2017 Predictions for San Angelo Area High School Football Teams
SAN ANGELO, TX — Football is back! Towns all across this vast, wonderful land we call Texas will start shutting down on Friday nights. With the return of football comes the hype surrounding every team’s season. It’s a clean slate; everyone starts off even, regardless if they went 16-0 or 0-10 a year ago.
The football played in the Concho Valley and west Texas has a different feel to it than in Dallas-Fort Worth, or Houston, or the golden triangle down by the Sabine River. The sense of pride each team takes in their community is second to none, whether it’s a Goliath 6A school like San Angelo Central or a modest school like Paint Rock.
We’ve been steadily previewing teams throughout the Concho Valley over the last three weeks. With one week before the start of the 2017 season, we want to give you the teams you need to look for, who may make a run at state, and even a few dark horses who could surprise the Texas high school football world.
Now, as a disclaimer, I have been wrong before and the fluidity of the high school football season means anything can happen.
These are the teams who should make the UIL playoffs this season.
San Angelo Central: Despite graduating a plethora of key contributors from their historic season a year ago, the Bobcats are poised to make another solid run in playoffs this year. They return a solid set of skill players and have size on their offensive line, keeping their offense close to what it was a year ago. Maverick McIvor seems poised to have a breakout year in his first season as QB1 for Central and has the athleticism and football IQ to make serious waves this season.
Grape Creek Eagles: The Eagles may have found their coach Justin Mueller. Mueller’s time as an offensive coordinator at 3A power White Oak has prepped him for this moment. Mueller also inherits a team who made an appearance in the playoffs a year ago, with 11 starters back from 2016. There will be some hiccups early on in the first season under Mueller, with Jesse Jio taking snaps now following the departure of Austin Barron. However, in the five team district 2-3A D1, one win should book your place in the playoffs, a task that should be easy for the Eagles.
Christoval Cougars: Head Coach Casey Otho and the Cougars made a statement last year with an 8-2 record and a playoff appearance in Otho's first year as head coach. The Cougars will be led on offense by senior quarterback Seth Wilkins and senior receiver Justin Palmer. Wilkins, who will start for the first time as the Cougar’s quarterback, has shown in practice that he could be a force for Cougar’s offense. Palmer will also be a reliable weapon downfield with his speed. The Cougars should make the playoffs again this year.
Miles Bulldogs: The Bulldogs, after making it to playoffs last year, are poised to return to the playoffs. Miles returns 15 starters to the field from a year ago. Jonas Garcia will now operate Miles’ offense after a tremendous season as a running back. With the returning starters who gained invaluable experience last year, you would be hard pressed to find any reason the Bulldogs wouldn’t make it to state.
On the Bubble:
This team may or may not make the playoffs.
Ballinger Bearcats: With new Head Coach Chuck Lipsey taking over, the Bearcats seem ready to make another push towards playoffs. Much like Grape Creek in 3A-D1, the Bearcats are in a five team district with one of those five going winless a year ago. There’s still some question as to who will take the snaps for Ballinger this season following the out of district move by Hagen Garvin. That should not be a huge factor, however, with a solid nucleus of returners for the Bearcats.
These teams would be surprises if they were to make an appearance in the playoffs.
The Chiefs have a new head coach who brings an extensive winning tradition in Hector Guevara. He’s the guy who can turn the Chiefs around. While it may not be an overnight process, Guevara has the tools to get Lake View back to the playoffs. The Chiefs also return nine starters including quarterback Henry Nickias and receiver/running back Alex Ayala. They were the lynchpins to the Chiefs’ offense a year ago.
There is one team in the Concho Valley that I think can make a run at a State Championship.
Wall Hawks: Last year, the Hawks were one win away from a second trip to AT&T Stadium in Arlington. Their season would unfortunately end by the hands of eventual State Champion Mineola. This year, the Hawks return a group of 15 starters. This group is “well-seasoned” according to Head Coach Houston Guy. Among those starters, Wall returns its trio of running backs who tallied over 2,000 rushing yards combined in 2016. Nine defensive starters return for Wall, as well, setting their defense up to be one of the best in state. This Wall squad should make it back to Arlington for the first time in four years.