Cover Photo Courtesy of The Houston Chronicle
For the second straight season, one of Houston’s top programs fell just short of a state title appearance in 3A. It was a different story in 4A, with no team making it past round three. This week, we’re previewing our small schools with what to expect in 2020.
East Bernard might be one of the last remaining teams in the nation that still plays football at a high level while running the Wing-T offense. The old saying goes “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and that’s exactly what the Brahmas have stuck to, coming seven points short of a state title appearance in 2019 after being in the same position in 2018.
Fortunately, the Brahmas will be back in 2020 with two more years of quarterback Dallas Novicke running the show. He threw for more than 1,300 yards in 2019 while accounting for 25 total touchdowns. His return will be key if East Bernard wants to make a third straight run to the state semifinals and potentially break through to a state championship game.
Devin Chapman is back for the Brahmas as well, after running for more than 1,200 yards as a junior. He’s accounted for 20 touchdowns in two years at the varsity level, and forms one of the best backfield duos in the Houston area among the small schools.
As East Bernard made its second straight state semifinal appearance, Tidehaven took a step back in 2019. The Tigers lost to East Bernard in round four in 2018, but weren’t able to make a rematch happen in 2019 after losing in round two. However, Tidehaven is a team to keep an eye on in 2020 as a potential challenger to East Bernard in the Houston area.
Class 4A struggled through 2019 in the Houston area. Bellville made it the farthest, bowing out in round three. However, the Brahmas (not to be confused with East Bernard) have one big thing working for them in 2020: running back Richard Reece.
The dynamic back returns for his junior season after putting up more than 2,500 yards and 24 scores in his first two seasons on varsity. With two more left, expect that production to increase as Bellville looks to make it past the third round.
Of course the challenge for any Houston area squad in 4A Division II is getting past East Texas powerhouse West Orange-Stark, whom Bellville fell to in 2019 by a score of 24-14. The Mustangs have dominated Region III for years, winning back-to-back state championships in 2015 and 2016 and playing for two more state titles since 2014. However, Bellville wasn’t far from beating West Orange-Stark in 2019, and 2020 could be the year.
That’s it for our 3A and 4A preview, we’ll focus on individual districts starting next week with 5A Division II District 10 which includes teams such as Huntsville, Lake Creek and Lamar Consolidated.