DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Stephenville (1) returned to dominance with their fifth state title last year in 3A Division 1. Their only loss last season was to Prepa Tech out of Monterrey, Mexico in Week 0. No other team got within 12 points of the Yellow Jackets’ potent offense last season, and this season will be more of the same behind quarterback Jarrett Stidham and tight end Brock Morrison. This year, they return 12 starters and have a tough Week 1 rivalry game at Aledo.
District 7-3A looks as if it will come down to Alvarado (4) and Stephenville on October 18 at Stephenville.
Argyle (2) returns with tons of talent on offense, the best all-purpose player in the state in Ian Sadler, and star running back Nick Ralston. Sadler starts the season as a Landry Award favorite due to his electric play last year. Watch out every time he touches the ball. The defense will determine how far Argyle can go this season, but the state title is not out of the question. Their biggest games are Wylie on August 30 and District 10-3A rival Celina (3) on November 8, which will be broadcast on TXA 21.
Celina is the most traditional rich program in the area and has success year after year. Junior quarterback Nathan Elliott has plenty of experience under center and will put up points, with 29 touchdowns in 2012. Melissa (10) on August 29 and Argyle November 8 are the true tests for Celina on the quest for their ninth state title.
The Alvarado Indians are talented, but have some stiff competition in District 7-3A with Stephenville and Glen Rose (7). The Indians are led by the running game and defense. Their defense looks especially promising with linebacker Brian Dexter, defensive lineman Brazos Fuller, linebacker Robert Onderdonck and free safety Dylan Hudson.
Kennedale (5) lost a few FBS recruits last year, but they are still speedy. Their pre-district schedule includes three 4A teams (Crowley, Mansfield Legacy and Texarkana Texas High) and then Argyle. I applaud Coach Barrett for having such a tough non-district schedule, and hopefully it pays off come playoff time for the Wildcats, as I don’t think their district games will challenge them.
Princeton (6) has an offense ready to reach its full potential in quarterback Jourdan Blake, wide receiver Jakari Dillard and running back Garrett Austrey. Melissa is the Panthers’ biggest hurdle in District 12-3A, but this year feels like the year they beat Melissa. They return seven starters to a solid defense from a year ago that only allowed 18 points a game during the regular season while they averaged 41 points per game on offense.
Glen Rose is in a stacked District 7-3A with Stephenville and Alvarado. They reloaded with young talent from a 10-2 team a year ago. They are led by quarterback Hayden Holder in his first year as the signal caller, and on defense by playmaking linebacker Jed Bridges.
Graham (8) returns from a 13-2 record a year ago that saw them make an appearance in the semifinals. The Steers return all of their top offensive weapons in quarterback Ben Davis, running back Dillion Gonzales, and wide receiver Bryce Reeves. Defensively, they return the core of their playmakers from a year ago as well. Don’t be surprised to see them climb in the rankings as the season goes along.
Gainesville (9) was undefeated last regular season and made it all the way to the regional finals. Fullback Adam Berryman returns from a 1,705-yard campaign last year and 25 touchdowns. The one thing that keeps the Leopards from being higher on this list is the quarterback play. Who will be their starter? And how productive will they be?
Melissa is in their second year in 3A after a 9-3 record last year. Celina in Week 0 will be a test for them, and quarterback C.J. Tyler is thrown right into the fire as his first start comes against a powerful Celina team on the road. Princeton is a tough District 12-3A game that should decide the district championship.
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