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District 8-2A Div. I preview: Bosqueville, Bruceville-Eddy, Crawford, Marlin, Moody, Riesel, Rosebud-Lott, Valley Mills

From the High school football 2022 preview: Complete coverage series
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You wouldn’t think that Crawford and Bosqueville would find very much common ground, but after they were both eliminated in the playoffs by the upstart Marlin Bulldogs, they’re likely to be aiming at the same target this season.

Crawford more so, with Marlin ruining the Pirates’ chance at a perfect season. And now the two squads will be playing in the same district for what is likely the first time in history.

“Marlin will be the team to beat,” said Crawford head coach Greg Jacobs. “It’s going to be a tough district. It’ll be a challenge each and every week for any team playing in that district, especially for us because of the strength of the district.”

It won’t be a breeze for the reigning state semifinalist Bulldogs, though. The district is packed with heavy hitters this season as five of the eight teams (including Marlin) made the postseason in 2021.

But even the teams at the bottom are bound to pack a punch.

“I’m not sure if our district gets enough respect,” Marlin head coach Ruben Torres said. “I mean, you kind of throw out the headliners right off the bat: Crawford, who year in and year out is a powerhouse and you can’t question their tradition, the discipline, the execution of their kids and their coaching staff. ... Bosqueville is extremely coached well by Coach (Clint) Zander and his staff and they’ve got a great mix of kids.

“Rosebud was extremely athletic. ... Coach (Robert) Featherston at Valley Mills is going to be in his second year ... Moody has a new coach and a new look. Bruceville-Eddy is going to be a well-disciplined, tough, physical team. So, we’re going to be in for a fight, without question.”

Perhaps the most intriguing addition to the gauntlet will be Riesel, which dropped from 3A after realignment. In Tyler Crow’s first season, Riesel made a deep playoff run, ultimately falling to eventual state champion Franklin. Not to mention they started the season with a win against Marlin in non-district play.

There seems to be a theme in 8-2A this year, as every team retained a sizeable number of veteran, battle-tested players. An average of 14 starters per team are back, evenly distributed on both sides of the ball.

The only team not paying mind to the difficulty of district play is Moody. The Bearcats are more focused on setting down their own system rather than in making waves just yet.

“That’s going to happen down the line and we’ll be ready for it when it gets here,” said new Moody head coach Matt Hurst. “That’s kind of our mindset, is we’re focusing on us and the ways in which we can improve and get better every day.”

Nevertheless, it will surely be an entertaining season, with title matches like the rivalry between Crawford and Bosqueville and the rematches of both those teams versus Marlin taking the spotlight.

But it won’t be easy for anyone in this race. As Bruceville-Eddy head coach Jeff Nuner said clearly: “It’s going to be a dogfight every weekend.”

Marlin Bulldogs

2021: 11-4 (4-1), reached state semifinal

Head coach: Ruben Torres (second season: 11-4; 46-33 in seven seasons overall)

Returning starters (O/D): 8/9

All-time: 576-475-34 since 1907

Playoffs: 40-25 in 26 trips, last in 2021

State titles: None

Read more from the Tribune-Herald 2022 high school football preview: https://wacotrib.com/sports/high-school/high-school-football-2022-preview/collection_933e18fa-1873-11ed-808b-570f7eb12f30.html ----- Music from Tunetank.com Evan Splash - Drive It Now (Copyright Free Music) Download free: https://tunetank.com/track/429-drive-it-now

Outlook: Despite losing Derion Gullette to injury, Marlin will be back stronger and looking to go further after a loss to Hawley in the Class 2A Div. I state semifinals in 2021.

In Ruben Torres’ first year in charge, the Bulldogs finished second in district and won Dave Campbell Texas Football’s Coach of the Year and the Tribune-Herald's Jinx Tucker Award for a breakthrough season.

“Without question the expectations are high, especially given the fact that we were young last year, started a lot of new kids at new positions,” Torres said. “The majority of our major contributors and our team are back, there are higher expectations. However, every year is a new year and we’re definitely not going to sneak up on anybody.”

Everybody knows they’ll have to take the Bulldogs seriously. Marlin has the speed, skill and experience to make another deep run as they return quarterback Desmond Woodson, a versatile defensive back/wide receiver in Zha’Mauryon Lofton and Super Centex Defensive Newcomer of the Year Ty’Raun Bell at linebacker, as well as their entire secondary and a few eager freshmen in the mix.

Marlin

Marlin’s Desmond Woodson (left) and Jemere Hartsfield will help key the Bulldogs’ hopes in 2022.

Schedule

8/26 at Crockett 7:30 p.m.

9/2 Mart 7:30 p.m.

9/9 at Groesbeck 7:30 p.m.

9/23 at Bosqueville* 7:30 p.m.

9/30 Moody* 7:30 p.m.

