Cover Photo via @North_CroFB on Twitter
We’re kicking off our offseason previews of area 6A teams this week with district 3! Trinity is the headliner in this district and there aren’t many other teams with recent playoff success grouped in with the Trojans. That means we should see some new blood in the playoffs this year. Let’s take a look at how the district might shake out.
Trinity finished the 2019 season with a 9-2 record and a first-round playoff exit. The Trojans were hit hard by graduation last year and will return a much more experienced group in 2020. Three-star defensive end Tonga Lolohea will be a headache for opposing coaches to game plan for and running back Ollie Gordon is back to carry the load for Trinity on offense. Quarterback Valentino Foni is back for the Trojans and will help Gordon carry the load on the ground. Foni is a big, physical runner with a surprising burst for someone his size. Trinity should extend its playoff streak, as well as its win streak against L.D. Bell, behind its potent rushing attack in 2020.
Boswell couldn’t extend its playoff streak last season after a 4-6 finish. The Pioneers move up to 6A this year and will have to make the adjustment after spending the last few seasons in 5A. Talent returns along the offensive line but replacing Brayden Thomas at quarterback won’t be easy after he set multiple school records. Gavin Mathis will be a name to keep an eye on this fall as well as Justin White. We’ll see how Boswell adjusts to 6A competition.
Chisholm Trail Rangers
Chisholm Trail is also making the jump to 6A after playing the same 5A district as Boswell a year ago. Boswell got the better of the Rangers last year, but Chisholm Trail will be looking for revenge in 2020. The Rangers return linebacker Robert Harden and offensive lineman Hayden Norwich, although there is plenty of room for improvement in 2020. I’ll have my eye on the Rangers to see how they adjust and if they can sneak into the playoffs this year.
Haltom followed up a historic 13-1 season with a 4-6 record last year. The Buffaloes were decimated by a strong graduating class heading into the 2019 season and they’ll look to attack 2020 with a little more experience. Among those returning is wide receiver Jace Washington and safety Johnny Rider. Though 4-6 sounds bad after a 13-1 season, Haltom was competitive in every game and has plenty to build on in 2020. If the Buffs can flip the script in 2020, I expect Haltom to not only make the playoffs, but possibly string together a few playoff wins as well.
L.D. Bell Blue Raiders
L.D. Bell finished 3-7 in 2019 after winning just one game in 2018. Even better news, L.D. Bell was competitive in seven of the ten games on its schedule. The Blue Raiders return talent at running back and in the secondary, as well as along the defensive line. If the Blue Raiders can find a way to win a few of the close games it lost last season, a playoff appearance could be in the cards.
North Crowley Panthers
North Crowley moves into a new district after spending the last few seasons in a district with the Arlington schools. The Panthers went 3-7 in 2019 and will look to improve on that record in a new district. North Crowley is returning one of the better safety duos in the state in Ronald Wilson and Coryon Francis. A strong defense should greatly benefit the Panthers in 2020.
Weatherford was involved in several high scoring affairs a year ago en route to a 7-4 record and a first-round playoff exit against a quality Arlington Bowie squad. Replacing quarterback Ken Seals will not be an easy task for the next man up. The Kangaroos do return Baylor commit Cisco Caston at safety but there are question marks for this team in 2020. Replacing graduating talent with guys who can contribute on day one will be the biggest key to making the playoffs for Weatherford this season.
Team to Watch
My team to watch is the Haltom Buffaloes. Haltom captured lightning in a bottle during its 2018 playoff run and I believe the Buffaloes are set up well to do so again in 2020. A more experienced squad should be ready to attack a more favorable district schedule than the one it played last year. I expect Haltom to make the playoffs and make some noise once they get there.
Player to Watch
My player to watch is Trinity running back Ollie Gordon. I love Trinity’s rushing attack between Gordon and Valentino Foni. As always, Trinity goes as the ground game goes, and the Trojans are in good hands once again with Gordon and Foni in the fold. Look for these two to have a big season. If they do, Trinity should expect to find success in the playoffs once again.