Manvel set to grab 23-5A crown again


MANVEL — It comes as no surprise that Manvel would be picked to defend their 23-5A title for the upcoming 2017 football campaign.

The defending district champions are loaded once again and have their sights set on bringing home that elusive state championship that seems to evade their grasp each year.

The Mavericks were figured in the conversation last season to finally cross over the hurdle for the state crown, but as in the past, head coach Kirk Martin has seen troops come up short.

The 2016 season was supposed to be the year that the Manvel Mavericks would finally see that the stars were lined up in their favor for a first-ever state football championship.

No Katy. No Aledo. No Cy-Ranch.

Those were the teams that Manvel wasn't able to hurdle in their quest for a first-ever state football title over the last five years.

Manvel has fallen to the Katy Tigers (2013-15) in the Class 6A Region III Div. II finals.

In 2012, the Mavericks saw Cy-Ranch come from a 42-28 deficit with only 2:44 left in the game to pull out a shocking 43-42 win to eliminate the Mavs in the 5A Region III Div. II semifinals in 2012.

In 2011, Aledo stood in the way of Manvel in the Class 4A Div. II state finals with the Mavs coming up short 49-28.

Manvel is a young school, but they have already brought home a 5A state title in girls basketball (2012-2013) after defeating state-power Duncanville and also a pair of state track championships in 2015 (6A) and 2017 (5A) with a runner-up finish at state in 2016 (6A).

Most of the time, the Mavericks have a district championship on their radar as the first goal of their season. The region title is next with the third and final level for the state championship.

Many had Manvel on their list as a favorite to win the title last year since being realigned from 6A to 5A. After breezing through the regular season at 10-0 with the 23-5 championship, they increased their state title hopes with a 47-35 victory over defending state champion Cedar Park in the playoffs to improve to 13-1.

Earlier in the playoffs, the Mavericks didn't receive any resistance as they rolled over Houston Austin 78-6 and New Caney 69-21 before facing Cedar Park.

Manvel rolled into AT&T Stadium against the Temple Wildcats (11-3) as a favorite to win the Region III Div. I title having outscored their opponents 647-160 while posting a perfect 13-0 mark. The Mavs had been to six state quarterfinals in the past seven years.

Unfortunately, Temple was able to resist the high-powered offense with a stiff defense late in the game to pull out a 24-23 victory that included a late defensive stand that ended Manvel's season with another disappointing loss late in the playoffs. It was the fourth straight loss in the state quarterfinals.

Despite those disappointments, it is hard to criticize the outstanding leadership of head coach Kirk Martin. Few teams have experience such success in such a young history.

Martin has had over four dozen players sign college football scholarships since the school opened.

The success that Manvel has experienced under Martin has attracted major colleges from all across the country to consider his players at the next level.

Martin has been at the helm of the Mavs since the day the school opened in 2007. Martin has an overall record of 95-24 and 53-11 in district action. The Mavs have won five district championships, 24-4A (2011), District 22-5A (2012, 2013), District 23-5A (2016), and District 22-6A (2014). Martin has been named district "Coach of the Year" several times and has also received "Coach of the Year" honors from the Touchdown Club of Houston in 2011.

Manvel returns six offensive and six defensive starters to go with 32 lettermen.

Players to watch include: QB Kason Martin (6-3, 185), WR Jalen Preston (6-2, 210, 4.5), DB Trent Gordon, LB Brian Johnson (6-1, 185, 4.3), WR Kam Scott (6-2, 170, 4.4), and LB DePriest Taylor (6-0, 225).

Top juniors include: DE Kori Roberson (6-4, 275), LB Jermaine Brown (6-0, 185.4.4) and top sophomore RB Donovan Eaglin (6-0, 215, 4.6).

Other prospects include: LB Trent Serrato, RB Deneric Prince, C Lance Jones, DE Stephan Shaw, CB Cecori Tolds, OL Joseph Solomon, WR Warren Lastor and OT Jalen Momerelle.

Martin hit 224-of-359 passing for 3,443 yards, 46 TDs with only 13 INTs. He will have a stable of experienced and fast receivers including Preston (10 receiving TDs, four return TDs) who will lead the way.

Here's how the rest of the district will stack up for the upcoming season.

The other District 23-5A teams:

Ball High Tornadoes

Galveston Ball still hasn't recovered from the last hurricane and they don't figure to be a team that will make the playoffs again this season after they were 3-7 overall in 2016 and 3-4 in district.

The Tors do have experience returning with eight offensive and five defensive starters to go with 22 lettermen. They could be that surprise team that could surface to be a spoiler if other teams take them for granted.


Elkins Knights

Elkins could challenge Manvel with six offensive and seven defensive starters to go with 23 lettermen. The Knights were 6-6 last season as an Region III Div. I area finalist.

Elkins was 5-2 in the district race in 2016. The Knights have two outstanding receivers that could challenge other teams as a playoff favorite.


Galena Park Yellowjackets

The bottom of the district cellar is where Galena Park is picked to finish after a 2-8 overall record last year while going winless in district with an 0-7 mark.

Galena Park returns six offensive and six defensive starters with 23 lettermen with a new head coach in George Young who comes over from North Shore to try and revitalize the Jackets this year.


Marshall Buffaloes

Marshall was 11-3 in 2016 and 5-2 in district while advancing to the 5A Region III Div. II regional finals.

The Buffaloes will return 10 offensive starters and eight defensive starters as well as 28 lettermen that could be the team to be a formable foe to challenge Manvel for the district crown.

Look for this game to decide the league championship.


Santa Fe Indians

Since former Pearland defensive coordinator Mark Kanipes took over the Santa Fe football fortunes, the team has shown some improvement, but no one is counting on the Indians making a serious threat to make the playoffs this season.

Santa Fe was 3-7 overall last year, but only 1-6 in district. The Indians have six offensive and seven defensive starters returning with 21 lettermen.


Texas City Stingarees

Texas City stayed home last year from the post-season after posting a 4-6 overall mark and 3-4 in district.

The Stings have six offensive and five defensive starters returning with 20 lettermen, but most don't have them punching their ticket to the playoffs this season.

Texas City has always had a lot of pride in their football program and could be a surprise dark horse to make the fourth and final playoff team.


Willowridge Eagles

Willowridge was 7-5 last season and finished 4-3 in district to advance to the Region III Div. II area finalist.

The Eagles have six offensive and five defensive starters returning with 20 lettermen in their quest to make the post-season again in 2017.


PRE-SEASON PREDICTION FOR 23-5A

Here is how the early sports prognosticators see the playoff picture for 23-5A in 2017.

    Inside Picks
  1. Manvel
  2. Fort Bend Marshall
  3. Fort Bend Elkins
  4. Fort Bend Willowridge
  5. Outside Looking In
  6. Texas City
  7. Galveston Ball
  8. Santa Fe
  9. Galena Park

2017 Manvel Mavericks Football Schedule
Fri     9/01      Crosby                 Away      7:00 p.m.    
Thu   9/07      North Shore         Home     7:00 p.m.
Fri     9/15      Pearland              Home     7:00 p.m.
Fri     9/22      OPEN    
Fri     9/29      *FB Willowridge     Home    7:00 p.m.
Fri     10/06     *Ball High               Away     7:00 p.m.
Sat    10/14     *FB Marshall          Away     7:00 p.m.
Fri     10/20    *FB Elkins              Home     7:00 p.m.
Fri     10/27    *Texas City            Away     7:00 p.m.    
Fri     11/03     *Santa Fe               Home    7:00 p.m.
Fri     11/10     *Galena Park          Away    7:00 p.m.
* Denotes District 23-5A Game