The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

June 19, 2013

From the Sideline: Picking on the picks from Texas Football

By JUSTIN RAINS
Palestine Herald-Press

— 2013 is the year that Lance Angel’s Palestine Wildcats make the leap.

It’s a year that will see perennial playoff teams Cayuga, Frankston and Oakwood back in the playoffs.

It’s a year that won’t see Westwood or Elkhart snap their playoff droughts, or see Grapeland return to the postseason.

At least, that’s what 2013 will be according to the “Bible of Texas football.”

Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine hit my desk on Monday, and hits stores shelves for the public on Friday. In it are predictions and previews from everything from six-man football to the Big 12.

The release of this publication signals an unofficial start to football season here in this great state, even though it’s only June. Now, the talking that never really stopped after last season can begin anew.

It’s a cultural phenomenon that stretches outside the borders of the Lone Star State. When the magazine hit shelves last year, it was featured on grantland.com, the ESPN.com-owned site run by Bill Simmons.

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel graces the cover, and there are features of all kinds on the inside. There’s even a “Johnny Football” poster included.

But, what the majority of the people that will pick up this magazine do so for is in the back half, where various writers from around the state preview and — more importantly — pick the outcome of each high school football in the state.

With that in mind, let’s see how the guys at the DCTF office feel about the Dogwood Circle, and then let me tell you why they’re right — or wrong.



PALESTINE WILDCATS, 19-3A

DCTF PICK: 1st

MY PICK: 1st


Right off the bat, Texas Football gets one right when they pick the Wildcats to win District 19-3A.

Palestine was a win away from doing this very same thing a year ago, a win that escaped them during an overtime classic against rival Fairfield.

That shouldn’t be a problem this year, not with quarterback Gee Clark having another year of experience, not with the maturation of a solid offensive line and certainly not with the beast that is TCU-bound Jarrell Owens on the defensive side of the ball.

DCTF also has Brian Thlang as a preseason all-state pick, which is hard to argue against since the Lousiana-Monroe-commit was an all-stater as a junior.



WESTWOOD PANTHERS, 11-2A, DI

DCTF PICK: 6th

MY PICK: 5th


Things have been trending up for Westwood under coach Roger Mays in his two-plus years at the helm, but graduation decimated the Panthers’ roster after 2012.

The Panthers will rely on a lot of youth in 2013 and while I don’t agree with DCTF that they’re the worst team in 19-2A, the path to a playoff spot may be difficult, especially in 19-2A.

DCTF puts two of the district’s teams — Franklin at No. 6 and Teague at No. 10 — in its preseason top-10, meaning that the other four teams are fighting for two playoff spots.



ELKHART ELKS, 11-2A, DI

DCTF PICK: 5th

MY PICK: 4th


Much like their Anderson County-brethren to the north, DCTF has the Elks missing the postseason in 2013. Also, they have Elkhart picked what I believe is one spot too low.

College-bound running back Jeffrey Wilson is a star that had the Elks a win away from the postseason last year and, with expanded playoff entrants, it’s not hard to envision Elkhart getting that key win in Year 2 under Sam Wells.

Like Thlang, DCTF has tabbed Wilson as a preseason all-stater. Again, nothing to complain about here, since he ran for more than 2,329 yards a year ago. That’s good enough for second-best among 2A backs state-wide.



FRANKSTON INDIANS, 10-2A, DII

DCTF PICK: 4th

MY PICK: 3rd


Texas Football sees Frankston bouncing back into the playoffs in Year 2 of the Matt Nally, and with 10 starters returning it’s easy to see why.

Quarterback Ozzie Buckner was a breakout star a year ago as a freshman, and should only be better both as a runner and a passer.

The Indians have to replace running back Caleb Williams, but a stronger emphasis on the aerial game may have them competing with Winona for that third-place spot.



CAYUGA WILDCATS, 6-A, DI

DCTF PICK: 3rd

MY PICK: 3rd


The Wildcats lost a ton of talent to graduation and, quite frankly, 2013 could be tough on first-year coach Russell Holden.

That said, 6-A isn’t a strong district, and while they won’t be on par with Italy or Kerens this season, Cayuga should have enough to dispatch of the other three district foes.



GRAPELAND SANDIES, 10-A, DI

DCTF PICK: 4th

MY PICK: 4th


Unlike 6-A, Grapeland doesn’t have the luxury of playing in an easy district. 10-A boasts two teams — Alto and West Sabine — in DCTF’s preseason top-10, and San Augustine is also historically strong.

Grapeland made a push a year ago with some young talent, and has that talent returning. But, the mountain may be too tall for even them to climb.



OAKWOOD PANTHERS, 16-6M, DI

DCTF PICK: 1st

MY PICK: 1st


The magazine tabs the Panthers at No. 7 in its state-wide poll for Division I six-man squads, and easily has them winning District 16.

That’s a no-brainer. This coming season’s senior class — led by all-everything Damiyne Durham — has always been the target class for greatness in Oakwood.