Storied tradition fuels fierce competition

7-3A Division 1

By: Clayton Neville

     KMOO Sports Director

Storied tradition fuels fierce competition

When district 7-3A Division 1 formed two years ago it instantly became one of the richest districts in both tradition and talent. The number of playoff appearances and state title runs combined among the district was as good as it gets in Texas High School Football.

“This district has some really tough competition,” said New Boston Head Coach Jamey Thomas. “We’ll have to bring our best every week.”

In 2015, the word legend can be used when referring to the men on the sidelines. The coaches in this district are some of the best.

Winnsboro’s Steve Pinnell and Daingerfield’s Aric Sardinea have solidified their program’s historic reputations in their respective tenure’s. With the addition of East Texas coaching icon Dickey Meeks (Mount Vernon) this district is loaded with football minded men. Meeks’ return will add a competitive edge to this already evenly matched district. This will make some of the best football in the region.

While the coaches of 7-3A Division 1 work to maintain their program’s winning tradition, a few of them will have to reload a winning attitude. Overall Daingerfield, Mount Vernon, Winnsboro and New Boston have been stellar but were absent from the playoffs in December 2014. With Daingerfield and Mount Vernon accounting for two wins combined last season, the school’s look to their coaches to reenergize their programs. New Boston and Winnsboro each were eliminated from the playoffs earlier than anticipated.

Oddly enough, this historically stacked district has something to prove in 2015.

 

7-3A Division 1 Coach’s Poll

  1. Winnsboro
  2. New Boston
  3. Redwater
  4. Daingerfield
  5. Mount Vernon
  6. Prairiland

 

 

Pattonville Prairiland Patriots

On a sold out Friday night at Patriot Stadium, 1,900 Pattonville-Prairiland faithful have grown accustom to a high powered, flashy offense that can strike in a heartbeat. With eleven lettermen returning in 2015 and a playoff berth a year ago, Patriot fans expect nothing less than to be a post season contender again.

The Patriot’s season ended in the bi-district round of the playoffs in 2014 at Texas A&M Commerce with a loss to a Mineola team that was hitting stride on its run to the state title game. With moments of greatness and hints of perfecting the spread offense, Pattonville-Prairiland lost several big district games, taking the fourth spot and ending their season with a 5-6 mark.

Three colonels in the Patriot’s arsenal graduated, passing the torch to other key contributors. Quarterback Zac Pointer and wide-out’s Chase Reynolds and Blake Upchurch were a dangerous trio for opposing defense’s last year. This season, Senior QB Jordan Harrsion (6’3, 185) will be called on to run the offense behind center. Wide Receiver Josh Harrsion (6’2, 175) will return to catch passes Jordan. The Patriot’s will look to fill the void of two stud linemen lost to graduation. Alex Broomfield (OL) and Haskell Walker (DT) were a force upfront for the Patriots in their playoff run. This year, senior Randon Smith (5’10, 180) will lead the way in trenches.

“Our biggest challenge this year will be our depth on the offensive and defensive line,” said Coach Alex Richters. Overall we compare well to last year’s team and we expect to be a playoff team.”

With an offense capable of putting up scores more common in a game of hoops than on the grid-iron, the Patriot defense will again find themselves being forced to defend an aggressive attack from their opponents.

“Defensively we typically will a run a 4-2-5,” Coach Richters said.

Entering his third year as Head Coach at Pattonville-Prairiland, Richters looks to bring the Patriots their first district title since 2007. In his first two years at the helm Richters won 8 games and lost 13. Now a playoff team, the Patriots look only to progress in a program that has made the playoffs a total of eight times. The future is bright for Pattonville Prairiland, but with storied programs like Winnsboro, New Boston and Daingerfield all on their district schedule, it will be a fight to finish in the top 4.

Players to watch:

Josh Harrison                          Senior  WR      6'2/175

Cameron Johnson                    Junior  OL       6'0/220

John Henry Newman             Senior  C         6'0/225

Jeremiah Griffin                      Senior  RB       5'8/165

 Jordan Harrison                      Senior  QB      6'3/185

Kyler McCoin                          Junior ILB     5'10/170

Randon Smith                         Senior  OLB    5'10/180

 Hogan Goodson                      Senior DB      5'8/160

 

Mascot:  Patriots

Last Season Record:   5-6
Student Enrollment:    330
Superintendent:  Jeff Ballard
Head Coach:  Alex Richters
Returning Starters Offense:  5           
Returning Starters Defense: 6            

