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Herald photos by Rhonda and Troy Taormina, Dave Sanders and Ryan Dunsmore. Subscribe to the Fort Bend Herald by calling 281-342-4474 or go online to

A letter from the sports editor... If there is one thing that we can learn from 2020 is that we shouldn't take the smallest detail for granted. At any moment, everything could be taken away, even the staples of our life, like Friday night football. I tip my cap to the people behind the scenes that worked tirelessly over the entire 2020-21 athletic season to keep the athletes and coaching staff safe during a pandemic. I would especially want to extend a heartfelt thank you to the

4 ★ Fort Bend Herald Football Preview 2021

athletic training staffs at each campus in the Fort Bend area. I saw how hard athletic trainers and their staffs worked over this past year, and I know they will again work to keep the same standards during another year filled with plenty of questions. Ryan

Dunsmore P.S. Thank you for to my fiercest supporter my wife Carrie.

Faneca enshrined in Pro Football Hall of Fame Photos courtesy of the Pro Football Hall of Fame/Pittsburgh Steelers


lan Faneca remembers the exact minute when he received his long-awaited call from the Pro Football Hall of

on Sundays.’” Coach Carter was in the crowd for the enshrinement with a Lamar Consolidated Fame. hat and polo on. Carter was a history teacher and assistant football coach at Lamar On Saturday, Jan. 23, at precisely 11:36 Consolidated from 1980 to 2006. a.m., Faneca received the news that he “This was the beginning of his pep talk to would be joining Drew Pearson,Tom Flores, the guys to do better because he saw that Peyton Manning, John Lynch, Calvin Johnson and Charles Woodson in Canton, Ohio. I was always working harder to be better,” He told the masses gathered this August Faneca said. during the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class “When I heard this my eyes got big, and of 2021 enshrinement. I couldn’t tell you the rest of what he said. Faneca wasted no time remembering his But that’s when my dream to play the NFL roots at Lamar Consolidated High School, began. where the future LSU and Pittsburgh Steel“Thank you, Coach, for that and for so er star graduated in 1993. much more. “The fact that I was actually being invited Lamar Consolidated High School football great Faneca played 13 years in the NFL with Alan Faneca was enshrined in the Pro Football to become a member of this extraordinary Hall of Fame Sunday evening as a member of the Steelers, New York Jets and Arizona Carfootball fraternity is hard to put into words. the 2021 class with Drew Pearson, Tom Flores, dinals. He was selected to the pro bowl nine Perhaps the best word is simply, gratitude,” Peyton Manning, John Lynch, Calvin Johnson times, a six-time all-pro, and a Super Bowl champion in 2006 following Pittsburgh’s said Faneca.“There are thousands of young and Charles Woodson. 21-10 win over the Seattle Seahawks. boys around the country who dream of Faneca also took the opportunity to speak about another asplaying in the NFL. I was one of them.” “My dream was awakened in high school at the age of 15. pect of his life that was brought to light at the age of 15, epilepsy. “Fifteen (years of age) was a transformative year for me. My One day we were pushing the five-man sled up and down the field, when one of my coaches, Don Carter, noticed me working extremely hard. He said to us, ‘Alan here is going to be playing

Continued on page 7


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Jackson right at home with the Rangers Herald photo by Rhonda Taormina


here are four words on the side of the Terry field house facing Ranger Field: Home of the Rangers. It represents the Terry athletes who come through those doors to compete with “Ranger Pride" for four years. Those words mean a little more with the sixth head coach in program history: Darnell Jackson. In June, the Rangers’ offensive coordinator was elevated to head coach to replace Cornelius Anthony​, who left for Hightower. Jackson was an all-state wide receiver for Terry whom graduated in 2006 after helping the Rangers reach the regional semifinals for the first time in program history. Jackson bleeds Terry red. He grew up in Rosenberg and was arguably the Rangers’ most-remarkable player in football history before heading to the University of North Alabama. He returned to teach at George Junior High before coaching under his former head coach Tim Teykl and was promoted to special teams coordinator and later became the offensive coordinator under Anthony. “Honestly, it’s been surreal,” Jackson said. “The best part has been my supporting cast with my coordinator, assistant coaches and Doc Roberts. “Doc Roberts has been here since I was a student in high school in 2004. Everyone has been great. Our (Lamar Consolidated ISD Athletic Director Nikki Nelson) has been great; she has ensured I have everything I need. It has been a smooth process.” Jackson’s Terry roots run deep. His wife Julie also attended Terry and teaches in the district. Jackson keeps a photo of his son Kysen, when he was a baby, wearing Jackson’s No. 7 jersey

from his time at Terry. Jackson has spent much of his life at Terry. But the question was Jackson ready to take the next step as head coach at Terry? The timing of the coaching change at Terry didn't allow much wavering for Jackson, it was either pursue the head coaching job or hope the new coach kept him on staff at a coordinator position. Jackson decided it was time. “One thing about Terry High School and me being from here, is that the culture is important,” Jackson said.“We know that culture. “Our kids know us. The kids know I’m just like them. I think that is the biggest upside about them giving the coaches that opportunity.” The fact that Jackson stayed also kept the remaining coaches in place to help keep the structure at Terry. “I do think it was an easier transition,” Jackson said. “We are still installing new things even though we have some of the same coaches back. It has been a challenge. “But a lot of it is the same, especially our core values.” While the coaches have changed, there has been one constant;head athletic trainer Kevin “Doc” Roberts. He was there when Jackson joined the varsity team, and he has watched as Jackson grew into the coach he is today.

Continued on page 8

Terry head coach Darnell Jackson pictured in front of the Terry field house with players Alphonso Brown, Elijah Sims, Michael Odom, Jason Cruz, Johnte Mccauley, Matthew Alvarez, Darron Holmes and Juan Rodriguez.

6 ★ Fort Bend Herald Football Preview 2021

Continued from page 5

kinds of fathers, husbands, and respected leaders we could possibly be, is greater than any responsibility we ever had to deal with in football. These values are foundational. I know I would not have this amazing life if God hadn’t given me the opportunity to choose football.Thank you very much.”

dream of playing in the NFL was awakened,” Faneca said. “I instinctively knew that I was not going to let anything prevent me from fulfilling this dream. I knew as long as I listened to my doctors and followed their guidance, along with a strong support system, I would be fine. “I’ve always told myself and spoken publicly about the fact that epilepsy is part of me, but it does not define me. We are in charge of our destiny. I never want any health challenges to define us. We must define ourselves. “Whatever one’s challenge in life, whether we have a disability or not, my message is always to maintain an integral commitment. Do not let anything stop us from fulfilling our vision. Be resilient.We all get knocked down in life, but it’s how we get up that matters.” Faneca took the time to thank LSU, the Steelers, Jets and Cardinals, and the support staff and teammates that helped him reach this point. He also thanked his “other teammates,” his father Al and his mother Liane Faneca, was a Lamar Consolidated teacher. “Without your support and the values you instilled in me, I would not have found my way up here,” Faneca said. “Thank you for everything you sacrificed to sure this kid’s dreams came true.” The Lamar Consolidated great finished his speech with a re- Vo Dr. Kyle D. McCrea and Dr. Victoria flection on football players’ decisions on and off the field. “In closing, there are choices, decisions, and sacrifices that each of us as athletes who play this great game must make every Retired Lamar Consolidated High School coach Don Carter attended day,” said Faneca. “The choices we make outside of football are the Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremony to watch his former player, Alan even greater because they aren’t simply game choices, they are Faneca, be enshrined. Faneca credited Carter with growing his love for life choices.The sacrifice and discipline to choose to be the best football.

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Continued from page 6 “It was quite a surprise,” Roberts said. “It was a pleasant surprise. “He graduated my second year at Terry. He has been on our staff for about eight years now. It’s been great to see him come full circle to be the head coach, and the (campus coordinator) position is pretty special.” Roberts was able to see a glimpse of Jackson’s potential as a leader on the football field. “Of course, he was a heck of an athlete with us,” Roberts said. “He was like some of our kids now, it was hard to get him off the field. He did whatever was asked of him. He played both ways. “(Darnell) was always a leader in his class. He always had that knack about him. He could always lead the team." Jackson was always around the program, and he didn’t wait long to get back after college. “I lost track of him for a while we would come back and lift with us during the summer. He worked out at George for a bit, and I reconnected with him. I got to see how he was coaching. “He really started to soak it in when he got back to Terry.”

“(Darnell) did some amazing things with special teams. He changed some things up when he became the offensive coordinator. I saw him really grow in that position. He and (Jacob Scott) really bounced ideas off each other. “I listen to them during meetings, and they were always looking for angles for us to use.” Roberts has watched as coach Anthony grew into the head coaching position. Now, he expects to watch Jackson grow too. “Now that (Darnell) is the head coach, he’s learning that he has to let go of the play-calling a little bit,” Roberts said. “He’s letting coach Scott take some control of the offense and letting Stewart run things on defense. “That is something he’s had to learn, and of course, learning to manage the whole team. He’s the head man in charge. It took coach Anthony about a year or two to learn it.” Jackson isn’t the only in Terry alumni rejoining the Rangers. Michael Melendez left the coaching staff at Needville to join Terry. For those former Terry players, there is a draw to coming back to the home of the Rangers. “Being able to give back to the school that I went to is a huge

Terry head coach Darnell Jackson speaks to his team after the Rangers' first scrimmage of the 2021 season against Houston Sterling at Ranger Field.

