By Sean Wolfson
The 2011 local high school football season is only a few weeks away, and there isn’t a more exciting time in the area than now. The anticipation of Friday and Saturday night games at Hall and Mercer stadiums have people talking and wondering what kind of fireworks will be displayed this season.
Hightower is by far the district favorite though Elkins and Travis look to be the area favorites to take home district hardware. As has been proven in the past, any team can beat any team in FBISD on any given night. Watch for FB Austin, the district bottom feeder last season, to be competitive after coach Scheriber has had a full year to work with them. Ridge Pointe will not play varsity football this season, but will also be a fun team to watch. Like my dad has always said, “ Rivalries come down to emotions, whoever controls theirs best normally wins.”
Here is a breakdown of the teams in this area and some players to watch:
Travis enters the season as the defending district champion. The time is now for the Tigers. Coach Randy Cunningham says, “ We are coming off a year where we were the district champions. The team is the most experienced we’ve had since we’ve been here. We have achieved our expectations of getting here, now it is time for the next step.” The Tigers return 16 starters including their “prototype” QB Kyle Coulter. Look for Kyle to take over games with his arm and his legs. He is smart, quick, and has a great arm. The 3 “protectors” on the line that will make it easy for Coulter are Ryan Kowaleski, Josh Hernandez, and Dustin Boykin. R.J. Noriega will balance out the attack at running back. On defense, Taylor Martinez has been called, “mean and aggressive.” Michael Rose, James Ablodun, and Dennis Springer will also be making big plays for Travis.
Elkins has without question the best athletes in the district. It amazes me how many head coaches they’ve gone through over the years, but maintain a highly competitive level of play in every game. That can be attested to their fine athleticism. New head coach Dennis Brantley says, “ I am very thankful to take over as head coach.” And he should be. It could be a lot worse. The Knights are loaded with returning letterman, QB Jake Burkhalter, whose size is only a number, will lead the charge. The lefty has a quick arm and great speed. His main target will be Chance Allen, a wide receiver and star basketball player. Chance was listed in VYPE magazine’s Honorable Mention class. Look for Chance to burn DB’s like they are standing still. Both will be a lot of fun to watch. Mike Matthews, son of NFL Hall of Fame Bruce Matthews, and nephew of Cleveland Browns superstar Clay Matthews, will block for Burkhalter and the Elkins offense. Matthews is committed to Teaxs A&M University. Another A&M commit, Corey Thompson, is on every list in the state of Texas as one of the top 3 safeties. He will create major drama for any team that wants to throw the football. And as if they didn’t have enough already, place kicker Nick Coffman returns to put ‘em through the uprights again. It could be the Knights’ year this season.
Kempner was 5-6 last season, but returning are 12 experienced starters that will lead their offensive, defensive, and special teams attack. Kenny lloka, whose brother plays at Boise State, has been described a 6’2, 210 pound heat seeking missile. Shalom Ogbonda, a Florida International University commit and Vype Magazine all Houston pre season honorable mention winner, will keep running backs and QB’s in check. Some people have made mention of the great defensive end that came from Nebraska when they talk about this kid, if you know what I mean. The Cougars will compete for the 3rd or 4th playoff spot in the district more than likely.
Dulles will have to play tough defense this season to have a chance at the playoffs. They have a new QB, Eric Johnson, who they are excited about. The loss of Sherrod Evans ( to UT Austin ) and veteran QB Zach Lathrop to graduation will not be easy to overcome, However, Zach Carrabine, son of the great Dulles basketball coach Mike Carrabine, may be the best athlete at Dulles, he will be fun to watch and make some exciting plays. Coach Jim Creech has been in FBISD longer than any current head coach, and has this to say about the 2011 Vikings.”We are looking forward to getting the players back into fall camp. The Vikings have worked hard all summer and look to contend for a playoff spot.” With no standout players, teamwork will be crucial in Dulles’ success this season.
The mighty Clements Rangers, owners of the “never say die” mentality will take the field once again behind coach Keith Knowles, now a 4 year veteran head coach. They return just 5 starters from 2010, and will hurt from graduation on the offensive and defensive lines. Their strength will be at the running back position, where they have 2 or 3 guys who can really fly. They will look to the leadership of returning starting linebackers Zach Branda and Alec Davidson to keep opposing offenses in check. Good luck Rangers!!
Stephen F. Austin may be the surprise team of the year. After a nice phone conversation with head coach Dan Schreiber, I am convinced that the Bulldogs will have a successful season. QB Taylor Woods possesses a strong arm and will flourish in his 2nd year as starting QB under Schreiber. Combo player Chris Malik will be exciting to watch as well. Coach Schreiber has this to say about the 2011 Fighting Bulldogs, “The differences between this season and last are night and day. Having the men for a full year has made all the difference. We are much more experienced. This is a new look Bulldog football team.” VYPE Magazine ranks Jacob Abels, a defensive lineman, as an all greater Houston honorable mention selection. This could be fun year for the Austin football program and we wish them the best.
A full schedule of games can be found on the FBISD website. I look forward to seeing all of you at the games!