 

Schedule:

Aug  28                       Chisum                        Home              7:30

Sep 4                           Queen City                  Home             7:30

Sep 11                         Clarksville                   Away              7:30

Sep 18                         Cooper                        Home             7:30

Sep 25                         Harmony                     Away                          7:30

Oct  2                          Open  

Oct  9                          Redwater*                 Away             7:30

Oct  16                                    Daingerfield*             Home             7:30

Oct  23                                   New Boston*             Away                          7:30

Oct 30                                     Mt Vernon*               Home                          7:30

Nov  6                         Winnsboro*                 Away               7:30

 

Mt Vernon Tigers

Legendary East Texas Coach Dickey Meeks returns to Mount Vernon looking to raise the program back to prominence.

Coach Meeks most recently coached in Pittsburg and inherits a Tigers squad that won only a single game last season. The sidelines in Mount Vernon are no stranger to Meeks who coached the Tigers from 2000-2005 before accepting the position at Henderson, where he would later win his second state championship in 2010. He won his first state title while coaching at Chapel Hill in 1989. Coach Meeks retired from Pittsburg in December of last year due to health but couldn’t stay away from coaching.

As a five win team in 2013 the Tigers know how to win but will have to put their most recent campaign behind them. Coach Meeks will be the fuel to spark that fire. Meeks’ success in this part of the state will act as a motivator for the young kids. You can bet the Tigers will give their coach the best they’ve got.

The Tigers return experience but will still field youth in 2015. Sophomore WR Kevi Evans (5’7, 160) will bring lightning speed and pure athleticism to the offense. Junior Brady Watson 5’10, 250) will be back on the line on the both sides of the ball. With a total of 18 starters back this season the Tigers expect to erase a disappointing season quickly. Returning all but four starters, Mount Vernon is the most seasoned team in the district which will certainly play in their favor. The senior leaders will be called on to set the tone early. OL/DL Austin Decker (6’3, 260) will be a force up front for the Tigers. RB/DB, Senior, Noah Craver (5’7, 160) will dart through the holes created by Decker and the O-line. Joining him in the backfield will be Senior RB/LB Patrick Hoffman (5’10, 195). The lethal combination of Craver and Hoffman make for an explosive dynamic out of the back field, and not to mention defensively.

With Meeks at the helm the Tigers will run a multiple style offense. Look for the Tigers to rely on the run and the pass.

The Tigers will open the season with a difficult road game in Emory. The Tigers want nothing more than to match their 2014 win total in week 1. Getting that first one will be big. If the Tigers can manage an opening week win, they could get on a roll quickly. With teams like White Oak and Lone Oak on tap for non-district the Tigers will have their work cut out for them. Coach Meeks will face his previous employer in late September at home against Pittsburg. The Tigers would love to win that one for their coach and enter the bye week on a positive note.

The season will only get tougher in district play. Historically, a three week stretch involving New Boston, Winnsboro and Daingerfield is one of the most challenging in any district in any state. The Tigers will need at least one win against those there opponents to stay in the playoff hunt.

With 18 starters returning to the field and one of the best coaches in East Texas High School football history, the Tigers have high hopes this season; something a 1-9 team rarely possess entering their next season. If things gel early, on and off the field, Coach Meeks will have a competitive football team in his year back in Franklin County. 

 

Players to Watch

Kevi Evans                  Sophomore      WR                  5’7, 160

Austin Decker             Senior              OL/DL                        6’3, 260

Patrick Hoffman         Senior              RB/LB                        5’10, 195

Noah Craver                Senior              RB/DB            5’7, 160

Brady Watson             Junior              OL/DL                        5’10, 250

 

Mascot:  Tigers

Last Season Record:   1-9
Student Enrollment:    438
Superintendent:  John Kausman                    
Head Coach:  Dickey Meeks
Returning Starters Offense:  9
Returning Starters Defense: 9            

 

Schedule:

Aug  28           Rains                           Away              7:30

Sep 4               White Oak                   Away              7:30

Sep 11             Hooks                          Home              7:30

Sep 18             Lone Oak                    Home              7:30

Sep 25             Pittsburg                      Home              7:30

Oct  2              Open 

Oct  9              New Boston*              Away              7:30

Oct  16                        Winnsboro*                 Home              7:30

Oct  23                        Daingerfield*              Away              7:30

Oct 30                         Prairiland*                   Away              7:30

Nov  6             Redwater*                  Home              7:30

 

Daingerfield Tigers

The tremendous success in recent years of the Daingerfield football program had a hiccup in 2014, surprising not just the players and coaches but the Texas football community. In 2013 the Tigers were Regional Champions. That year was preceded by several trips to the fourth round of the playoffs and a state title game. Coming off of a 1-9 season the question looming is how will Daingerfield respond.

