A couple of East Texas teams lead the way in this district.

John Tyler and Texas High will likely finish near the top of District 7-5A D-I after struggling in 2017. The Lions drop down from 6A and return enough talent to contend for the district title. Meanwhile, Texas High gets its quarterback back from injury and should be right there with them.

There will be plenty of challenges in this district, including teams from Wylie and Mesquite, but it would be shocking if both of these schools did not at least make the playoffs.

Here are our predictions for how this district will shape up.

District 8-5A Division I Preview

Texas High QB Coltin Clack. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

PLAYMAKERS

  • ATH Devlen Woods, Sr., 5-8, 170, John Tyler
  • ATH K'Lon Warren, Sr., 5-10, 175, John Tyler
  • OL Chance Billington, Sr., 6-4, 275, John Tyler
  • RB Cameron Grant, Sr., 5-9, 175, John Tyler
  • QB Coltin Clack, Sr., 6-3, 220, Texas High
  • WR/DB Chris Lyles, Sr., 5-10, 185, Texas High
  • RB Chris Sutton, Sr., 5-8, 180, Texas High
  • LB Darryl Maxwell, Sr., 5-11, 188, Texas High
  • WR Kendall Reid, Sr., 6-3, 205, Texas High
  • RB Seth McGowan, Jr., 6-0, 205, Mesquite Poteet
  • QB Dalton Dale, Sr., 5-11, 170, Mesquite Poteet
  • WR Dylan Wright, Sr., 6-6, 205, West Mesquite
  • RB Ty-Coreous Jordan, Jr., 5-10, 190, West Mesquite
  • QB Cam Constantine, Sr., 6-0, 193, McKinney North
  • DL Landon Teel, Sr., 6-2, 270, McKinney North
  • RB Corbin Johnson, Sr., 5-9, 175, Wylie East
  • LB Randy Armstead, Sr., 5-11, 175, Wylie East
  • QB Blaise Bentsen, Sr., 6-5, 235, Sherman
  • RB Mike Brown, Jr., 5-6, 176, Sherman

TOP GAMES

  • John Tyler at Tyler Lee, Sept. 8
  • John Tyler at Longview, Sept. 14
  • John Tyler at Texas High, Sept. 28
  • Texas High at Liberty-Eylau, Sept. 14
  • Mesquite Poteet at Texas High, Oct. 12
John Tyler RB Rod Hawkins. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

1. John Tyler Lions

  • Coach: Ricklan Holmes
  • 2017 finish: 5-5
  • Returning starters: 7 offensive, 7 defensive

Players to watch

  • ATH Devlen Woods, Sr., 5-8, 170
  • ATH K'Lon Warren, Sr., 5-10, 175
  • OL Chance Billington, Sr., 6-4, 275
  • RB Cameron Grant, Sr., 5-9, 175
  • OL/DL Ja'Bralen Yarber, Sr., 6-1, 280
  • RB Roderick Hawkins, Sr., 5-8, 190
  • WR KeAndre Street, Sr., 6-4, 195
  • LB Kameron Mayfield, Jr., 6-1, 200
  • DB Isaiah Johnson, Jr., 6-1, 167
  • LB Jarrius Lane, Sr., 5-11, 210

Offense: The Lions return seven starters from a team that scored 28.9 points per game this past season. Devlen Woods played many positions last season, tallying more than 1,000 yards passing, 235 rushing and 108 receiving. He'll once again be valuable as an athlete.

John Tyler WR/DB Ke'Andre Street. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

Warren will do the same after passing for 842 yards and 10 touchdowns a season ago. Chance Billington and Ja'Bralen Yarber are Division I prospects who should open things up for the running back tandem of Cameron Grant and Roderick Hawkins. The Lions' most dangerous weapon is at receiver, where Houston commit KeAndre Street is back after recording 873 yards and 11 touchdowns last year.

Defense: The defense doesn't have as many playmakers returning as the offense, but should still be solid.

John Tyler LB Kameron Mayfield. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

Kameron Mayfield will likely lead the way from the linebacker spot. Isaiah Johnson brings experience back and should lead the secondary, while Jarrius Lane will help Mayfield. The Lions should be an improved unit after dropping from 6A and returning seven starters.

2018 outlook: John Tyler missed the playoffs in 2017, but that doesn't seem likely this year. The Lions return 14 starters and drop down from 6A. The offense should put up big numbers with Street and the running backs leading the way from the skill positions. Woods and Warren will be dangerous no matter where they line up and the line should be strong. Expect a bounce back season from John Tyler, which is talented enough to win its district.

(© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

2. Texas High Tigers

  • Coach: Gerry Stanford
  • 2017 finish: 7-4 (5A D-I bi-district finalist)
  • Returning starters: 6 offensive, 3 defensive

Players to watch

  • QB Coltin Clack, Sr., 6-3, 220
  • WR/DB Chris Lyles, Sr., 5-10, 185
  • RB Chris Sutton, Sr., 5-8, 180
  • LB Darryl Maxwell, Sr., 5-11, 188
  • WR Kendall Reid, Sr., 6-3, 205
  • OL D'Andre Wilson, Sr., 6-0, 225
  • OL Ladd Preston, Sr., 6-0, 230
  • DB Seth Willis, Sr., 5-10, 180
  • DL Demarquis Vaughn, Sr., 6-1, 190
  • WR Myles Washington, Sr., 6-2, 175

Offense: Coltin Clack will lead the Tigers at quarterback after missing significant time this past season because of injury. He'll feel comfortable knowing the offense doesn't rest solely on him.

