We’re previewing district nine this week as we take a look at the Garland schools and Wylie. This district features one of the top players in America, and the playoff race should be an interesting one as there isn’t much separation from the teams at the top. Let’s take a look at how the playoff picture might shake out.
Sachse has to replace offensive production from a team that finished 8-3 a year ago. I mentioned back in our district 5-6A preview that quarterback Parker Wells transferred to Allen. The Mustangs will replace him with a transfer of their own in junior Alex Orji. Sachse will be in good hands with Orji at quarterback, but the Mustangs only return six total starters. The defense is littered with question marks as safety James Boyd is the only returning starter. Sachse should be able to reload, the Mustangs usually do, but there are plenty of question marks all over the field. There will be plenty of new faces for Sachse in 2020. I expect Sachse to overcome some inexperience and find some playmakers in order to win this district.
Lakeview Centennial Patriots
Lakeview Centennial has the luxury of having one of the best players in America on its roster. Five-star running back Camar Wheaton has one last season with the Patriots. Maybe I am not looking in the right place, but I never see or hear people talking about Wheaton’s game. I think Camar Wheaton is one of the most talented prospects in the nation, but he doesn’t seem to get much love outside of Lakeview Centennial. Just look him up on YouTube. Trust me. He runs behind three-star center Erza Dotson- Oyetade and wide receiver Jalen Davis is a playmaker who will keep defenses from zeroing in on Wheaton. Defensive tackle and three-star recruit Ikechukwu Iwunnah will lead a defensive unit that returns just three starters from last year’s team. The Patriots will need to find more playmakers on defense and a new quarterback, but I expect a big season out of Lakeview Centennial.
Naaman Forest Rangers
Naaman Forest made the playoffs last season after losing its first five games. The Rangers will rely on their 18 returning starters to help them make the playoffs again this season. All 11 starters are back on an offense that will be led by tight end DeVean Deal, who also lines up at defensive end on the other side of the football. The offensive line will be anchored by all-state selection Will Cabaniss and Tommy Dunn can line up at receiver and defensive tackle. I expect Naaman Forest to be in the playoff picture with so much returning talent from a team that made the playoffs last year.
The team I am picking to snag the last playoff spot may be a surprise to some, but I am rocking with the Garland Owls. Garland will be a team to watch in 2020 despite finishing the 2019 season with a 3-7 record. The Owls will be dependent on a strong junior class that should wreak havoc on this district for the next two years. Quarterback Cergio Perez tossed 29 touchdowns last season forms a dynamic duo with wide receiver and Oklahoma commit Jordan Hudson. Running back Jayshon Powers is also back for his junior season after rushing for nearly a thousand yards last season. Four-star recruit Chace Biddle will lead the defense from the secondary along with Aaron King. The good news for Garland is, every player mentioned above is a junior. The question marks lay in the trenches though. If Garland can get good play from its offensive and defensive line, this team has a chance to do some special things in 2020.
The team Garland will have to fend off in order to make the playoffs is the Wylie Pirates. Wylie finished the 2019 season with a 6-5 record and all six wins came against teams in its new district. The Pirates return quarterback Marcus McElroy to lead the offense but have holes to fill at other skill positions. Former defensive coordinator Jimmy Carter has taken the reigns of the program and will need to find some playmakers and fast. Seth Cramer is returning at wide receiver and will be a name to keep an eye on. The defense will be led by linebackers Dezmond Adamson and Dawson Cox, but this unit has its fair share of question as well. Regardless, I expect Wylie to be competitive and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Pirates in the playoffs when the regular season is all said and done.
Rowlett finished 4-6 and missed out on the playoffs a year ago behind a younger squad. The Eagles return 11 starters and should be better this season with more experience. Colton Yarbrough will lead a stable of running backs on offense Rowlett needs to find some new talent at wide receiver and Tre Carr figures to take over at quarterback after starting the last game of the season a year ago. Rowlett needs to find a few new playmakers, but the Eagles will contend for a playoff spot in 2020.
North Garland Raiders
North Garland has just narrowly missed the playoffs the last two seasons, finishing 6-4 each time. The Raiders will have a tough time making the playoffs again with so much inexperience on the roster. North Garland could absolutely get in if it finds the necessary playmakers to compete in this district. Cameron Wheeler will be looked to as a leader of this squad and he plays both defensive end and tight end. Running back Dexter Davis Jr. will be a name to keep an eye on, but we won’t know much about this squad until a few weeks into the season.
South Garland Colonels
South Garland will be looking to rebound from a 1-9 season last year and will do so with a younger group of players. Jalil Brown showed promise at quarterback as a sophomore and will be looked to as a leader of this team as a junior. Receivers Ty key and Deyvaun Gilmore are both back as well. South Garland has plenty to improve on but there is a foundation to build on.
Player to Watch
I usually don’t choose the best player in the district as my player to watch, but this is a little different. My player to watch in district nine is Lakeview Centennial running back Camar Wheaton. I wouldn’t say Wheaton is underrated because he is rated as a top 20 prospect in the nation, but I never see or hear people talking about Wheaton’s game. If there is a part of the internet that does so, I will be a card-carrying member. Camar Wheaton is one of the most fun players to watch in the entire metroplex and he deserves all the love that’s coming his way when he blows up in college.
Team to Watch
My team to watch is the Garland Owls. If I hadn’t picked Wheaton as my player to watch I would have gone with one Garland’s junior stars. I really like this young team and I am excited to see what they can do over the next two seasons.