District 11-6A was largely unaffected by realignment with the exception of John Tyler dropping down to Class 5A.

Everything else remains the same.

Longview, which finished second to Mesquite Horn a season ago, is primed for a return to district supremacy in 2018 with the bulk of its impact players from 2017's semifinalist squad returning.

Horn does bring back the reigning district MVP, and Rockwall has next-level talent at both quarterback and receiver.

That brings us to Tyler Lee, which captured its first winning season last year since 2008, and is confident heading into the second campaign led by head coach Kurt Traylor.

Only one East Texas team represented the district in the playoffs in 2017. Will that change with Lee's first postseason appearance since 2014?

Time will tell.

District 11-6A Preview

Tyler Lee OL Beaux Limmer. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

PLAYMAKERS

  • DL O'Tay Baker, Sr., Mesquite
  • QB Jacob Clark, Sr., Rockwall
  • RB Jawuan Clark, Sr., North Mesquite
  • LB Kevion Curry, Sr., North Mesquite
  • WR Devin Davis, Sr., Mesquite
  • QB Jermaine Givens, Sr., Mesquite Horn
  • DB Bruce Harmon, Sr., Rockwall-Heath
  • QB Haynes King, Jr., Longview
  • OL Beaux Limmer, Sr., Tyler Lee
  • LB Dawson Miller, Sr., Rockwall-Heath
  • DB Anfernee Orji, Sr., Rockwall
  • RB Esias Taylor, Sr., Mesquite Horn
  • RB Ladarius Wickware, Sr., Tyler Lee
  • OL Marcus Williams, Sr., Longview

 

TOP GAMES

  • Lufkin at Longview, Aug. 31
  • Rockwall at Highland Park, Aug. 31
  • Longview at Rockwall, Sept. 28
  • Rockwall-Heath at Tyler Lee, Sept. 28
Longview's (from left) Jacob Johnson, Haynes King, and Kamden Perry. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

1. Longview Lobos

  • Coach: John King
  • 2017 finish: 13-2 (6A Division II semifinalist)
  • Returning starters: 8 offensive, 3 defensive

Players to watch

  • QB Haynes King, Jr., 6-2, 185
  • OL Marcus Williams, Sr., 6-6, 290
  • DB Jephaniah Lister, Sr., 5-9, 155
  • WR Kamden Perry, Sr., 6-0, 180
  • RB Jessie Anderson, Sr., 5-11, 225
  • LB Ja'Vontae Writt, Sr., 5-9, 195
  • DL Jaylon Allen, Sr., 6-0, 240
  • WR/DB Jacob Johnson, Sr., 6-0, 175
Longview RB Jessie Anderson. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

Offense: Longview brings back most of its offense from a season ago. The Lobos averaged 44 points per game in 2017, and the unit only got better as the season progressed. Quarterback Haynes King thrived as the starter, winning 10 consecutive games and leading the Lobos to their first semifinals appearance since 2010. In just 11 starts, King passed for more than 2,100 yards and 25 touchdowns, and those numbers should only improve with the amount of talent around him. Running back Jessie Anderson, who missed most of his junior year to injury, is back to 100 percent and has the potential to be one of the most productive backs in the state. He, and fellow running backs Keilyn Williams and Kaden Meredith, will run behind an offensive line anchored by senior and TCU commit Marcus Williams. The receiving corps should be in good shape as well as both Kamden Perry and Jacob Johnson come back.

Longview DB Jephaniah Lister. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

Defense: Graduation took a toll on the defensive side of the ball, with Longview needing to break in eight new starters. One spot the Lobos shouldn't worry about is the one occupied by Jephaniah Lister. The safety made plays all over the field in 2017, and finished with 144 tackles, four interceptions, and two blocked kicks. Jaylon Allen and Sawyer Goram-Welch will be key contributors on the defensive line, while linebacker Ja'Vontae Writt has all-district potential.

2018 outlook: Longview's last appearance in a state championship game came back in 2008, although the Lobos were about as close as they could get last season. Longview missed a pair of potential game-winning field goals in the final four minutes of its 28-26 semifinal loss to Hewitt Midway. The Lobos are primed for a return to late December football, but they'll no doubt be challenged along the way. A tough non-district schedule that features games against Lufkin, Marshall, Longview, and Ruston (La.) should prepare Longview for what promises to be another strong District 11-6A field. Mesquite Horn was responsible for Longview's only district loss a season ago, and the Jaguars are bringing back the league MVP, so they'll be a challenge again. In Region II, Longview faces potential stumbling blocks against teams like Midway, Temple, Pflugerville Hendrickson, and Klein Collins.

