30-4A PREVIEW: Five teams in sprint for four playoff spots
Five teams in the reconfigured District 30-4A not only made the football playoffs last year, but won a game once they qualified.
Previous success doesn't guarantee anything when the lights come on, but it does make for intriguing storylines as the 2012 season approaches.
"That's no different than any other year," said Calallen head coach Phil Danaher, about the lofty expectations in the new district. "We've made the semifinals the last two years. We've been there 10 or 11 times. We know every game people are going to gun for us. It's a situation where people will always gun for us because if they beat us, it will improve their season."
In addition, the district returns its champion, Calhoun. The Sandcrabs come off their first undefeated regular season in school history, and a second straight run to the Class 4A, Division II regional quarterfinals.
There are challengers to Calallen and Calhoun this year.
In junior Devin Bisby, Gregory-Portland has someone who ran for 1,588 yards and 17 touchdowns, and someone talented enough for Calallen's Danaher to dub a "stud." Victoria East has a new coach but a lot of talent back, and Beeville returns 13 starters from its first playoff team in three years.
Calhoun will have its work cut out for it this year. The team has to replace 10 starters on offense, including key skill players Joseph Bargas, Jeremy Loya and Brandon Griffith.
All of this ensures that District 30-4A play, when it rolls around at the end of September, won't be a cake walk.
"We are going to have to play every week," said Roland Gonzalez, the first-year coach at Victoria East. "There are some teams in our district that have established themselves as good little powerhouses that make the playoffs year after year. We definitely have to get ready for them. We can't slack off in any particular week."
East finished second behind the Sandcrabs last year after the Titans were routed 53-7 in Port Lavaca.
Calhoun coach Richard Whitaker has helped the Sandcrabs to the playoffs his last six seasons, only missing out in his first season there.
On paper, the strength of the reigning 30-4A champions might be in its secondary, as Trey Robinson, Dustin Snider and Jakorious Williams all return. However, the district is not one where teams have proven they will air it out with consistency.
Calallen is figuring out who will be its starting quarterback. Cameron Schultz and Mark Cavazos figure to split time in the shotgun at East. Gregory-Portland ran the ball 68 percent of the time last year with Bisby and others, while Beeville runs a wing-T.
West, with 230 attempts in 10 games, threw the ball more than anyone in the district last fall, but the West offense at times struggled to muster enough points to stay in games.
West coach Leonard McAngus is not worried about the past, or the upcoming district schedule where both Calallen and East scheduled the Warriors for homecoming. He wants his team to focus on the next play, beating the man across from them and finding ways to continuously improve.
"We're not going to worry about the results," he said. "We can control our effort and attention on every play. If we do that our kids will be more productive and more successful."
McAngus stressed that focusing on the 2011 team that arguably lost a half-dozen games in the fourth quarter would not be an apt comparison to the team that will take the field this year. He said seniors such as defensive lineman Jorge Garcia and offensive linemen Jonathan Vahalik and Jake Wallace will likely lead that charge.
With five teams looking to return to the playoffs, West seeking redemption and T-M looking for its first win in 13 tries, the new 30-4A should be anything but dull.
"It's going to be a tough race," McAngus said, a sentiment shared by others in the district. "Everyone has a shot to get in the playoffs. Our focus is to not worry about those guys, but focus on what we can be."
• Coach: Richard Whitaker
• Years at current school: 8
• Record at current school: 60-25
• Years as head coach: 14
• Overall record: 92-54
• Last year's record: 12-1, 5-0 in district
• Last playoff appearance: 2011, regionals
• Returning starters: OT J.R. Perez, LB Marcus Klamm, DT James Mendez, DT Albert Gonzalez, DB Trey Robinson, DB Dustin Snider, DB Jakorious Williams.
• Coach: Leonard McAngus
• Years at current school: 3
• Record at current school: 8-14
• Years as head coach: 16
• Overall record: 77-81
• Last year's record: 2-8, 0-5 in district
• Last playoff appearance: 2010, area
• Returning starters: QB Garrett Rother, LB Xavier Ramos, OT Jake Wallace, OG Jonathan Vahalik, OG Andrew Neuvar, LB David Ledbetter, FS Jacob Armstrong, LB Qualian Bryant, K Ernesto Perez.
|31||Greg De Los Santos||RB/LB||So.|
|32||Michael De La Garza||RB/LB||So.|
• Coach: Troy Moses
• Years at current school: 4
• Record at current school: 12-20
• Years as head coach: 6
• Overall record: 21-32
• Last year's record: 6-6, 2-4 in district
• Last playoff appearance: 2011, area
• Returning starters: TB Eric Rosales, G Tyler Byrd, C Graham Traylor, G Aric Gamez, T Tevin Wilson, TE Hunter Hardy, OLB Joe Ray Garza, CB David Garcia, OLB Roger Salazar, LB Joey Granados, DT Brent Puga.
|25||Joe Rey Garza||SM/LB||sr.|
• Coach: Roland Gonzalez
• Years at current school: 1
• Years as head coach: 10
• Overall record: 43-49
• Last year's record: 7-5, 4-1 in district
• Last playoff appearance: 2011, area
• Returning starters: OL Bo Pullin, OL Trevor Austin, WR Deondric Lofton, DL Jace Mitchell, S Chris Clark, LB Seth Christian, CB Mario Aguiano.