The Woodville Eagles have had a stranglehold on their district in each of the last two seasons, and it's likely that won't change in the new District 12-3A Division I.

Woodville is bringing back 14 starters from last year's area finalist, including running back Zack Martin, who was one of the most productive offensive players in all of East Texas in 2017.

The Eagles will get decent challenges from the likes of East Chambers, Buna, and Kirbyville, but Woodville is most interested in breaking through in the playoffs. Its last two years have ended in the second round of the postseason.

But Region III certainly won't be a cakewalk with defending state champion Rockdale, which eliminated Woodville last season, headlining a stacked region.

District 12-3A Division I Preview

PLAYMAKERS

  • QB Peyton Bertrand, Sr., East Chambers
  • LB/FB Blake Bradley, Sr., Orangefield
  • RB Da'Michael Brooks, Sr., Woodville
  • RB/LB Luke Callaway, Sr., Warren
  • QB/DB Alex Connell, Sr., Buna
  • RB/DB Tylon Cooper, Sr., Kirbyville
  • WR/DB Kordell David, Sr., East Chambers
  • RB Tanner Fugere, Sr., Anahuac
  • QB/DE Mason Gonzales, Sr., Orangefield
  • RB/LB Bryce Herrington, Sr., Warren
  • RB/DB Blaine Marks, Jr., Buna
  • RB/FS Zack Martin, Sr., Woodville
  • WR Tyler Parker, Sr., Hardin
  • RB Cam Smith, Sr., Kirbyville
  • RB Darius White, Sr., Hardin
  • RB Tyrone Wilson, Jr., Anahuac

 

TOP GAMES

  • Woodville at Madisonville, Sept. 7
  • East Chambers at Woodville, Sept. 28
  • Kirbyville at Orangefield, Oct. 5

 

1. Woodville Eagles

  • Coach: Ty Robinson
  • 2017 finish: 9-2 (3A Division I area finalist)
  • Returning starters: 8 offensive, 6 defensive

Players to watch

  • RB/FS Zack Martin, Sr., 5-10, 195
  • RB Da'Michael Brooks, Sr., 5-9, 160
  • LB Marcos Broom, Sr., 5-9, 220
  • LB Kobe Adams, Sr., 6-1, 225
  • OL Drew Poncho, Sr.
  • OL Seth Fabela, Sr., 6-1, 290
  • LB/DE Jaylon Hyder, Jr.
  • DE Michael Lockett, Sr., 6-0, 167

Offense: Among the eight starters returning on offense is senior running back Zach Martin, who put up more than 1,400 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior. Da'Michael Brooks is another weapon out the backfield head coach Ty Robinson has at his disposal. The offensive line will be in good shape as well with the return of seniors Drew Poncho and Seth Fabela. Woodville averaged 38 points per game last season, and that number could certainly increase with the wealth of experiencing to the offense.

Defense: Martin was also big key on the Woodville defense, which limited opponents to less than 20 points per game in 2017. The free safety played on almost every down despite being the featured back on offense, and finished with 93 tackles and two interceptions. The linebacking corps is easily the best in the district as seniors Marcos Broom and Kobe Adams, and junior Jayden Hyder return to the field. There are a few holes left by graduation on both the defensive line and in the secondary.

2018 outlook: Woodville is currently on a streak of three consecutive seasons qualifying for the playoffs, and with more than half their starters from 2017 returning, the Eagles are once again in position to reach the postseason. Woodville is 19-4 over the past two seasons, claiming district titles both years, and the odds are in the Eagles' favor to claim another league crown this fall. Woodville was just 2-2 in the playoffs in 2016 and 2017, and Region III is once again loaded with serious contenders, including Grandview, West, Teague, defending state champion Rockdale, Cameron Yoe, and Franklin.

 

2. East Chambers Buccaneers

  • Coach: Russ Sutherland
  • 2017 finish: 7-4 (3A Division I area finalist)
  • Returning starters: 10 offensive, 5 defensive

Players to watch

  • WR/DB Kordell David, Sr., 6-3, 175
  • QB Peyton Bertrand, Sr., 6-0, 185
  • OL Sam Neuman, Sr., 6-5, 308
  • RB/DB Ernest Ceasar, Soph.
  • LB/RB Luke Collins, Sr.

2018 outlook: With the most experienced offense in the eight-team district, East Chambers is perhaps in the best position to challenge Woodville's grip on league supremacy. The Buccaneers will have some holes to fill on the defensive end, but if enough improvement is made on that side of the ball, East Chambers should be able to score with any team on its regular-season schedule. Last season, the Bucs went two rounds deep in the playoffs, and head coach Russ Sutherland is hopeful with the amount of experience he has at his disposal, 2018 will be a historic season for East Chambers.

 

3. Buna Cougars

  • Coach: Bradley Morgan
  • 2017 finish: 6-3 (3A Division I bi-district finalist)
  • Returning starters: 7 offensive, 7 defensive

Players to watch

  • QB/DB Alex Connell, Sr.
  • RB/DB Blaine Marks, Jr.
  • RB/DB Kameron Richardson, Jr., 5-9, 160
  • OL/DL Joel Sitton, Soph.
  • FB/DL Trent Berry, Sr.

