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VYPE PREVIEW -- District 21-5A
July 13, 2012By Matt Malatesta of VYPE MAGAZINE - East Houston
Port Arthur Memorial
Micah Thomas, North Shore QB
Micah Thomas did wonders for the Mustang offense when he was healthy a year ago. His wrist is ready to go in 2012, and as he goes, so do the Mustang's playoff chances. He can create with his feet and his decision-making is solid.
Keith Whitely, La Porte, RB
Coach Jeff LaReau could line up Keith Whitely at punter and he would be fine. Whitely, a coach's son, is a football player who understands the game. His versatility gives opposing defensive coordinators fits, and look for him to get even more touches in 2012.
Connor Means, Deer Park, QB
For Deer Park to lock down a playoff spot in this newly aligned district, quarterback Connor Means needs to have a solid season. At 6-foot-3, he has the tools, but he doesn't have much varsity experience. The Deer offense is balanced, which will help him get his legs underneath him early in the season.
District 21-5A was once a conference in which the champion was often decided before the season even started. The North Shore Mustangs ruled the east Houston district for nearly a decade, but now there several teams vying the bragging rights.
The La Porte Bulldogs snatched the title in 21-5A a year ago en route to a 12-2 season and a 5-0 district record. The Bulldogs reached the regional finals and knocked off perennial power Katy High School on their way. That win put them on the map and has propelled them as one of Houston's preseason darlings.
While coach Jeff LaReau must replace his quarterback from a year ago, there are some nice pieces in place on both sides of the ball. Back Keith Whitely can run between the tackles and catch ball out of the backfield, and will be called upon to lead La Porte's offense. Tony Briones and Maurice Morris will provide holes for the utility back.
Defense is La Porte's calling card and junior Hoza Scott returns to solidify a stingy unit. Alex Jones can dominated up front while Victor Holmes will look to pick off balls in the secondary.
North Shore quarterback Micah Thomas returns after playing through injuries last season. If he can stay healthy, his football IQ and athleticism will make North Shore a regional final contender. Offensive linemen Najee Toran and Trevon Tate must dominate the line of scrimmage.
The 'Stangs have a stud linebacker of their own in Zach Whitley, who is also a coveted junior prospect. Earnest Thomas is the team's leading secondary defender.
Port Arthur Memorial was loaded last season with four high-major DI signees, so coach Kenny Harrison has some work to do in building the Titan offense. Replacing that offensive fire-power will be a challenge, but Memorial is loaded with athletes who have waited their turn to shine. Watch for Corey Dauphine to become a household name in the Golden Triangle from the running back spot.
On defense, however, the Titans are tough. Walter Oliver, Matt Romar, Melbrodric Matthews and Darius Lemora lead the front seven, with Jalen Barnes and James Jenkins are laying in wait in the secondary.
Deer Park won their first state championship in nearly 50 years, as the Lady Deer softball team took home gold in June. Can that winning feeling rub off on the Deer football team?
Well it won't have to, seeing that coach Chris Massey's squad has been putting up "W's" for years. Deer Park went 10-2 a year ago, winning their respective district, before falling in the area finals.
Tyler Butterfas and Vince Vega were all-district linebackers a year ago, quarterbacking the defense. Speaking of quarterbacks, Deer Park replaces theirs and will trust Connor Means to run the show. He has a pair of seasoned receivers in Eric Luna and Josh Rutherford, who proved themselves under the lights in 2011.
Gone is coach Craig Stump to Atascocita, so make room for former Crosby head man Kevin Flanigan, who takes over one of the state's most recognized programs. He will have some playmakers on offense, starting with quarterback Chris Clack, receiver LaDarius Spearman and offensive lineman Andrew Blueitt. Running back Demarcus Smith, just a sophomore, will be featured heavily which is a lot to put on an underclassman.
Channelview got out of the gates quick a year ago behind quarterback Averion Hurts, but it wasn't enough the crack the playoffs. Hurts has graduated, which is a major concern for the Falcons. Channelview's offense will be grounded and led by Mathew Williams and Legend Choudry at running back. Much of the offensive line returns which will help, along with Robbie Miller who was the team's leading defender at cornerback.
It only goes up for Sterling after and 0-10 season a year ago. Sterling will ball-control under coach Troy Aduddell's offense, and the learning curve should be over for the Rangers and their new philosophy.