Check out the FOX 7 High School Football Rankings for the preseason.
1.Westlake (2012: 10-5, Division II State semi-finalist)
-After a so-so regular season in 2012, the Chaps caught fire and roared to a final four appearance, and were it not for a last-second field goal, may have made it to the state title game at Cowboys Stadium. Despite the heartbreaking end to last season, Westlake may be back to a familiar place as the top team in the area, a spot reserved for rival Lake Travis in recent years. Quarterback Jordan Severt leads an experienced and high-powered offense.
2.Hendrickson (2012: 8-3, lost in first round of playoffs)
-The Hawks have maybe the best player in the area, running back and Oklahoma commit Samaje Perine. However, it's not just the 2,000 yard rusher from a year ago that has the Hawks in a good position to repeat as district champions. Try six returning starters on either side of the ball, including two defensive backs committed to Division I schools in Chance Waz (Colorado) and Trai Moseley (Nebraska)
3.Lake Travis (2012: 9-2, lose in first round of playoffs)
-The move from 4A to 5A was seamless for Lake Travis last season, until the playoffs. That's when the Cavs saw their record five-year run of winning state titles come to an end in a heartbreaking first-round loss to Pflugerville. While their first shot at winning state, not to mention overcoming key injuries, in 5A proved too tough, LT did win district in 2012, and will look to defend that title with 10 returning starters including running back and Texas A&M commitment Shaun Nixon. The Cavs must replace the likes of QB Baker Mayfield and WR Zack Austin.
4.Westwood (2012: 9-4, lost in region semi-finals)
-The Warriors have reason to be excited about 2013, returning 13 starters from a team that won two playoff games last season. Quarterback Bear Fenimore, one of the top QBs in the area, will lead Westwood's charge to a district title, which may be decided on October 11th when the Warriors travel to Hendrickson.
5.Pflugerville (2012: 8-4, lost in second round of playoffs)
-The Panthers were the talk of the first-round of the playoffs in 2012 when they beat Lake Travis, ending the Cavaliers run of five-straight state championship seasons. To experience similar success and an even-deeper run in the playoffs, Pville will look to new faces, with the loss of 14 starters from last season's team.
1.Cedar Park (2012: 14-2, Division II State Champions)
-Last year proved to be "next year" for the Timberwolves. After a couple of near-misses in recent years, first-year coach Joe Willis and Cedar Park broke through to claim it's first-ever state championship in 2012. A repeat performance in 2013 would surprise nobody, as the TWolves return 16 starters including QB Nate Grimm (2700 total yards in 2012), RB Chris Hutchings (940 rushing yards in 2012), and LB Thomas Middleton.
2.Elgin (2012: 8-5, lost in region semi-finals)
-The Wildcats were perhaps the surprise story of the post-season as area teams go in 2012, making their deepest run in the playoffs since the 1950s. Coach Wade Griffin thinks his team is anything but a one-hit wonder, with 16 returning starters, including two sets of brothers: QB Te'Rel Simmons and RB Da'Trean Simmons on offense, and twin LB's Colin and Kyle Snell on defense. Wildcats have huge game to open district play at Georgetown.
3.Georgetown (2012: 15-1, Division I State Finalist)
-The Eagles made a historic run in 2012, winning their first 15 games until losing in the Class 4A Division I State Championship game. Georgetown lost a ton to graduation, however. Try 16 starters, including big names like QB Jake Hubenak, WR Randy Knightner, and LB Blair Murski. This year's Eagles, lead by running back Tyler Moody and offensive lineman Tyler Preston, will have to come together quickly, with the district opener against Elgin, who is also contending for the district title, on September 20th.
4.Leander (2012: 11-2, lost in regional semi-finals)
-Leander must replace QB Caleb Woodward and head coach Clint Harper off last year's region semi-finalist team. New coach Lee Bridges will look to 11 returning starters, including defensive veterans Michael Epley and Martin Nwakamma, to challenge for a district title.
5.Manor (2012: 11-4, Division II State semi-finalist)
-Just like their district counterparts Georgetown and Elgin, the Mustangs had a season for the ages in 2012, making it to the state semi-finals before losing to eventual state champ Cedar Park. With 11 starters returning, including all-everything running back Tyrone Owens (1800 yards rushing in 2012), Manor looks to compete for a district title in what's becoming one of the toughest districts in the state.
1.La Grange (2012: 8-3, lost in first round of playoffs)
-The Leopards are the favorites to win their district, lead by a "thunder and lightning" duo in the offensive backfield: RBs Rodney FIllmore and Bralon Hutchison. Fourteen starters return from last year's district title winner.
2.Wimberley (2012: 8-4, lost in second round of playoffs)
-The Texans begin a new era with the departure of long-time head coach Weldon Nelms. New coach Doug Warren, a former Wimberley assistant, welcomes back 11 starters from a team that had an unusually early exit from the playoffs last season.
3.Burnet (2012: 5-6, lost in first round of playoffs)
-The Bulldogs will look to 14 returning starters, including QB Derek Kiser (2800 yards passing, 22 TDs in 2012) to make a run at the district title. They look to go a long way in claiming the crown on October 11th at district-favorite Brownwood.
4.Fredericksburg (2012: 5-5, did not make playoffs)
-The Billies look to make it back to the post-season in 2013 after missing out a year ago. The defense may lead the resurgence, with nine starters returning on that side of the ball. Fredericksburg hasn't finished above .500 in 6 years.
5.Liberty Hill (2012: 6-4, did not make playoffs)
-The Panthers open a new stadium in 2013 after a year that saw Liberty Hill in another unfamiliar place: at home during the post-season. Coach Jerry Vance will look to his slot-T rushing attack, lead by RB Cory Ferrell, to get back to the post-season. In a district with Brownwood and Burnet, the Panthers will be hard-pressed to claim the district crown.
1.Lexington (2012: 9-3, lost in Class 2A region semi-finals)
-2013 could be a trying year for a program used to success in district play and beyond with the loss of long-time head coach Jason Holcomb and 15 starters including QB Kogan Garrett. Two-way player Eriq Mitchell, as running back and linebacker, will lead the Eagles as they challenge Rogers for the district title.
2.Mason (2012: 12-1, lost in Class 1A region finals)
-Quick quiz: who is the only area team to have lost only one game over the last two seasons? That would be the Mason Punchers, who followed up 2011's unbeaten state title run with 12 wins and a region final appearance last year. Sixteen starters return, so there is no reason to think this year's Mason team won't be playing well into November or December. They will have to replace RB Rio Schmidt.
3.Luling (2012: 7-5, lost in second round of Class 2A playoffs)
-The Eagles burst onto the scene a year ago with seven wins, including one in the playoffs. It's easy to see why they are favored to win their district, with 15 returning starters including 2012 District MVP Trayden Staton
4.Thorndale (2012: 10-3, lost in Class 1A region semi-finals)
-The Bulldogs have a wealth of offensive fire-power returning from last year's 10-win team. QB Riley Schaefer (2070 yards passing, 26 TDs in 2012) and RB Darius Brooks (1100 yards rushing, 15TDs in 2012) will lead the way as the district-favorite Bulldogs look to go a few more rounds in the playoffs.
5.Lago Vista (2012: 9-4, lost in Class 2A region semi-finals)
-The Vikings return 11 starters from last season's nine-win team, including stars Bryce Abrams at QB, Scott Zufelt at RB, and district MVP Colton Schwartz at DL. They have their calendar marked for October 11th. That's when district foe and defending state champion Cameron comes to town.