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“I think we’re in one of the toughest districts in the state, but honor,” Melendez said.“It was surreal to walk back into the field house after 10 years knowing that I would be a part of what I don’t think anyone cares,” Jackson said. “It’s not an excuse. I love the challenge, and it motivates me when we aren’t picked Coach Jackson wants to build. “I see the guys wearing that ‘Ranger Pride’ shirt I wore and to make the playoffs. “That motivates me, and I want that motivation to be contathat same B.F. Terry star logo that I wore with so much honor: It honestly makes me want to push these young men twice as hard gious with our kids.” knowing what Terry can be as a program. Jackson and the Rangers will play their first game against Cle“I’m excited to see the success that will take place here, and ments on Aug. 26. I couldn’t be more humbled and honored to be a part of the process.” Melendez will serve as the Rangers' co-offensive coordinator, offensive line coach and strength and conditioning coordinator. Jackson now takes the task of shaping the team, starting with the 2021 campaign. “The energy is going to be different,” Jackson said. “I coach with passion, and I expect to see that same energy at practice. I expect us to fly around and have fun playing football.” And coach Jackson knows what it’s like to be the underdog at Terry. He’s been dealing with it Terry players Alphonso Brown, Elijah Sims, Michael Odom, Jason Cruz, Johnte Mccauley, Matthew Alvarez, Darron all of his life. Holmes and Juan Rodriguez return for the 2021 as the core of the Rangers' roster.

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District 20-6A Battle to be the best in Fort Bend T

he 2021 District 20-6A schedule looks much different with zone play due to COVID-19. Now the eight teams return to a normal format and seek to find who the best 6A team in Fort Bend is. Here is a closer look at the area teams from District 20-6A and the other contenders: George Ranch Longhorns If there’s a team that can challenge Ridge Point for the district title, it may be George Ranch, thanks to the number of starters returning. "This group of seniors will be the first group to go all four years with us," George Ranch head coach Nick Cavallo said. "The messages we're trying to send to each other are getting through. "This year, we're focused on holding each other more accountable." T h e


Longhorns won five games last year, including its first playoff appearance since they won a state title back in 2015. And with a lot of talent back on the offensive side, another playoff appearance looks very likely. It will all start with the running game, namely senior running back Hymond Drinkard, who ran for 785 yards and eight touchdowns last season. Drinkard has the speed to make game-breaking plays, and he will be the one expected to carry the load for George Ranch on offense. Senior quarterback Cole Murphy, who took over at the position after starter Sam Miller was injured. Murphy (22-of-47, 398 yards, four touchdowns, five interceptions) has the arm to be a strong passer and can be a dangerous deep threat if he can work more on his accuracy. George Ranch’s top returning receivers are seniors Donovan Dixon (five catches, 42 yards, 2 TDs) and Joseph Wilson (nine catches, 92 yards, one TD), but coaches are really expecting big things from sophomore Deion Drinkard, who could be a factor on both sides of the ball. Senior Hanzlah Rana leads a very experienced line that can grind down defenses with the run. "Thirteen of our 15 seniors played on varsity as sophomores," Cavallo said. "Any time you have a large number of three-year varsity players, that is a good thing and the majority of them are at the skill positions. "That is definitely going to be our strength." ★ Hymond Drinkard On defense, the Longhorns will look to its secondary for support, as several strong players return, including a pair of speedy defensive backs in Jeffery Ugo, Coy Cook and Jaylon Belford. David Walker and Mathew Lambert are ex-


2020 record: 2-6/1-3 district Head coach: Mike Arogbonlo Coach's Record at Austin: 5-13-0 (2 years)

Career record: 5-13-0 (2 years)




Aug. 28 Sep. 2 Sep. 9 Sep. 17 Sep. 23 Oct. 7 Oct. 15 Oct. 22 Oct. 30 Nov. 6

@MacArthur @Elsik @Westside @Ridge Point* Travis* @George Ranch* Bush* @Clements* Dulles* @Elkins*

Thorne Crump Delmar Hall Hall Traylor Stafford Hall Hall Legacy




Aug.27 Sep.3 Sep.10 Sep.24 Sep.30 Oct.9 Oct.15 Oct.23 Oct.28 Nov.6

Hightower 7p.m. Hall @College Station 7p.m. Cougar @Alief Taylor 7p.m. Crump Dulles* 7p.m. Hall @Elkins* 6p.m. Hall Travis* 6p.m. Hall @Austin* 7p.m. Stafford George Ranch* 1p.m. Hall Ridge Point* 7p.m. Rhodes @Clements* 6p.m. Hall



Aug.26 Sep.3 Sep.9 Sep.16 Sep.25 Oct.7 Oct.16 Oct.22 Oct.30 Nov.6

@Terry 7p.m. Traylor @Westbury 7p.m. Dyer Vets. Mem. @Pasadena 7p.m. @Dulles* 6p.m. Hall Ridge Point* 6p.m. Hall Elkins* 6p.m. Hall @Travis* 6p.m. Hall Austin* 7p.m. Hall George Ranch* 6p.m. Hall Bush* 6p.m. Hall

*District game



2020 record: 2-6/2-2 district Head coach: Shane Byrd Coach's Record at Dulles: 4-14-0 (2 years) Career record: 4-14-0 (2 years)



10 ★ Fort Bend Herald Football Preview 2021


2020 record: 5-5/1-4 district Head coach: Bobby Darnell Coach's Record at Clements: 8-41-0 (5 years) Career record: 8-41-0 (5 years)


TIME STADIUM 6 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 6 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 1 p.m. 6 p.m.



2020 record: 1-6/1-4 district Head coach: Allen Aldridge Coach's Record at Bush: 69-56-0 (12 years) Career record: 69-59-0 (12 years)

pected to have strong seasons on the defensive line, while Connor Tallas and Tim Fisher will be called on to make plays as linebackers. Fisher led the team with total tackles last season (55) and solo tackles (34), good for an average of 6.9 tackles per game. Travis Tigers Despite losing several key players on offense, Travis held up pretty well in 2020, losing only four games out of eight total in the season and was a quarter away from winning the district title. The Tigers now have a good base returning on offense in 2021, but the defense will need to fill some holes. "We haven't reached out potential yet," Travis head coach Trey Sissom said. "We have most of our skills kids back. We have three starters back up front offensively. "Last year we never seemed to click, but we're chugging along now." Senior quarterback Anthony Njoku showed some athleticism with the Tiger offense, rushing for 458 yards while passing for 1,389 yards. He scored eight rushing touchdowns and 13 passing touchdowns with only three interceptions, good for first-team all-district honors. Sissom is hopeful that Njoku can continue to make improvements in his passing to make him a stronger offensive threat. Njoku found a consistent target with senior wideout Marcus Chretien, who put up great numbers (32 catches, 331 yards, three TDs) last season. Travis will also have its starting tailback returning, as senior Jamison Singleterry (305 yards, four TDs) looks to improve and add depth to Travis’ running game. "We're healthy and we have a bunch of our kids coming back," Sissom said. "We've had a good




Aug.28 @Kempner 6p.m. Hall Sep.4 Willowridge 6p.m. Hall Sep.11 @Stratford 6p.m. Tully Sep.16 Clements* 6p.m. Hall Sep.24 Bush* 7p.m. Hall Oct.8 @Ridge Point* 7p.m. Hall Oct.14 @Elkins* 6p.m. Legacy Oct.23 Travis* 6p.m. Hall Oct.30 @Austin* 1p.m. Hall Nov.5 @George Ranch* 7p.m. Traylor

summer." The offensive line lost a top player as Ryder Wall graduated and is now at Sam Houston State, but the Tigers have the rest of their linemen back, including another big contributor in senior lineman Dylan Kinney, who is already getting several Division I college offers. While the Travis offense has most of its pieces back, the defense only has four returning starters. Senior defensive lineman Brandon Dixon (44 tackles, three sacks) will be the leader for the front seven, with seniors Tristan Mason and Erick Conley on the line and junior linebacker Anthony Oliver. Senior defensive back Dominic Njoku, who is the lone Tiger with a lot of varsity experience, will lead the secondary. Junior Antonio Rubio takes over kicking and punting duties. Austin Bulldogs Going into the offseason, there was a little bit of optimism for Austin that the Bulldogs would be better than a two-win team in 2020. That was before finding out that their dualthreat quarterback Josh Tarver (323 passing yards, one passing TD, 310 rushing yards, two rushing TDs) would leave Sugar Land for Florida and play at the IMG Academy. So now head coach Mike Arogbonlo will have to rely on senior quarterback Braedon Abboud (789 passing yards, four TDs) to effectively run the pass-oriented offense. "We will have only three returners offensively and one defensively so we are quite a young team, with only four seniors starting this year," Arogbonlo said. "We look for our seniors to

