7-6A District Breakdown(part 2)
Aug 25, 2015 03:46PM ● Published by Dia
By EJ Holland
Southlake Carroll head coach Hal Wasson never showed any signs of stress.
Sure, there was reason to be worried — due to the UIL’s realignment, the Dragons were placed in one of the toughest districts in the state. But Wasson and his team remained calm, cool and collective en route to capturing their fourth straight district title.
But the road won’t get any easier in 2015. Perennial contenders Euless Trinity, Coppell and Colleyville Heritage bring back a number of talented players and are ready to dethrone the Dragons.
Meanwhile, L.D. Bell, Richland and Haltom all feel like they have something to prove in what should be another competitive year in District 7-6A. Here is a closer look at each of the teams vying for the district title.
Hurst L.D. Bell — The Blue Raiders will have a fresh look this season thanks to new head coach Mike Glaze. Turning around a 1-9 program won’t be easy, but Glaze knows a thing or two about winning and scoring points. After all, Glaze arrives at L.D. Bell after six years at Cedar Hill, where he served as offensive coordinator. He helped Cedar Hill reach the state final the last three seasons and win state championships each of the last two years. Cedar Hill’s 2013 team averaged 36.3 points per game, and the 2014 team averaged 47.4 points. It’s unclear what system Glaze plans to run at L.D. Bell, but it will likely be some type of pass heavy spread concept. The Blue Raiders have the personnel to make it work. Senior quarterback Dominique Lawson led the team in both passing and rushing last season and wide receiver Tacorian Howard is a tall, athletic pass catcher that could give defenses fits. Offensive linemen Brendon Weatherspoon and Anesu Sitole both shined as sophomores in 2014. L.D. Bell brings back five starters on defense, headlined by defensive tackle Blake Jenkins, who notched 20 tackles and two sacks last season. Kicker Tyler Dunlop connected on 88 percent of his field goal attempts and will be a difference maker on special teams.
Richland — Richland has been stuck on a stagnant course as of late. The Rebels averaged just three wins per year over the last three years. Can Richland finally have a breakthrough season under fourth-year head coach Ged Kates? Really, it will come down to a defense that returns seven starters. The unit performed well against the bottom of the district in 2014 but allowed more than 35 points against each of the league’s four playoff teams and more than 50 in two of those contests. Senior defensive tackle Cason Clark is a force up front and will anchor the group. Defensive backs LeDarryle Bryant and PJ Hill combined for 97 tackles last year and will be key playmakers in a pass heavy district. The Rebels showed flashes of potential on offense last year but must find a quarterback to run the show. Jordan Wiley is in line to start but will be pushed by fellow senior Colton Curtis. Senior wide receiver Aaron Denson caught just eight passes last year, but Kates expects him to have a huge season as he helps ease in the new starter under center. Speedy sophomore running back Rylee Johnson could be the X-fact that jump-starts the Rebels.
Haltom — As the old cliché goes, this team has nowhere to go but up. Haltom was once again a district bottom feeder in 2014 as it finished with a winless record. The Buffalos often served as punching bags for district opponents. In fact, Haltom was outscored by an average score of 47-7. In an ultracompetitive District 7-6A, Haltom has plenty of work to do if it wants to make simple incremental improvements from a year ago. And that starts on the defensive side of the ball. Haltom head coach Justin Tucker is a defensive-minded coach — he served as Saginaw Chisholm Trail’s defensive coordinator prior to arriving at Haltom — and the Buffalos return a couple of players with potential. Defensive tackle Tyree Smith was a first team all-district selection last year, while linebacker Gravin Ricks led the team in tackles. Offensively, expect the Buffalos to try to shorten games by keeping the ball on the ground. Running backs JQ Reed and Imiee Cooksey create a formidable tandem in the backfield. Tucker, who is entering his second season at the helm, does know what it takes to win. After all, he was an assistant at Southlake Carroll under Todd Dodge and helped the Dragon capture three state championships.