10/7 at Crawford* 7:30 p.m.

10/14 Riesel* 7:30 p.m.

10/21 at Bruceville-Eddy* 7:30 p.m.

10/28 Rosebud-Lott* 7:30 p.m.

11/4 at Valley Mills* 7:30 p.m.


Crawford Pirates

2021: 13-1 (6-0), reached regional final

Head coach: Greg Jacobs (third season: 26-3)

Returning starters (O/D): 7/8

All-time: 638-256-28 since 1927

Playoffs: 66-39-3 in 44 trips, last in 2021

State titles: 1 (2004)

081522-wac-spt-crawford4.JPG

Crawford will be led by (left to right) Logan Borkowski, Kade Bruce, Camron Walker and Breck Chambers in 2022.

Outlook: A perfect record in district and a win away from a state semifinal — how do you follow a year like that?

With a strong senior class returning, led by quarterback/defensive back Luke Torbert, running back/defensive back Breck Chambers and offensive lineman/linebacker Camron Walker, the Pirates are going to use their experience to their advantage. According to head coach Greg Jacobs, building depth as well as staying unified and healthy will be the keys to making another deep run this year.

“With all the reps that we’re getting during the fall camp, I think we're gonna accomplish that goal,” Jacobs said. “So we're just looking to get a little more crisp in what we do, kind of add a few things that we weren't able to do so much last year. And the number one thing is to build depth. At the 2A level, you have to have depth because you don't have the numbers that you know bigger schools have. So you have to have depth and also try to stay healthy.”

In preparing for district, Crawford will face a sharp non-district schedule against Goldthwaite, Centerville and Rio Vista, all teams heavy with experienced players who will be much improved from last season.

“We’re looking to see where we are at the end of non-district and then we have a week off before we start district so we kind of evaluate our strengths an our weaknesses and what we need to work on and get better,” Jacobs said.

Schedule

8/26 at Goldthwaite 7:30 p.m.

9/2 Centerville 7:30 p.m.

9/9 at Rio Vista 7:30 p.m.

9/23 Rosebud-Lott* 7:30 p.m.

9/30 at Valley Mills* 7:30 p.m.

10/7 Marlin* 7:30 p.m.

10/14 at Moody* 7:30 p.m.

10/21 Bosqueville* 7:30 p.m.

10/28 Riesel* 7:30 p.m.

11/4 at Bruceville-Eddy* 7:30 p.m.


Bosqueville Bulldogs

2021: 6-5 (4-2), reached bi-district playoffs

Head coach: Clint Zander (15th season: 106-62)

Returning starters (O/D): 6/7

All-time: 183-182-1 since 1989

Playoffs: 19-18 in 18 trips, last in 2021

State titles: None

bosqueville

Bosqueville’s Justin Moore (left) and Noah Finnell will try to help the Bulldogs back to the playoffs.

Outlook: Bosqueville will lean on its returning veterans as the Bulldogs look to develop on both sides of the ball. Newt Schornack will take the snaps at quarterback and will have running back/linebacker Hunter Henexson and wide receiver/defensive backs John Youens and Justin Moore as key targets. Youens made 162 tackles last year and also ranks as one of the area's top punters.

Those same three players will flip to defense, joining RB/DB Noah Finnell and offensive/defensive lineman Jagger Summa in keeping the Bulldogs in the game as they hunt for another playoff appearance.

Schedule

8/26 at Chilton 7:30 p.m.

9/2 Hamilton 7:30 p.m.

9/9 at Clifton 7:30 p.m.

9/23 Marlin* 7:30 p.m.

9/30 at Bruceville-Eddy* 7:30 p.m.

10/7 Moody* 7:30 p.m.

10/14 Rosebud-Lott* 7:30 p.m.

10/21 at Crawford* 7:30 p.m.

10/28 Valley Mills* 7:30 p.m.

11/4 at Riesel* 7:30 p.m.


Riesel Indians

2021: 7-5 (3-3), reached 3A Div. II regional semifinals

Head coach: Tyler Crow (second season: 7-5)

Returning starters (O/D): 5/4

All-time: 370-437-31 since 1931

Playoffs: 11-13-1 in 14 trips, last in 2021

State titles: None

Outlook: After going three rounds deep in the Class 3A playoffs last fall, Riesel dips down to the 2A ranks again, and should feel emboldened about its chances.

The Indians experienced a fair amount of roster turnover, but still have some senior leaders to count on. They certainly won’t have to worry much in the trenches, returning five offensive linemen, including big man Kolt Dieterich, who made 53 pancake blocks and 81 knockdowns. He'll be joined by Michael Stroud and Hudson Glenn as the nucleus of a tough O-line in head coach Tyler Crow’s second year in charge.

Riesel's third-round playoff trip last year was its deepest since 2018, and the Indians would like to make it an even longer trip this season.