be our leaders and teach the younger guys our culture and ways, we are changing Austin football for the better. " Senior Luke Weaver caught five passes for 60 yards last season at wide receiver, he will move to running back this year. Junior Daniel Oloso (134 yards, one TD) and senior Caesar Espino (29 yards) will be the wideouts for the Bulldogs. The offensive line will be very young, but Arogbonlo feels confident in two juniors,Aries Stevens and Aiden Rhodes – who are both over six feet and over 240 pounds – that could be key in get-

ting Austin’s offense in gear. The defense could be the unit that makes or breaks the Bulldogs’ playoff hopes. Austin's five returning players include senior defensive lineman Victor Phillip, who had 25 tackles and three sacks last season. The linebackers group will have senior Emmanuel Mukaro and Weaver (43 tackles at the position), and the secondary will have juniors Jamal Franklin (30 tackles, one interception), Jayson Tanifum (five tackles) and Nehemiah Robinson. Bush Broncos Bush has been one of those programs that consistently stays in the playoff hunt in 20-6A thanks to its depth at the skill positions and tough play on defense. After a 1-6 season last year, the Broncos are hoping to be a playoff team again with several players returning in 2021. " Yes, it was tough last year," Bush head coach Allen Aldridge said. "But we think we have a great group of core experience players to make this a successful season." The offense will again be a run-oriented attack with two senior running backs in Nelvens Borgella (297 yards, one TD) and Adrian Cormier (151 yards, three TDs) and junior back Jahbari Kuykendall (128 yards). Tyler Hilder (23-for-90, 263 yards, one passing TD, one rushing TD) struggled at quarterback last season. Cormier and Kuykendall can also catch passes, with the duo combining for six catches for 46 yards last year. Bush will run the ball constantly behind a large and experienced offensive line, led by seniors Jason Eeokwon★ Brandon Dixon na and Giancarlo Riveros.

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Fort Bend Herald Football Preview 2021 ★ 11

The defense has a lot of talent back that is quick to the ball and can hit. Linebackers Preston Davis and Brandon Chambers were both first-team all-district selections last season, with Chambers racking up 48 tackles, 10 of them for losses. Junior defensive end Kosy Okoroafor was a team leader in tackles with 52 and had four sacks last year. Coaches expect him to be a force on the line in 2021. Senior defensive back Dantonio Hackworth is another first-team All-20-6A pick that will be counted on to lead a quick secondary. Hackworth had 31 tackles and an interception in 2020. Clements Rangers For the past 10 years, Clements has been stuck in the lower rung of the Fort Bend ISD football pecking order. But there’s hope and a sense of confidence this coming season that the Rangers are ready to break out and get back to the playoffs for the first time in 14 years. It will take a strong offense to get Clements where they want to go. The Rangers will have a couple of returning running backs in senior Dimas Kusuma (572 yards, seven TDs) and junior J.R. Mirelles (339 yards, four TDs). The offense will depend on whether senior quarterback Micah Darnell (532 rushing yards, one rushing TD, 640 passing yards, six TDs) can become a real dual threat with his passing. " We have to lean on

★ Jackson Fields

★ Anthony Njoku


our experience, while also expecting our roster holes to be filled at a high standard," Clements head coach Bobby Darnell said. Micah Darnell with have a lot of good choices to throw the football to, as Clements boast two fine receivers in senior Marcus Darnell (366 yards, four TDs) and senior Patrick Smith, who has a lot of speed and will play both ways. The Rangers also have a veteran offensive line back, anchored by senior Nathan Morris and senior Lex Demeris. They also have a 6-foot, 300-pound sophomore in Carson Talley, while junior Lyle Link will take over at tight end as well as kicking. Clements also has eight returning starters back on defense, including senior linebacker Matt McGinnis (89 tackles, 17 for loss, four sacks), who has been named the leader of the whole defensive unit. Junior and fellow linebacker Ferris Refai (60 tackles, 15 for loss, six sacks) is another dynamic player to watch in the front seven. Speaking of dynamic players, Smith will look to make more big plays in the secondary after making 44 tackles and two interceptions in 2020. He’s already getting several big offers from San Diego State, Air Force and Texas Southern. Dulles Vikings 2020 was a tough year for the Vikings, winning only two games while scoring a mere 12.3 points per game. Dulles head coach Shayne Byrd had to shake up the offense, and he will implement the veer offense (a


2020 record: 2-6/2-3 district (Bi-District) Head coach: Dennis Brantley Coach's Record at Elkins: 64-42-0 (10 years) Career record: 91-58-0 (14 years)




Aug.28 Sep.2 Sep.10 Sep.24 Sep.30 Oct.7 Oct.14 Oct.23 Oct.29 Nov.6

@Bellaire 6p.m. Butler @Marshall 6p.m. Hall Clear Springs 7p.m. Hall @George Ranch* 7p.m. Traylor Bush* 6p.m. Hall @Clements* 6p.m. Hall Dulles* 6p.m. Legacy Freedom @Ridge Point* 1p.m. @Travis* 7p.m. Hall Austin* 6p.m. Legacy



2020 record: 5-4/4-1 district (Bi-District) Head coach: Nick Cavallo Coach's Record at George Ranch: 14-17-0 (3 years) Career record: 69-59-0 (12 years)


★ Jaden Flowers


Aug.28 Sep.4 Sep.11 Sep.24 Oct.1 Oct.7 Oct.14 Oct.23 Oct.30 Nov.5

Hou.Lamar Katy Taylor @Dawson Elkins* @Travis* Austin* Ridge Point* @Bush* @Clements* Dulles*


6p.m. Traylor 6p.m. Traylor 2p.m. PISD 7p.m. Traylor 7p.m. Hall 7p.m. Traylor 7p.m. Traylor 1p.m. Hall 6p.m. Hall 7p.m. Traylor




Aug.27 @Pearland 7p.m. Pearland Sep.2 Dickinson 7p.m. Freedom Sep.11 C.E.King 6p.m. Hall Sep.17 Austin* 7p.m. Hall Sep.25 @Clements* 6p.m. Hall Oct.8 Dulles* 7p.m. Hall Oct.14 @George Ranch* 7p.m. Traylor Freedom Oct.23 Elkins* 1p.m. Oct.28 @Bush* 7p.m. Rhodes Nov.5 Travis* 7p.m. Hall


2020 record: 4-4/3-1 district (Bi-District) Head coach: Trey Sissom Coach's Record at Travis: 39-23-0 (6 years) Career record: 60-36-0 (9 years)



*District game

12 ★ Fort Bend Herald Football Preview 2021


2020 record: 8-3/4-0 district (Regional Finalist) Head coach: Rick LaFavers Coach's Record at Ridge Point: 8-3-0 (1 years) Career record: 28-34-0 (6 years)


style of option run offense) to get his team going. "The seniors have a been really positive over the summer and got everyone up here working out," Byrd said. "We have been consistent." The new offense will mean junior running back Devin Graham (599 yards, five TDs) will be the main cog in the veer offense after being a firstteam all-district pick last season. Other players expected to get some carries in the run-oriented attack include senior quarterback Jarrett Mitchell, senior running back Anthony Garza and senior Alfred Antiwi. "It helps having Devin back," Byrd said. "The quarterback battle this spring has been fun to watch." Senior wide receiver Cole Hodges (42 yards, one TD) will still be a strong threat. The offensive line will have a lot of experience back with seniors Myles Chapman, Jaden Flowers and junior Tyler Clayton. The Vikings have only five starters back on defense. Senior linebacker Jaxon Tilley (48 tackles, three sacks, one interception) has been a starter for the last three years, while senior Dominick Williams (12 tackles, one fumble recovery) looks to bounce back after an injury-plagued season. The defensive line will be young, but Byrd is hopeful that junior defensive end Dasan Thomas can be a difference-maker for the Dulles defense. The strength of the unit may be in the secondary, led by senior defensive back Jalen Brown, who had 22 tackles in 2020. Other defensive backs that are expected to contribute are junior Gio Navarette (23 tackles), junior Kyle Bautista and sophomore Carter Truscott. Elkins Knights Despite a skilled roster of athletes on both sides of the ball, Elkins struggled for most of the 2020 season, winning only two games. Those two games were enough to get into the 6A Division I playoffs. Now the Knights hope that they have enough weapons on both sides of the ball to get back to the postseason. Elkins has a lot of players that go both ways, with seniors Christian Peluse (40 yards, one TD) and Daron Smith at running back and linebacker. Head coach Dennis Brantley also thinks sophomore Braylon Day could get some time at running back. Senior wide receiver Jackson Fields (220 yards, one TD) has elite size in being 6-foot-7 and 200 pounds, so junior quarterback Isaiah Smith (548 yards, seven TDs) will be looking to find Fields



