlook: Newton will be a state title contender in 2012. Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine picks the Eagles No. 1 in the preseason Division I poll. Newton’s combination of running game strength and defensive front force will make the Eagles tough at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. But will their schedule prepare them for the playoffs? Kirbyville and East Chambers will be Newton’s toughest challengers in District 10-2A Division I, and Woodville and Anahuac could be surprises. But none should be able to knock Newton from its perch. The Eagles will likely roll into the postseason unchallenged. We expect a Region III championship clash featuring Newton and Tatum, which would be a state championship-caliber matchup.

2.Kirbyville Wildcats

Coach: Greg Neece

2011 Record: 2-9 (3A Division II Region III bi-district finalist; lost 47-18 to Rusk)

Players to watch

  • OL Jacob Keene, Sr., 6-5, 275
  • RB Red Haywood (833 rushing yards, 373 receiving yards, 8 total TDs)
  • WR Quinton Jacko (400 receiving yards, 4 TDs)
  • LB Harrell Brooks (100 tackles)
  • RB Brycton Hughey, Jr.

2012 Outlook: Dropping from Class 3A to Class 2A should help the Wildcats return to postseason relevance, although asking them to compete with a loaded Newton squad for the District 10-2A Division I crown is a bit much right now. Kirbyville should make the playoffs and be a tough out with quality skill players in tailback Red Haywood and receiver Quinton Jacko. Improving on the 40.6 points per game they allowed in 2011 will go a long way in turning around that resulting 2-9 record, too.

3.Winnie East Chambers Buccaneers

Coach: Russ Sutherland

2011 Record: 9-3 (2A Division I Region III semifinalist; lost 45-7 to Tatum)

Returning starters: 5 offensive, 5 defensive

Players to watch

  • RB Glenn Roberts, Sr., 5-8, 175 (2,028 rushing yards, 28 TDs; 252 receiving yards, 8 TDs)
  • QB Brandon Johnson, Jr.
  • S Jarrod Guillory, Jr.
  • DL Blaine Acevedo
  • RB Coby Collins

2012 Outlook: Glenn Roberts should again be one of Class 2A’s top rushers and the Buccaneers should once again be a solid playoff team. Duplicating last year’s two-game postseason penetration is realistic, but advancing beyond that probably isn’t.

4.Anahuac Panthers

Coach: Marty Murr (first season)

2011 Record: 6-4

Returning starters: 8 offensive, 7 defensive

Players to watch

  • RB Justin Artis, Sr., 6-1, 205 (1,057 rushing yards, 13 TDs)
  • DB Chris O’Banion, Soph.
  • QB Wyatt Raymond, Sr.
  • RB Martice Henry
  • LB Chris Sweat

2012 Outlook: Another District 10-2A Division I team with a proven game-changer at running back, Anahuac hopes that Justin Artis can help the Panthers capitalize on their 15 returning starters and get them to the playoffs again after they barely missed them in 2011. First-year coach Marty Murr will be charged with that task as he replaces Darrell Barbay, who now coaches Class 3A Jasper. Barbay’s act is a tough one to follow. He led Anahuac to a 31-13 record from 2008-11, which included three playoff appearances. Anahuac may be 10-2A D-I’s darkhorse.

5.Woodville Eagles

Coach: Steve Fentress (sixth season, 26-26)

2011 Record: 5-6 (2A Division I Region III bi-district finalist; lost 50-13 to Tatum)

Returning starters: 5 offensive, 4 defensive

Players to watch

  • LB Marcus Harrison, Sr., 6-2, 215 (108 tackles)
  • QB Trent Daniels, Sr.
  • DE Felix Johnson, Sr.
  • ATH Dominique Lockhart, Sr.
  • TE Torin Hickman, Sr.

Strengths: Defensive front. Only four starters return, but linebacker Marcus Harrison and end Felix Johnson give sixth-year coach Steve Fentress a solid start on rebuilding a defense that in 2011 allowed 15.6 points per game to the five teams on Woodville’s 2012 District 10-2A Division I schedule.

Weaknesses: Experience, skill positions. Woodville returns only nine starters across the board from last year’s playoff team. While quarterback Trent Daniels appears ready to get the Eagles back to the postseason, the other skill positions aren’t as clear, although Dominique Lockhart will factor in there somehow.

2012 Outlook: Harrison will be one of the district’s best defensive players, but will the Eagles have enough firepower to get back to the playoffs for the third time in coach Steve Fentress’ six-year tenure? Woodville averaged 24.5 points per game in 2011, scoring 14 or fewer points five times. The Eagles will need more production from quarterback Trent Daniels and company if they want to be in the discussion for cracking the top three in this tough district.

6.Hardin Hornets

Coach: Walter Fortune

2011 Record: 3-7

Returning starters: 7 offensive, 9 defensive

Players to watch

  • OL Dusten Collins, Sr., 6-3, 290
  • OL Corey Mettlen, Soph., 6-7, 330
  • DB Ta’Roy Delahoussaye, Jr.
  • LB James King
  • WR Dylan Williams

2012 Outlook: A massive offensive line should help Hardin improve on the paltry 13.2 points per game it averaged in 2011, although the Hornets can’t depend on that side of the ball to help them get better defensively. Hardin allowed more than 38 points per game a year ago. Nine starters are back from that defense, so perhaps experience will help them turn the tide. Even if they do, Hardin is likely not in the playoff mix.

7.Kountze Lions

Coach: Tracy Franklin

2011 Record: 3-7

Returning starters: 3 offensive, 5 defensive

Players to watch

  • WR Darrion Harper, Sr., 5-10, 145 (600 receiving yards)
  • QB Justin Harper, Soph.
  • RB Ernest Hafford, Sr. (700 rushing yards)
  • RB Eric Brisco, Jr.
  • LB Kelon Jones, Sr.

2012 Outlook: Kountze has only three returning offensive starters, but the skill positions should be solid with Darrion Harper on the perimeter and Ernest Hafford in the backfield. Of course, scoring points wasn’t Kountze’s most troublesome problem a year ago. The Lions yielded 36.5 points per game and allowed 40 or more points four times during a 1-6 district finish. Like Hardin, don’t expect a postseason appearance from Kountze.

8.Warren Warriors

Coach: John Woodard (first season; 4-16 overall)

2011 Record: 0-10

Returning starters: 8 offensive, 8 defensive

Players to watch

  • QB Kolton Perfect, Sr., 5-10, 170
  • OL Michael Jay Evans, Sr., 6-4, 272
  • RB Parker Lambright, Jr.
  • DE Hunter Holloway, Sr.
  • ATH Harrison McNulty, Soph.

2012 Outlook: Warren has hope in 16 returning starters and first-year coach John Woodard, who has previous head coaching experience at Union Hill in 2008-09. Warren played two close games last season and both came in district games against teams the Warriors will see again this season. Kountze beat Warren 40-32, while Hardin topped the Warriors 24-18. Those will be opponents Woodard and company will try to get victories against to get momentum going in the right direction.