2015 Football Preview: Jasper Is The Team To Beat In District 10-4A Division I
You'd think the Bulldogs would have some major issues in Class 4A Division I as, far and away, the smallest school in District 10-4A Division I.
The next closest school has about 70 more students to chose from and the largest school in the league has 370 more prospective people to work with. But Jasper is Jasper.
A realistic goal for the Darrell Barbay's team this season is not only a district title but a regional championship. And, from there, Region III teams have enjoyed a lot of success through the final two rounds of the playoffs. Navasota won the title last season.
Senior tight end and defensive end Cody Mitchell headlines the team as an established college prospect. However, he's just the tip of the iceberg. There's a lot of talent running around the halls this year.
Huffman-Hargave is no slouch though, and there are a few other teams that should be able to contend through the final weeks of the regular season.
Let's check out the Bulldogs and their league competition.
District 10-4A Division I Preview
- WR/DB Toby Clark, Sr., Splendora
- OL/DL Antoine Frazier, Sr., Huffman-Hargrave
- QB Cody Gaitan, Sr., Huffman-Hargrave
- WR/DB Zach Honeycutt, Jr., Bridge City
- OL/DL Patrick Hudson, Sr., Silsbee (committed to Baylor)
- WR Dylan Lorfing, Jr., Huffman-Hargrave
- DL John McMillon, Sr., Jasper
- TE/DL Cody Mitchell, Sr., Jasper
- WR/DB Lane Shivley, Sr., Huffman-Hargrave
- OL Zac Quick, Sr., Jasper
- ATH Jaylon Williams, Soph., Cleveland
- QB/DB Quentin Williams, Sr., Jasper
- RB/DB Chris Winters, Soph., Little Cypress-Mauriceville
- Silsbee at Little Cypress-Mauriceville, Sept. 25
- Huffman-Hargrave at Silsbee, Oct. 2
- Cleveland at Little Cypress-Mauriceville, Oct. 9
- Huffman-Hargrave at Jasper, Oct. 30
- Jasper at Silsbee, Nov. 6
1. Jasper Bulldogs
- Coach: Darrell Barbay
- 2014 finish: 9-4 (4A D-I regional semifinalst)
- Returning starters: 6 offensive, 7 defensive
Players to watch
- TE/DL Cody Mitchell, Sr., 6-6, 230
- QB/LB/DB Quentin Williams, Sr., 5-7, 160
- OL/DL Zac Quick, Sr., 6-2, 290
- WR/DB JaKeithon Adams, Sr. 6-1, 162
- DL Dontavious Larkin, Sr., 6-0, 215
- RB Bubba Weathers, Jr.
Offense: Darrell Barbay's team should perform well in both phases of offense this season. For starters, the offensive line has some experienced players that have held their own in the past. Zac Quick is a three-year starter and puts 290 pounds right in the middle of the line at his center position. Quarterback Quentin Williams will play a huge role as a dual-threat prototype. He passed for 1,201 yards last season, ran for another 1,678 yards and scored 35 combined touchdowns. But Williams won't have to do it alone. Bubba Weathers is back for his junior campaign after a solid sophomore season. Expect Williams' numbers in the passing game to improve this year. Jasper will enjoy the services of senior tight end Cody Mitchell, an FBS college recruit, as well as receiver JaKeithon Adams. Both players are big targets downfield. Mitchell is 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds. In total, the Bulldogs bring back six starters from last season, a unit which averaged 32.4 points per game against stellar competition in the southern East Texas-Greater Houston Area region.
Defense: A defense will always have the advantage when it controls the line of scrimmage. Jasper should not have any problems doing just that. Cody Mitchell, Zac Quick and John McMillon should give the Bulldogs an edge against any offensive line it runs across. Mitchell is a match up problem at end due to his height. McMillon and Quick will be part of a defensive tackle rotation that is expected to be problematic for the opposition. In fact, McMillon was named the District 10-4A Division I Defensive Most Valuable Player last year as a junior. He's also a Texas Tech baseball commitment and will probably get selected in the 2016 Major League Baseball Draft. The linebacker and defensive back spots are in good preseason standing as well with at least one notable player at each position group. Quentin Williams could play on the defensive side of things if it comes to that. JaKeithon Adams will patrol the backfield at the free safety spot.
2015 outlook: Things look very good for the Bulldogs. The program surpassed expectations last season and brought back 13 major contributors that now have another offseason under their belts. More than that, there are 28 letter winners coming back to just seven lost to graduation. Jasper is the clear-cut favorite to take the district, and winning the league would help them avoid the likes of Carthage, Henderson and Chapel Hill in the first round of the playoffs. Class 4A Region III is in a period of transition. Navasota is obviously a perennial team to beat, but it lost quite a bit of its 2014 state championship team. If Jasper wins its district, Navasota and other realistic regional contenders won't begin to pop up until the third round. The Bulldogs will get ready for district play with excellent non-district games against Hardin-Jefferson and West Orange-Stark.
2. Huffman-Hargrave Falcons
- Coach: Mike McEachern
- 2014 finish: 9-2 (4A D-I bi-district finalist)
- Returning starters: 10 offensive, 9 defensive
Players to watch
- QB Cody Gaitan, Sr., 5-9, 170
- WR Dylan Lorfing, Jr., 6-3, 190
- WR/DB Lane Shivley, Sr., 6-3, 185
- OL/DL Antoine Frazier, Sr., 6-5, 250
- LB Aaron Wolf, Sr.