Aug.27 Sep.2 Sep.11 Sep.23 Oct.1 Oct.9 Oct.16 Oct.23 Oct.29 Nov.5

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every time he goes back to pass. Juniors Jackson Hart and Asad Abais will play both wide receiver and defensive back. Elkins will have a strong anchor on its defensive line with senior Taurean Crawford, who had 58 tackles and six sacks last season. Anthony Pittman and Armond Owens will also be on the Knights’ defensive line. Peluse led the team with 60 tackles and two sacks at linebacker, while Smith had 38 tackles. Ridge Point Panthers Everything went right for Ridge Point in 2020. New head coach Rick LaFavers guided a talented Panther team to an undefeated run in district play plus four wins in the playoffs to reach the 6A Division I Region III finals. Now the ques-

★ Bert Emanuel, Jr

tion is whether Ridge Point can take that next step and make themselves one of the Houston area’s elite teams in 6A. And the Panthers have the talent to do so. "I feel like we'll be just as good, if not better than last year," LaFavers said. "It doesn't maybe look that on paper with a small number of starters back, but we have the most critical pieces back — starting with the quarterback. "That is why our theme this year is reload. We feel like we have the guys that were backups that played a significant amount or were on junior varsity because we didn't want them standing

★ Jeffrey Ugo

★ JR Mirelles

around on the sidelines. But they are all very good players. " The offense looks to be in great shape with the return of senior quarterback Bert Emanuel Jr. (1,437 passing yards, 16 passing TDs, 504 rushing yards, six rushing TDs) and junior running back Ezell Jolly (304 yards, two TDs). The wide receivers are a bit inexperienced with senior Marvin Session (76 yards) and junior Andre Davis (62 yards) as the only two receivers with varsity experience. The offensive line should be the Panthers’ most valuable unit, with senior Calvin Harvey anchoring the line. The 6-foot-7, 325-pounder has gotten several college offers and has verbally committed to Louisiana Tech. Although Harvey is mostly raw at the position, LaFavers feels he could develop into a force at the position. The defense should be just as strong with seven returning starters, including junior defensive lineman D.K. Kalu (36 tackles, four for loss, one sack), who is also getting a lot of notices from top college programs. Seniors Dylan Vaughn, James Walley and Mason Hall will be the ones leading the linebacker group. The secondary should be strong with junior defensive back Taylor Davis (59 tackles, two interceptions) as the main shut-down corner, with help coming from junior Ryan Ramey (31 tackles, one interception).

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Fort Bend Herald Football Preview 2021 ★ 13

District 10-5A Division I Welcome to the toughest district in 5A T he quality of District 10-5A Division I is on full display in the state rankings with four teams ranked to start the 2021 season. Manvel opens at the No. 2 spot, followed by Katy Paetow at No. 13, Hightower at No. 20 and Foster rounds out the group at No. 24. There is no question that District 10-5A DI is one of the toughest districts in Class 5A, period. The logjam at the top of the standings ramps up the importance of each district contest and makes the challenge of cracking the top four spots even tougher for the five other teams on the outside looking in. Here is a closer look at the area teams from District 10-5A DI and the other contenders:

Foster Falcons The 2021 season marks arguably the third rebuild at Foster under head coach Shaun McDowell. The previous two peaks can be marked by the Falcons' All-American talents at wide receiver: CeeDee Lamb and Cody Jackson. Lamb is now with the Dallas Cowboys and Jackson is at the University of Oklahoma. A rebuild does not mean a step back for the Falcons, but Foster will simply have new faces to take the lead during the 2021 season. "This has been one of our toughest challenges yet at Foster," McDowell said. "Because, we have a smaller senior class." Foster graduated 47 seniors, including 12 starters. "The biggest learning curve for this team is



2020 record: 9-3/5-1 district (Area Finalist) Head coach: Shaun McDowell Coach's Record at Foster: 74-26 (8 years) Career record: 77-33 (9 years)




Aug.27 Sep.2 Sep.10 Sep.18 Sep.25 Oct.1 Oct.8 Oct.15 Oct.22 Nov.4

Lamar Cons. 7p.m. Traylor Travis 7p.m. Traylor Paetow* 7p.m. Traylor Milby* 11a.m. Traylor @Wisdom* 6p.m. Butler Terry* 7p.m. Traylor Hightower* 7p.m. Traylor Freedom @Manvel* 7p.m. @Angleton* 7p.m. Wildcat @Kempner* 7p.m. Stafford



2020 record: 4-3/1-3 district Head coach: Darrin Andrus Coach's Record at Kempner: 33-64 (10 years) Career record: 33-64 (10 years)


going to be the experience of Friday night," McDowell said. "I would say 90% of our roster hasn't played a varsity football game." The biggest question for McDowell is: Who will step into the quarterback position after the departure of District 10-5A DI's top p a s s e r Philip Amy, who completed 65% of his passes for the Falcons last season. Juniors J.T. Fayard and Landon Godwin are the front runners to play quarterback. Fayard has set himself apart during spring workouts and the state 7-on-7 tournament. Seniors wide receiver Kendall Stewart

Terry Rangers The 2021 season will be a year of change for the Terry Rangers, but at the same time it will be a year of returning to the familiar. Terry hired Ranger-great Darnell Jackson to be the head coach this offseason, after Jackson served as both offensive and special teams coordinators at different times under Cornelius Anthony. Antony left for the Hightower job. "We have to replace 30 seniors, including the district MVP," Jackson said. "That ★ Michael Odom is always tough, but these young guys have really stepped up to the plate,.I'm excited." Coach Jackson takes over a team with plenty of weapons


2020 record: 5-5/2-2 district (Regional semifinalist) Head coach: Cornelius Anthony Coach's Record at Hightower: 0-0-0 (First year) Career record: 14-26-0 (4 years)





Aug.28 Sep.3 Sep.18 Sep.25 Oct.2 Oct.9 Oct.14 Oct.21 Oct.29 Nov.4

Dulles 6p.m. Hall Memorial @Alvin 7p.m. @Paetow* 6p.m. Legacy @Milby* 6p.m. Barnett @Wisdom* 6p.m. Butler Terry* 11a.m. Hall @Hightower* 6p.m. Hall Freedom @Manvel* 7p.m. @Angleton* 7p.m. Wildcat Foster* 7p.m. Stafford



Aug.27 Sep.3 Sep.9 Sep.23 Oct.2 Oct.8 Oct.14 Oct.21 Oct.28 Nov.5

@Bush 7p.m. Hall Westfield 7p.m. Hall @Terry* 7p.m. Traylor Freedom @Manvel* 7p.m. Angleton* 6p.m. Hall @Foster* 7p.m. Traylor Kempner* 6p.m. Hall @Paetow* 7p.m. Rhodes Milby* 6p.m. Hall @Wisdom* 7p.m. Butler

*District game



2020 record: 5-5/2-4 district Head coach: Darnell Jackson Coach's Record at Terry: 0-0-0 (First year) Career record: 0-0-0 (First year)



14 ★ Fort Bend Herald Football Preview 2021

and offensive tackle Austin Yeager will help ease the load for the new signal-caller. The Falcons' defensive image will be different from years past with the experience coming from the secondary. Gone are anchors like Tyler Onyedim and Udoka Ezeani, but defensive backs Ashton Ojiaku, Courage Ugo and Ty Moore returning. It doesn't hurt to have a solid kicker returning. Nicholas Arellano recorded 38 points including five made field goals last season.



Aug.26 Sep.3 Sep.9 Sep.16 Sep.23 Oct.1 Oct.9 Oct.15 Oct.21 Oct.28

Clements @Lamar Cons. Hightower* Manvel* Angleton* @Foster* @Kempner* Paetow* Milby* @Wisdom*

TIME STADIUM 7p.m. Traylor 7p.m. Traylor 7p.m. Traylor 7p.m. Traylor 7p.m. Traylor 7p.m. Traylor 11a.m. Hall 7p.m. Traylor 7p.m. Traylor 7p.m. Butler

that includes running back Michael Odom, and wide receivers Alphonso Brown and Trumaine Mitchell. Brown caught 15 passes for 331 yards and four touchdowns last season. Odom was eighth in rushing in 10-5A DI with 584 yards and five touchdowns. Both will be solid options for junior quarterback Jason Cruz, who has big shoes to fill that were let by 2020 district MVP Kellen Stewart. The 6-foot-3 defensive lineman Elijah Sims will anchor the Rangers' defense. He collected 29 tackles, and two sacks in 2020. Juan Rodriguez had an impressive sophomore campaign with 50 tackles and two fumble recoveries. "A lot of the guys on this team were on varsity at a young age. Now they are in a leadership role," Jackson said. "Our biggest concern is staying healthy." Terry also remains stable with both coordinators coming from the Rangers' staff. Jacob Scott returns to co-offensive coordinator along with Michael Melendez, and Clark Stuart taking over the defensive coordinator position. Kempner Cougars Times are changing for Kempner head coach Darrin Andrus and the Cougars. Kempner is transitioning out of the slot-T option offense and moving more toward a more spread formation. Does that mean the Cougars will completely change their identity? No, but Kempner will look different in 2021, especially with coach Andrus

replacing both of his coordinators this offseason. "We put in a partially new offense," Andrus said. "The defense will be running the same stuff. The kids have bought in all summer long and have been working their butts off." The Cougars' depth will require most of the roster to play both ways, but multiple players have shown they excel when called upon.These players are tight end/defensive end Ezekiel Samuel , defensive back/wide receiver Cody NguyenPham and linebacker/running back Chibuikem Ome. "Eleven sophomores were able to get varsity experience last year as starters and that is going to help us out this year," Andrus said. Hightower Hurricanes The Hightower Hurricanes made their deepest run in the playoffs last season since 2011 under head coach Joseph Sam, which resulted in Sam returning to the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Sam's departure opened the door for Cornelius Anthony, who graduated from Elkins, to join the Hurricanes. Anthony takes over a Hightower squad full of talent, but it's inexperienced. ★ Kendal Stewart The Hurricanes return only six starters and graduated nearly 40 lettermen in the Class of 2021. "We're attempting to establish my culture at Hightower with the four pillars," Anthony said. "From a football stand point, I'm loving it (at Hightower)." On top of that, last year's backup quarterback