 

2. Rockwall Yellowjackets

  • Coach: Rodney Webb
  • 2017 finish: 6-6 (6A Division I area finalist)
  • Returning starters: 7 offensive, 3 defensive

Players to watch

  • QB Jacob Clark, Sr., 6-5, 210
  • DB Anfernee Orji, Sr., 6-1, 197
  • WR Jaxon Smith, Jr., 6-1, 190
  • DB Elijah Coleman, Sr., 6-1, 162
  • RB Zach Henry, Jr., 5-10, 190

2018 outlook: Rockwall, which reached the second round of the playoffs in 2017, will be a force again this season, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Quarterback Jacob Clark, who threw for almost 3,000 yards and 29 touchdowns last year, is committed to Minnesota. His favorite target, junior receiver Jaxon Smith, had 83 catches for 1,328 yards and nine touchdowns as a sophomore. He currently has 13 FBS offers, including Arizona State, Minnesota, Nebraska, and TCU. Defensively, Rockwall has to replace eight starters, but defensive backs Anfernee Orji and Elijah Coleman are two of the very best in the district. Rockwall will get tested before district even begins with games against Highland Park, Rowlett, Arlington Bowie, and Arlington Martin the first four weeks.

 

3. Mesquite Horn Jaguars

  • Coach: Mike Overton
  • 2017 finish: 10-2 (6A Division II area finalist)
  • Returning starters: 4 offensive, 5 defensive

Players to watch

  • QB Jermaine Givens, Sr., 6-0, 190
  • RB Esias Taylor, Sr., 5-11, 205
  • LB Quavon Grant, Jr., 5-10, 200
  • DB Larry Donnell, Sr., 5-11, 185
  • LB Kendrick Blackshire, Soph., 6-2, 230

2018 outlook: With the return of reigning district MVP Jermaine Givens at quarterback, the Jaguars should be in good position to return to the playoffs. Givens, who is committed to Lamar, accounted for more than 3,900 yards and 49 touchdowns in helping Horn to the district championship and a 10-win season. Running back Esias Taylor, who picked up 807 yards and 10 TD's last year as a sophomore, is expected have a more expanded role in the offense in 2018. The defense will be led by its dynamic duo of linebackers Quavon Grant and Kendrick Blackshire, who already holds offers from Alabama, Arkansas, Baylor, Georgia, LSU, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas A&M among others. Horn will still need several newcomers to step up with the graduation of 13 starters from 2017. The Jaguars will get tested early in games against Allen, Highland Park, Cedar Hill, and Arlington.

Tyler Lee's Beaux Limmer (left) and Zaylon Walker. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

4. Tyler Lee Red Raiders

  • Coach: Kurt Traylor
  • 2017 finish: 6-4
  • Returning starters: 8 offensive, 4 defensive

Players to watch

  • OL Beaux Limmer, Sr., 6-5, 260
  • RB Ladarius Wickware, Sr., 6-0, 180
  • FB/DE Jamal Ligon, Jr., 6-3, 230
  • OL Nathan Kuehn, Sr., 6-1, 260
  • WR/DB Te'vion Massey, Jr., 5-10, 165
  • QB Mark Patton, Jr., 6-5, 210
  • WR Zaylon Walker, Sr., 6-1, 160
  • RB/WR Malik Hall, Sr., 5-11, 170
Tyler Lee RB/WR Malik Hall. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

Offense: Lee will need to replace quarterback and Syracuse signee Chance Amie, but the Red Raiders have a couple of good options. Juniors Mark Patton, a transfer from Malakoff, and Will Landes have battled all offseason for the job. Whoever takes over will have plenty of help around him. Senior running back Ladarius Wickware is coming off 1,100-yard season with 12 touchdowns, and is looking to put a cap on a stellar, three-year varsity career. Malik Hall might be one of the district's most versatile offensive players, while Te'vion Massey and Zaylon Walker can stretch opposing offenses at receiver. The offensive line will be a major strength as Arkansas commit Beaux Limmer, Nathan Kuehn and Kyan Milton all return.