2018 outlook: Hurricane Harvey forced the cancellation of two of Buna's regular-season games last season, but the Cougars managed to overcome that bit of adversity by earning a trip to the playoffs. Head coach Bradley Morgan is excited to have a total of 14 starters returning to a team that lost just three games a season ago. Senior quarterback Alex Connell is about as steady as it comes at that position, and he'll be joined by a solid trio in the backfield with running backs Blaine Marks and Kameron Richardson, and fullback Trent Berry. Buna will have its hands full with Woodville and East Chambers, but the prospect of making it back to the playoffs is a good one.

 

4. Kirbyville Wildcats

  • Coach: Craig Jones
  • 2017 finish: 3-6
  • Returning starters: N/A

Players to watch

  • RB Cam Smith, Sr., 5-10, 170
  • RB/DB Tylon Cooper, Sr., 5-9, 160
  • LB/RB Hayden Sharp, Jr., 5-9, 170
  • QB/DB Dilyn Bishop, Jr., 6-3, 160
  • WR/DB Hunter Wallis, Soph., 6-1, 170

2018 outlook: Kirbyville missed out on the playoffs last season, winning just three games. The Wildcats' offense was non-existent for a good stretch of 2017, averaging a little more than 18 points per game for the year. Head coach Craig Jones will return a couple of playmakers out of the backfield in senior running backs Cam Smith and Tylon Cooper. Kirbyville will also need to make a big jump on the defensive side of the ball in order to ensure itself of getting back to the postseason. Junior linebacker Hayden Sharp and sophomore defensive back Hunter Wallis are two players to keep an eye on for the Wildcats' defense.

 

5. Orangefield Bobcats

  • Coach: Josh Smalley
  • 2017 finish: 3-5 (4A Division II bi-district finalist)
  • Returning starters: 6 offensive, 8 defensive

Players to watch

  • LB/FB Blake Bradley, Sr., 6-0, 205
  • QB/DE Mason Gonzales, Sr., 6-3, 220
  • C Jonah Landry, Sr.
  • RB/CB Quy Tsan, Sr., 5-7, 155
  • DE Lane Rach, Sr., 6-2, 200

2018 outlook: The Bobcats are making the jump to 3A Division I after earning a trip to the playoffs last season in Division II. Orangefield had three of its games cancelled by Hurricane Harvey in 2017, so there wasn't a huge sample size of the Bobcats' full capabilities. Head coach Josh Smalley returns 14 of the 22 starters, so he should feel good about his team's chances of making a run at the playoffs despite the move up in classification. Orangefield has a trio of talented two-way starters that should lead the way -- quarterback and defensive end Mason Gonzales, fullback and linebacker Blake Bradley, and running back and cornerback Quy Tsan.

 

6. Anahuac Panthers

  • Coach: Jason Speights
  • 2017 finish: 4-5
  • Returning starters: 7 offensive, 6 defensive

Players to watch

  • RB Tanner Fugere, Sr., 5-7, 155
  • RB Tyrone Wilson, Jr., 5-10, 175
  • ATH Foster Kreuzer, Jr., 6-2, 170
  • WR Cornethos Hill, Sr., 5-8, 145
  • OL/DL Alex Smith, Sr., 6-1, 322

2018 outlook: Anahuac head coach Jason Speights brings back 13 starters to a team that just missed out on the playoffs in 2017. The two-headed monster out the backfield -- running backs Tanner Fugere and Tyrone Wilson -- will carry the Panthers' offense. Junior Foster Kreuzer will be used in a variety of ways on both offense and defense, while senior Alex Smith could be the best two-way lineman in the entire district. Anahuac will struggle against the top of the district, so the Panthers must fare well against the others, namely Buna, Kirbyville, and Orangefield.

 

7. Hardin Hornets

  • Coach: Larry Haynes
  • 2017 finish: 4-6
  • Returning starters: 5 offensive, 6 defensive

Players to watch

  • RB Darius White, Sr., 5-9, 195
  • WR Tyler Parker, Sr., 5-11, 165
  • DE Colton Kopeski, Sr., 5-11, 225
  • WR/DB Saxon McDaniel, Sr., 5-9, 145
  • S Tyler Brown, Sr., 5-8, 175

2018 outlook: Hardin missed out on the playoffs a year ago, but head coach Larry Haynes is hopeful that a solid nucleus of returning starters will make his team competitive in District 12-3A Division I. Running back Darius White and receiver Tyler Parker are among the Hornets' five returning starters on offense, and are expected to shoulder much of the load when Hardin has the ball. Defensively, Hardin brings back six players with starting experience, including standout defensive end Colton Kopeski, who lived in the opposing backfield in 2017.

 

8. Warren Warriors

  • Coach: Jay Buckner
  • 2017 finish: 1-8
  • Returning starters: 3 offensive, 4 defensive

Players to watch

  • RB/LB Luke Callaway, Sr.
  • RB/LB Bryce Herrington, Sr.
  • DL/TE Devin Redmon, Sr., 6-1, 195
  • FB/LB Collin Stanley, Jr, 6-1, 190
  • OL/DL Kyler Loftin, Jr., 5-6, 210

2018 outlook: It was another tough season for Warren last year as the Warriors were victorious in just one of their nine games in 2017. And with only seven starters coming back, head coach Jay Buckner will definitely have his work cut out this fall. There are a couple of potential stars on offense in running backs Luke Callaway and Bryce Herrington, but Warren enters the year short on playmakers. Several will have to emerge if the Warriors hope to have a turnaround season this fall.