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Jordon Davis has moved over to Marshall, leaving a bigger question for the Hurricanes. Wide receiver Caleb Douglas, a USC commit, will be there to help the new quarterback after catching 20 passes for 163 yards and five touchdowns last year. District contenders Manvel remains the team to beat in District 10-5A DI after a run to the regional finals last season. The Mavericks return only five starters from the No. 1 offense in 10-5A DI, averaging 524 yards per contest. But it won't be hard for Manvel to keep that pace up with both of the team's leading rusher returning. Seniors Ty Harris and De'Monte Seymore combined for 1,300 yards and 19 touchdowns last season. The biggest question will be: Who will take over at quarterback after Gabriel Larry, the No. 3 passer in 10-5A DI with 1,297 passing yards rom last year. The defense has far fewer questions with the Mavs' top six tacklers returning for their senior seasons. That group's headliner is linebacker Tyree Scranton, who collected 101 tackles and two interceptions in 2020. The most talented of the bunch are line-

★ Caleb Douglas

backer Justin Medlock and defensive back Collin Wright. Defensive end Kivon Wright is a senior in 2021 and returns after collecting a team-high four sacks. The dark horse of District 10-5A DI is Katy Paetow. The Panthers have steadily grown under head coach B.J. Goette. Paetow earned the program's second trip to the playoffs last season. But often with success in high school football, comes change. Paetow returns only four starters on offense, which includes senior quarterback C.J. Dumas. The Panthers' signal-caller was fifth in the district in passing with 879 yards and 10 touchdowns. Dumas will be without the district's leading rusher in 2020, Damon Bankston. Kole Wilson, Paetow's No. 2 receiver, enters his senior campaign after catching 18 passes for 203 yards and four touchdowns last season. The Paetow defense has eight starters back including defensives backs Kentrell Webb and Michael Jordan. The duo combined for 69 tackles and two interceptions. Linebacker Alex Kilgore led the team with 86 tackles and six sacks. He returns for his junior season. The growth of the young offensive and defensive lines will be instrumental in Paetow's success in 2021. Coach Jason Brittain's Angleton squad had a less then ideal 2020 campaign. The Wildcats were shut out from the win column in district play, and Angleton only collected three wins, its lowest total since 2007. The 2021 campaign may be more of the same with the Wildcats graduating more than half of their roster and returning only six starters.

★ Chibuikem Ome

16 ★ Fort Bend Herald Football Preview 2021

The Wildcats offense had two quarterbacks throughout last season with Jordan Pickett and Adrian Ewells trading off snaps. Ewells was the No. 1 option by the end of his freshman season, throwing for 590 yards and six touchdowns on 51% pass completion rate (43of-84). Pickett is the Wildcats' top returning rusher with 684 yards and six touchdowns. He also caught six passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns. Angleton has transitioned to more of a spread offense and senior receiver Isiah Williams will help with that process. He caught 19 passes for 211 yards and four touchdowns last year. The Angleton defense will have to grow up fast with the majority of the lineup coming from underclassmen in 2021. The two Houston ISD teams in 10-5A DI will be hard to get a handle on entering the 2021 season. Milby played one game and Wisdom played three before both programs shut down for the 2020 season due to COVID-19 complications. Milby's one game last season was against Sam Rayburn, a 7-6 loss. Quarterback Edgar Hernandez returns after completing 8-of-10 passes for 54 yards and a touchdown against the Texans. But Hernandez will have a new wide receiver corps, all four members of the team that caught passes last year were members of the Class of 2021. Wisdom was able to play two district games in 2021, losing to Kempner and Paetow by a combined score of 131-0. The Generals graduated half of their roster and seek to help grow a young returning group that includes wide receiver Souhail Zoudi, who caught four passes for 87 and a touchdown during the 2020 season.

★ Jason Cruz

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District 10-5A Division II D

New voices bring new energy

istrict 10-5A Division II is spread out from Rosenberg to Hunstville, and potential bidistrict playoff game against teams from the Piney Woods can turn teams like Fulshear and Lamar Consolidated into road warriors. Both the Chargers and Mustangs changed their leadership over the past year, and now the teams look to make strides toward success against a stacked district field that includes Huntsville, A&M Consolidated and the schools from Montgomery. Here is a closer look at the area teams from District 10-5A DII and the other contenders:

the Chargers' rushing attack in 2020, and he returns for his senior season. The Fulshear defense came together last season, allowing 284.7 yards per game in 10-5A DII. Luke Gazetta, who is coming off a junior season at linebacker, collected over 100 tackles and three sacks in 2020. Cade Carter and JJ Mosley each collected three interceptions last season to finished tied sixth-most in district. "These guys have some varsity experience," Codutti said. "There is no lack of talent among the kids.We have some pieces we can use on the chess board, but right now I think they ned to learn how to win. "They have to learn how to handle adversity: What do you do when you get punched in the mouth? "I think that is going to be the test and its what we've been emphasizing all camp; it's get going to get hard, are you ready for it?"

Fulshear Chargers Fulshear will have its second head coach in program history lead the Chargers out of the tunnel after Oschlor Flemming resigned after five seasons. Tomball offensive coordinator Nick Codutti is now in charge of the Chargers, and he is seeking to take the next step with 18 starters back. What exactly is the next step for Fulshear after the 2020 season? One word answer: playoffs. The young Chargers reached .500 for the first Lamar Consolidated Mustangs time in program history with an undefeated run The circumstances of the 2020 season were too through non-district play and a win over Lamar much for the Lamar Consolidated Mustangs. Consolidated. Roster turnover, nearly entire coaching staff A playoff berth would be the next step for a young team seeking to leave a mark on the young Lamar Consolidated ISD campus. One of the few positions not returning for Fulshear will be quarterback.Two-year starting quarterback Jackson Edge graduated, and will be replaced by the No. 8 receiver in 10-5A DII, Parker Williams. Williams caught 33 passes for 491 yards and six touchdowns in 2020. Parker has taken the majority of the No. 1 snaps this offseason at quarterback, including the Chargers' first attempt to reach the State 7-on-7 Championship. "We have a quarterback battle at camp, just like everyone else does," Codutti said. "I know that Parker is an extremely intelligent kid and extremely even keeled, which is probably a good thing because I'm quite the emotional coach. "The kids respect him." Williams will have plenty of weapons to help him at quarterback, Tyjae Williams is a 5-foot-11 receiver that moved over from Katy and Jax Medica returns as the Chargers' top target. Medica caught 49 ★ Jax Medica passes for 535 yards and six touchdowns in his junior season. Kenya Walton averaged 4.68 yards per carry to lead

18 ★ Fort Bend Herald Football Preview 2021

changes and a pandemic preventing head coach Kiah Johnson from having a normal first campaign as head coach of the Mustangs. "Last year I was worried about protocols and guidelines; 'What are we doing right? What are we doing wrong?'" Johnson said. "I wanted to make sure I was keeping the team safe and healthy so we can could have a season. "This year, of course we want to keep the kids safe, but there is not the same amount of things that I'm worried about. "We're all in the locker rooms and the meeting rooms, so we're able to get these kids prepped and ready." Now Johnson and the Mustangs have had an entire offseason to prepare for 2021, and Lamar can only go up from 2020. The headliner among the Mustang is senior wide receiver Rayshawn Glover, who accounted for nearly 700 yards receiving and six touchdowns with a first-year starter at quarterback. Quarterback Dylan Garrett, showed flashes of brilliance with a cannon for an arm. Garrett was third during district play in passing with 1,523 yards with nine touchdowns. Garrett has room to grow, he completed only 49% of his passes and he also threw for seven interceptions. Seven starters back helps create a clear picture on offense, but there are still questions for coach Johnson to answer on the offensive line. "The motto this year is 'We run as one,'" said Johnson. "We have to understand that if we don't stick together that it's going to be hard to finish strong together. "We do have quality guys in key spots, but we still need some guys to step up when it's time. Everyone needs to support each other and be accountable for each other." On defense,

