Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine is considered almost Biblical among high school pigskin lovers. Coaches and athletes across the state dig through the periodical’s pages to see what’s being said about them. Whether a 1A school in Gordon, a 3A school in Millsap, or a 6A school in Weatherford, being praised by Campbell is like being courted by “Sports Illustrated.”
So what does Campbell have to say about local teams in this summer’s edition?
The magazine predicts the Weatherford High Kangaroos will finish second behind Euless Trinity in 6A district play but make a trip to the playoffs. The magazine writers wonder whether the Roos can replace the offensive production generated by now-graduated quarterback Ken Seals. The most likely candidate to fill the void comes via running back Dez Forrest. Offensive lineman Kurt Hatch, a first-team all-district pick in 2019, is figured to anchor the front row. On defense, six starters are returning, with defensive back Cisco Caston being dubbed “the headliner” and named as preseason defensive MVP. Linebacker Koby Kidd and defensive back Gabe Alexander are characterized as “highly productive” and calming influences on a defense that struggled last season.
Surprise! Campbell picked the defending champion Aledo Bearcats to win its district race and make the playoffs again and named all-around athlete JoJo Earle as the team’s best sizzle reel candidate. Despite losing a slew of seniors, the Bearcats will be a “state title contender again” this year. Winning will rely on solid defense early in the season to allow young skill players to “find their footing.” Cornerback DeMarco Roberts and safety Bryan Allen are expected to strengthen the secondary while defensive end Caden Anderson anchors the trenches. Offensive linemen Carter Miller and Grant Jefferis are lauded, but the most eloquent eulogy is saved for Earle, who is “as dynamic a weapon out wide as any player in the state but is likely to take over at quarterback in 2020.”
The Springtown Porcupines are pricked, er, picked to win their 4A district battle, with quarterback Camden Chesney named the preseason offensive MVP. The team will defend its regional title by relying on Chesney to take charge while leaning on “top target” wide receiver Andy Behle to make big plays. Question marks surround the defense, but “expectations are high” for the team to prevail.
The magazine head-butted the Mineral Wells Rams, predicting a fourth place finish in 4A district play. Running back Anthony Hernandez is named an offensive player to watch along with wideout Tristan Gray, while linebackers Devin Salazar and JW Etheridge are “expected to lead a defense that should improve after allowing 50 points per game.”
Campbell’s admiration for the 3A Brock Eagles is evident. The magazine picked the team to win district play and chose running back Cash Jones as its preseason offensive MVP and defensive end Brett Drillette as preseason defensive MVP. In 2015, Brock went 16-0 in its second UIL eligible season and won the state championship. The team has come close to repeating in subsequent years, and a breakthrough might be imminent.
In 1A action, the Strawn Greyhounds are picked to outrace the Gordon Longhorns for first place in their district competition. Strawn slingers Evan Williams and Kyler Tunnell are expected to battle for the starting quarterback position, while Luke Eli is declared the preseason defensive MVP, a “two-way superstar” to watch and a potential all-state candidate.
Gordon running back Morgan Mahan nabbed the preseason offensive MVP honor in the district. Campbell praised his “speed and size” and predicted Mahan will “punish opponents” while toting the pill. This year might be tough on the Longhorns with only one senior on the roster, but the young team has the “pieces in place for a sustained run of excellence.”
Two private schools — Trinity Christian and Weatherford Christian — didn’t earn much reverence. Trinity’s Eagle team is picked to finish sixth in district play, and Weatherford’s Lions are listed at the bottom of the pack. Trinity’s young team looks primed to deliver blows this season with two-way linemen Brayden Smalley and Ryan Shiller dominating the fronts and perhaps making up for the team’s inexperience at quarterback. On the Lions team, players will be acclimating to 11-man football after years of competing in six-man but hope to find success with potential breakout stars in wide receiver Bryson Smith and running back Colton Hasenjaeger.