Most of the time, the UIL is just looking to make some geographical sense of things when it realigns the districts. But if it was wanting to ramp up the level of competition, it accomplished that with this grouping.
“There are some really good coaches and good athletes in this district, and I hope it doesn’t bite us in the end,” Jonesboro coach Eddie Gallegos said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if any combination made it in the top two. Everybody has the potential to get beaten in any district game.”
Jonesboro is the rightful team to target, though. The Eagles reached the 1A Division I state championship game for the second straight year last fall, and that postseason experience is invaluable.
Zephyr won 10 games and reached the regional semifinals, while both Lometa and Evant won seven games apiece in 2017.
“I really feel like if you get out of this district, it’s an honor,” Evant coach Phillip Martin said.
2017: 13-2 (3-0), reached Class 1A Div. I state title game
Head coach: Eddie Gallegos (10th season, 93-19)
Returning starters (O/D): 3/3
Playoffs: 30-31-2 in 32 trips, last in 2017
State titles: None
Outlook: Some gentlemen who left massive footprints in Jonesboro have departed, including Wyatt Young, the state’s leading six-man rusher in 2017 and the Super Centex Player of the Year.
But there are always some talented Eagles waiting in the wings. RB Ethan Lilljedahl (1,196 yards rushing, 35 total TDs) played an instrumental role on both of the state finalist squads, and he figures to be the leader of this year’s flock.
“He’ll carry the load, but we always want to find some guys to complement him and help carry that load,” head coach Eddie Gallegos said.
Consider junior RB/DL Keith Sanders as option No. 1 to serve as Lilljedahl’s tag team partner. “He can really run,” Gallegos said of Sanders. “He’s the fastest guy on the team, really explosive — one of those guys who has a chance to score whenever you put the ball in his hands.”
Gallegos also thinks that his three seniors — RB/DB Servando Sandoval, QB/DB Anthony Lopez and TE/OG Trevor Sellers — will be pivotal in determining how far Jonesboro can travel.
“We’ve had a great run these last nine years, and a lot of these guys have been a cog in the machine since they were in elementary school,” Gallegos said. “They used to come to pep rallies, help out as ball boys, and now they’re getting it done on Friday nights.”
Sept. 1 Carrollton Texas Alliance 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 7 at Blum 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 14 Live Oak 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 21 Coolidge 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 28 at Temple Holy Trinity 7 p.m.
Oct. 5 at Aquilla 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 12 at Iredell 7 p.m.
Oct. 26 at Lometa* 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 2 Zephyr* 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 9 at Evant* 7:30 p.m.
2017: 7-3 (1-2)
Head coach: Phillip Martin (5th season, 25-15)
Returning starters (O/D): 4/3
State titles: None
Outlook: Elks coach Phillip Martin has been gratified by what he’s seen from his squad in preseason practice.
“They recognize the task before them, and they’re coming out with the expectation that they know they have to take care of business,” Martin said.
QB Jeremiah Marwitz is capable of moving the sticks by land or by air, after rushing for 980 yards and throwing for 723 more. “He’s our go-to guy for sure, but I always like to have a committee,” Martin said. “I like to distribute the carries among several guys, try to keep the kids as fresh as we can.”
To that end, FB Ethan Hightower, WR Colton McCann, TE Mason Wall and RB Justin Williams will all get their opportunities to touch the pigskin and contribute.
Evant has been something of a tough-luck program recently, having produced a winning record in five of the past six seasons without a playoff trip to show for it.
Aug. 31 Mullin 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 7 at Cranfills Gap 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 14 Brookesmith 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 21 Blum 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 28 Richland Springs 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 5 at Three Way 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 12 at Morgan 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 26 at Zephyr* 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 2 Lometa* 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 9 Jonesboro* 7:30 p.m.