★ Dylan Garrett

the Mustangs will have to replace five starters that graduated and Tayvian Guidry, who transferred Fort Bend Christian Academy. Junior Edwin Quijada collected 47 tackles and an interception at defensive back last season, while junior Joe Campbell earned 27 tackles and two sacks at the defensive end position. District contenders

Huntsville (No. 5), A&M Consolidated (No. 16) and Montgomery (No. 24) start the year ranked in the state poll and provide a glimpse at the quality in 10-5A DII. The Hornets' quarterback, A.J. Wilson to be face of the Huntsville team. The stout defense of years past returns only two starters, but Wilson and company have eight starters back on offense. After a slow start following the opening of Lake Creek High School, Montgomery roared back to form with a secondplace finish in 2021. Quarterback Brock Bolfing will have to fill in the


gaps left by 27 seniors graduating in 2021. A&M Consolidated returns 11 starters including sophomore Brodie Daniel, who caught 10 touchdowns last year. Lake Creek graduated its first senior class in 2021, including 12 starters.The Lions will lean on Cade Tessier at quarterback. Bryan Rudder has been close to breaking into the top four for the past three seasons in 10-5A DII, and 2021 might be their best chance with 15 starters back. Quarterback E.J. Ezar threw for over 2,500 yards to lead the Rangers.



2020 record: 5-5/1-5 district Head coach: Nick Codutti Coach's Record at Fulshear: 0-0-0 (First year) Career record: 0-0-0 (First year)#

2020 record: 0-10/0-6 district Head coach: Kiah Johnson Coach's Record at Lamar Cons.: 0-10-0 (1 year) Career record: 0-10-0 (1 year)


★ Rayshawn Glover

★ Kenya Walton, Jr.





Aug.27 Sep.3 Sep.11 Sep.17 Sep.24 Sep.30 Oct.15 Oct.22 Oct.29 Nov.4

@Clevland 7p.m. Indian @El Campo 7p.m. Ricebird Manor 7p.m. Traylor Clear Brook 7p.m. Traylor 7:30p.m. MISD @Lake Creek* Montgomery* 7p.m. Traylor 7:30p.m. Green @Rudder* 7:30p.m. Traylor A&M Cons.* @Lamar Cons.* 7:30p.m. Traylor Hunstville* 7p.m. Traylor



Aug.27 Sep.3 Sep.9 Sep.18 Sep.25 Oct.8 Oct.16 Oct.22 Oct.29 Nov.5

@Foster 7p.m. Traylor Terry 7p.m. Traylor Berry Center @Cy-Park 7p.m. Humble 6p.m. Traylor A&M Cons.* 6p.m. Traylor @Huntsville* 7:30p.m. Bower Lake Creek* 2p.m. Traylor @Montgomery* 7:30p.m. MISD Fulshear* 7:30p.m. Traylor @Rudder* 7:30p.m. Green


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Codutti's football journey brings him to Fulshear Herald photo by Ryan Dunsmore


ulshear head football coach Nick Codutti is proof that life in football can take many forms. The Chargers’ new lead man has played at some of the lowest levels of football. Now, he reaches a worldwide audience with his ability to convey offensive football on YouTube. Codutti is hoping that passion can translate to wins on the football field for the Chargers. “It’s been a blast so far,” Codutti said. “Kevin Flanigan over at Tomball really groomed me, but he can’t get you ready for everything. “It’s been fun. I’ve been able to sit back at times and let my coaches coach. “It’s hard to take myself out that ‘do everything’ role and trust the guys that you hired to do what they’re supposed to do. “We’ve been lucky to have those guys, so I feel better about that.” Codutti’s journey has brought him to Fulshear,Texas this offseason to take over for Oschlor Flemming, who resigned his post with the Chargers in late January. Flemming opened Fulshear for two junior-varsity-only seasons and posted an 8-22 record in three varsity seasons. Nick’s journey to the purple and black is on display in his office in the Fulshear field house. Codutti has a matted photograph that hangs behind his desk, a picture is of a football player with arms outstretched coming through white smoke at an arena football game. The picture shows Codutti during his playing days in ​​Arena Football League's developmental league, with teams like the Bossier-Shreveport BattleWings, Amarillo Dusters and the Quad-City Steamwheelers. Half a decade later, Codutti had fully transitioned to a life in coach. He was the head coach at Marshfield High School in Marshfield, Mo. for three seasons; he was 12-18 over that stretch. Codutti’s barnstorming days were not done, he moved to Beaumont West Brook High School to become the offensive coordinator in 2015. Codutti’s next home was Tomball for six years. He led the Cougars’ offense that finished with a 7-3 record while averaging 469.9 yards per game last season. Codutti enters his first season with the Chargers after being named to the Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magzine’s 40-under-40 coaches list, a list featuring up and coming coaches from across the Lone Star State. Codutti has quickly put his mark on the Fulshear football program this offseason, with much of the coaching staff turning over before he was hired. “One good thing when we came in was (Fulshear) had a bunch of openings,” Codutti said.“It made it an easy transition and were able to hire the guys we wanted. Even the guys that stuck around (from Flemming’s staff) have completely bought in. “I hear it every day. The players and the coaches are having fun. "I know we’re working hard. And if we’re working hard and having fun, you are doing something right.” Now, Codutti seeks to continually grow a Fulshear program, seeking its first trip to the playoffs in 2021.

20 ★ Fort Bend Herald Football Preview 2021

Fulshear head football coach Nick Codutti was hired after six years at Tomball, where he led the Cougars’ offense to average over 400 yards per game in 2020.

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District 11-5A Division II 'M Block' ready for another run


istrict 11-5A Division II runs through Fort Bend Marshall.The Buffaloes haven't lost a district contest since 2017, before the 5A classification was split into two divisions. Marshall isn't alone in playing competitive football in 11-5A DII. A Willowridge will continue to grow under second-year head coach Ramon Chinyoung. Here is a closer look at 11-5A Division II: Marshall Buffaloes Head coach James Williams' expectations are sky high for the 2021 season. The Buffaloes have averaged nine wins per season under Williams, and Marshall has the talent to once against reach that mark in 2021. The No. 2 state-ranked team in 5A-DII returns 12 starters, including wide receiver Chris Marshall, who is one of the numerous offensive weapons returning. Marshall caught 44 passes for 1,008 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns last season. " Yes, we have a lot coming back, but we will have a new quarterback this season," Williams said. "That is always the key to the offense, so that will be an important answer to get. "With a lot of experience around him, that will help him focus on executing and not trying to do too much."

"Our first year was a blessing, but in losing 17 seniors on a 41-player varsity roster there will always be challenges," said Chinyoung . "The biggest challenge is preparing most of our team's young guys for a Friday night ball game."



2020 record: 12-1/8-0 district (Regional Finalist) Head coach: James Williams Coach's Record at Marshall: 102-36-0 (11 years) Career record: 102-36-0 (11 years)


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Aug.26 Sep.2 Sep.9 Sep.18 Sep.24 Oct.2 Oct.8 Oct.15 Oct.29 Nov.4

Eisenhower Elkins @Galena Park* Northside* @Waltrip* Sharpstown* @Austin* Willowridge* @Sterling* Madison*






6p.m. Hall 6p.m. Hall 7p.m. GPISD 11a.m. Hall 7p.m. Delmar 11a.m. Hall 7p.m. Barnett 7p.m. Hall 7p.m. Barnett 6p.m. Hall

Aug.26 Sep.4 Sep.9 Sep.18 Sep.25 Oct.1 Oct.15 Oct.21 Oct.30 Nov.6

@Westside @Dulles @North Side* Waltrip* @Sharpstown* @Austin* @Marshall* Sterling* @Madison* Galena Park*

*District game



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2020 record: 7-3/6-2 district (Bi-District Finalist) Head coach: Ramon Chinyoung Coach's Record at Willowridge: 7-3-0 (1 year) Career record: 7-3-0 (1 year)


District contenders Galena Park and Houston Sterling are head and shoulders above the remaining programs competing for a playoff spot out of 11-5A DII. Galena Park's A'marion Kelly will again be the key for the Hornets' offense after 837 rushing yards last season. Sterling boasted the No.3 offense in 11-5A DII last season with 395.2 yards per game.The Raiders have the offensive line to make that happen again in 2021. Houston ISD's other teams, Austin, Madison,


Willowridge Eagles The Eagles return only six starters and 15 lettermen in general from a playoff team that won seven games last year.


It does help to have super sophomores like Marquise Hayes and Travis Willis back. Hayes had nearly 300 yards receiving and Willis accounted for just under 30 tackles.

