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It's time to start talking football

Local high school football teams will find themselves in new districts this fall. Dave Campbell’s Texas Football hit local newsstands late last week, and fans of Pilot Point, Aubrey and Tioga will be happy to know their teams were picked to make the playoffs in the new districts.

But Pilot Point coach Danny David keeps matters in perspective.

“I don’t put much stock in the ratings; all that does is sell magazines for the most part,” he said.

He includes other ratings services, such as Harris and Padilla Poll, as not meaning much before the season stars.

“But they’re good to look at,” he said of preseason predictions. “It’s good for people to talk about at the coffee shop – who’s rated where, and who’s supposed to do this and who’s supposed to that, things along that line.

“You know, the games still have to be played, and a lot can happen between now and the start of two-a-days as well as now to when district gets here. A lot of things can happen to change what the ratings may say.”

Pilot Point enters 4-3A Division I this fall with a familiar district foe in Whitesboro, but the other opponents will be new in loop play this season: Brock, Bowie, Boyd, Paradise and Ponder. Pilot Point played Brock in non-district the last two seasons.

“It’s good to change sometimes,” David said. “I think over a period of time you play the same teams in district year after year, … it kind of gets old. I think it’s good to play new teams, go to new towns, go to new stadiums. I think sometimes it may create a little excitement. Hopefully it will, anyway.”

The magazine picks Brock to win district, with Pilot Point finishing third behind Whitesboro. Bowie should earn the fourth playoff spot, the magazine said.

David expects the district to be tough, with Brock slated as the top Division I team in the state, according to the magazine. He also said people shouldn’t look past teams like Whitesboro, with players who are used to winning.

“That’s a great thing to have going on your side, and that’s what we’re working for here, where it doesn’t matter what district they put us in or who we play, we’ll go out there and think we’re going to win every game,” he said.

In 2017, Pilot Point finished 3-8 and made the playoffs before bowing out in the first round to Grandview. Quarterback Jacob Pitts will be back under the center and have an “explosive” wide receiver Javin Bruce to throw to, DCTFsaid in its capsule. The magazine likes what defensive backs Javin Bruce and Jabari Anderson, defensive lineman Diego Martinez, and linebacker Connor Lynch could contribute to the other side of the ball.

David doesn’t want to discuss individual players, explaining that it takes a whole team to win.

“That’s why it’s important to get depth and everything else,” he said.

Ivy expects tough go in new district

Aubrey, which finished 8-4 last season before losing to eventual state champion Texarkana Pleasant Grove in the area round of the playoffs, is in a configuration with Bridgeport, Graham, Iowa Park, Krum and Vernon. There’s going to be lots of traveling the next two autumns for the Chaparrals, who are picked to finish fourth in 3-4A, Division II, and claim the last playoff spot. Bridgeport and Krum are predicted to finish fifth and sixth, respectively. Graham got the nod to win the district.

“Well, I know really from top to bottom, it’s going to be extremely competitive,” Aubrey head coach Keith Ivy said. “We have a lot of tradition-rich programs in our district now, and I believe you’re going to have to play [well] every week in order to be successful. There are some good teams in there.”

Graham, for starters, finished 14-1 in 2017 and was a state semifinalist. DCTF ranks the Steers No. 6 in Division II in its preseason rankings.

“Iowa Park and Vernon, they have a lot of tradition at both of those schools, getting into the playoffs and winning some games,” Ivy said. “Krum and Bridgeport, they’ve had some great seasons in there as well. They’ve been up and down. They all play good football and have good coaches and good kids.”

The magazine tabs defensive end Austin McCallion, fullback Brody Bounds, running back Kameron Scott, quarterback Jaxon Holder and offensive lineman Kye Ranton as players who should play a key role on Aubrey this year.

Ivy said there are three people vying for the quarterback position: Holder, Luke Sciba and and Jose Noyola.

“All three of them have played quarterback in our system, and we feel confident that all three of them can operate our offense,” Ivy said. “Jaxon may have a little leg up at this point in time as much as anything due to the fact that it helps us get more athletes on the field by allowing Luke to stay on the field as a running back as well. But it will be a competition, obviously. We’ll go through two-a-days and our first two scrimmages and evaluate all three [to] see where we’re at.”

Unless it’s a player like McCallion who has played on varsity since he was a freshman, coaches generally don’t name starters until week one, Ivy said.

Ivy said he is excited seeing what Ranton can do this fall. He had an outstanding spring and summer and played “at a very high level last year.” The coaches expect him to do the same this year and be a leader up front. Bounds and Scott also played well last year, including in district and the playoffs, as they stepped in when other players got injured. The coaches are glad to have their experience back this year, Ivy said.

At some point in the summer, Ivy picks up a copy of DCTFto read about the other teams, but, like David, said he doesn’t put much stock in rankings.

“I’ve been ranked anywhere from first to dead last in the district and rarely does it shake out that way,” he said.

Tioga faces step up to 11-man football

The Tioga Bulldogs, coming off a semifinalist berth in six-man football, will play 11-man football for the first time. Texas Footballexpects the team to make a smooth transition, insofar as making the playoffs.

But the editors also wonder whether the talent will “translate to success” in such a short period of time. The Bulldogs are expected to finish fourth in a five-team 9-2A, Division II, that also includes Muenster, Cumby, Era and Campbell. Muenster is picked to win district, with Campbell to be the odd team out of the playoff mix.

Tioga coach Cody Patton said coaches will use the magazine as a scouting tool all year, looking up returning players, rosters and so forth.

“Coming from a six-man school and playing six-man, I don’t think you actually will grasp until it hits you on the face that you’re getting to play the defending state champs,” Patton said about playing in a district with Muenster, the 2017 Division II state champion.

Patton said it’s “always fun” to see what the predictions are for teams, but before the team can think about its playoff fortunes, the coaches have to piece together the squad.

“We’ve got a whole new world that’s fixing to hit us in the face, as far as getting linemen to learn how to block,” he said. “They can’t go out for passes anymore. It’s a whole different ballgame.

“As far as [predictions], I honestly can’t tell you where we’re going to place; I’m glad we’re not picked last – I will say that,” he said, laughing.

DCTF’s players to watch are running back Kaleb Scott, quarterback Marshall Lease, safety Seth DeLeon, linebacker Nathan DeLeon and center Jace Wilson.

Patton also didn’t want to discuss individual players yet. The program will have 35-40 players this year, and Patton expects 20 to 24 players on varsity and the other 18-20 for junior varsity. In the summer offseason workout, Patton reports healthy numbers, as 70 students showed up Monday, with 30 junior high and 40 high school students.

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