Local 5A gets facelift; Titans, Indians should roll

Published 8:49 am Tuesday, July 24, 2018

When the biennial UIL realignment rejiggered the districts in February, Class 5A was to undergo the biggest facelift – pre-dividing the class into Division I and Division II for the first time, as Class 4A and below have operated for years.

So what does hat mean for Golden Triangle teams? More travel!

The Port Arthur Memorial Titans will now be in District 9-5A Division I with the likes of New Caney, Houston Austin, Humble Kingwood Park, New Caney Porter, Galena Park, Goose Creek Memorial and Houston Wisdom as no SE Texas teams will be in the loop with the Titans. Meaning extra travel for teams and fans.

At least Vidor, Port Neches-Groves and Nederland will still play each other in District 12-5A Division II. Still, the Pirates, Indians and Bulldogs will be venturing on nice road trips to Crosby, Barbers Hill, Dayton, Santa Fe and Baytown Lee.

The Titans finished 9-2 overall last season and roared all the way to the Division I regional semifinals.

Gone is long-time coach Kenny Harrison as Brian Morgan will take over a Titans unit that welcomes back 10 starters, seven on defense.

The offense will definitely be young but skill players Javontae Hopkins and Chan Rubin return to the mix. The defensive return key all-district performers in the likes of lineman DaJuan McMillan, linebacker Lazarus May, defensive back Jacob Washington and big lineman Keoni Evans.

Texas Football Magazine has the Titans listed as their preseason favorites so who will challenge them?

New Caney returns 11 starters off a 8-3 area finalist team. Houston Austin returns a whopping 18 starters, 10 on offense, from a 7-2 unit, sparked by junior quarterback Malik Hornsby, who had 2,370 total yards and 30 touchdowns in running the show last year.

Kingwood Park returns nine starters from a 5-4 playoff unit.

New Caney Porter will look to make some noise again as eight starters return off a 7-4 playoff unit. The Spartans are sparked by quarterback Zane Russell, who passed for 1,453 yards and 10 TDs.

The last three teams will have some work to do.

Galena Park does return 14 starters, nine on defense, after going 1-8 and winless in district. Goose Creek Memorial will return 12 starters after also going 1-8 and 0-7 in their old district. The Wisdom Generals will look to rise up after an 0-8 campaign.

Over in 12-5A Division II, PN-G is the preseason favorite by Texas Football but the Crosby Cougars will be breathing down their necks.

After all, who can forget the Indians 71-68 playoff win over the Cougars a season ago?

The Indians return 11 starters off an amazing 10-2 unit that advanced to the Division II regional semifinals.

Of course, the Indians will be sparked by University of Texas commit quarterback Roschon Johnson. Between his arm and legs, Johnson accounted for 4,527 total yards and a stunning 63 TDs.

Crosby is loaded to bear as well with the return of 13 starters from a 9-2 squad.

The Cougars certainly have their “ace in the hole” in standout quarterback Jaiden Howard, who accounted for more than 3,600 yards and 36 TDs of his own.

The Nederland Bulldogs will certainly have a say in the matter despite returning just 10 starters from a solid 8-3 area finalist squad.

The Bulldogs return a sturdy signal-caller as well in Blaysin Fernandez, who returns after passing for 1,864 yards and 23 TDs.

Long-time Vidor coach Jeff Mathews will welcome back 12 starters, eight on offense, from last year’s gritty 5-4 playoff unit.

Gage Galloway looks ready to help guide a hard-nosed Wing-T, Slot-T running game along with experienced fullback Kelby Odom.

The Barbers Hill Eagles will look to rise up more after a 6-3 campaign. Legendary coach Tom Westerberg has 12 starters back in the mix, seven on offense.

The tradition-rich Dayton Broncos look to return to the postseason after a rare 3-6 campaign and return 15 starters, eight on offense, sparked by quarterback A.J. Nail, who passed for 1,253 yards and 13 TDs and back Justin Santee, who had 995 yards and eight TDs.

Santa Fe has struggled in football in the past but went a solid 5-4 a year ago as coach Mark Kanipes welcomes six starters back on each side of the leather, including three-year starting quarterback Nathan Kruger, who passed for 1,891 yards and 20 TDs.

It’s been a struggle for Baytown Lee for years now but Coach Tim Finn welcomes back 18 starters, including all 11 from an offense off a 1-8 team. Quarterback Ijeneca Wooley is back after amassing 2,095 total yards in 2017.

Both districts should be very interesting all the way down to the final week, just hope the teams and fans can adjust to all the travel like the 4A and under fans have grown accustomed to over the last several years.