TIME STADIUM 7p.m. Delmar 6p.m. Hall 7p.m. Cowart 6p.m. Hall 6p.m. Delmar 7p.m. Barnett 7p.m. Hall 6p.m. Hall 1p.m. Butler 11a.m. Hall


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Fort Bend Herald Football Preview 2021 ★ 21

Randle begins a new legacy with the Lions Herald photo by Ryan Dunsmore


raditionally, the way to to the Lamar CISD family.” extend a family legacy in Randle is already a decade into sports comes from folhis coaching career with head lowing a parent into coaching or coaching stops at Alief Taylor matching the accolades of a siband Mayde Creek. He could have ling at the same school. transitioned out coaching with a But Brian Randle isn’t doing master’s degree in administration either of those at the moment. counseling leadership and prinInstead, he is the steward of the cipal certification, but he wants athletics programs for the school to impact lives in his unique way. that bears his father’s name: Dr. “I like coaching,” Randle said.“I Thomas Randle. enjoy putting kids in positions to It was a unique opportunity be successful. I enjoy being with that Brian Randle couldn’t pass the kids.” up, although Randle had only Randle High School is an opbeen the head coach a year at portunity to extend the family Mayde Creek. legacy. Randle’s son will be going “It is kind of like a homecomto Wright Junior High School, and ing for me, to be honest,” Randle Brian hopes to retire at LCISD. said back in February. “I started After six months of planmy career at Foster High School. ning and administrative work, So I started my teaching and Randle and the Lions coaching coaching in (Lamar Consolidated staff were able to be around the ISD). So it's kind of like a homekids. The work started at George coming, and it's a unique—ex- Randle High School head football coach and campus coordinator Ranch High School while the tremely unique—opportunity to Brian Randle welcomes sophomore and freshman football players Randle campus was still under the Lions' first practice in early August. open up a new school for one. construction. “Two, the school is named afBut the new black and silver team has been able to make ter your father, somebody that you think the world of, somethemselves at home in the Lions’ new den over the summer one you think of as your hero. It's different; very different. I’m and into the fall. extremely proud.” “I’m excited,” Randle said. “The energy is great; the kids are For Randle, taking over the Lions’ job isn’t about a simple responding to the coaches well. I’m just ecstatic to be around name; it’s about keeping the family standard. kids.We’re in our element. We’re excited.” “My whole career has been about helping people,” Randle Randle High School will open with only sophomores and said.“I've been around my mother, who works in social work, freshmen at the high school for the 2021-22 school year. The my dad is in education, and my brothers do the same. My famLions' athletics program will play only at a junior varsity level ily and I just want to help people.” It is a sentiment shared by his father, the now-retired LCISD for teams sports and potentially play at a varsity level in individual sports like tennis, swimming, golf, and track. superintendent. For now, the Lions are focused on the details and playing the “I am proud and excited that Brian will be the first head game right way in year one. coach and campus coordinator at Randle High School,” Dr. Randle said. “He has established himself as a leader in the Continued on page 26 coaching community, and we are happy to welcome him back

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District 12-4A Division I Young Blue Jays take flight D

istrict 12-4A Division I has been marked by intense competition. The district will see Needville, El Campo, Stafford, Columbia, Brazosport and Bay City able to beat any of the other teams on a given Friday night. When the dust settles, a three-or-four team tie could decide which of these quality programs make the playoffs. The 2021 campaign will be no different, except one team has a target on their back: El Campo. The Ricebirds enter the season ranked No. 4 in the preseason state poll after El Campo was area finalist. Needville and Stafford seek to be the teams to knock the Ricebirds off their lofty perch and earn a District 12-4A Division I title. Here is a closer look at the area teams from District 12-4A DI and the other contenders:

back," Giles said. "Somebody is going to emerge and separate themselves." But this isn't the first time the Blue Jays had some big shoes to fill. Warncke replaced 4A player of the year Ashton Stredick as the Blue Jays' workhorse and Baker took over the quarterback position from the talented Kenny Hrncir to keep the offense rolling. Needville has plenty of candidates for both positions, the question is who will hold those position come district time? At running back, sophomore Sherman Jones is coming off a season-ending injury suffered during Needville's bi-district win — collecting 400 yards and five touchdowns in a back-up role last year. Junior quarterback Nathan Elster moved into Needville from Katy last year, and he got the majority of the snaps during the Blue Jays' 7-on7 season. Elster will be competing with Diego Ochoa for the starting job. "We'll see some growing pains at quarter-

Needville BLue Jays Coach Mike Giles is focused on growing a young group of Blue Jays after leading Needville to three playoff victories over the past two seasons. Needville returns only eight starters from 2020 and 15 lettermen in total. "We do have a good group back with experience," Giles said. "We have some good young kids. "To be honest, its going to take them awhile to be where we want to be. "We have to progress each day, and we have to focus on only us. We aren't not focused on anybody outside of this program. "We've got two scrimmages and five nondistrict games to compete and get after it. "We have some young guys that are going to have to grow up during that time." The biggest questions for Needville will be in the backfield. The Blue Jays must replace both quarterback Trevor Baker and running back Walker Warncke. The pair combined for nearly 4,000 yards of offense in 2020 be★ Blake Maresh fore departin to play football at Abilene Christian University and Yale University respectively. "Our plan is to find that guy at running

24 ★ Fort Bend Herald Football Preview 2021

back as we'll be breaking in a new one," Giles said. One of the strongest positions for Needville will be wide receiver with Blake Marsech and Cole Todd on the field . "Marsech leads by example," Giles said. "And (wide receiver/defensive back) Brayan Mendez is not a real vocal leader, but he leads by the way he practices." The trenches will be manned by Lane Meyer and Eddie Jones on offense, while Bryant Jones returns at defensive end. "We have some spots defensively we need to figure out," Giles said. "We have a battle on the offensive line. We still have some spots open." The focus right now for Needville is only on themselves and not any future district opponents. "Everyone knows about El Campo and they are going to be better," Giles said. "But that is for (the media) to write about and everyone else to talk about. "I told our guys, 'I don't care about what anyone outside of these walls says or does. Our only concern is us'. "We can only control us and what we do. " Stafford Spartans The expectations are high in Stafford, as 16 starters return for the 2021 season after the Spartans reached the area playoffs last year. "I believe we understand what it takes to be successful, we have good leaders that have everyone working hard to get better," Stafford head coach Ken Savannah said. The Stafford offense returns all of its weapons from last year, including junior quarterback Brayden Batiste, who threw for 1,516 yards and 15 touchdowns a year ago. Stafford's top four receivers from 2020 will enter their senior season in 2021.The quartet of Jaydon Johnson, Jordon Barrett, Terrance Lewis and Tyler Miller caught over 70 passes for over 1,400 yards and 15 touchdowns. The most important returner might be sophomore running back Jamaal Wiley, who averaged 5.6 yards per carry and scored seven touchdowns as freshman. "We need to get better at what we are doing on offense," Savannah said. " We have to elimi-

nate mistakes, understand our capabilities, and learn how to finish, which should come with maturity." District contenders After seven seasons building 3A Brock into a powerhouse, Chad Worrell takes over the El Campo program ahead of the 2021 season. Worrell takes over a Ricebird program with plenty of firepower, led by the running back position that features Rueben Owens and Johntre Davis. Owens has over 30 Division I scholarship offers and Davis has been offered by Central Arkansas and McNeese

State after the duo posted over 3,000 yards rushing last season. Owens averaged 10.8 yards per carry and scored 22 touchdowns. El Campo will be starting over in the passing game as both the quarterback and the top receivers have graduated. The team leader in tackles, linebacker Jacob Lopez, returns along with top defensive backs D.K. Ward and Isaiah Anderson. Columbia returns nine starters, including 1,200-yard running back Jordan Woodard. The Roughnecks have a handful of lineman returning to lead the way for


Woodard. Brazosport is seeking to build off a trip to the area playoffs last year with a new quarterback. Junior Kariyen Goins has moved to Angelton, leaving Randon Fontenette and James Knoxon to battle for the job. Senior running back Paul Woodard returns after a 1,400 yard rushing season. Bay City was the talk of the town after starting the 2020 season 5-1, including a district win over Brazosport. The Blackcats closed the year with four straight losses to miss the playoffs. Junior linebacker Adyen Smith returns after leading Bay City in tackles with 84.



