High on Cumby: Texas Football picks Trojans to finish second in District 17-A

By JOSEPH ELERSON | News-Telegram Sports Writer

June 27, 2007 - CUMBY - For the second straight year, the Cumby Trojans have earned the respect of the publishers in the recent edition of Dave Campbell's Texas Football Magazine.

In the football annual, the Trojans are picked to finish District 17-A play in second place - a place they were picked to finish last year but actually came in fourth.

The publishers picked 14th-ranked Quinlan Boles as the favorite, followed by Cumby, then Wolfe City in third, Celeste in fourth, Fruitvale in fifth and Dallas A+ Academy in sixth.

Below are the magazine's predictions and its reasoning:

1. Quinlan Boles Hornets

Quinlan Boles brings a No. 14-ranking by the State Farm/Texas Football 1A Top 25 and an area finalist team into the upcoming season as the favorite to win district.

The Hornets return their leading rusher from a year ago in sophomore running back Joe Gilliard - who ran for 1,287 yards on 151 carries with 21 touchdowns.

Fullback Robert Liebel (777 yards rushing) and quarterback Daniel Sanchez (660 yards rushing) will lead an offense that has leadership and experience along the front line.

On defense, the Hornets are led by Liebel, who had 95 tackles with 19 for loss, 6-1 junior linebacker Kelly Dodson, who had 50 tackles, and free safety Sanchez, who had 68 tackles a year ago. Linebacker Chris Hornsby, defensive lineman Scott Guerrero, defensive lineman Marcus Palmer and cornerback Zach Holley are also top players for the Hornets.

2. Cumby Trojans

The district's darkhorse, according to texashsfootball.com, comes way of coach Kent Hawthorne's Trojans.

The Trojans will once again be riding the arm and the legs of 5-11 sophomore quarterback Brixx Hawthorne - who had a stellar freshman year with 103 carries for 594 yards and seven touchdowns. He was 61-for-145 for 812 yards with 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions passing last year. Hawthorne also handled the punting duties with an average of 47.8 yards per punt.

Tight end Josh Rodriguez should be one of Hawthorne's favorite targets this year after catching 20 passes for 280 yards and five TDs a year ago. Rodriguez also led the way with 86 tackles on defense and is picked to be the defensive MVP by texashsfootball.com.

Other standout players according to the magazine are junior Ryan Vaughn, sophomore Tanner Gomez, Kris Stanford, Nathan Dunnihoo, Rodney Hobbs, Taylor Gay, Michael Cross, Brian Clem, Jason Wallace, Timmy Cook, Jake Vann, Zack Emmons and Josh Petty.

Cumby went 4-6 last season, 3-2 in district, and missed the playoffs in the final game of the season.

3. Wolfe City Wolves

With a new head coach in Todd Palmer, who was promoted during the offseason in place of Dale Trompler, the Wolves find themselves in a rare spot according to the magazine.

The Wolves are usually the front runner for a district championship but this season find themselves looking toward a younger group for a title run.

Palmer will look to replace the running game of Johnathan Price and quarterback Case Roundtree due to graduation with running back James King (14 carries for 137 yards and three touchdowns) and their quarterback to be determined.

With the loss of 15 seniors, the Wolves have eight letterman and nine starters returning to a team that went 11-1 last year and earned a trip to the regional finals.

Leading the way is offensive lineman B.K. Scott, defensive back King, sophomore lineman Kory Wilkinson, wide receivers Emmanuel Akers and Cory Peel.

4. Celeste Blue Devils

The Blue Devils come into the upcoming season with an inexperienced offense after the graduation of quarterback Casey Barbee, running back Sammie Townes and wide receiver David Wilson.

Coach Mike Lipsey will look toward junior quarterback Justin Wright, running back Fritz Vale (70-502, four TDs) and receiver Trevor Trentham to pick up the slack on offense.

Along the line, the Blue Devils have lineman Zach Willeford, Keenan Butler, Alex Cawthon, Justin Glenday, Jesse Floyd and Mike Snider. Linebackers Joey Brock and Colton Darter are top prospects for Celeste.

5. Fruitvale Bobcats

After a winless season during the 2006 campaign, the Fruitvale Bobcats look for experience to put them in the win column this year.

Fruitvale has 20 returning letterman under coach Tim Cook and are led by 5-7 linebacker Tim Hodges and junior linebacker Kenneth Osteen.

Other standouts are linebackers Lance Worden and Carlos Rongel, along with offensive lineman Evan Crocker, Carie White, Hunter Houser and Rod Hoffpauir. Quarterbacks are Donnie Williams and Tyler Yates.

6. Dallas A+ Academy Knights

After a 1-9 season last year, the Knights have high hopes for the 2007 season with 16 returning letterman for coach Jim Lang.

The offense will be led by quarterback Jose Ramirez, running back Isaac Caston and wide receiver Josue Lopez. Louis Carranza will bring experience to the Knights along the offensive line.

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