Predicting the District 14-5A / Division II 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. Kerrville Tivy (1,475): Antlers have made playoffs for 22 consecutive seasons.
2. Alamo Heights (1,582): Mules returned to playoffs last year and reached second round.
3. Boerne Champion (1,659): Dynamic dual-threat QB Luke Boyers back to lead Chargers.
4. Medina Valley (1,425): Panthers starting season under first-year head coach Lee Crisp.
5. Lockhart (1,617): Lions will try to get back on winning track under new coach Todd Moebes.
6. Uvalde (1,251): Coyotes have made playoffs nine of past 11 seasons.
7. Memorial (1,309): Despite last year's 1-9 season, Minutemen shouldn't be taken lightly.
8. Kennedy (1,187): Rockets will be better under second-year head coach Ben Benavides.
Preseason Offensive MVP: Tivy quarterback Cole Miears, senior
Preseason Defensive MVP: Champion LB Lake Schara, senior
Here is a breakdown of the six San Antonio-area teams in District 14-5A / Division II:
1. KERRVILLE TIVY ANTLERS
Coach: David Jones, 61-26 in seven seasons at Tivy
2018 records: 11-2 overall, 7-0 in District 14-5A / Division II (first)
Last playoff appearance: 2018, lost to Port Lavaca Calhoun 49-39 in 5A Division II third round
Starters returning (O/D): 5/9
Players to watch: S Coleson Abel, junior; WR Colten Drake, senior; WR Brooks McCoy, senior; QB Cole Miears, senior; LB Cole Mixon, senior; QB Trapper Pannell, senior; S Race Risinger, senior.
Season opener: vs. Dripping Springs, Aug. 30, Antler Stadium
District 14-5A / Division II opener: vs. Boerne Champion, Sept. 20, Antler Stadium
Outlook: Tivy has reached the third round of the playoffs each of the past two years, and has enough talent returning to advance at least that far again this season. The offense lost six starters to graduation, but the defense returns nine first-team players. Although the Antlers have some work to do offensively, the return of senior quarterbacks Cole Miears and Trapper Pannell gives them a big advantage. Miears passed for 2,048 yards and 19 touchdowns, and rushed for 653 yards last season. Pannell was also outstanding as a junior, throwing for 1,035 yards and 10 TDs, running for 292 yards and finishing with 130 receiving yards for 11 more scores. Among the five offensive returning starters are senior wide receivers Brooks McCoy, who had 58 receptions for 834 yards and six TDs last year, and Colten Drake (42-467-5). Senior linebacker Cole Mixon, senior safety Race Risinger and junior safety Coleson Abel are the defensive leaders. Mixon and Risinger finished last season with 128 and 112 tackles, respectively, and Abel had 88 stops. Tivy, which advanced to the state quarterfinals in 2011, has made the playoffs for 22 consecutive seasons. The Antlers have won seven district championships and reached the state semifinals twice during that stretch.
2. ALAMO HEIGHTS MULES
Coach: Mike Norment, 56-25 in seven seasons at Alamo Heights
2018 records: 8-4, 5-2 in District 14-5A / Division II (three-way tie for second)
Last playoff appearance: 2018, lost to Corpus Christi Calallen 63-35 in 5A Division II second round
Starters returning (O/D): 4/6
Players to watch: LB Alex Arnold, junior; DL Henry Bell, senior; DB Jake Bentley, senior; WR Billy Conn, senior; DB Mac Flinn, senior; DB Harrison Flume, senior; DB Josh Galindo, senior; DL Curtis Gunn, senior; DB Curtis Johnson III, junior; QB Coby Love, senior; LB Gage Maples, junior; RB Joe Moreno, senior; WR Aaron Proctor, senior; CB Jadon Scott, junior; WR Campbell Seay, senior; TE Jack Seger, senior; LB Jackson Veale, senior.