2020 record: 7-5/4-1 district (Area Finalist) Head coach: Mike Giles Coach's Record at Needville: 45-33-0 (7 years) Career record: 45-33-0 (7 years)


2020 record: 5-7/3-2 district (Area Finalist) Head coach: Ken Savannah Coach's Record at Stafford: 16-27-0 (4 years) Career record: 16-27-0 (4 years)





Aug.27 @St. Thomas 7p.m. Granger Sep.3 @Santa Fe 7p.m. Indian Sep.10 Geronimo Navarro 7p.m. Blue Jay Sep.17 @Yoakum 7p.m. Bulldog Blue Jay Oct.1 Sweeny 7p.m. Oct.8 Columbia* 7p.m. Blue Jay Oct.15 Stafford* 7p.m. Blue Jay Oct.22 @Brazosport* 7p.m. Hopper Blue Jay Nov.29 Bay City* 7p.m. Nov.5 @El Campo* 7p.m. Ricebird

★ Cole Todd



Aug.27 Sep.3 Sep.10 Sep.17 Sep.24 Oct.8 Oct.15 Oct.22 Nov.29 Nov.5

Angleton 7p.m. Stafford 7:30p.m. Sandcrab @Calhoun Bellville 7:30p.m. Stafford @Sealy 7:30p.m. T.J. Mills Wharton 7p.m. Stafford El Campo* 7p.m. Stafford @Needville* 7p.m. Blue Jay Columbia* 7p.m. Stafford Brazosport* 7p.m. Stafford @Bay City* 7p.m. Memorial

*District game

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Continued from page 22

big 6A school. I’m used to those kinds of numbers. That is my biggest thing “We want to make sure that we do at the moment. I’m telling myself our everything right,” Randle said.“We want numbers are down and then I ask to cross our T’s and dot our I’s. We’re around, they tell me your numbers are stressing fundamentals.” right on point. Our numbers are right The X’s and O’s of what the Lions will where they are supposed to be. run on the football field will be less im“The biggest change is the number of portant than setting the mindset for the kids being as small as they are." young Randle athletes. But the Lions are hoping to repeat “Defensively, we are going to be gap the success that both George Ranch sound,” Randle said. “Offensively, we’ll be multiple. The biggest thing right and Fulshear had after opening a new now is that we don’t want the kids to school in LCISD. The Longhorns won be afraid to make mistakes. a state championship in football in “We’re going to teach them now.They less than 10 years, while Fulshear has can play fast later.” earned multiple district titles other A part of that proper mindset comes sports and trips to state competitions from the Lions’ new coaching staff. in its short history. “We’re family, we really are,” Randle “We want to be undefeated,” Randle said.“We hang our hat on that. Our kids said.“Like everyone else, we want to be are going to feel that family connecundefeated. But as long as the numbers tion. I have told all of my coaches, build are up and the kids are enjoying themRandle High School football player Ota Olaye those relationships with those kids. "Do not just talk about football with sharpens his footwork during the Lions' first selves, I’ll be happy. I want them to practice earlier in August. learn this year, that is my biggest thing. them. I want them to ask the players “I want to make sure that we are how their day is. I want my coaches to building high character individuals.” know about each player’s family, what their favorite subject is. Randle has built a schedule for the young program around “I want these kids to be well-rounded individuals, not just the bye weeks of other LCISD and area programs. On top of good football players.” Randle High School has only ninth and 10th grades and that that, the Lions will play against new campuses Pieper in New has been one of the many adjustments for the Lions' coaching Braunfels and Lake Belton in Temple. staff. The Lions will open their 2021 season at A&M Consolidated “We just need numbers,” Randle said. “I’m coming from a on Thursday, Aug. 26.



2020 record: 0-0-0 (New school) Head coach: Bryan Randle Coach's Record at Randle: 0-0-0 (First year) Career record: 22-66-0 (5 years)




Aug.26 Sep.1 Sep.9 Sep.17 Sep.25 Oct.8 Oct.28 Nov.4

@A&M Cons. JV 6p.m. Tiger Royal JV 6p.m. Randle Fulshear JV 6p.m. Randle Pieper JV 6p.m. TBD George Ranch JV 6p.m. Randle @Lake Belton JV 7:30p.m. TBD Foster JV 4:30p.m. Randle Hightower JV 5p.m. Randle

*Sub-varsity only for the 2021 season 26 ★ Fort Bend Herald Football Preview 2021

Randle High School football player Zion Lewis takes a handoff during the Lions' first fall practice in early August.

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District 14-3A Division II Next flight on Air Brahma?


he results for District 14-3A DII have looked similar for the past three seasons for East Bernard under head coach Wade Bosse. The Brahmas has played 17 district games over that stretch and won all of them. Now the Class of 2022 has its eyes set on making it four titles in a row this fall. East Bernard comes into the 2021 season after a unique offseason. The Brahmas won the Texas State 7-on-7 Division III Football Champion in College Station, a unique competition for a slot-T football team. But the Brahmas are also up for competition, and the rest of District 14-3A DII is prepared to give East Bernard all they can handle. Here is a closer look at each of the area teams in District 14-3A DII and the top contenders:

Brazos Cougars Head coach Ryan Roecker's time at Brazos has been far from normal through the last two seasons. Roecker took over the Cougars' program a month before fall camp in 2019 and the 2020 season was marked by a pandemic. "We're talking about setting a standard this summer," Roecker said. "We're getting more buy-in when the team sets the standard instead of one domineering guy. "The team sets the standard. We have elected the mantra of 'strap up' this year. "What is the last thing you do before you go on the field? Strap up. "Now if a kid isn't doing something right: We don't have to get into a long conver-

East Bernard Brahmas While the success at 7-on-7 this summer might color the outlook for the offense for many teams, East Bernard has earned its success through discipline and execution in the slot-T. The Brahmas control the game through time of possession and field position. East Bernard senior quarterback Dallas Novicke returns for his fourth season under center and he has the experience to be trusted to throw the ball a little more then usual for the Brahmas. Novicke was first in completion percentage in 14-3A DII, converting 60% (43-of-73) of his passes for 685 yards and nine touchdowns last season. Senior Caleb Magness emerged as Novicke's top target during summer work, while Braden Lemos will likely take over the running back postion. Linebacker Blake Jedlicka will captain the defense and hope to improve on a stellar junior campaign where he collected 126 tackles in 10 games. 28 ★ Fort Bend Herald Football Preview 2021

sation, we just tell him 'strap up." Now, the Cougars must start completely over. Brazos returns only eight lettermen from a 2-7 campaign that ended without an opportunity to play for a playoff spot in Week 11 after the Cougars' program was shut down for COVID-19 protocols. One positive for the Cougars is almost all of the returning talent was in the starting line-up last year. The returning group is headlined by junior quarterback Bryson Bennett, who took the majority of snaps for Brazos during 7-on-7 play this summer. Bennett was fifth in District 14-3A DII in receiving in 2020 with 201 yards and one touchdown to go with 17 receptions. Teammate Trey Gaston was third in district in receiving after 23 receptions for 327 yards and two touchdowns. Bennett and the Cougars hope to improve on the offense with coach Roecker returning to call the offense this season after averaging 174.8yards per game.

District contenders The game that East Bernard will be likely circling outside of rivalry games will be the Oct. 22 contest in Altair. Rice Consolidated brings back plenty of talent in 2021, including the all-district defensive player of the year and the majority of the backfield on offense. Linebacker Michael Flores nearly topped 100 tackles last season in 10 games. Head coach Jared Sloan, a former ★ Dallas Novicke assistant coach at George Ranch, has running back James Cotton and James Hurd back to lead the running attack. The duo combined for just under 600 yards rushing. Quarterback Rafael Herrera starts his junior season after throwing for four touchdowns last season. Rice Consolidated's most impressive stat

comes from the final score in last year's game against East Bernard: 20-0 loss. The Raiders were the only team to hold the Brahmas under 21 points and not pull out a victory. Could Rice do it again but put some points on the board? Rice Consolidated tied with Tidehaven and Van Vleck with a 3-2 district record. Both the Tigers and Leopards bring back plenty of talent with both teams topping double-digit lettermen returners. Tidehaven has arguably the best returning offensive weapon in the district, senior quarterback Logan Crow. Crow accounted for nearly 1,000 yards rushing and passing last season for the Tigers. Hallettsville assistant coach Rodney Dowell takes over the Van Vleck team after Robert Blackmon resigned after seven seasons in charge of the Leopards. Dowell will have at least one question answered when he hits the field for the first time as head coach: the quarterback will be Payton Brown. Brown threw for over 1,000 passing yards last season while completing 53% of his passes. The Danbury Panthers seek to dig out of 2-14 hole over the past two seasons under head coach Trey Hermann. Danbury will seek to improve an offense that scored only 27 points over its final four games with quarterback Cooper Lynch returning.


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2020 record: 2-7/1-4 district Head coach: Ryan Roecker Coach's Record at Brazos: 5-15 (2 years) Career record: 5-24-0 (3 years) OPPONENT


2020 record: 8-2/5-0 district (Bi-District Finalist) Head coach: Wade Bosse Coach's Record at East Bernard: 56-9-0 (5 years) Career record: 65-41-0 (9 year)





Aug.27 Anderson-Shiro 7p.m. Cougar Sep.3 @Bay Area Christ. 7p.m. Bronco 7:30p.m. Cougar Sep.10 Burton 7:30p.m. Weimar Sep.17 @Weimar 7:30p.m. Cougar Oct.1 St. Joseph 7:30p.m. Memorial Oct.8 @East Bernard* Oct.15 Tidehaven* 7:30p.m. Cougar 7:30p.m. Humber Oct.22 @Danbury* 7:30p.m. Cougar Nov.29 Van Vleck* 7:30p.m. Vets. Mem. Nov.5 @ Rice Cons.*



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*District game

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