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06/30/20

Under The Microscope: Week 12

Cover Photo from the Houston Chronicle.

District 16-6A was an interesting one last season, with more top-end talent than is typical in most places.

Cy Woods and Tomball Memorial shared the district crown at 7-1 apiece while Bridgeland and Cy Ranch each finished with district records of 6-2. Cy Ranch’s 8-4 season was the worst of the four then-14-6A playoff teams. I’d be willing to bet no more than four or five other districts in the state could say the same.

Now, the district is a tad easier by virtue of losing Tomball Memorial, who returns a ton of talent. The district also loses Bryan, but it adds Cy Falls, who had a terrific 2019 season. There will be one fewer team as the UIL cuts down on the number of nine-team districts, but it could be every bit as competitive as it was in 2019.

Bridgeland

The 2019 season ended in relative disappointment at Bridgeland after an 8-2 regular season yielded a narrow first round playoff loss, 14-13, to Austin Vandegrift – who advanced to 11-0 with the win before bowing out in round two.

The Bears were the only team in last years’ 14-6A to not win their first round playoff game. However, talent is down mostly across the board in this district, meaning they could have another shot in 2020.

Bridgeland returns SMU commit Dylan Goffney at wide receiver, but will miss Finn Nicholson – who transferred to Second Baptist – at quarterback. That’s where I have my pause about how much success Bridgeland could have in 2020.

Quarterback is the most important position on the field, and I have no idea who fills that role. However, whoever steps in should have all the talent he needs at the skill positions with the return of Goffney and running back Mason Culton. Bridgeland’s season could hang on the quarterback position, but I expect them to be back in the playoffs.

Cy Falls

Another year, another second round playoff exit was the story at Cy Falls.

After winning nine games in 2018, the Eagles won 10 in 2020 and lost by just three points to a really good Katy Tompkins squad last season. I’d call 2019 a big success for Cy Falls.

So who’s back to continue the winning ways? Running back J.P. Martin is a good start. He holds several Division I offers including Memphis and Texas State, but he’ll need some help to continue the success of an offense that scored 20 points or more in every game last year.

Cy Falls has a spot to fill at quarterback, and there are some gaps to fill in on defense as well. Martin can’t carry the entire team by himself, but he’s a good start in terms of returning talent. The good news is Cy Falls had to break in a new quarterback last season as well, and that turned out pretty well for them.

Three new quarterbacks in three years isn’t ideal for continuity at the games’ most important position, but I trust Cy Falls recent history of talent replacement will have them right back in the playoff conversation.

Cy Lakes

Speaking of having to replace talented quarterbacks, whoever steps into the spot at Cy Lakes has enormous shoes to fill.

The Spartans have never made the playoffs, but Soffian Massoud nearly led them there in a tough district last season. Cy Lakes opened its doors in 2008, and the football team tied a school-best record of 5-5 last season.

Now Massoud is off to Houston’s quarterback room and his top target John McMillan is off to Katy High School as a transfer. To top things off, running back Xavier Howard graduated as well.

In the decade-long existence of the football program, the Spartans have struggled to get off the mat – just a little different than the basketball program. Unfortunately, that luck will probably continue this season playing in another talented district with a cascade of talent to replace.

Cy Park

Despite a 3-7 record last season, Cy Park was a ton of fun to watch.

The Tigers put up at least 24 points in eight out of 10 games. The problem was the defense let up 48 points or more in five games. If they can find some answers on defense, I think Cy Park could be a dark-horse playoff pick because I think the offense could be every bit as good as it was a season ago.

While the Tigers will have to replace their quarterback – like most teams in this district – plenty of weapons return for whoever fills in. Nathan Livingston and Cameron King were big offensive contributors last season and are back to help a new quarterback transition into the starting spot.

Cy Park probably won’t be picked to make the playoffs in this district, but look for them to be opportunistic – the Tigers could find themselves slipping into the fourth spot if things break the right way.

Cy Ranch

One of the few teams that won’t have to worry about a transitioning quarterback is Cy Ranch, who returns outstanding starter D.J. Ciers.

The Mustangs had a young squad last season, and it showed in an uncharacteristic fourth-place district finish. Cy Ranch is typically pretty good, and an 8-4 record is definitely a good season. But I believe last years’ team was a year away. This year, Cy Ranch could be special.

Ciers will have Ben Postma to throw to as one of the area’s best tight ends. That dynamic duo on offense is matched in talent by their defensive counterparts. Safety and Texas Tech commit Romario Noel and defensive tackle Blane Channel are back to lead a stout defensive unit that could be the key to a deep playoff run for Cy Ranch. Look for the Mustangs to climb back to the top of the district.

Cy Springs

On the opposite end of the spectrum from Cy Ranch is Cy Springs.

The Panthers have won just one game in the last two seasons, and 2020 could be more of the same. However, they do have some returning talent that should provide a little promise, a hope of winning a few games to build on for coming seasons.

Jeremiah Mosely returns to quarterback the Panthers, and the defense will be led by Aniston Williams and Jermari Seals. That’s a start, but there’s still plenty of questions to be answered if Cy Springs is to become competitive.

I think the Panthers are at least a year away from a playoff push, but look for the 2020 squad to win a few games and build momentum for future seasons.

Cy Woods

After winning a share of the district title in 2019, Cy Woods will have plenty of talent to replace to be able to compete at the same level this season.

They’ll replace their quarterback and most of his top targets at wide receiver, including the dynamic Cameron Sowell. The return of Trayse Holmes at running back certainly helps, but there will be a fair amount of question marks to answer in 2020.

Repeating as district champs will be a tough bill to fill, but I expect the Wildcats to replace enough talent to be firmly in the playoff conversation.

Langham Creek

Most teams in this district are replacing a quarterback heading into this season – let me paint the picture of why that’s a big deal.

Take Langham Creek for example. They excelled in 2018 under quarterback Chris Herron, making a playoff appearance and finishing 6-5. Then in 2019, Langham Creek finished with a record of 2-8.

Unlike last season, Langham Creek will return its best offensive talent in running back Kash McCray in 2020. Henry Jackson is back to lead the defense as well, so the Lobos have a little talent to build on. If the talent coming up to replace previous starters can be better than their precedents, Langham Creek could make some noise at the back end of the playoff race.

I ultimately expect the Lobos to miss out on the playoff this season, but I am intrigued to see who might step up.

Team and Player to Watch

I close this out how I do every week with my team and player to watch.

First up is my team-to-watch, which was a tough pick between Bridgeland and Cy Woods – but I’m going with Cy Woods.

The reason why I chose the Wildcats is because they won a share of a district title last season, which is pretty impressive given the district they played in. But that doesn’t make them the favorites to win it this season – with the departing talent, I don’t think it will happen, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen.

I’m interested to see how Cy Woods reloads and if they can push a Cy Ranch or a Bridgeland for a district title.

For my player-to-watch, I picked Cy Ranch quarterback D.J. Ciers.

I chose Ciers because I also picked Cy Ranch to win the district. But what’s interesting about picking the star player on the best team for player-to-watch? It’s because Cy Ranch has a lot of work to do to claim that title after finishing fourth last season.

The Mustangs were young and so was Ciers. Now with plenty of experience under his belt, I think he has the ability to not only lead Cy Ranch to a district title, but also a potentially deep playoff run.

Cy Ranch could be primed to have a special season, but for them to be special, Ciers has to be special – and I think he has it in him.