Texas High WR/RB Chris Sutton. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

Chris Sutton rushed for more than 800 yards in 2017 and will hope to build on his role. There are a plethora of weapons for Clack at receiver, where Kendall Reid and Chris Lyles will lead the way. The line returns a couple of experienced players in D'Andre Wilson and Ladd Preston, so expect the Tigers to put up numbers.

Defense: Darryl Maxwell will lead the defense at linebacker. The Tigers allowed 25 points per game in 2017 but return only three starters.

Texas High DE Demarquis Vaughn. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

How the new players respond will be key to a successful season. Demarquis Vaughn will hope to make an impact on the line. Seth Willis and Lyles will try to play lockdown defense from the secondary.

2018 outlook: Texas High finished on a strong note after struggling to start the season in 2017. The Tigers will hope to carry that momentum into 2018. They've got a few players who could breakout and become stars, but the loss of so many starters in a bit concerning. Still, expect the Tigers to make the playoffs again in their second season under Gerry Stanford.

3. Mesquite Poteet Pirates

  • Coach: Kody Groves
  • 2017 finish: 6-6 (5A Division I area finalist)
  • Returning starters: 7 offensive, 7 defensive

Players to watch

  • RB Seth McGowan, Jr., 6-0, 205
  • QB Dalton Dale, Sr., 5-11, 170
  • K Dylan Brown, Sr., 5-7, 150
  • WR Cam Lampkin, Sr., 5-11, 165
  • DB Dorian Morris, Sr., 6-0, 160

2018 outlook: The Pirates return plenty of talent from a team that advanced to the area round this past season. Seth McGowan will lead the offense after rushing for more than 1,000 yards a season ago. Dylan Brown was 8-for-10 on field goals and is a nationally ranked kicker. Dalton Dale can make plays with both his arm and legs at quarterback. Mesquite Poteet looks like a playoff team once again.

4. West Mesquite Wranglers

  • Coach: Jeff Neill
  • 2017 finish: 7-3
  • Returning starters: 8 offensive, 3 defensive

Players to watch

  • WR Dylan Wright, Sr., 6-6, 205
  • RB Ty-Coreous Jordan, Jr., 5-10, 190
  • LB Quinterrius Hargrave, Sr., 6-0, 220
  • LB Paul Christopher, Sr.
  • DB Jamal Clemons, Sr., 5-11, 160

2018 outlook: Despite going 7-3 this past season, West Mesquite missed the playoffs. Don't expect that to hold true in 2018. The Wranglers have Dylan Wright, who has potential to be a big playmaker at receiver, and Ty-Coreous Jordan both returning from solid season. Expect them to be the final playoff team from this district.

5. McKinney North Bulldogs

  • Coach: Mike Fecci
  • 2017 finish: 8-4 (5A Division I area finalist)
  • Returning starters: 5 offensive, 5 defensive

Players to watch

  • QB Cam Constantine, Sr., 6-0, 193
  • DL Landon Teel, Sr., 6-2, 270
  • LB Carson Criss, Jr., 5-9, 200
  • LB Ezra Gore, Sr., 5-7, 171
  • LB Max Fecci, Jr., 6-1, 186

2018 outlook: Coming off of an area round appearance, McKinney North looks to make it to the playoffs once again in 2018. The Bulldogs have plenty of linebackers waiting to make plays in the defense. Carson Criss recorded 125 tackles a year ago and will be the leader for the group. Cam Constantine should perform admirably at quarterback. The Bulldogs have an opportunity to get back into the playoffs, but it will be a fight.

6. Wylie East Raiders

  • Coach: Mike Dormady
  • 2017 finish: 2-8
  • Returning starters: 8 offensive, 7 defensive

Players to watch

  • RB Corbin Johnson, Sr., 5-9, 175
  • LB Randy Armstead, Sr., 5-11, 175
  • DB Dakota Jackson, Sr., 6-0, 165
  • QB Zach Haaland, Jr., 6-2, 180
  • OL Jacob Pryor, Sr., 6-0, 255

2018 outlook: Wylie East likely won't have what it takes to make the playoffs. The Raiders have some solid players in Corbin Johnson, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards this past season, and Randy Armstead. Expect them to improve upon a 2-8 season a year ago. However, the district is simply too challenging to expect them to make the drastic leap into the playoffs.

7. Sherman Bearcats

  • Coach: J.D. Martinez
  • 2017 finish: 5-6 (5A D-I bi-district finalist)
  • Returning starters: 3 offensive, 4 defensive

Players to watch

  • QB Blaise Bentsen, Sr., 6-5, 235
  • RB Mike Brown, Jr., 5-6, 176
  • DL Tekarius Walton, Sr., 5-11, 304
  • DB Gage Smith, Jr., 6-0, 170
  • DB Landon Cole, Sr., 6-0, 145

2018 outlook: Sherman loses a lot of talent from a 5-6 team. The Bearcats will hope to replace it and finish strong in the district. Blaise Bentsen is back at quarterback after passing for more than 1,300 yards a year ago. Gage Smith and Landon Cole will be strong in the secondary. However, the losses are too great to expect anything other than an average season.