A couple of East Texas schools will be in the district race for 11-3A Division I.

Diboll looks the most ready to make an impact after moving down from 4A. The Lumberjacks have a couple of bruising backs, including one with Division I offers in Herbert Gums, to run behind an experienced line. Crockett, on the other hand, is a year older and should see drastic improvement from a 2-8 season a year ago.

Both will likely find themselves chasing Franklin, which returns 17 starters from a 10-3 season in 2017.

Closer to the bottom of the food chain, Elkhart and Palestine Westwood are East Texas squads that will hope to improve on their seasons from a year ago. They went a combined 4-16 this past season.

All in all, District 11-3A Division I should shape up to be fairly competitive.

District 11-3A Division I Preview

PLAYMAKERS

  • LB/DB Jared Pedraza, Sr., 5-11, 200, Franklin
  • RB/LB Clayton Rosprim, Sr., 6-0, 205, Franklin
  • RB/DL Herbert Gums, Jr., 6-2, 215, Diboll
  • LB/RB Brady Jordan, Sr., 5-11, 195, Diboll
  • OL Drew Richard, Sr., 6-1, 255m Diboll
  • ATH Alton Owens, Sr., 5-5, 145, Crockett
  • WR/DL Allen Horace, Jr., 6-6, 218, Crockett
  • FB/DL Dae'Javon Bibbs, Sr., 5-6, 215, Crockett
  • RB David Fulcher, Coldspring-Oakhurst
  • QB Grisham Vaught, Trinity
  • LB/WR Holden Bush, Jr., 5-10, 175, Elkhart
  • RB/LB Jason McMahan, Sr., 6-0, 220, Elkhart
  • WR/DB Aneas Page, Jr., 5-5, 130, Palestine Westwood

TOP GAMES

  • Crockett at Diboll, Oct. 5
  • Diboll at Trinity, Nov. 9
  • Grapeland at Crockett, Sept. 14
  • Palestine Westwood at Elkhart, Sept. 28

1. Franklin Lions

  • Coach: Mike Hedrick
  • 2017 finish: 10-3 (3A D-I regional semifinalist)
  • Returning starters: 8 offensive, 9 defensive

Players to watch

  • LB/DB Jared Pedraza, Sr., 5-11, 200
  • RB/LB Clayton Rosprim, Sr., 6-0, 205
  • LB Will Fannin, Sr., 5-10, 185
  • DB/RB Datron Dixon, 5-11, 155
  • RB/DB Rashawn Green, Jr., 5-8, 150

 

2018 outlook: Franklin has the tools to win the district. After a regional semifinal appearance in 2017, the Lions return 17 starters. The experience should lead them in the right direction. Linebacker Jared Pedraza is back to lead the defense after 158 tackles. He'll shine on offensive, too, after tallying 1,135 rushing yards this past season. He isn't the only 1,000-yard rusher back from 2017, though. Clayton Rosprim had 1,523 yards and 17 touchdowns. Together, the two will make things extremely difficult on opposing defenses.

Diboll LB/RB Brady Jordan. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

2. Diboll Lumberjacks

  • Coach: Blake Morrison
  • 2017 finish: 6-4 (4-A, D-II bi-district finalist)
  • Returning starters: 5 offensive, 5 defensive

Players to watch

  • RB/DL Herbert Gums, Jr., 6-2, 215
  • LB/RB Brady Jordan, Sr., 5-11, 195
  • OL Drew Richard, Sr., 6-1, 255
  • OL Jose Acevedo, Sr.
  • OL Cameron Cheshire, Sr., 6-4, 270
  • DE Tristan Page, Sr., 6-4, 170

Offense: Diboll's offense was built for the running attack. With several big offensive lineman and two bruising backs, the Lumberjacks nickname seems an accurate way to describe this team.

Diboll RB/LB Herbert Gums. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

Herbert Gums, who already holds offers from Arkansas and Houston, is a force at both running back and defensive line. His 6-2, 215 frame make it difficult for opposing defenses to wrap him up. Brady Jordan isn't exactly skinny either at 5-11, 195. They run behind an offensive line that boasts a couple of players well over 200 pounds. That, combined with experience, should be enough to put up big numbers on the ground.

Defense: Defensive end Tristan Page will look to be a leader on defense, while Gums hopes to bring the same value to the defensive line that he does to the backfield.

Diboll DE Tristan Page. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

Jordan will lead the defense from the linebacker position after spelling Gums on offense. This is a group with plenty of solid players already. If a freshman or sophomore can come through and have a breakout year, that could be the difference maker for this unit.

2018 outlook: Diboll is slated to finish near the top of the district after dropping down from 4A. The Lumberjacks have a true star in Gums and will likely look to him to lead the team. If he performs well and the ancillary players do their part, Diboll will do just fine in its move down a class.