Schedule

8/26 at Blooming Grove 7:30 p.m.

9/2 Rice 7:30 p.m.

9/9 at Thorndale 7:30 p.m.

9/23 Bruceville-Eddy* 7:30 p.m.

9/30 at Rosebud-Lott* 7:30 p.m.

10/7 Valley Mills* 7:30 p.m.

10/14 at Marlin* 7:30 p.m.

10/21 Moody* 7:30 p.m.

10/28 at Crawford* 7:30 p.m.

11/4 Bosqueville* 7:30 p.m.


Rosebud-Lott Cougars

2021: 6-5 (3-3), reached bi-district playoffs

Head coach: Brandon Hicks (third year: 9-11)

Returning starters (O/D): 8/7

All-time: 265-282-5 since 1970

Playoffs: 18-16-1 in 17 trips, most recently 2021

State titles: 1 (2002)

Outlook: The Cougars are picking up steam in Brandon Hicks’ third year at the helm. Even after saying goodbye to key pieces on both sides of the ball, Hicks is assured that his team is poised for success this season. The culture has been established, he said.

Rosebud-Lott knows what it is, and after falling to Centerville in the first round of playoffs, it knows what it wants.

“I mean, our expectations are very high,” Hicks said. “The practices are all high-energy. ... Our athletes have kind of taken over and taken it upon themselves to lead those practices which has been really nice. Bringing back a good, strong core. So, that’s definitely going to help and having some success last year and at the same time the season not ending the way we wanted it to, that’s kind of motivated and lit a fire under those kids that we have in the program.”

Taking over under center for the Cougars will be talented Jamarquis Johnson, who Hicks notes is fielding offers from Texas Tech and UTSA. Sam Houston State commit Easton Fulton will anchor the line at left guard as well as playing defense, while Danny Rodriguez will provide a strong presence at linebacker.

“We only graduated four or five starters, so out of those younger guys, we’re really hoping that they can get accustomed to the physicality and the style of play that we’ve kind of instilled here at Rosebud-Lott,” Hicks said.

Schedule

8/26 Leon 7:30 p.m.

9/2 at Wortham 7 p.m.

9/9 Goldthwaite 7:30 p.m.

9/23 at Crawford* 7:30 p.m.

9/30 Riesel* 7:30 p.m.

10/7 at Bruceville-Eddy* 7:30 p.m.

10/14 at Bosqueville* 7:30 p.m.

10/21 Valley Mills* 7:30 p.m.

10/28 at Marlin* 7:30 p.m.

11/4 Moody* 7:30 p.m.


Valley Mills Eagles

2021: 4-6 (2-4), did not make playoffs

Head coach: Bob Featherston (second season: 4-6)

Returning starters (O/D): 5/8

All-time: 512-394-33 since 1920

Playoffs: 26-22-1 in 28 trips, last in 2019

State titles: None

valley mills

Valley Mills just missed the playoffs last year, and hopes to rectify that behind (left to right) Cason Johnson, Elijah Williams, Colson Klemche, Joe Taylor and Pecos Dutschmann.

Outlook: Can the Eagles take a lesson from their state championship baseball season that culminated in June? Hey, winning sometimes translates from sport to sport, so it can't hurt.

The Eagles are a speedy bunch and they’ll have a reliable Elandis Taylor at QB once again. The defense looks to be an experienced group, as has been the theme throughout the district, with seven starters back. However, Valley Mills will have to replace its top returning tackler, as linebacker David Haynes III left for Whitney when his father David Haynes Jr. took the head coaching job there. That'll mean that players like DB Cason Johnson and DL Pecos Dutschmann must pick up the slack.

TE Thomas Perez was one of the heroes of the baseball season, and is a gifted all-around athlete.

Valley Mills was a middle-of-the-pack team in Featherston’s first season, coming in fifth to wrap up district play and just missing the playoffs, so the Eagles don't lack for motivation.

Schedule

8/26 at Weatherford Chr., 7:30 p.m. at Hall MS

9/2 at Holland 7:30 p.m.

9/9 De Leon 7:30 p.m.

9/23 at Moody* 7:30 p.m.

9/30 Crawford* 7:30 p.m.

10/7 at Riesel* 7:30 p.m.

10/14 Bruceville-Eddy* 7:30 p.m.

10/21 at Rosebud-Lott* 7:30 p.m.

10/28 at Bosqueville* 7:30 p.m.

11/4 Marlin* 7:30 p.m.


Moody Bearcats

2021: 2-8 (0-6), did not make playoffs

Head coach: Matt Hurst (first season)

Returning starters (O/D): 7/6

All-time: 369-501-20 since 1916

Playoffs: 8-10 in 10 trips, most recently 2016

State titles: None

moody

Moody’s 2022 hopes will be spearheaded by (left to right): Keith Dailey, Ethan Hohhertz, Ryder Hohhertz, Cooper Staton, Tucker Staton and Jaden Anzaldua.

