The start of the 2019 high school football season is just a week away, but this week will provide an early snapshot of what Katy ISD teams have in store for the new campaign.
Five schools will scrimmage Thursday, August 22, with three more scrimmaging Friday, August 23.
Here’s a preview of who is playing who, when and where, and what to look for.
Tompkins vs. Cypress Ridge
Thursday, Aug. 22, at Rhodes Stadium, 6:30 p.m.
Tompkins has its eyes on a state championship push after a surprising third-round playoff appearance last year. Tompkins has talent all over the field, starting with junior quarterback and Texas verbal commit Jalen Milroe. As much talent as the offense has with Milroe, Class 6A’s returning leading rusher R.J. Smith and receiver Taurean Muhammad, the defense could actually be better with the playmaking skills of defensive end Tunmise Adeleye and defensive backs Colby Huerter and Jesse Jensen. Still, the one thing coach Todd McVey will be paying attention to during the scrimmage is the defensive line. Just one starter—Adeleye—returns there. Cypress Ridge returns 14 starters from a 7-3 team and is under a new coach in Andrew Shanle, previously the defensive coordinator at Cypress Ranch and a former standout at Nebraska who won a Super Bowl ring on the Giants’ practice squad in 2007. Defensive linemen Vernon Broughton and Ja’Nyus Morgan are the Rams’ top headliners.
Morton Ranch vs. Clear Lake
Thursday, Aug. 22, at Legacy Stadium, 7 p.m.
Morton Ranch will be looking to plug considerable holes at linebacker and along the offensive line, though the improvement and potential of Justice Guillory (6-foot-2, 295 pounds) and Aaron Session (6-6, 275) could ease the progress of the latter. Morton Ranch has some impressive talent, particularly in running back Jaelon Moorehead, receiver Josh Gaton and defensive lineman Brandon Brown, but just 19 lettermen return. Coach Ron Counter will be looking at a lot of spots to fill, as well as hoping his new offensive and defensive coordinators acquaint with their new players sooner rather than later. Clear Lake only returns four starters from last season. The Falcons’ best player is running back Brendon Holmes. Whereas Morton Ranch has potential in the trenches along the fronts, Clear Lake is lacking in that area.
Katy at Klein Collins
Thursday, Aug. 22, at Klein Collins High, 6:30 p.m.
Katy’s primary concern is finding out who will be its top running back. The Tigers are without a NCAA Division I Power 5 prospect in the backfield for the first time since 2005. The Tigers have three capable ballcarriers in senior Ron Hoff and juniors Sherman Smith and Jalen Davis. Hoff is more of a north-south runner with the strength and power to thrive downhill. Smith was the primary backup last year and rushed for more than 900 yards. Davis is a newcomer who has impressed early. Defensively, the Tigers have a strong, deep secondary but will need to find quality pass-rushers. The offensive line could use consistent stability beside tackle Dakota White. Klein Collins returns 11 starters from a 10-2 team and has a big question mark at quarterback. Braelon Bridges looks to take over for graduated star running back Isaiah Spiller, who is now playing at Texas A&M, and Collins’ defense could be the team’s calling card, at least early on in the season.
Taylor at Ridge Point
Thursday, Aug. 22, at Ridge Point High, 6 p.m.
Taylor will be heavily evaluating its defense, where the Mustangs are replacing eight starters. In particular, Taylor will need to find a consistent pass-rush, something that has been a strength in years past with Braedon Mowry and Max Wright. Defensive tackle Jahmai Edwards, defensive end Mike Orechoneg and linebackers Nick Goedde and Martin Nowlin will be names to keep an eye on. Offense, however, is not an issue for Taylor. Quarterback Dalton Burden has the arm to keep defenses from loading up on talented running back Casey Shorter and could provide the balance the Mustangs have lacked on that side of the ball in recent seasons. Ridge Point returns 13 starters from a 10-2 team and has an impressive front seven on defense, while quarterback Will Pendergrass and versatile athlete John Paul Richardson are the stars of the offense.
Paetow at Cypress Springs
Thursday, Aug. 22, at Cypress Springs High, 7 p.m.
Though Paetow returns all 22 starters from last year’s inaugural year of varsity ball, there are plenty of new, talented faces around this year. Running backs Damon Bankston and Jonathan Jolly, and linebacker D.J. Mourning are significant transfers who figure to make a considerable impact. There is still uncertainty at quarterback, as junior Harrison Sager is the incumbent starter but sophomore Channing Dumas Jr. could emerge sooner than later, but the Panthers are loaded in the backfield and at receiver with Class 6A state long jump champ Johnathan Baker and Sebastian Hines. The Panthers’ secondary will be a strength behind Dane Presto and Carl Simon, but playmaking will be needed in the defensive front. Cypress Springs returns 11 starters from a 1-9 team. Running back/safety Johnathan Bloom is a nice talent as a two-way player.
Mayde Creek vs. Aldine Davis
Friday, Aug. 23, at Mayde Creek High, 6 p.m.
For the third straight season, Mayde Creek will likely have a new quarterback. Junior Donte Jones has competed with senior John Zalocha for the starting spot since the spring. Jones is a newcomer, while Zalocha started six games last season. The Rams will have a new running back in Julius Loughridge, a junior and transfer from Taylor. Keys for the Rams this scrimmage will be solidifying the quarterback spot and the offensive line, which will need to find help around veteran senior Curtis Stripling. Defensively, Mayde Creek could be fielding its best unit in years with linebacker Victor Holdman and defensive linemen Joseph Kinyock and Trejuan Holmes. Davis has a new head coach in Scott Joseph, brother of Katy coach Gary, and just five returning starters. Joseph spent the last two seasons as defensive coordinator at Morton Ranch. Running back DeMarcus Barlow is Davis’ best player, an equal talent catching or running the ball.
Seven Lakes vs. Cypress Lakes
Friday, Aug. 23, at Seven Lakes High, 6:30 p.m.
After making the playoffs for the first time after a three-year hiatus, Seven Lakes has a strong defense and potent running game for 2019. But the Spartans also have a quarterback competition with sophomore Scott Stanford and junior Cristian Beltran, neither of whom saw varsity time last year. Whoever wins the job, however, will have weapons. Seven Lakes has a top receiving duo in Eric Johnson and Jayden Embra. The backfield has a strong duo in Milton Jones and Nick David-West. The defense could be one of the finest in the district, ignited by a playmaking linebacking corps of Nate Hawkins and Parker Jones and the pass-rushing talents Tiago Sumbo, Jaylinn Simon and Jaymian Simon along the front. Cypress Lakes returns nine starters from a 5-5 team. Its most notable talent is senior quarterback Sofian Massoud, a move-in from the Bronx who has verbally committed to Houston.
Cinco Ranch vs. Stratford
Friday, Aug. 23, at Cinco Ranch High, 6:30 p.m.
Cinco Ranch is going back to a 4-2-5 defense under first-year head coach Chris Dudley. That side of the ball has more experience returning than the offense. The secondary could be a strength with leaders like Carson King and Brady Matthews. Dudley will be looking to find playmakers for quarterback Clayton Keeling as the Cougars implement more two-back looks into the offense. Running back GJ Kelly has promise. Because of the youth and inexperience on the roster, it will likely take most of the season for Dudley to figure out exactly what he has in regard to talent and personnel, but this scrimmage will be a big first step. Stratford returns eight starters from a 4-6 team and graduated 50 seniors. Like the Cougars, the Spartans are in a heavy evaluation period as well.