Today we round out 5A Division II with district 12, one with just five Houston-area schools in it. The five we discuss today will be joined by Port Neches-Groves, Nederland and Dayton to make an eight-team district.
For the second time in three seasons, Barbers Hill graduates an immensely talented senior class. The Eagles will need to find someone to step up and fill the quarterback spot with the departure of Connor Dunham, and Barbers Hill loses its top defensive playmakers as well in A.J. Warby and Cavin Branin.
Whoever steps up to fill Dunham’s shoes at quarterback will have some talent to work with. One of Dunham’s top targets, Cam Cauley, is back at wide receiver. The class of 2020 will be remembered well at Barbers Hill after they led the team to its first district title since 2011. The question is, can the class of 2021 build on the successes of the class before them? Coach Tom Westerburg knows what it takes to win a state championship in Texas, and I expect the Eagles to be in the hunt for a district title if they can replace some key departures.
The Crosby Cougars had a nice rebound season in 2019 after a rare finish in the bottom half of the district in 2018. Crosby has the tools to compete for a district championship in 2020, and the key to that run will be do-everything athlete Deniquez Dunn.
Crosby will need to find some continuity at quarterback after starting out playing Dunn there for the first half at 2019, before moving him to mostly running back and wide receiver. If they can find a capable quarterback and free up Dunn to make plays from other spots, Crosby could have a special team in coach Jerry Prieto’s second season.
For the second-straight season, Santa Fe will have to replace the most important position on the field. Quarterback Nate Hays is off to college, and the success of the Indians will likely rely on who steps up to replace him.
The good news is, whomever the new starter is at quarterback will benefit from one of the strongest offensive lines in the area. Center Joey Gibbs anchors that line and is perhaps the best returning player on the team. I don’t think Santa Fe is quite on the level of Crosby and Barbers Hill, but the Indians should challenge for one of the final playoff spots in 12-5A DII.
Put Kingwood Park down next to Crosby and Barbers Hill as teams that will be in the conversation for the district title.
The Mustangs return more talent than just about any other team in the district. Quarterback Hudson Dezell is back to lead the offense, and he’ll have some of his weapons coming back as well. While his top target is gone in Canen Adrian, his twin Graycen Adrian is back after getting solid varsity reps last season as a sophomore.
They’ll need to replace some talent on defense, but bringing back Dezell and one of the Adrian twins is a great start. This is a district that lacks top-end talent, and multiple teams could be vying for the district championship when it’s all said-and-done. Expect Kingwood Park to be one of those teams.
Our final Houston-area team in 12-5A DII is Texas City. The Stingarees will look to build on a 2-8 finish from last season.
There could be a path to the playoffs for Texas City in 2020… 12-5A DII could very well be one of the most even top-to-bottom districts in the area. The Stingarees move down from 5A Division I where they lost to the likes of Shadow Creek and Hightower. There are no teams in this district that are as talented as those two.
The Stingarees return speedy running back Semaj McCall to lead the offense, and also feature a plethora of talent on the defensive side of the ball as well with Cole Trash and Josiah Mason back on the defensive line. The easier competition could mean Texas City slides into the back end of the playoff picture in 12-5A DII.
Player and Team to Watch
My team to watch in this district will absolutely be Texas City. I think the Stingarees move down from 5A Division I will benefit them, and it’s easy to see how two wins in 2019 could turn into five or six wins in 2020.
However, there won’t be many easy games in this district. While it doesn’t have much top-end talent, it certainly doesn’t have any obvious “cellar-dwellers” either. I think Texas City slides into the fourth and final playoff spot in this district, making them my team to watch.
My player to watch will be Crosby’s Deniquez Dunn. I chose Dunn because I’m interested to see how Crosby uses him in 2020, and I think their success will depend on maximizing his talents. If they can find a quarterback that allows Dunn to play elsewhere on the field, watch out.