“Our ability to rebound after a 1-9 year will be one of our biggest challenges,” said Coach Sardinea. “It’s been a long time since this program has had to do something like that.”

If any program were to bounce back without a hitch it would be this one. Football runs through the veins of the Daingerfield community. So does athleticism.

“Our strength this year is our overall experience because of the number of letterman,” Coach Sardinea said. “We’ve got 21 letterman back.”

The senior group of wide receiver’s will be Daingerfield’s weapon in 2015. Deonta Allen (5’10, 165), Keke Chism (6’3, 170), and Keylon Fomby (6’0, 175) have impressive size and speed. This triple threat is one of the most lethal in East Texas.

The Quarterback position will be a void to fill this season after losing Malik Higgins.

“We won’t have an quarterback with a whole lot of varsity level experience,” Sardinea said. “This will be a challenge for us.”

Sardinea said that on the defensive side of the ball the Tigers will need to find depth at the linebacker position. Early August will dictate a lot for this Daingerfield team. They will need to sort through their fortune of athletes and find the right guys for the right positions.

With the juniors and seniors on this year’s team having tasted big time playoff success and now a one-win season the Tigers have been at the top and bottom. They know where they want to be and what it takes to get there.

Daingerfield again takes on one of the toughest schedules in Texas, which was definitely a contributing factor to last year’s result. The Tigers play up in classification in nearly every game of their non-district schedule. Without DL Daylon Mack, the Gladewater Bears will be waiting for Daingerfield in August to make a statement in 2015. September will bring Atlanta and Henderson to Daingerfield and include a road game at Gilmer. If Daingerfield can shock one of the juggernauts their one win season will evaporate from their minds.

District play will ring the same tone as non-district, storied programs and quality athletes. The Tigers will play three of their five district games on the road.

If Texas Football has proven anything over the years one certainty is that the strength of a program and its coaches goes a long way. Look for the Daingerfield Tigers to claw and scratch their way into a playoff spot.

Players to watch

Denzel Mims               Senior              WR/DB           6’3 180

Keke Chism                Senior              WR/DB           6’3, 170          

Deonta Allen               Senior              WR/DB           5’10 165

Keylon Fomby            Senior              WR/DB           6’0 175

Markevion Grant         Junior              RB/LB                        5’10 185

 

Mascot: Tigers            

Last Season Record: 1-9                    
Student Enrollment: 330                    
Superintendent:  Sandra Quarles
Head Coach:  Aric Sardinea
Returning Starters Offense:    8
Returning Starters Defense:    5

Aug  28           Gladewater                 Away              7:30

Sep 4               Malakoff                     Home              7:30

Sep 11             Atlanta                                    Home              7:30

Sep 18             Gilmer                         Away              7:30

Sep 25             Henderson                   Home              7:30

Oct  2              Open 

Oct  9              Winnsboro                   Away              7:30

Oct  16                        Prairiland                     Away              7:30

Oct  23                        Mt Vernon                  Home              7:30

Oct 30                         Redwater                    Away              7:30

Nov  6             New Boston                Home              7:30

 

Winnsboro Red Raiders

Coach Pinnell and the Winnsboro Red Raiders are poised for another playoff run. Under Pinnell’s direction the Red Raiders have established as prominent of a tradition their district counterparts. Year in and year out Winnsboro produces quality East Texas football, and 2015 will be no different.

“This year’s team should be a little faster overall,” Pinnell said.

After losing in the area round of the playoffs a year ago, Winnsboro looks to build off their talent at the skill positions. Senior QB Lucas Pinnell (5’10, 160) will be under center again this year. The Red Raiders will look for big things from their now experienced quarterback. Pinnell threw for close to 500 yards in 2014 and ran for over 900 yards. If it’s not Pinnell rushing for a big gain it will be FB Ethan Rakich racking up the yardage. Rakich rushed for 950 yards last season and piled up nearly 200 yards receiving. Jeremy Moses (5’9, 160) and Marcus Tucker (6’, 195) will also carry the football. Both have breakaway capability. Tucker stormed on to the seen as a sophomore transfer. Look for Tucker to have a breakout 2015. As in years past Winnsboro will count on their backfield for offensive production. Winnsboro won’t pass often but with running ability of Pinnell keeping defenses on their toes, don’t be surprised by a loft toward the end zone or an occasional strike down the sideline.

