Football preview for District 12-5A Division II:
With 13 starters returning and its history of success, Crosby has the tools to win what will be a very competitive District 12-5A-II. Quarterback Jaiden Howard (3600 total yards, 36 touchdowns) returns to lead what will likely be an explosive offense. The defense, which gave up 71 points in its bi-district playoff loss to new district rival Port Neches-Groves, will need to improve. Eight defensive starters return, so there’s optimism for a better defense.
Next in line
There’s no question that Port Neches-Groves quarterback Roschon Johnson is one of the best players in the state, but there are questions about what the Indians have after him. Their best three receivers all graduated and junior running back Gavin Deslatte is the only other impact offensive player returning. The defense, like Crosby’s, struggled in big game situations. The Indians allowed more than 60 points in two of their three playoff games.
Photo: Ryan Pelham/The Enterprise
Nederland, regardless of who is in its district, is always challenging or winning a district title. The well-oiled-machine returns some of its most impact players in quarterback Blaysin Fernandez (1,864 passing yards, 24 touchdowns) and defensive backs Noah Lewis (8 interceptions) and Landon Hiltz (8 interceptions). The Bulldogs played spoiler last year, defeating rival Port Neches-Groves in the regular season finale to deny the Indians of an outright district title.
Photo: Ryan Pelham/Ryan Pelham/The Enterprise
Best of the rest
The race for the final playoff spot should be a fun one between Barbers Hill, Dayton and Vidor. Barbers Hill and Vidor each went 5-3 in district play last season while Dayton (3-5 in district) should be much improved this season. The biggest question for the non-Beaumont area teams in the district will be how well they will be able to defend Vidor’s Slot-T offense, which is an uncommon offense to see at the 5A level.
Players to watch
Jaiden Howard, Sr., QB, Crosby
Maybe not everyone noticed Howard posted 2,000 plus-yards passing with 20 touchdowns and nearly 500 yards rushing and another four scores because of Craig Williams in the backfield last year. But another dream run for Crosby will include another stellar year for Howard.
R.J. Orebo, Sr., LB, Dayton
With so many high-powered offenses in the district, defensive standouts like Orebo could make the difference for a team like Dayton looking to return to the playoffs. At 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds, Orebo is going to be difficult for any offense to contain.
Ijeana Wooley, Jr., QB, Baytown Lee
Despite Lee’s lack of success last season, the duo of Wooley and running back Ja’Kenan Davis were fun to watch. Both players are a year older and should form one of the best offensive duos in the district. Wooley, 22-5A’s co-newcomer of the year, totaled 2,095 total yards last year.
Jaylen Garth, Jr., OL, Port Neches-Groves
Johnson was able to have so much success last season because of his offensive line and Garth led the way. Garth’s stock rose significantly in the offseason, earning offers from schools like Texas A&M and Alabama. If PN-G’s offense runs well again, Garth will be a major reason for it.
Games to watch
Port Neches-Groves at Crosby
7:30 p.m., Oct. 12, Cougar Stadium
These two teams played one of the most thrilling high school playoff games in state history last season in the bi-district round. PN-G won 72-69 and Johnson accounted for 10 touchdowns. This year, the game could have a similar feeling. PN-G and Crosby are the favorites to win district and the winner could end up with that title. Plus, Crosby will want to exact revenge after last season’s loss.
Photo: Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle
Nederland at Port Neches-Groves
7:30 p.m., Nov. 9, Indian Stadium
Often referred to as the best rivalry in Texas, Mid-County Madness has had serious district implications recently. Nederland shocked PN-G in the last minute last season to end the Indians’ undefeated regular season. The Bulldogs have won six of the past seven matchups, but this will be Johnson’s final home game of his storied career.
Photo: Ryan Pelham/Ryan Pelham/The Enterprise
West Orange-Stark at Crosby
7 p.m., Sept. 21, Cougar Stadium
This could shape up to be one of Texas’ best – if not most intriguing – non-district games. Crosby and its typically high-powered offense will face off against West Orange-Stark’s storied “Chain Gang” defense. WO-S is only in Class 4A-II compared to Crosby in Class 5A-II, but the contrast in the teams’ strengths will be fun to watch.