District 11-A D-II Preview: Defending Champ Tenaha Aims for More Hardware
All-state quarterback Reginald Davis may be gone, but Tenaha coach Terry Ward has plenty of returning talent to make the Tigers a Class A Division II power again in 2012.
Tenaha and Mount Enterprise should finish atop District 11-A Division II, two teams that played twice in 2011 with Tenaha winning both times. Mount Enterprise didn't lose to anyone else last season so the Wildcats hope they can break the Tenaha jinx behind 2,500-yard rusher Hunter Ammons.
Those two teams will make 11-A D-II a top-heavy district in 2012.
Coach: Terry Ward (fourth season, 33-5)
2011 Record: 14-0 (1A Division II state champion; beat Munday 52-28)
Returning starters: 6 offensive (pistol spread), 7 defensive (odd-front multiple).
Players to watch
- RB/LB Chavis Gregory, Jr., 5-10, 205 (155 carries, 1,409 yards, 17 TDs; 110 tackles)
- QB J.R. Hill, Jr., 5-11, 165 (5 of 10, 65 yards)
- OL Derik Jones, Jr., 5-11, 240
- LB DeAaron Roland, Sr., 6-1, 235 (154 tackles)
- S Cobe Carraway, Soph., 5-8, 160 (89 tackles)
- CB Assuntay Cleaver, Sr., 5-9, 175 (4 INTs)
- WR/CB Keontas Davis, Jr., 6-1, 170 (7 catches, 177 yards, 2 TDs)
Strengths: Athleticism, running game, secondary. Gone is all-state quarterback Reginald Davis, whose virtuoso performance in the 2011 Class A Division II state championship game capped a stellar high school career before he signed with Texas Tech. But the cupboard isn’t bare. Chavis Gregory is a year removed from a big rushing season, which included 9.1 yards per carry. DeAaron Roland was a force in the middle of the Tigers’ defense and will be the leader of this year’s unit along with Gregory, a fellow linebacker. Assuntay Cleaver leads a fleet-footed, talented secondary. Cleaver picked off two passes in the state title game to earn Defensive MVP honors.
Weaknesses: Quarterback experience, line experience. Nobody will truly replace Reginald Davis, but it appears that J.R. Hill will get the first shot at becoming the new trigger man for Tenaha’s pistol offense. The Tigers will need new faces to step up in the trenches. The graduation of 6-3, 305-pound LaDarren Cooks, a stalwart on both lines, forces Tenaha to break in a couple of new players in the hopes that they’ll produce at Cooks’ level.
2012 Outlook: Graduation cost Tenaha a lot, but the Tigers still have plenty of talent back, including the majority of their starters on both sides of the ball. After solid 2011 seasons, Cobe Carraway and Keontas Davis could become the new Octavius Griffith and Shaquille Mitchell, who combined for 1,203 receiving yards and 22 total touchdowns in 2011 while playing key roles on both sides of the ball. Roland and Gregory will give Tenaha a solid backbone defensively and should take pressure off what could be one of the best secondaries in 1A football. If Hill and the offensive line develop quickly, Tenaha will once again be a candidate for a deep playoff run and should live up to their high preseason ranking of No. 2 in the Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine Division II poll. ETSN.fm ranks Tenaha tenth in the preseason 2A & Below Countdown. The Tigers are heavy favorites to win the district championship and should be another extremely tough playoff draw.
2.Mount Enterprise Wildcats
Coach: Scott Holzhauer (second season, 11-2; 20-13 overall)
2011 Record: 11-2 (1A Division II Region III finalist; lost 55-6 to Tenaha)
Returning starters: 6 offensive (wing T), 6 defensive (5-2).
Players to watch
- FB Hunter Ammons, Sr., 5-10, 175 (313 carries, 2,543 yards, 34 TDs; 16 punts, 34.5 average, 62 long)
- C Colton Byler, Sr., 5-7, 250
- TE Josh Leadon, Jr., 6-1, 170 (19 catches, 543 yards, 5 TDs; 3 INTs)
- QB Zach Moore, Sr., 5-10, 165 (29 of 58, 608 yards, 7 TDs, 8 INTs)
- LB Shane Stanley, Jr., 5-7, 165 (104 tackles)
- OT Dakota Porter, Sr., 5-9, 180
- OG Charlie Bailey, Sr., 6-0, 185
- DE Chance Young, Sr., 5-7, 180
Strengths: Running game, experience. Hunter Ammons is the leading returning rusher in East Texas after a mammoth junior season that saw him average 8.1 yards per carry, an absurd clip considering he toted the pill more than 300 times. Mount Enterprise welcomes back a few experienced linemen to help Ammons try to match that huge junior campaign, including center Colton Byler. Ammons should get help from a passing game that could take a lot of pressure off of him since Zach Moore and Josh Leadon are included in the six returning offensive starters, a number matched on the defensive side of the ball, where Shane Stanley spearheads the unit.