Season opener: at New Braunfels, Aug. 30, Unicorn Stadium
District 14-4A / Division II opener: vs. Kennedy, Sept. 20, Orem Stadium
Outlook: Alamo Heights must rebuild its offensive line and break in a new quarterback, but the Mules won't lack for experienced receivers and a strong defense this season. Senior Coby Love, who backed up Reed Anderson the past two seasons, will take over the quarterback position. He will throw to senior wide receivers Billy Conn and Aaron Proctor. Conn had 17 receptions for 177 yards and two touchdowns last season, and Proctor finished with 31 catches for 433 yards and six TDs. Senior tight end Jack Seger also played a key role in the offense last year, finishing with 25 receptions for 288 yards and two TDs. Returning six starters, the Mules' defense will be paced by a secondary that includes senior Josh Galindo and juniors Curtis Johnson III and Jadon Scott, and a linebacker corps led by junior Gage Maples. Galindo had 78 tackles, two sacks and two interceptions last season, and Johnson had 28 stops and two picks. Maples had an impressive sophomore season, finishing with 48 tackles, two sacks and two interceptions. The standouts on the defensive line are seniors Henry Bell and Curtis Gunn. Gunn had 44 tackles and two sacks last season and Bell finished with 28 tackles and two sacks. Mike Norment is starting his eighth season as Heights head coach and 23rd on the school's coaching staff.
3. BOERNE CHAMPION CHARGERS
Coach: Keith Kaiser, 50-21 in six seasons at Champion
2018 records: 7-4 overall, 5-2 in District 14-5A / Division II (three-way tie for second)
Last playoff appearance: 2018, lost to Brenham 23-20 in 5A Division II bidistrict
Starters returning (O/D): 4/7
Players to watch: QB Luke Boyers, senior; TE Reed Cantrell, junior; OL Chance Cooper, sophomore; LB Sam Dillard, senior; FS Bowen Fjord, senior; DE Willis Froetschel, senior; LB Brant Gault, senior; DE Luke Heck, junior; RB Tamari Jenkins, senior; FS Josh Kidder, senior; RB/P Ethan Laing, junior; OL Harrison Moskal, senior; LB Lake Schara, senior; DL Walker Scott, senior; DB Caleb Surber, junior.
Season opener: vs. Stevens, Aug. 30, Boerne ISD Stadium
District 14-5A / Division II opener: at Kerrville Tivy, Sept. 20
Outlook: Any discussion about Boerne Champion's chances for a long playoff run this season begin and end with prolific dual-threat quarterback Luke Boyers. A senior, Boyers is a playmaker who's a scoring threat every time he touches the ball. He had an outstanding junior season, passing for 1,839 yards and 20 touchdowns and rushing 1,406 yards and 21 more TDs. Boyers will get ample help from senior running back Tamari Jenkins, who rushed for 783 yards and five TDs and had two scoring receptions last season. Junior Ethan Laing, an all-district punter who also rushed for 254 yards and five TDs in 2018, is another capable running back. Boyers, Jenkins and Laing will work behind an offensive line anchored by senior Harrison Moskal, who had 28 pancake blocks last season. The defense will be anchored by senior trio of linebackers Brant Gault and Lake Schara and free safety Bowen Fjord. Schara, who was moved from the defensive line in the offseason, had 44 tackles and five sacks last year. Gault also had an impressive junior season, finishing with 30 tackles, two interceptions and one TD. Fjord had 80 tackles last year. The Chargers are starting their seventh season under coach Keith Kaiser, who has guided Champion to the playoffs in each of the past five seasons.
4. MEDINA VALLEY PANTHERS
Coach: Lee Crisp, first season at Medina Valley
2018 records: 7-4 overall, 5-2 in District 14-5A / Division II (three-way tie for second)
Last playoff appearance: 2018, lost to Leander Glenn 28-14 in 5A Division II bidistrict
Starters returning (O/D): 4/6
Players to watch: DT Trace Ferguson, senior; FB James Gipson, senior; RB Kaden Hernandez, junior; QB Charlie Marsh, senior; DE Jared Marty, junior; OG Alex Medina, C Spencer Payne, senior; LB Grant Snider, senior; TE/DE Joe Tarvin, sophomore; TB Carlik Ware, senior.
