Under the Radar: Como-Pickton picked to finish sixth by Dave Campbell's Texas Football Magazine

By JOSEPH ELERSON | News-Telegram Sports Writer

June 28, 2007 - COMO - After an 0-10 season last year under coach Joe Ryzman, the Como-Pickton Eagles go into the upcoming District 16-2A season with a new coach and a familiar prediction by Dave Campbell's Texas Football magazine.

Coach Paul Tullis' team is picked to finish the district in sixth place this year as Winnsboro is picked as the favorite for the second straight year, followed by Quitman, Grand Saline, Hawkins and Alba-Golden.

Winnsboro and Quitman are stacked once again this season after both teams finished with identical 9-2 records during the 2006 season as both teams were bi-district finalist.

Below are the predictions of the district and the reasons:

1. Winnsboro Red Raiders

After the loss of quarterback Jake Hawkins, coach Steve Pinnell's Red Raiders will look to junior signal caller Sean Ditto and running back Chaz Baxter to help the team live up to its No. 24 state ranking in the State Farm/Texas Football 2A poll.

Pinnell said in the publication that the team will have a bigger offensive line and a faster defensive unit led by senior Tommy Evans, defensive end Michael Leaks, free safety Zach Allen and linebacker Blake Bennett.

On offense, the Red Raiders will use Evans and Baxter at running backs in the broken wishbone formation. Evans ran for 1,100 yards and 12 touchdowns a year ago.

2. Quitman Bulldogs

Before the realignment last season brought Winnsboro down to Class 2A, coach Todd Shackelford's Bulldogs were the odds-on favorite to win the district title.

This season, they are looking to contend for the title once again behind three-year starting quarterback Colten Peek - who threw for 498 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions a year ago. Peek has senior wide out Hayes Peckham and tight end Blaine Shackelford as targets for this season.

On offense, senior fullback Doug Carden will try to build on a junior season in which he ran for 1,198 yards and 10 touchdowns on 198 carries. Offensive lineman Ethan Haisten, Kirby Hayes and Alejandro Flores will be key players in helping out the offense this season.

Key players for the Bulldogs defensively will be Shackelford and Lance Evans, who had four interceptions in 2006.

3. Grand Saline Indians

The Indians will have a new man on the sidelines after Greg Carpenter was reassigned within the school district earlier this year.

After a 4-5-1 record and a fourth place finish last year, Grand Saline hired girls basketball coach Kenny Phelps in May as the new head football coach and athletic director.

The Indians' offense looks to find a spark behind the running game of senior fullback Sam Dickerson and junior running back Jim Sale along with quarterback Kyle Monty.

On defense, Grand Saline returns Dickerson (140 tackles), defensive lineman Kyle Thompson, linebacker Bruce Strickland and defensive end Lee Garrett.

4. Hawkins Hawks

Coach Keith Cook goes into the upcoming season with an inexperienced team after the loss of 10 offensive and 10 defensive starters from a 4-6 playoff team.

The lone defensive starter returning is 6-0, 215-pound defensive end Josh Powell (60 tackles last year) and Cook is hoping to find playmakers as soon as possible on the defensive side of the ball.

Junior quarterback Jorden Stephens will likely run the spread offense with senior running back Arsha Taylor and wide receivers Michael Macaluso and sophomore wide receiver Cory Stevenson.

The Hawks should be solid on the offensive line as 210-pound Dekotah Christian, 245-pound Stephen Leppanen and 235-pound Josh Ragsdale are players to watch, according to Cook.

5. Alba-Golden Panthers

For fans of Alba-Golden football, the 2007 season should be a season of change as Top 100 junior running back Ryan Young returns to the backfield.

Young rushed for 1,890 yards a year ago with 15 TDs and is considered the real deal by coach Paul Frye. Young is 5-10, 180-pounds and runs a 4.4 40-yard dash.

The Panthers also return senior quarterback Austin Frye (101-154-894 yards, 12 TDs and four interceptions) and 6-2 tight end Billy Hill.

On defense, the Panthers look for defensive end Logan Willians (114 tackles) to have another solid year along with defensive back Austin Woodrum (4 interceptions). Colton Johnson, Jesse Mitchell, Chris Berry, Marshall Silcox and Justin Morrow are other players to watch for the Panthers.

6. Como-Pickton Eagles

The Eagles return 14 letterman and 17 starters this season with hopes of being competitive in district play.

Tullis had 30 players come out for early season workouts and the team is currently undefeated in the Sulphur Springs 7-on-7 JV division heading into the final week of the league tonight.

CPHS returns senior quarterback/fullback/tight end/linebacker Noe Tellez and junior quarterback Austin Darby - who went 24-of-66 for 318 yards and four touchdowns. He will also be in the backfield with junior Alex Williams and sophomore James Carter, as the duo will handle the running back duties for the Eagles. At receiver, Tullis is expecting big things out of Ryan Carpenter.

Defensively, Tullis is changing from a four-man front to a five-man front in hopes of improving on a defense that allowed 406 points last year.

The Eagles will look towards Tellez, Carter, Aaron Kramer and Wade Arnold to be playmakers on the defensive side of the ball.

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