Cover Photo via @Bailee_BishopTV on Twitter.
This week is all about 14-6A, which is a carbon copy of last years’ 16-6A. It includes the Spring ISD and Aldine ISD schools to make up an eight-team district. We’ll discuss Aldine ISD and wrap it up with the Spring schools.
The Mustangs have plenty of work to do to become competitive in a deep district after winning just one game in each of the last two seasons.
Jordy Benavidez is back to lead the offense at running back, but there are also plenty of unknowns about what Aldine will look like this season.
After failing to win a district game last year, I would look for Aldine to try and be competitive in district games and maybe pick up a win or two. If they can do that, there’s momentum to build on for 2021.
A 3-7 season isn’t necessarily a banner year, but Davis fared a little better than Aldine did last season, and they have some returning talent to build on as well.
Tylen Stevens takes over at the quarterback spot after getting some looks last season. Davis scored more than 20 points in every game but one last season, and I think the offense could be just as good this season. The question will be how the defense holds up, and that could improve too as the Falcons had to adjust to a new coach in Scott Joseph last season.
Heading into Joseph’s second year, Davis could be primed to add to last seasons’ win total and make a push for the back end of the playoffs. However, it’s a good district at the top and making playoffs will be no easy task.
One of those teams at the back end of the playoff picture will be the Eisenhower, who found itself on the losing end of a three-way tie for the final two playoff spots.
The success of Eisenhower rode on an explosive offense all season and plenty of the pieces are back for 2020. X’zavier Pickens returns at running back and Ja’Marcus Martin will help the new quarterback transition from his spot out wide.
The key to getting into the playoff race will likely be upsetting one of the Spring ISD schools, three of which made the playoffs last season. Beat one of the three and win all the games against fellow Aldine schools, and that’s the path for a team like Davis or Eisenhower to get in.
One of the two beneficiaries of that three-way tie for the final two playoff spots was the only Aldine team to make the playoffs in the MacArthur Generals.
They secured that playoff birth by virtue of a narrow head-to-head win against Eisenhower, 32-29. Just three points separated Eisenhower from a playoff birth, and I expect both to be right at the back end of the race once again.
But back to MacArthur – they gained a playoff birth and had success last season in a way far different from that of Eisenhower. While the Eagles did it on offense, the Generals got the job done on defense.
Maurice Woods will return to lead what was one of the top linebacker units in the area last season. However, in a district of explosive offenses, it could be hard for MacArthur to make the playoffs again if its offense can’t keep up.
Like Davis – Nimitz has some work to do if it wants to compete for a playoff spot this season after a 3-7 campaign in 2019.
Unlike Davis – Nimitz doesn’t bring back much of the talent that led them to three wins last season. If they’re to compete, new players will have to step up and lead them. The good thing about new faces is that players could come in that we’ve never seen or heard of, and they could be really good. For Nimitz, time will tell. Keep an eye on them early in the season.
Despite ending the 2019 season with three more wins than 2018, Spring suffered the same result each season: A first round playoff exit.
Last season ended in a tough first round playoff matchup against The Woodlands, who suffered mid-season injuries that kind of tanked how good they actually were – they snuck up on a few teams in the playoffs and made it to the third round themselves.
As for Spring, plenty of talent returns, especially on offense. The loss to The Woodlands ended a six-game winning streak that the Lions ended the regular season on, and I think that momentum carries to 2020 despite the playoff loss.
The Lions return two sets of brothers at key positions: Quarterback Aldyn Bradley holds down the starting role while his brother Cadyn Bradley doubles as a running back and wide receiver, a true all-purpose offensive weapon. They’re matched with quarterback Bishop Davenport, who gets spot reps behind Aldyn Bradley; Bishop’s brother Bailee Davenport also plays wide receiver.
In one game late last season, Aldyn threw a touchdown pass to Cadyn before Bishop hit Bailee for a touchdown later in the game. Regardless – the offensive firepower is back at Spring and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them challenge for a district title.
The Dekaney Wildcats were the other beneficiary of the three way tie for the final two playoff spots; a needed bounce-back from a 5-5 season.
Dekaney was a well-rounded team last season, with plenty of offensive weapons and a strong defense.
That defense returns Kevon Garcia, Jeremiah Merritt and Jaiden Robertson to lead a unit that held opponents under 20 points in five games last year. On offense, Var’Keyes Gumms is one of the top tight ends in his class and will be a big target for his quarterback.
With all that returning talent, I see a return trip to the playoffs for Dekaney in 2020.
That brings us to our final team, last season's district champs: Spring Westfield.
The Mustangs made it all the way to the state semifinals last season, but are losing the majority of the production from that team. Bell cow Kendal Taylor is gone as is all-star linebacker Dyllon Peavy. That means each side of the ball will need a new focal point; a new leader.
The good news is the defense has plenty of good options for talented players to step up. That starts with Jaden Perkins and Ashton Harris for a unit that allowed more than 20 points in just four games out of the 15 they played last season.
There a plenty of questions on offense, but Westfield has always shown the ability to reload. I don’t know if they’re the favorites to repeat as district champs, but the Mustangs will certainly be in the conversation.
Team and Player to Watch
I’m going a different route for these this week than I have in previous weeks.
My team-to-watch isn’t confined to just one team. I’m spitting it between Eisenhower and MacArthur, because I see this season playing out similar to last season.
Dekaney and Spring have enough talent coming back to potentially shake things up at the top and knock off Westfield as district champs. But as I just mentioned, Westfield is always the team to beat in their district and I expect all three Spring ISD schools to make the playoffs once again. I think MacArthur and Eisenhower will once again be competing for the final spot, but this year, I think Eisenhower gets in instead of MacArthur.
Keep an eye on that matchup when it happens, circle it on the calendar. It’ll be one that shapes the playoff race for sure.
My player-to-watch is also a lot different than what I normally go with. Instead of just one player, I chose the dynamic quartet of brothers at Spring.
Aldyn Bradley and Bishop Davenport are both more than capable quarterbacks who occasionally split time last season. I think both will make a difference this season, and they’ll have great offensive weapons in their brothers.
As a twin and an older brother, I know each set of brothers have been building chemistry playing sports together since they were young. I think that sort of chemistry on the field can be invaluable, and Spring has not one, but two of those. Aldyn and Cadyn, Bishop and Bailee are my players to watch for 14-6A.