Weaknesses: Size. In Class A, size is often hard to find, so it shouldn’t hurt the Wildcats too much against most opponents that they don’t appear on paper to be as big as district rival Tenaha. Nevertheless, if the the Wildcats play three rounds deep into the playoffs again -- a definite possibility -- they’ll eventually run into an opponent that takes advantage of their limited stature … maybe Tenaha, which accounted for Mount Enterprise’s only two losses in 2011.
2012 Outlook: Mount Enterprise would be the clear district title favorite in a lot of 1A leagues, but the Wildcats fall into the same district yet again as Tenaha, the defending Division II champion. That doesn’t mean Mount Enterprise doesn’t have potential to be a force. With a strong running game and a few breaks, the Wildcats could reach the double-digit-win plateau that gave them such a successful 2011 campaign.
Coach: Mark Williams (11th season)
2011 Record: 6-5 (1A Division II Region IV area finalist; lost 35-12 to Bruni)
Returning starters: 4 offensive (multiple), 4 defensive (50 front).
Players to watch
- RB Sklar Smith, Sr., 5-8, 165
- RB Jacob Conner, Jr., 5-9, 160
- OL Matthew Ackridge, 5-10, 230
- QB Wes Williams, 5-10, 175
- NG Tristan Reeves, 5-10, 215
- CB Matthew Totten, Sr., 5-8, 125
- S Braiden Burford, Sr., 6-0, 180
- OL Brian Andgeron, Sr., 6-0, 170
- OL Hunter Jackson, Sr., 6-4, 180
- OL Colton Cotten, Jr., 5-8, 210
- TE Matthew Terry, Jr., 6-2, 185
- WR Jacob Johnson, Sr., 6-1, 170
- QB Logan Hare, Soph., 6-0, 165
- DL Brandon Harvey, Sr., 5-5, 175
- LB Dustin Simmons, Jr., 5-10, 185
- LB Kenny Sanderson, Sr., 5-10, 190
2012 Outlook: Evadale’s plus-.500 record a year ago won’t be easy to duplicate with only four starters back on each side of the ball and the realignment from Region IV to Region III, which resulted in the Rebels inhabiting the same district as Tenaha and Mount Enterprise. There’s a large gap separating the top two teams in the district from the remaining three, but even with so few returning starters, Evadale appears to have the best shot at securing the final playoff spot. Just don’t expect more than a first-round appearance.
Coach: Dustin Dziuk
2011 Record: 1-7 (1A Division II Region IV bi-district finalist; lost 55-0 to Milano)
Returning starters: 7 offensive (wishbone, I, spread), 6 defensive (5-2, 4-3).
Players to watch
- RB Tra Hunt, Sr., 5-7, 210
- RB Kaine Lowery, Sr., 5-11, 205
- RB Sevun Ford, Sr., 5-8, 180
- RB Garrett Stillwell, Jr., 6-2, 190
- LB James Ashmore, Soph., 5-9, 195
- NT Tyler Hall, Soph., 5-8, 175
- TE Robert Hunt, Soph., 6-4, 215
- OT Brenton Hutton, Jr., 5-9, 220
- WR Devin Woods, Soph., 6-1, 165
- OG Jacob Rueda, Jr., 5-7, 205
- CB Malik Spearman, Soph., 5-5, 165
- LB Billy Craft, Fr., 5-10, 190
2012 Outlook: Burkeville won only one game last year, but that was enough to get them into the playoffs. Burkeville’s road to the playoffs will be much more difficult this season; instead of a four-team district including Evadale, Sabine Pass and High Island, the Mustangs must deal with two big boys at the top of the league. Burkeville has a good deal of experience to help in an uphill battle to reach the postseason. A glut of running backs will lead an offense that will try to improve on the 12.8 points per game the Mustangs averaged a year ago.
5.Sabine Pass Sharks
Coach: Jason Thibodeaux
2011 Record: 2-7 (1A Division II Region IV bi-district finalist; lost 43-13 to Burton)
Players to watch
- WR John Warren
- LB Tanner Griff
- DB Emmanuel Flores
- OL Alexander DeFrancis
- DL Frederick Lewis
- LB Jared Arledge
- TE Jacob Lewis
2012 Outlook: Same story, different team. Sabine Pass was another team from the old District 14-A Division II that qualified for the playoffs with a less-than-ideal record, but give the 2011 Sharks credit for snapping an almost three-decade postseason drought. That said, don’t expect Sabine Pass to crack the top three in the new District 11-A Division II. The Sharks’ lone 2011 district win was a 38-8 beatdown of Burkeville, but the Mustangs will clearly be the least difficult league opponent for Sabine Pass in 2012. That’s not a good sign for the Sharks’ hopes of snagging consecutive playoff appearances.