Outlook: The Bearcats are bringing back a lot of skill players and key defenders, headlined by a decent-sized senior class, but they’ll be focused on staying healthy and implementing a whole new system under new coach Matt Hurst.

Change is always hard at first, but Hurst said he’s been really impressed with the way the upperclassmen have responded.

“They've really responded well,” said Hurst, who came over to replace Lonnie Judd after a stint as a Lorena assistant. “Just continuing to work, continuing to have a good attitude and learn and not be down about it, but really just push forward and say, ‘Hey, we got something new and we’re going to work hard and try to learn and try to work toward something.’”

The key for Moody this year is growth. Hurst will have a strong secondary to work with, as well as a proven QB in Ryder Hohhertz and a go-to target in wide receiver Cooper Staton. Hohertz passed for 13 touchdowns and ran for 11 more last year, while Staton ranked among the area's top pass catchers, with 78 catches for 925 yards and 8 TDs.

Hurst mentioned that there might be some changes in position for a handful of core players. But the Bearcats are willing to do what it takes to improve day by day.

“We haven’t set long-term goals as far as wins and losses, district, any of that stuff,” Hurst said. “The team, and the coaching staff, is really focused on installing and implementing our program — our offense, our defense, our special teams, all the new stuff we’re doing — we’re focused on getting that put in and learning it, getting better at it and executing, improving every day.”

Schedule

8/26 at Axtell 7:30 p.m.

9/2 Hico 7:30 p.m.

9/9 Hubbard 7:30 p.m.

9/23 Valley Mills* 7:30 p.m.

9/30 at Marlin* 7:30 p.m.

10/7 at Bosqueville* 7:30 p.m.

10/14 Crawford* 7:30 p.m.

10/21 at Riesel* 7:30 p.m.

10/28 Bruceville-Eddy* 7:30 p.m.

11/4 at Rosebud-Lott* 7:30 p.m.


Bruceville-Eddy Eagles

2021: 2-8 (1-5), did not make playoffs

Head coach: Jeff Nuner (second year: 2-8)

Returning starters (O/D): 8/7

All-time: 310-527-29 since 1926

Playoffs: 3-6-1 in seven trips, most recently 2019

State titles: None

Read more from the Tribune-Herald 2022 high school football preview: https://wacotrib.com/sports/high-school/high-school-football-2022-preview/collection_933e18fa-1873-11ed-808b-570f7eb12f30.html ----- Music from Tunetank.com Evan Splash - Drive It Now (Copyright Free Music) Download free: https://tunetank.com/track/429-drive-it-now

Outlook: The trenches, the trenches, the trenches. The offensive line is always going to be the priority in Bruceville-Eddy's scheme, at least to begin the season.

“Like every year, it’s probably the same answer, your offensive line takes a little bit to start jelling and fighting like they should,” second-year head coach Jeff Nuner said. “We’re a little thin, don’t have a lot of depth in our offensive line. But to me that’s the annual plan. It’s always the offensive line that needs the most work.”

But where they lack in depth, the Eagles will make up in experience as four of their eight offensive returners are linemen — Alijah Bell, Carson Carter, James Simons and Nich Squyers are all back. They’ll be led by Ashton Rosas at quarterback, who’s making the switch from linebacker after making second-team all-district on that side of the ball last year.

Nuner said Rosas has come a long way during the offseason, putting in the work with the Eagles’ offensive coordinator to get his throwing mechanics up to par. Rosas will have Tyrell Horne, Jordan Commander and Christopher Bailey returning at the wide receiver position and running backs Nick Boaz and Chad Pate to help the charge.

“We had to play a lot of young kids last year, and they're still young this year, but they've got a year of experience, so I don't know,” Nuner said. “This is the most fun I've had the first two weeks of football season in a long time.

"I'm really looking forward to it. Going to be a little bit more up tempo on offense this year, a little bit more attacking on defense. So it's going to be fun. The kids are excited.”

Bruceville Eddy

Bruceville-Eddy enters year two under head coach Jeff Nuner with high hopes. From left to right: Chad Pate, CJ Bailey, Nicholas Boaz and Ashton Rosas.

Schedule

8/26 at Hico 7 p.m.

9/2 Florence 7:30 p.m.

9/9 at Malakoff Cross Roads 7 p.m.

9/23 at Riesel* 7:30 p.m.

9/30 Bosqueville* 7:30 p.m.

10/7 Rosebud-Lott* 7:30 p.m.

10/14 at Valley Mills* 7:30 p.m.

10/21 Marlin* 7:30 p.m.

10/28 at Moody* 7:30 p.m.

11/4 Crawford* 7:30 p.m.

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