To be successful Coach Pinnell said he will need his offensive line to step up.

“We lost several offensive line and defensive line starters from last year’s team,” said Pinnell. “We must find replacements for them.”

Senior Rowdy Smith (5’11, 235) returns to the trenches for the Red Raiders and will be a pivotal part on both sides of the ball. Rowdy will be called on to lead a young group of big men up front.

“Our biggest challenge this year will be at the offensive and defensive line positions,” Pinnell said.

The core of the Winnsboro defense is expected to be strong with Pinnell at Free Safety and Marcus Tucker, alongside Jeremy Moses playing linebacker.

In the past the Winnsboro football program has had no problem finding players ready to step into contributing roles. The Winnsboro program doesn’t rebuild from year to year, instead they reload. Coach Pinnell has installed a disciplined system that trickles down to the junior high level. When called up to varsity the Red Raiders know what’s expected of them. This hard nose program prides itself on execution. Opposing coaches know what they are getting with Winnsboro but can rarely contain it.

Coach Pinnell challenged his football team when developing the schedule after the most recent dose of redistricting. Last year the Red Raiders shocked the State Finalist Mineola Yellow Jackets with a field goal in overtime to win the game. Mineola went on to play in the state championship game. This year Winnsboro will host Mineola in week 2. After playing up in classification against Spring Hill in Week 1 the Red Raiders will play a rivalry game with Quitman, and two tough 3A contests with Sabine and Lone Oak.

Last season the Red Raiders proved that they belong in a district with teams like New Boston and Daingerfield. With three of their district matchup’s at home the Red Raiders are a contender to take the district title.

If Winnsboro can find the big men to fill the void up front they will be on track for another deep playoff push.

 

Players to watch

Lucas Pinnell               Senior             QB/FS              5’10, 160

Jeremy Moses              Senior            HB/LB            5’9, 160

Ethan Rakich               Senior              FB/SS               5’10, 165

Marcus Tucker             Junior              HB/LB             6’0, 195

Rowdy Smith               Senior              OL/DL            5’11, 235

Mascot:  Red Raiders

Last Season Record: 8-4                    
Student Enrollment: 390                    
Superintendent:  Susan Morton
Head Coach:  Steve Pinnell
Returning Starters Offense: 6
Returning Starters Defense: 6

 

Schedule:

Aug  28           Spring Hill       Away              7:30

Sep 4               Mineola           Home              7:30

Sep 11             Quitman          Away              7:30

Sep 18             Sabine             Home              7:30

Sep 25             Lone Oak        Away              7:30

Oct  2              Open 

Oct  9              Daingerfield* Home              7:30

Oct 16             Mt Vernon*    Away              7:30

Oct  23                        Redwater*      Home              7:30

Oct 30                         New Boston* Away              7:30

Nov  6             Prairiland*       Home              7:30

 

New Boston Lions

New Boston will need to replace one of the better senior classes the football program has seen in a long time but won’t have for to look. Head Coach Jamey Thomas said the incoming junior class is loaded with talent.

In most cases a core group of juniors will need a game or two to adjust to the varsity level but not this group.

“Our underclassmen last year got a lot of experience,” Coach Thomas said. “We lost 18 seniors but we will rely on our junior class. As sophomores they did a lot for us last year.”

Junior QB Phillip Sissons (6’1, 190) started 12 games under center as a sophomore and showed great improvement over the season.

“He was so good for us last year,” said Coach Thomas. “And with 12 starts under his belt already he will be even better.”

Sissons’ size and experience will play to his advantage under his center this season.

When dropping back to pass, Sissons will have a close eye on Senior Wide Receiver Zach Gooden (5’10, 160).

New Boston will roll out a Multiple-I offense. While Sissons is a certainty at the quarterback spot, Coach Thomas is searching to fill the void at other skills positions.

Look for sophomore running back Demarcus Thompson to spring on to the season this season.

“We have a lot of holes to fill on offense,” Coach Thomas said.  We lost a lot of skill players. The senior group had a lot of wins.”

The Lions will only return four starters of offense. New Boston football, however, like other programs in its district operates a well oil machined. There are plenty of youthful stars waiting for their opportunity to shine. Whether it’s during summer practice or early in the season, Coach Thomas will likely find his role players early.

