Cover Photo via @Martin_Football on Twitter.
This week we go under the microscope on the teams of district eight! This district is made up of the Arlington and Grand Prairie schools and is loaded with future DI football players. Making the playoffs will be no easy task in this district with five very good football teams competing for four playoff spots. Let’s take a look at how it might all shake out.
Arlington Martin Warriors
Arlington Martin finished the 2019 season with an 11-2 record. Coach Bob Wager has another talented squad this season and returns 11 starters. Five of those 11 are in the front seven on defense. That group is anchored by linebacker and Texas commit Morice Blackwell and junior defensive end and four-star recruit Ernest Cooper IV. Duke commit Placide Djungu- Sungu will lead the secondary. The defense will be the strength of this team, but the offense returns plenty of talent as well. It starts at quarterback with Army commit Zach Mundell, who is also a capable runner. The Warriors need to fill a hole at running back and Mundell’s rushing ability could come in handy. Cal Robinson is back at wide receiver, but Wager will need to find someone to fill a hole at running back. Martin is my pick to win the district and I am looking forward to seeing how many playoff games the Warriors can win this season.
Arlington finished the 2019 season with a 9-4 record and lost to Denton Guyer in the playoffs. The Colts return nine starters on offense and seven on defense. Coach Scott Peach has plenty of returning talent and it all starts with the quarterback. Kris Simms is back for his senior year after tossing 43 touchdowns last season. Backfield mate B.J. Rogers is back at running back and Les Odimara should make an impact at receiver as well. Malakhi Kellough leads a solid linebacking corps and Richard Toney is back to lead the secondary. I expect a big season from Arlington, and I will be interested to see if the Colts can advance any farther in the playoffs.
Arlington Bowie Volunteers
Arlington Bowie returns two of the best players in the district on offense. The Volunteers finished 2019 with an 8-4 record and return 12 total starters. Wide receiver Jimmy Valsin is a three-star recruit and will be a matchup problem for opposing defenses. Junior offensive tackle Devon Campbell is the sixth rated player in the nation for the class of 2022. Bowie will need quarterback Drevonn Ponder to have another big season both passing and rushing the football. A pair of juniors will anchor the defense in Tre Martin and Austin Nkwoparah. Bowie has the talent returning for a big season in 2020 and I think the Volunteers will finish third in this talented district.
South Grand Prairie Warriors
South Grand Prairie has finished 5-6 each of the last two seasons. The Warriors will have more stability at quarterback this season as Sean Stegall figures to take over full-time at the position. The talent South Grand Prairie has at wide receiver rivals that of any team in the metroplex. Deamikko Nathan is a Utah commit and pairs nicely with Kansas commit Kelan Robinson to form a dynamic duo. The defense has plenty of returning talent as well. Jalon Williams is a three-star recruit and will anchor the secondary. Linebacker Marsel McDuffie is also a three-star recruit and will lead the front seven. I will be interested to see if South Grand Prairie can win a playoff game this season and I have the Warriors grabbing the fourth playoff spot in this district. SGP will need to fend off Arlington Lamar though.
Arlington Lamar Vikings
The headline question for Lamar will be finding a replacement for graduated quarterback Jack Dawson. If the Vikings can find a suitable replacement, it could be another big year for Lamar. The Vikings return six starters on each side of the ball from a team that finished 10-2 a year ago. The returning production is headlined by wide receiver and UCF commit Cam Brady. Lamar returns a stable of running backs, led by Anthony Williams. Harold West will anchor the defense from the secondary. Watch out for Lamar if the Vikings can find a quarterback.
Arlington Sam Houston Texans
Sam Houston returns plenty of talent and is still a relatively young team in 2020. The Texans finished 2019 with a 3-7 record and will look to build on valuable experience from last season. Dual-threat quarterback Omari Milton returns for his senior season and playmaker Justin Tone also returns to give Milton a reliable target to get the ball to. Sophomore wide receiver Lafayette Kaiuway already has an offer from Kansas and should be a player to keep an eye on. The secondary will be the strength of the defense with Javione Carr and Tyris Simon both returning to lead the defense. I will be keeping an eye on Sam Houston this fall.
Grand Prairie Gophers
Grand Prairie has some work to do in 2020 after finishing the 2019 season with a 1-9 record. The Gophers return 13 starters but will have to replace their quarterback from last season. Logan Dorsey figures to take over at quarterback. The new quarterback will have star junior receiver Savion Red to throw to. The defense might be the strength of this team, though there are a number of question marks for Grand Prairie to answer this fall.
Team to Watch
My team to watch is the Arlington Colts. Arlington had a really good season last year and this group will need to take the next step collectively if it expects to compete with Martin for the district title. I will definitely be watching the Colts showdown with Martin in district play as that game could determine our champion in district eight.
Player to Watch
My player to watch in district eight is Bowie receiver Jimmy Valsin. The lanky receiver will need to have a big year as Bowie will have to fend off several worthy teams for a playoff spot. I think Valsin will have a big year and produce a few highlights. If he gets one of our MVP bobbleheads, don’t be surprised.