High school football preview: District 9-5A Division II

One in a series looking ahead to the 2022 football season: District 9-5A Division II

The competition will be tougher in District 9-5A Division II, but Marshall remains the team to beat. The Buffalos completed an undefeated regular season for the third time in four years, although a bi-district upset by Barbers Hill kept them from reaching a sixth consecutive state quarterfinal. Marshall was unchallenged in 11-5A DII last year, winning eight games by a combined 463-28.
Sufficient talent returns for another district crown and beyond, including 11 all-district players. DL Zachary Chapman and QB Ja’koby Banks made the Touchdown Club of Houston all-preseason team. Returning standouts include OL Anthony Chatman, OL Jaron Wallace, WR Ke’von Misher, DE Logan Granville, OLB Jordan Sample, CB Mike Patterson, DT Reginald Willis, DE Trent Thomas, OLB Ryan Simpson and S Donovan Jackson. Sample led Marshall with nine tackles for loss as a junior, ranking second with 63 tackles.

Next in line

Port Neches-Groves could be the top challenger, returning seven all-district players, primarily on offense. The Indians finished 8-5 last year, highlighted by playoff wins against Galena Park and Montgomery. QB Cole Crippen, WR Chance Prosperie, WR Landon Guarnere, C Bryce Loftin, OL Jeff Carter, OL Jansen Ware and S Torryan Hinton are among the top returners as Jeff Joseph takes over as head coach.

Dark horse

Texas City turned in its best season in almost a decade last year, more than doubling its win total to finish 10-2. The Stingarees achieved a runner-up finish in 12-5A DII and defeated Sterling in the playoffs. They bring back a strong defensive front including DL Bryce Williams, DL Szyron Scott, DL Evan Tullos and LB Camryn Grief. Tullos led the team with seven sacks and 15 quarterback hurries, while Grief had a team-best 10 pass breakups to go with 59 tackles, 13 for loss. RB Caleb Bell returns to lead the offense as the Stingarees welcome new coach Shone Evans.

Best of the rest

Galena Park has finished 8-3 the last two years, including 7-1 in district. The returning group includes all-district picks in RB Jordan Balderas, DT Tim Marshall and ILB Sebastian Bernal. … The Netherlands is a postseason regular, ending a four-year postseason streak last fall despite a 6-4 record. The Bulldogs’ returning cast includes DL Joseph Dugat and LB Gage Driskell. … Willowridge takes the field with new coach Kendron Penson after a 4-5 season. Despite missing last year, the Eagles have made several recent postseasons and return several two-way standouts, including WR/CB Travis Willis and LB/RB Tulio Nunez. … Dayton looks to continue progress after a 2-8 season, one that included close losses against playoff teams. All-district CB CJ Hubert is among the returning leaders as the Broncos seek their first winning season since 2015. … Santa Fe has some work ahead after an 0-10 season. The Indians have new leadership in coach Blake Ryder and a returning group led by all-district DL Franklin Alfaro.

Players to watch

Ja’koby Banks, Sr., QB, Marshall
Banks is being recruited as a receiver, ranking among the top 100 receivers in the nation and as a three-star prospect by 247Sports. Committed to the University of Houston, Banks earned district MVP honors last year passing for 1,358 yards, 20 touchdowns and four interceptions while rushing for 1,093 yards and 19 touchdowns, on only 66 carries.

Caleb Bell, Jr., RB, Texas City
Bell was key to the Stingarees’ breakthrough season, rushing for 1,123 yards and 19 touchdowns with an average of 6.6 yards per carry. He was particularly effective during a key four-game winning streak down the stretch, amassing 479 yards and 10 touchdowns on 56 carries.

Marxquise Hayes, Jr., WR/S, Willowridge
Hayes was a playmaker on both sides of the ball as a sophomore, highlighted by seven interceptions in nine games. He was also the Eagles’ top receiver, recording a team-high 315 yards and five touchdowns on 19 catches.

Trent Thomas, Sr., DE, Marshall
The Buffalos had six shutouts last year with the help of Thomas, one of four three-star recruits on the team, ranked among the top 100 edge rushers in the nation. Committed to Baylor, Thomas has at least 13 offers and looks to build on a season of 36 tackles, seven TFL and a sack on a balanced defense.

Jansen Ware, Sr., Olympics, Port Neches-Groves
Ware made an impact for a team that averaged 38.7 points per game last fall. His recruitment is starting to pick up as well, with offers from Air Force, HBU, Incarnate Word, Lamar, Louisiana, Montana State, Northwestern State, and Stephen F. Austin according to 247Sports.

Games to watch

Marshall vs. Port Neches-Groves, 1 pm, Sept. 24, Mercer Stadium
The Buffalos open district play with what could be one of their best tests. Both sides feature offensive experience. The teams have only met in the postseason, with Marshall winning all three including a 21-14 bi-district triumph in 2020.

Galena Park vs. Willowridge, 7 p.m., Sept. 30, Galena Park ISD Stadium
The second week of district play includes a few matchups that could prove pivotal. This brief series has been competitive, with Willowridge winning a district meeting 65-61 in 2017 and the Yellowjackets returning the favor the last two years, 33-0 and 30-14.

Port Neches-Groves vs. Texas City, 7 p.m., Sept. 30, Indian Stadium
The Stingarees won a pair of track meets the last two years when both were in 12-5A DII, 60-34 in 2020 and 49-42 in overtime last year. It would be a key early victory for either.


District 10-4A Division II
District 12-4A Division I
District 10-5A Division II
District 11-4A Division I
District 10-4A Division I

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