Magazine Previews Lovelady's New District
Lovelady's new football district is expected to be highly competitive with five of the six teams making playoff appearances last year.
Under the UIL's realignments announced in February, the Lions were assigned to District 12-2A Division I, which includes Centerville, Groveton, Hull-Daisetta, Anderson-Shiro and West Hardin.
Centerville, Groveton and Anderson-Shiro were all playoff teams in 2A, DII (now 3A, DII). Hull-Daisetta was an area finalist in Class 1A Division 1.
Lovelady, moving up from Class 1A Division II, reached the regional round after finishing third in district behind highly-ranked Bremond and Chilton.
Centerville, tabbed No. 5 in Texas Football magazine's 2014 preseason poll, is favored to win the district and reach the state semifinals.
The magazine predicts District 12-2A DI will finish in this order: 1. Centerville 2. Groveton 3. Hull-Daisetta 4. Lovelady 5. Anderson-Shiro 6. West Hardin. The top four finishers advance to the state playoffs.
Lovelady has played Hull-Daisetta and West Hardin in non-district for several years after competing in the same district during the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
The Tigers return seven offensive and eight defensive starters from a district runnerup squad that posted a record of 6-1 and 11-2 overall.
Inside linebacker Kyle Harris is the 12-2A Preseason Defensive MVP.
Two returning dual threat quarterbacks will lead Centerville's multiple wing offense. Cade Harris is the district's top returning passer with 487 yards and seven touchdown tosses. Quarterback Jordan Cannon threw for 222 yards and rushed for 289 with an average of 7 yards per carry.
Centerville receiver Haden Nash is the district's returning statistical leader with 254 yards and four touchdown catches.
The Tribe's new head coach Brandon Craus inherits a team that includes eight starters on offense and six on defense.
The Indians finished third in their district with a 3-2 mark behind Corrigan-Camden and Deweyville, and were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by Centerville, 63-14, for an overall record of 6-5.
Coach Craus comes to Groveton from Dayton, where he started as an assistant coach in 2000. He was Co-OC/Passing Game Coach from 2007-2011 and offensive coordinator since 2011.
Groveton returns several all-district performers, including quarterback Brandon Kemper, athlete Kelvin James and wide receiver Colton Alsbrooks.
The Bobcats will also have a new head coach with Stan Hodges at the helm this season. Hodges, an assistant at Hull-Daisetta in the 1990s, was previously head coach at Kountze several years and an assistant for the 5A Converse Judson state championship team.
The Bobcats (4-7, 3-0) were champions of District 11-1A and lost an offensive shoot-out with Alto 47-42 in the area round.
Six starters return on both sides of the ball, including all-state quarterback Cade Huckaby.
Huckaby is tabbed as the 12-2A Preseason Offensive MVP and is the district's top returning rusher with 1,734 yards and 20 touchdowns.
The Lions are looking to build on last year's playoff run that went three rounds deep. After beating Evadale 27-0 and Maud 21-8, the Lions were knocked out of the playoffs in a rematch with their district rival Bremond in the regional round.
Coach Kerry Therwhanger returns six first team all-district honorees: junior runningback Emanual Williams, junior offensive lineman Mason Lowery, senior linebacker Dillon McLaughlin, junior linebacker Sean Bridges, junior defensive end Taylor Connell and senior punter Jose Mora.
Seven returning Lions received second team all-district recognition last year.
With a football program still in infancy, Anderson-Shiro earned its first playoff berth last season with a fourth-place finish in District 12-2A DII behind Groveton.
The Owls will have seven starters returning both ways from a team that posted a record of 5-5 overall and 2-3 in district.
Anderson's key strength lies in the offensive line that features a 240-pound all-district performer and two other beefy linemen to open up holes for the running game.
After launching its football program in 2009, Anderson-Shiro fielded its first varsity squad in 2012 and posted a season record of 1-9.
The Oilers hope to break out of the doldrums after a winless district campaign and notching just three non-district wins in 2013.
West Hardin's last playoff appearance was in 2011 when they were in the same district with Lovelady. The Lions demolished the Oilers 47-13 in 2010 and 74-24 in 2011 en route to back-to-back district championships.