Defensively, New Boston will run a split defense. Senior DB Mikey Dunn (5’10, 150) and Junior ILB Deandre Johnson will lead the defense.

The Lions will open their season with Atlanta before being on the road the majority of September. With a tough road schedule to start the season, New Boston will host three district games to include Winnsboro in late October.

If New Boston can find their skill players early in their campaign look for the Lions to roar. With Winnsboro being picked by many to win the district the Lions will play with something to prove. After losing in the area round of the playoffs a year ago New Boston aspires to lace up their cleats in December.

 

Players to watch

Phillip Sissons             Junior              QB                  6’1, 190

Deandre Dedmon       Junior              ILB                 6’4, 250

Zach Gooden              Senior              WR/DB           5’10, 160

Mikey Dunn                Senior              DB                  5’10, 150

Mascot:  Lions

Last Season Record: 10-2                  
Student Enrollment: 330        
Superintendent:
Rose Mary Neshyba 
Head Coach: Jamey Thomas
Returning Starters Offense: 4
Returning Starters Defense: 5

 

Schedule:

Aug  28           Atlanta                                    Home              7:30

Sep 4               Pleasant Grove            Away              7:30

Sep 11             Pittsburg                      Away              7:30

Sep 18             Paul Pewitt                  Away              7:30

Sep 25             Dekalb                         Home              7:30

Oct  2              Open 

Oct  9              Mt Vernon*                Home              7:30

Oct 16             Redwater*                  Away              7:30

Oct  23                        Prairiland*                   Home              7:30

Oct 30                         Winnsboro*                 Home              7:30

Nov  6             Daingerfield*              Away              7:30

 

Redwater Dragons

After a 2-3 record to begin last season with a tough non-district schedule, Redwater was a few big plays away from winning their district. While the Dragons finsihed in third place in District 7-3A Division 1, they lost to Winnsboro by a mere touchdown and put up several scores in a 42-20 loss to New Boston. The Dragons rounded out district play with wins over Daingerfield and Mount Vernon. From there, Redwater beat White Oak in the bi-district round of the playoffs and played Pottsboro competitively in an area round loss. The Dragons look to build off of their late season success this year.

Redwater returns the majority of their starters on both sides of the ball, adding experience to what was a youthful team a year ago.

Senior QB Nick Anderson (6,1, 190) runs the ball with confidence. He rushed for 1,658 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. With his impressive height and weight at the quarterback position, Anderson will barrel over defenses to pick up an extra yard.

Coach Tommy Graf and his squad will run the flexbone offense and rely heavily on the run. Complimenting the running of his quarterback is Senior RB T.J. Braley (5’8, 160). Braley ran for over 500 yards in 2014.

The defense will return six starters including a linebacker core consisting of John Michael Russ (5’9, 155) and Robert Candelaria who combined for well over 100 tackles last season.

Until the end of 2014 the Dragons struggled to string wins together. If they can set the tone early in the non-district season they could be a force to reckon with come October. White Oak will be looking for revenge when they travel to Redwater to open the season. If the Dragons can open this season the way the ended last season they will in great shape. The Dragons will face New Boston, Winnsboro and Daingerfield in consecutive weeks. This will be a true test mid way through the season. If the Dragons can manage even just two wins in this stretch they will be in contention for a district title.

Don’t let Redwater’s third place finish a year ago fool you, the Dragons expect to win the district.

 

Players to watch

Nick Anderson            Senior              QB      6’1, 190

T.J. Braley                   Senior              RB       5’8, 160

John Michael Russ      Junior              LB       5’10, 180

Nick Carter                 Junior              RB       5’9, 155

Mason McCloskey      Sophomore      FB       5’9, 170

 

Last Season Record: 6-6                    
Student Enrollment: 346        
Superintendent:
Kathy Allen
Head Coach: Tommy Graf
Returning Starters Offense: 5
Returning Starters Defense: 5

 

Schedule:

Aug  28           White Oak                   Home              7:30

Sep 4               Hooks                          Away              7:30

Sep 11             Queen City                  Home              7:30

Sep 18             Linden Kildare            Home              7:30

Sep 25             Sunnyvale                   Away              7:30

Oct  2              Open 

Oct  9              Prairiland*                   Home              7:30

Oct 16             New Boston*              Home              7:30

Oct  23            Winnsboro*                 Away              7:30

Oct 30             Daingerfield*              Home              7:30

Nov  6             Mt Vernon*                Away              7:30

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