Crockett RB Malik Johnson. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

3. Crockett Bulldogs

  • Coach: Jimmy Thompson
  • 2017 finish: 2-8
  • Returning starters: 8 offensive, 8 defensive

Players to watch

  • QB/DB Jordan Bedford, Jr., 5-10, 141
  • RB Malik Johnson, Sr., 5-11, 225
  • WR/DL Allen Horace, Jr., 6-6, 218
  • WR/DB Shannon Bacon, Jr.
  • FB/DL Dae'Javon Bibbs, Sr., 5-6, 215
  • WR/DB Cristian Brice, Jr., 5-9, 155
  • LB/TE/FB Michael Chance, Sr.
  • WR/DB Jalyne Carruthers, So.
  • ATH Alton Owens, Sr., 5-5, 145

Offense: Alton Owens is back after totaling 736 yards receiving and 297 rushing in 2017. Allen Horace, slated to play receiver for the Bulldogs, already holds an offer from Oklahoma State.

Crockett FB/DL Dae'Javon Bibbs. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

His size could be an issue for opposing defensive backs. Malik Johnson looks to be the main playmaker in the backfield, along with Dae'Javon Bibbs. Jordan Bedford will get the opportunity to lead the group at quarterback.

Defense: Horace could be a menace to opposing offenses. He's already got the height and length to create problems for quarterbacks if he can get within a few feet.

Crockett WR/DE Allen Horace Jr. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

He'll have a large group of defensive backs doing their part in the secondary. Watch out for sophomore Jalyne Carruthers, who could be a breakout player this season.

2018 outlook: The Bulldogs look to improve on a 2-8 record from this past season. That group was extremely young, led by many sophomores. Now a year older, they look primed to make a playoff appearance. With Horace as a potential star, there is a high ceiling for Crockett. Will it live up to it?

4. Coldspring-Oakhurst Trojans

  • Coach: Jim Bird
  • 2017 finish: 6-4 (3A D-I bi-district finalist)
  • Returning starters: 6 offensive, 8 defensive

Players to watch

  • RB David Fulcher
  • LB Ethan Benestante
  • OL Kein Williams
  • QB Tyler Lindley
  • DB Keion Perkins
  • RB Octavious Parker-Harden

 

2018 outlook: Fulcher is back after 1,023 yards rushing and eight touchdowns a season ago. Parker-Harden is another 1,000-yard rusher back for the Trojans. Linebacker Ethan Benestante (90 tackles, 10 for loss) will lead the defense. Look for the Trojans to take the final playoff spot in this district.

5. Trinity Tigers

  • Coach: Patrick Goodman
  • 2017 finish: 3-8 (3A D-I bi-district finalist)
  • Returning starters: 6 offensive, 5 defensive

Players to watch

  • RB/DB Aundrea Holmes
  • LB Jace Stout
  • OL Jahrein Rogers
  • QB Grisham Vaught

2018 outlook: Trinity will likely end up a fringe playoff team in 2018. Grisham Vaught is back after 1,200 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2017. However, the Tigers likely won't have what it takes after losing half of their starters from a 3-8 season.

Elkhart OLB/WR Holden Bush. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

6. Elkhart Elks

  • Coach: Jason Fiacco
  • 2017 finish: 3-7
  • Returning starters: 7 offensive, 7 defensive

Players to watch

  • LB/WR Holden Bush, Jr., 5-10, 175
  • RB/LB Jason McMahan, Sr., 6-0, 220
  • TE/DE Ky Thomas, Jr., 6-4, 250
  • QB/DB Landry Mays, Sr.
  • OL/DL Tristan Mays, Jr., 6-0, 200
  • RB/DB John Ashford, Jr.
  • WR/DB R.J. Moore, So.
  • LB Ryan Lindsay, Sr., 5-8, 180

Offense: Landry Mays will again lead the offense after finishing with 700 total yards in 2017.

Gladewater QB/DB Landry Mays. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

He'll have help back in the form of running back John Ashford, who rushed for 667 yards and nine touchdowns a season ago. Tight end Ky Thomas will be an intriguing target for Mays. When he catches it, h'll be extremely difficult to bring down at 6-4, 250 pounds.

Defense: The Elks will look to improve from a unit that allowed 37.7 points per game this past season. Holden Bush will lead the way at linebacker.

Elkhart LB/RB Jason McMahan. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

Meanwhile, Ryan Lindsay is back after a 91-tackle season a year ago. Thomas and Jason McMahan add another combined 100 tackles for a group that should be solid.

2018 outlook: The Elks aren't likely to be near the top of the district. That doesn't mean they can't improve. There are some interesting pieces in place here, but expectations should be tempered to begin the season.

7. Palestine Westwood Panthers

  • Coach: Richard Bishop
  • 2017 finish: 1-9
  • Returning starters: 7 offensive, 6 defensive

Players to watch

  • WR/DB Aneas Page, Jr., 5-5, 130
  • OL/DL Trey Walters, Sr.
  • RB Cayden Barlow, Jr.
  • WR/DB Ja'Tavion Wilson, Jr.
  • LB/RB J.T. Herndon, Jr.

Offense: Aneas Page will lead the way for a group looking to forget a dismal 1-9 season from a year ago. Ja'Tavion Wilson and J.T. Herndon will be a couple of others to keep an eye on. Unfortunately, this group doesn't seem to have many standouts despite losing only four starters from 2017.

Defense: Trey Walters, who will play defensive line, finished with 40 tackles in 2017. Page came away with two interceptions. They will look to lead a group hoping to do better after a lackluster campaign in 2017.

2018 outlook: Westwood doesn't have the star power to compete in this district, unfortunately. Look for the Panthers to again be on the outside looking in come playoff time.