2015 outlook: Huffman-Hargrave will boast an offense that can contend with anyone in the league. Nine starters are back from averaging nearly six touchdowns per game last season. The passing game will be an absolute strength with third-year starter Cody Gaitan back under center. He threw for 3,108 yards and 33 touchdowns as a junior. Dylan Lorfing and Lane Shively also return as critical receivers. Each is above six-feet tall and both surpassed 700 receiving yards last season. However, the Falcons' defense was gutted by graduation. It will enjoy only two starters back. Head coach Mike McEachern will have to get the new defenders online quickly. But even if Huffman-Hargrave is mostly reliant on its offense, it has a good one to depend on. The Falcons are a playoff team. Finding the right match up against the likes of Carthage, Chapel Hill and Henderson in the first round of the playoffs is the difference between a bi-district appearance and more.
3. Silsbee Tigers
- Coach: Bobby McGallion
- 2014 finish: 4-7 (4A D-I bi-district finalist)
- Returning starters: 8 offensive, 5 defensive
Players to watch
- OL/DL Patrick Hudson, Sr., 6-5, 330 (committed to Baylor)
- RB Ta'varis Brooks, Sr., 5-9, 170
- RB/DL/LB Desmond Armstrong, Sr.
- WR/DB Kolten Mackey, Jr.
2015 outlook: Silsbee is home to arguably the district's absolute best player -- offensive lineman and defensive lineman Patrick Hudson. He's a Baylor offensive tackle commitment with other offers from major Big 12 and SEC programs. He shores up an offensive line that would be pretty good even without him. Four of the Tigers' eight returning offensive starters are on the line, so good things could happen around them. But the overall talent gap between Jasper, Huffman-Hargrave and Silsbee is vast. The Tigers snuck into the playoffs last year with a 4-7 record and 3-3 mark in district play. The offense averaged 22.7 points per game and the defense gave up 36.3 points. Five starters are back on the defensive side of things. Hopefully newcomers have more answers on that side of the ball.
4. Little Cypress-Mauriceville Bears
- Coach: Randy Crouch
- 2014 finish: 5-6 (4A D-I bi-district finalist)
- Returning starters: 5 offensive, 5 defensive
Players to watch
- RB/DB Chris Winters, Soph., 5-11, 192
- RB/DL Samuel King, Sr., 5-9, 185
- FB/LB Kade Bland, Sr., 5-9, 190
2015 outlook: No program within the district was hit harder by graduation than Little Cypress-Mauriceville. They bring back 10 starters and 14 letter winners out of the 38 that were on the team a season ago. What's left is a good starting point though. Chris Winters is a running back to keep an eye on from now through his senior year in 2017. He'll get support from senior runner Samuel King and three-fifth's of last year's offensive line. Kade Bland is the top returner on the defensive side, a unit which allowed only 20.2 points per game last year. The Bears have a good tradition, but they'll be fighting each week to remain in the playoff hunt. They can't afford a loss against the bottom three teams in the league.
5. Cleveland Indians
- Coach: Keith Hendrix
- 2014 finish: 3-7
- Returning starters: 3 offensive, 8 defensive
Players to watch
- ATH Jaylon Williams, Soph. 6-3, 180
- RB/LB Dylan Reeves, Soph., 5-10, 176
- LB Monroe Harding, Soph.
2015 outlook: The most difficult obstacle the Indians will have to overcome this season is their coaching change. Former coach Clayton Maple left the program in mid-May to take the Kingwood Park job. Cleveland responded by bringing in Keith Hendrix, a 27-year coaching veteran that most recently served as the defensive coordinator at Perryton High School in the Panhandle. The Indians' defense should be tough this season. Hendrix will enjoy eight starters left behind, and two of the leading tacklers from last year's team are going to be sophomores this season. Offensively, especially early in the season, everything will revolve around sophomore universal athlete Jaylon Williams. The 2015 season isn't looking great for the Indians, but they're going to gain another year of experience.
6. Bridge City Cardinals
- Coach: Dwayne DuBois
- 2014 finish: 2-8
- Returning starters: N/A
Players to watch
- QB/LB Derick Dearing, Sr., 5-8, 185
2015 outlook: Bridge City also will go through a coaching transition this season. Dwayne DuBois replaces Cris Stump. Stump took another assignment in the district following a 2-8 overall record last season. DuBois joined the program after a successful two-year run at Hardin-Jefferson. Both his teams reached the regional semifinals. This year could be rough though. All but one notable contributor from last season's Cardinals team is gone. It's a full-on rebuilding project.
7. Splendora Wildcats
- Coach: Marcus Schulz
- 2014 finish: 1-9
- Returning starters: 8 offensive, 8 defensive
Players to watch
- QB/DB Toby Clark, Sr., 6-2, 175
- WR/DB Dustyn Millican, Jr., 6-0, 165
2015 outlook: Splendora has the most to prove among the district's lower-performing teams of 2014, but there's pretty much only one direction to go and good experience on offense and defense. Toby Clark will start both ways and will be leaned on to replace now-Texas A&M running back Jay Bradford. Dustyn Millican turned in a great personal season on the defensive side of the ball as just a sophomore. Don't be surprised to see the Wildcats in on the chase next season.