Written by Corbett Smith
Corbett Smith's 2012 HS football state-title predictions, preseason awards, more
Texas A&M to the SEC. TCU to the Big 12. SMU to the Big East.
Conference realignment might be revolutionizing college football, but that’s old hat for high school programs. Thanks to biennial alignments by the University Interscholastic League, high school teams, coaches and fans are accustomed to an ever-shuffling dance card.
So, let’s try to clear up some confusion with a snapshot of the new landscape — with some predictions to boot:
Need Class 6A? It’s here, now.
For people holding their breath for a super conference in the UIL, don’t sweat it. It’s probably never going to happen. But if competitive balance is the concern, don’t fret. At the end of the season, the big boys will battle among themselves for a state title. Five of the top seven teams in SportsDay’s 5A area rankings — Allen, Arlington Martin, Euless Trinity, Skyline and Southlake Carroll — are guaranteed to be in the Division I playoffs as one of the largest teams in their districts. DeSoto is likely to go Division I as well.
Will anyone step up to stop Lake Travis?
Given that potential power imbalance, Lake Travis — winner of an unprecedented five straight titles in 4A — waltzes into 5A’s Region II harboring hopes for a Division II state title. At this moment, Jostens reps are probably trying to figure out how to get Lake Travis’ 2012 motto, “The Tradition Continues,” in pavé diamonds on the next championship ring.
While there’s no question that Longview could be a threat in the Region II playoffs, can any Dallas-Fort Worth area team realistically challenge Lake Travis? At this point, it doesn’t look promising.
McKinney Boyd and Jesuit have some great players, like Bryan Driskell and Jake Oliver, but lack Lake Travis’ depth. Plano or Plano West might have a shot to overwhelm with sheer numbers — a whopping 2,000 to 3,000 more students than Lake Travis. Cedar Hill is probably the D-FW area’s best chance, and a game between Cedar Hill and Lake Travis couldn’t happen until the 5A Division II semifinals.
The development of junior running back A.J. Ezzard might be the biggest key to Southlake Carroll defending its state title. Carroll needs to ease some pressure from quarterback Kenny Hill, who accounted for 73 percent of the team’s offense in 2011.
There’s a great crop of running backs in the area this season. Several seem poised to become 2,000-yard rushers. Wylie East’s Jabari Anderson did it last season, as did Boyd’s Driskell, and both should have a good shot to do it again as seniors. Mansfield Timberview’s Josh Smith, Mansfield’s Kenneth Burks, Rowlett’s Jalen Rhodes and Martin’s Kyle Hicks could be called upon enough to hit that benchmark.
Highland Park doesn’t always win its district (nine of the last 10 titles), though it might seem like that. This year, however, Highland Park could conceivably finish as low as third, with tough 10-4A foes in West Mesquite and Mesquite Poteet. Highland Park should have a 69-game home winning streak when it hosts West Mesquite on Oct. 19.
Given their likely output and their teams’ prospects, Hill, Skyline’s Devante Kincade and Denton Guyer’s Jerrod Heard are front-runners for SportsDay’s offensive player of the year. But don’t count out DeSoto’s Dontre Wilson. The Oregon pledge — who had a great track season in the summer — has been getting rave reviews from DeSoto coach Claude Mathis. Possible candidates for defensive player of the year include West Mesquite safety Kameron Miles, Mansfield safety George Baltimore and Skyline tackle Kerrick Huggins.
Follow Corbett Smith on Twitter at @corbettsmithDMN
Here are Corbett Smith’s playoff and postseason award predictions.
Semifinalists (*predicted champion)
5A Div. I: Southlake Carroll vs. Skyline*, Pearland vs. San Antonio Madison
5A Div. II: Mansfield vs. Lake Travis*, LaPorte vs. Northside Brandeis
4A Div. I: Denton Guyer* vs. Tyler John Tyler, Pearland Dawson vs. Cedar Park
4A Div. II: Wichita Falls Rider vs. Sherman, Rosenberg Terry* vs. Corpus Christi Calallen
3A Div. I: Stephenville* vs. Kilgore, Carthage vs. West Columbia
3A Div. II: Alvarado vs. Gilmer, La Marque* vs. Wimberly
TAPPS-I: Fort Worth Nolan* vs. Austin St. Michael’s, TCA-Addison vs. Houston St. Pius X
Offensive player of the year: Devante Kincade, Skyline
Defensive player of the year: Bryson Henderson, Mansfield Summit
Coach of the year: John Walsh, Guyer