Season opener: vs. Waco La Vega, Aug. 30, Panther Stadium, Castroville
District 14-5A / Division II opener: vs. Lockhart, Sept. 20, Panther Stadium
Outlook: Medina Valley will start the season under new head coach Lee Crisp, who was on the Panthers' staff for two seasons before getting promoted. The head-coaching job is the first in football for Crisp, a 1999 MV graduate. He succeeds Chris Soza, who resigned in April to become head coach at Beeville. MV went 18-14 and made the playoffs twice in three seasons under Soza. Crisp inherited a team that returns 10 starters from last year's 7-4 playoff team, including senior running back James Gipson, senior center Spencer Payne and senior middle linebacker Grant Snider. Gipson rushed for 1,236 yards and 18 touchdowns last season, and Payne was named the district's lineman of the year. Both are three-year starters. Senior Charlie Marsh, another three-year starter, will be the Panthers' quarterback after playing on the defensive unit last season. Snider and senior tackle Trace Ferguson, who had 52 tackles and seven tackles as a junior, will anchor the defense. Crisp was an assistant coach at Clark and Reagan before joining Soza's staff in 2017.
7. MEMORIAL MINUTEMEN
Coach: Kemmie Lewis, 8-23 in three seasons at Memorial
2018 records: 1-9 overall, 0-7 in District 14-5A / Division II (eighth)
Last playoff appearance: 2017, lost to Victoria West 45-17 in 5A Division II bidistrict
Starters returning (O/D): 7/7
Players to watch: OL Angel Banderas, senior; LB C.J. Cardenas, junior; WR Alan Hernandez, junior; CB Rene Jimenez, junior; QB Joel Lozano, senior; LB-NG Nathan Palacios, senior; RB Syrus Ramos, sophomore; WR/CB Matthew Rubio, sophomore; LB Jimmy Trevino, senior.
Season opener: at Bandera, Aug. 30
District 14-5A / Division II opener: vs. Uvalde, Sept. 20, Edgewood Veterans Stadium
Outlook: Memorial had quite a comedown from its historic 2017 season last year, finishing 1-9 overall and going 0-7 in a much tougher district. The Minutemen won their first football district title ever two years ago, but were dealt a tough blow when the UIL's biennial realignment in 2018 moved them into a league that includes such area heavyweights as Kerrville Tivy, Alamo Heights, Boerne Champion and Medina Valley. Undaunted, Memorial has moved on and is eager to jump back into the fray. The Minutemen return seven starters each way, including quarterback Joel Lozano and linebacker/nose guard Nathaniel Palacios. Wide receiver Alan Hernandez, one of Lozano's primary targets last year, is also back. The best player on the offensive line is Angel Banderas. The ringleaders on defense are linebackers C.J. Cardenas, Nathaniel Palacios and Jimmy Trevino and cornerback Rene Jimenez. Palacios also can line up at nose guard. Memorial overcame a 1-3 start in 2017 to snap a streak of 22 losing seasons. The Minutemen won seven games in a season for the first time since 1970, when Memorial went 8-2 in its fourth year.
8. KENNEDY ROCKETS
Coach: Ben Benavides, 1-9 in one season at Kennedy
2018 records: 1-9 overall, 1-6 in District 14-5A / Division II (seventh)
Last playoff appearance: 2009, lost to Kerrville Tivy 65-2 in 4A Division II bi-district
Starters returning (O/D): 3/4
Players to watch: WR Ted Carrillo, senior; S Eulalio Magallanes, senior; QB Nathan Martinez, senior; DE Tony Ruiz, senior; FB/LB Fernando Sandoval, junior; CB Greg San Miguel, senior.
Season opener: vs. Devine, Aug. 30, Edgewood Veterans Stadium
District 14-5A / Division I opener: at Alamo Heights, Sept. 20
Outlook: Kennedy moved the needle ever so slightly last year, finishing 1-9 in its first season under coach Ben Benavides. The Rockets, 0-10 in 2017, return only seven starters from a team that finished seventh in the final district standings. A 1989 Kennedy graduate, Benavides is in his second stint with the Rockets. He was JFK's defensive coordinator for nine seasons before going to Burbank, where he held the same position until returning to his alma mater six years later. Fullback/linebacker Fernando Sandoval, one of the toughest players on the Rockets' roster, is expected to contribute in a big way on both sides of the ball. Nathan Martinez will start at quarterback and Ted Carrillo, who also plays cornerback, is back at wide receiver. Safety Eulalio Magallanes, end Tony Ruiz and cornerback Greg San Miguel will anchor the defensive unit. Kennedy hasn't had a winning season since finishing 7-3 in 2013 under coach Richard Cerda. The Rockets finished with winning records in each of their last four seasons under Cerda, who left Kennedy in 2014.
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