Tyler Lee FB/DE Jamal Ligon. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

Defense: The Red Raiders have a lot of questions marks on defense. Last season, Lee allowed opponents an average of more than 31 points per game, and with just four starters returning, several fresh faces will need to contribute immediately. Junior Jamal Ligon will be one of the district's best pass rushers, while Jordan Printers and Nick McGrew will lead the linebacking corps. The secondary will be inexperienced with the exception of Elliott Davison.

2018 outlook: In Kurt Traylor's first season as Tyler Lee head coach, the Red Raiders produced their first winning record since 2008. Lee enters the new year, however, in search of its first postseason berth since 2014. The Red Raiders went into the offseason by defeating crosstown rival John Tyler on the final night of the regular season. Lee has a healthy mix of seasoned varsity veterans and exciting newcomers heading into the 2018 campaign. The Red Raiders face Marshall, John Tyler, Nacogdoches, and Mesquite Poteet -- all 5A programs -- in non-district. If Lee is able to win at least three of these games, it should be feel confident about locking down of one their district's four playoff spots.

 

5. Rockwall-Heath Hawks

  • Coach: Mickey Moss
  • 2017 finish: 6-5 (6A Division II bi-district finalist)
  • Returning starters: 2 offensive, 5 defensive

Players to watch

  • DB Bruce Harmon, Sr., 5-11, 175
  • LB Dawson Miller, Sr., 6-1, 195
  • LB Wyatt Watson, Sr., 6-1, 185
  • OL Gabe Collins, Sr., 6-6, 325
  • ATH Casey Curtin, Jr., 6-3, 198

2018 outlook: The Hawks managed to sneak into the playoffs last season, but the celebration was short-lived following a first-round loss to Lufkin. With the fewest number of returning starters in 11-6A, getting back to the postseason could be more difficult than it was a year ago. Head coach Mickey Moss will be looking for a slew of new skill players on offense. Casey Curtin opened a few eyes as a sophomore in 2017, and he'll figure into the mix somewhere on offense, while senior tackle Gabe Collins will lead the way on an inexperienced offensive line. There's a few more veterans on the defensive side of the ball, including defensive back Bruce Harmon and linebackers Dawson Miller and Wyatt Watson. One thing Heath has going for it in 2018: John Tyler, which handed the Hawks one of their three district losses last year, is no longer a member of the league.

 

6. North Mesquite Stallions

  • Coach: Tim Seder
  • 2017 finish: 3-7
  • Returning starters: 3 offensive, 7 defensive

Players to watch

  • RB Jawuan Clark, Sr., 5-8, 170
  • LB Kevion Curry, Sr., 6-2, 195
  • DL Jalen Delance, Jr., 6-1, 250
  • LB Jordan Colston, Jr., 6-0, 195
  • QB Ka'maury Thompson, Jr., 6-1, 188

2018 outlook: North Mesquite was forced to hire a new head coach following the departure of Mike Robinson to DeSoto. The Stallions settled on former Mesquite Horn defensive coordinator and ex-NFL kicker Tim Seder as the new man in charge. And he'll be hit immediately with heavy graduation losses and the prospect of one of the most competitive 6A districts in the state. His experience as an assistant in the district should serve him well, but there are eight starting spots on offense that need to be filled. Ka'maury Robinson is an intriguing prospect at quarterback, while Jawuan Clark is expected to carry the load at running back. The Stallions are more experienced on defense, which will be led by lineman Jalen Delance and linebackers Kevion Curry and Jordan Colston.

 

7. Mesquite Skeeters

  • Coach: Jeff Fleener
  • 2017 finish: 1-9
  • Returning starters: 5 offensive, 5 defensive

Players to watch

  • WR Devin Davis, Sr., 6-4, 190
  • DL O'Tay Baker, Sr., 6-3, 262
  • DL Osaretin Obadeyi, Sr., 6-3, 218
  • DB Chris Henry, Sr., 6-0, 186
  • TE K'Cee Feeman, Sr., 6-2, 220

2018 outlook: It's been four seasons since Mesquite reached the playoffs, and last year's 1-9 finish was the Skeeters' worst record since 2010. Mesquite will have to work around some key departures in order to get back into the playoff mix. The Skeeters have five starters back on each side of the ball. The offense will be led by senior receiver Devin Davis, whose size and speed will be cause for concern among the district's defensive coordinators. There is tons of improvement required on defense, but head coach Jeff Fleener is excited to have linemen O'Tay Baker and Osaretin Obadeyi and defensive back Chris Henry back in the fold. Mesquite lost its seven district games last season by an average of 29 points, so the road back to respectability could be a long one.