RACE FOR THE RING

The Class 6A Top 20 powered by Champion Energy

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Originally Appeared on VYPE

The 2019 VYPE Class 6A Preseason Football rankings are here!

Of course, the defending state champions sit atop the rankings for a second-straight year with Katy sitting right behind them. That will make the opening week game very exciting. Check out the rest of the Top 20 below.

No. 1 North Shore Mustangs

Here come the champs loaded and ready to defend their title. North Shore enters the 2019 season as the heavy-weight favorite not only to claim the District 21-6A Championship but also make a run back to state in December. Jon Kay guided the "Beasts of the East" to the program's second state crown in the previous three seasons in 2018 with a perfect 16-0 mark and an unforgettable win against Duncanville. Dematrius Davis passed for 3,373 yards and 43 touchdowns, while his top target Shadrach Banks (Texas A&M-commit) reeled in 60 grabs for 1,299 yards and 17 touchdowns. Zach Evans returns to anchor the backfield as the top recruit of the entire 2020 class in the country. Evans rushed for 1,793 yards and 29 scores a year ago. The bigs upfront include Alabama-commit Damieon George, Jaeden Roberts and Edzavier Deblaw. Arkansas pledge John Gentry joins Evans in the backfield. Defensively, Kansas State-commit Jojo Wilson and Utah State-commit Upton Stout will hold down the secondary, while Miami-commit Corey Flagg Jr. will anchor at linebacker. The season begins with a monster battle against the Katy Tigers.


No. 2 Katy Tigers

North Shore is getting all the shine, but do not sleep on the Katy Tigers. Tiger Nation won't say it, but they want H-Town to remember that they are still the brand of the city with eight state titles and 15 state title appearances. The Tigers went back to the drawing board and are ready for 2019. The offensive line is experienced with Drew Murphy, Justin King, Dakota White and Brayden Gammel to protect QB Bronson McClelland, who enters his junior season after throwing for 2,300 yards and 30 scores a year ago. His primary WR will be Jordan Patrick along with Steven Stiles. Tight ends Samuel Dunn, Fernando Garza and Jake Norman are giant. Running backs Sherman Smith and Ronald Hoff will tote the rock. Defensively, the strength is the secondary. Hunter Washington is a national recruit, along with Heights' move-in Bobby Taylor. UTSA-commit Bryan Massey, Dalton Johnson and Hamilton McMartin are super talents as well. The linebackers are led by Jaylen Phillips and Ty Cana. The front will be the only question mark.

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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