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DISTRICT 14-5A / DI PREVIEW: Harlan, Southwest top picks in league that includes Laredo, Eagle Pass schools

Harlandale, Eagle Pass Winn are expected to claim the district's other two playoff spots.

Predicting the District 14-5A / Division I race

The top four teams from each district advance to the University Interscholastic League playoffs, which start on Nov. 15. The two schools with the largest enrollments compete in the Division I bracket and the two smaller schools advance to Division II. (School enrollments are in parentheses.)

1. Harlan (1,963): Hawks reached second round of playoffs in first varsity season last year.

2. Southwest (2,108): Dragons did well after dropping to 5A last year, going undefeated in district.

3. Harlandale (1,890): Indians returned to the playoffs last year after winning only one game in 2017.

4. Eagle Pass Winn (2,095): Mavericks didn't make playoffs last year, but finished 6-4 after going 3-8 in 2017. 

5. Laredo Martin (2,037): Tigers bounced back from losing season by making playoffs, finishing 6-5. 

6. McCollum (1,636): Cowboys haven't made playoffs since going 8-3 in 2011. 

7. Southwest Legacy (2,083): Titans finished 0-10 in first varsity season last year.

Preseason Offensive MVP: Harlan quarterback Kannon Williams, junior

Preseason Defensive MVP: Laredo Martin nose guard Marcos Vega, junior

Here is a breakdown of the five San Antonio-area teams in District 14-5A / Division I:


Credit: David Flores / KENS5.com
Harlan senior strong safety Zane Svoboda, left, and junior quarterback Kannon Williams helped the Hawks reach the second round of the playoffs in their first varsity season last year.

Coach: Eddie Salas, 8-4 in one season at Harlan

2018 records: 8-4 overall, 4-2 in District 14-5A / Division I (two-way tie for second)

Last playoff appearance: 2018, lost to Veterans Memorial 58-21 in 5A Division I second round

Starters returning (O/D): 10/7

Players to watch: DE Louis Cannon, senior; Nathan Cedeillo, senior; WR Ethan Esparza, senior; LB/S Ty Fleurant, junior; S Donovan Harris, senior; DE Louis Kannon, senior; DL Jaden Jackson, junior; LB Nathan Johnson, junior; OT Angel Leon, senior; DE Manuel Leon, senior; WR Jacory Logan, senior; G Luis Lopez, senior; RB Aubrey McDade, junior; G Sean McKenney, senior; LB David Meyers, sophomore; CB Kaiden Spencer, senior; SS Zane Svoboda, senior; QB Kannon Williams, junior. 

Season opener: vs. Holmes, Aug. 30, Gustafson Stadium

District 14-5A / Division I opener: vs. McCollum, Sept. 27, Harlandale Memorial Stadium

Outlook: Returning 17 starters, 10 on offense, from an 8-4 playoff team, Harlan will start its second varsity season as one of the most experienced teams in the San Antonio area. The Hawks made their first varsity season a memorable one, reaching the second round of the playoffs after finishing in a two-way tie for second in the district. The headliner on the Harlan roster is junior quarterback Kannon Williams, who was named the district's newcomer of the year after passing for 1,645 yards and 13 touchdowns and rushing for 520 yards. The Hawks return two other offensive standouts, junior running back Aubrey McDade and senior wide receiver Jacory Logan. McDade rushed for 1,010 yards and 12 TDs in 2018, and Logan had 48 receptions for 715 yards and six TDs. Senior safety Zane Svoboda, who had 128 tackles last year, and senior Louis Cannon will anchor the defense. Cannon finished last season with 33 tackles and two sacks. Harlan will open its second season against Holmes, where coach Eddie Salas headed the program for four seasons before leaving to take the Harlan job in 2017.


Credit: David Flores / KENS5.com
Southwest senior quarterback Matt Luna, left, and wide receiver/defensive back Makhi Johnson are two of only four returning starters from a team that went 10-2 last year.

Coach: Matt Elliott, 65-19 in two different stints at Southwest (2006-09, 2016-18)

2018 records: 10-2 overall, 6-0 in District 14-5A / Division I (first)

Last playoff appearance: 2018, lost to Corpus Christi Flour Bluff 35-21 in 5A Division II second round

Starters returning (O/D): 2/2

Players to watch: WR/DB Ricardo Coronado, senior;  K Oscar Jimenez, junior; WR/DB Makhi Johnson, senior; QB/DB Matthew Luna, senior; RB/S Andre Mitchell, junior; FB/LB Victor Torres, senior; RB/LB Justin Vargas, senior. 

Season opener: vs. Roosevelt, Aug. 30, Southwest's Dragon Stadium

District 14-5A / Division I opener: vs. Southwest Legacy, Sept. 27, Dragon Stadium

Outlook: Southwest made its first season back in the UIL's second-largest classification a memorable one, going unbeaten in district and reaching the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Although the Dragons lost heavily to graduation, their cupboard of talent is hardly bare. Junior Matthew Luna is back at quarterback and so is junior wide receiver Ricky Coronado, giving Southwest a solid passing combo. Two of the best athletes on the team, Luna and Coronado also will see action in the secondary. Running back/linebacker Justin Vargas and fullback/linebacker Victor Torres, also are expected to see two-way duty. Junior running back/safety Andre Mitchell has the potential to be an offensive threat. Matt Elliott is in his second stint as head coach at Southwest, and has gone 65-19 in two stints with the Dragons. Southwest is the alma mater of Ty Detmer, who won the 1990 Heisman Trophy while playing for Brigham Young. A 1987 Southwest graduate, Detmer led the Dragons to the third round of the playoffs as a junior in 1985.


