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August 26, 2009

TOC District 27-4A Preview

District 27-4A is arguably one of the toughest 4A districts in the state of Texas, with all top five teams appearing to be worthy playoff competitors. Steele by far seems to have the most athletic team, but everybody in this district always seems to have a way of beating each other, as evidenced by last year's three-way tie for first place. This should definitely be one of the most interesting districts to watch in the area.

1. Cibolo Steele Knights • As the third largest school in the district, and the second largest out of the top five it seems unlikely that the Knights will avoid the draw of a Lake Travis team early in the playoffs again. This year's team could have the talent to end the Cavs' season and their win streak if it doesn't happen earlier. Powerful running back Malcolm Brown gained 1,352 yards, and scored seventeen times in a short seven games. Brown isn't the Knights' only weapon though; OU commit wide receiver Sheldon McClain also will add excitement. The offensive line will be anchored by a four-year starter in Austin Landin, along with Drew Phillips. Defensively, Steele will rely on several returning starters, including defensive tackle Corey Hill, and defensive backs DJ Jones and Shane Huhn, each of whom had four interceptions last year.

2. Alamo Heights Mules • Alamo Heights once again will need to replace a Division I quarterback, but QB High School will soon be grooming Cullen Mills to fill in the vacancy. The Mules return six to each side of the ball, including wide receivers John Cabell and Trevor Lovelady, who combined for over 1,000 yards last season. Particularly strong points for Heights will be their O-line and secondary. Cullen Wernette, Nick Morton and Matt Cohen return to the line, while

Lucas Maloy, Michell Dan and Phillip Massari should shore up the secondary.

3. Kerrville Tivy Antlers • For Tivy, they must figure out how to replace two Division I caliber players in Colton Palmer and Logan Vick. However, Johnny Manziel proved to be a gem of a dual-threat when asked to step up to the plate, gaining over 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns passing in limited action, while still gaining 806 yards rushing and another 13 touchdowns. Andy Kinnison should be his primary target on offense. Most of the Antler's starting experience comes back on defense, where five starters return including nose guard Brian Sherman, linebacker Tyler Meyer, and safety Michael McKenzie's 152 tackles. So far the offensive line has been Tivy's key trouble area, but a tough pre-district should toughen up the four that are new to the starting role.

4. Schertz Clemens Buffaloes • Clemens has three solid seniors in running back Stanley Harris, and linebackers Eric Hunsaker and future Red Raider Zac Winbush. Sophomore quarterback Brice McCoy has been given the keys to the offense, but they should be in good hands, as McCoy has only a bright future ahead of him and his big arm. Harris could be the Buffs' best all around player, as he not only will run the ball, he is also all district in the secondary and returned two kickoffs for touchdowns.

5. Boerne Champion Chargers • A lack of experience could hurt the Chargers, but with the successful history such as Champion (formerly Boerne) has, it shouldn't be so hard to fill in the holes. The Chargers return three burners at wide receiver; James Hurd, Miles Albrect and Blake Allemand, which could make quarterback Taylor Davis' transition into the starting role much smoother than otherwise. Defensive tackle David Roberts leads all returners on defense with 58 tackles, so somebody must step up at linebacker or in the secondary to fill the tackling void that has been left by graduation. The best candidates to come along are linebacker Josh Free and free safety Connor Embry

6. New Braunfels Canyon Cougars • Don't be surprised if the Cougars finish in the top four either. While they only return three to each side of the ball, those who are there were within twelve points of finishing 5-2 in the district last year, but this was denied in losses to Steele, Clemens and Champion. While returning only three to each side of the ball, a key defensive and offensive player returns in defensive back/wide receiver Tyler Figol. Figol brings his 75 tackles with three interceptions to the table, along with the potential to play more of a role in the passing game this year, after showing the he can catch passes that are not going his way. Throwing his way will be quarterback Lane Fife, who hopes to also utilize receiver Alex Lawrence.

7. Seguin Matadors • The Matadors should be in a key phase of building their program back. This year's team will rely on their juniors, which could make Seguin's 2010 team a dark horse. Big Brig Gerlich starts at quarterback, and standing 6'4" he won't be afraid to take a hit. Protecting him will be Joseph Cheek and Anthony Razo, and the best defensive line prospect is also a junior; Chris Carpenter. It should be interesting to see how Seguin grows over this coming season.

8. San Marcos Rattlers • San Marcos' slot-T offense will have several legitimate options in their repertoire with Andre Ray, Tyler Walker and Michael Wilburn. The Rattlers hope to have a déjà vu season like '06, when they went four rounds deep into the playoffs, after an average 5-5 season. Defensively, Walker and Wilburn will also have to get it done in the secondary, while Jeremy Gonzalez will provide the big hits again this year at the linebacker position.



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