Credit: David Flores / KENS5.com
Harlandale nose guard Ricardo Flores, left, and offensive tackle Nicholas Munoz are two of only seven returning starters for the Indians this season.

Coach: Albert Torres, 7-14 in two seasons at Harlandale

2018 records: 6-5 overall, 3-3 in District 14-5A / Division I (two-way tie for fourth)

Last playoff appearance: 2018, lost to Wagner 59-7 in 5A Division I bidistrict

Starters returning (O/D): 4/3

Players to watch: WR Ariel Casso, junior; DL Abraham De La Torre, senior; LB Leo Espinoza, senior; DE Ricardo Flores, senior; OL Jayson Garza, senior; LB Stephen Garza, junior; WR Ruben Gonzalez, senior; RB Jayden Lybrand, junior; DB Alejandro Mendez, junior; OT Nicholas Munoz, senior; QB Christopher Perez, senior; WR Joel Perez, senior; DB Julian Ramos, junior; QB Nicholas Veliz, senior; LB Kaleb Vera, senior; DE Seth Vera, senior. 

Season opener: vs. Jefferson, Aug. 31, Alamo Stadium

District 14-5A / Division I opener: vs. Harlan, Oct. 4, Farris Stadium

Outlook: Things are looking up for Harlandale. After winning only one game in their first season under coach Albert Torres in 2017, the Indians made the playoffs and finished 6-5 last year. Senior quarterback Nicholas Veliz, who passed for 952 yards and five touchdowns, is among seven returning starters on the Harlandale roster. Senior wide receivers Ruben Gonzalez and Joel Perez are also back. Gonzalez had 34 receptions for 394 yards and one TD last season. Jayson Garza and Nicholas Munoz will anchor the offensive line. The Indians' defense will be led by senior end Ricardo Flores, junior linebacker Stephen Garza and senior linebacker Kaleb Vera. Harlandale made the playoffs four years in a row before missing the cut in 2016, longtime coach Isaac Martinez’s last season. The Indians open their season against Jefferson on Aug. 31 at Alamo Stadium.


Credit: David Flores / KENS5.com
McCollum coach Matt Uzzell will rely on junior quarterback Ryan Ramirez, left, and senior outside linebacker Jared Luevanos to help lead the Cowboys this season.

Coach: Matt Uzzell, 1-8 in one season at McCollum

2018 records: 1-8 overall, 1-5 in District 14-5A Division I (sixth)

Last playoff appearance: 2015, lost to Kerrville Tivy 63-21 in 5A Division II bi-district

Starters returning (O/D): 4/5

Players to watch: OL Jovannie Cerda, senior; QB/RB Gary Escobar, sophomore; LB Eric Escobedo, junior; DB Jason Fernandez, senior; RB/OLB Jared Luevanos, senior; QB Ryan Ramirez, junior; DL Dominik Riojas, junior; DB Alex Robles, senior; OL Michael Rodriguez, senior.

Season opener: vs. South San, Aug. 30, Harlandale Memorial Stadium

District 14-5A / Division I opener: vs. Harlan, Sept. 27, Harlandale Stadium

Outlook: McCollum's only victory of the season last year snapped an 18-game losing streak that included an 0-10 finish in 2017. The Cowboys have gone 3-27 in the three seasons since their last playoff appearance in 2015, and haven't finished above .500 since going 8-3 in 2011. While McCollum struggled mightily last season, their first under coach Matt Uzzell, they continued to persevere. A 1997 McCollum graduate, Uzzell was the offensive coordinator at Trinity before returning to his alma mater in 2018. Junior quarterback Ryan Ramirez, who passed for 988 yards and and seven touchdowns last year, has improved steadily since seeing playing time on the varsity as a freshman. Seniors Jovannie Cerda and Michael Rodriguez will lead the offensive line. The defensive stalwarts are senior Alex Robles and Jason Fernandez in the secondary and senior Jared Luevanos at outside linebacker.


Credit: David Flores / KENS5.com
Southwest Legacy junior defensive end Zachary Luna, left, and senior running back/linebacker Marcus Cantu are among 17 returning starters for the Titans.

Coach: John Tarvin, 0-10 in one season at Southwest Legacy

2018 records: 0-10 overall, 0-6 in District 14-5A Division I (seventh)

Last playoff appearance: None

Starters returning (O/D): 9/8

Players to watch: OL Julian Armendariz, senior; RB/LB Marcus Cantu, senior; DB Jake Casarez, junior; WR Homer Flores, junior; RB Damien Hernandez, junior; WR Pete Lopez, senior; DE Zachary Luna, junior; QB/LB Xavier Moreno, senior; C Daniel Ornelas, senior; WR Jorge Pineda, junior; QB Zezar Tovar, sophomore, FS Raymond Wilcox, junior; 

Season opener: vs. Lanier, Aug. 30, SAISD Sports Complex

District 14-5A / Division I opener: at Southwest, Sept. 27, Dragon Stadium

Outlook: With 17 starters back, Southwest Legacy is confident about its chances of moving up in the district standings this season. Two of the best athletes on the Titans' roster are senior running back Marcus Cantu and senior quarterback Xavier Moreno. Cantu rushed for 513 yards and five touchdowns last year, and had 63 tackles as a linebacker. Moreno, who finished his junior season with 71 tackles, also plays linebacker. Running back Damien Hernandez rushed for 313 yards as a sophomore last season. Moreno will look to wide receivers Pete Lopez and Jorge Pineda in the passing game. Lopez, a senior, had 21 receptions for 276 yards and two TDs last year and Pineda, a junior, finished the season with 20 catches for 213 yards and two scores. Senior center Daniel Ornelas, who had 17 pancake blocks in 2018, is the leader on the offensive line. Junior end Zachary Luna and junior free safety Raymond Wilcox anchor the defense.  


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