Pearland a pre-season favorite to capture 23-6A football title

PEARLAND — Head coaches know that any pre-season predictions are just that. The real season is won or lost on the field of competition and anything can happen on any given night, especially when the teams begin district competition.

Pearland and Dawson have new head coaches and both are looking to establish their own legacies at each respective school.

Pearland Oilers

Pearland's Ricky Tullos enters with a strong pedigree of success. Tullos comes to the Oilers from George Ranch after previous stints at Splendora (offensive coordinator) and Cleveland (head coach).

While at George Ranch, as their second head coach in their young history, Tullos led the Longhorns to a 59-17 record over six seasons, including the 2015 Class 5A Division I state championship to cap a perfect 16-0 record. Tullos has an overall coaching mark of 88-27.

The Oilers enter the season with a strong returning roster including eight offensive and five defensive starters on a team that advanced to the playoffs last season for the 18th straight year.

Pearland opened the 2017 season under interim head coach James Farmer after Tony Heath announced his retirement after 20 years. Heath guided the Oilers to one of the greatest turn around in Texas football history to close out his career (1997-2016) with an overall 195-53 mark including a 2010 Class 5A Division I state championship.

The Oilers posted an early 4-1 mark to begin 2017, but settled for a 1-3 finish to close out the season at 5-4 including a 54-29 loss to Clear Springs in the opening round of the post-season. Hurricane Harvey cancelled two of Pearland's non-district games.

Tullos will employ a power spread attack and will look to three-year starter RB Jaelin Benefield (5-10, 165, 4.5) to lead the offensive along with first-team All-District quarterback senior Austin Landry (6-0, 185, 4.5).

Other players that should provide Tullos with plenty of talent include OL Sincere Haynesworth (6-2, 280), OL Jaret Porterfield (6-3, 310), OL Walter Maeker (6-1, 240), and WR Clayton Broeder (6-0, 185, 4.7).

On defense, the Oilers will depend on DB Johnny Tamayo (I6-0, 180, 4.5), DL Gilbert Ibeneme (6-3, 255), and DL Isaiah Iton to name a few.

It should be a strong year under Tullos as he is a strong motivator to see his players give their all on and off the field.

Dawson Eagles

Just like Pearland, the Eagles will welcome a new head coach in Mike Allison. However, Allison is no stranger to Pearland or Dawson as he spent his coaching career in Pearland.

On the Pearland coaching staff before Dawson opened, Allison moved from the Oilers to go with former Pearland offensive coordinator Eric Wells to open up the new Pearland ISD high school in 2007.

Allison is actually returning home after a three-year coaching stint as the head coach at Clear Brook.

Allison compiled a 15-17 record in his three years as the Brook head coach, reaching the playoffs one time and narrowly missing on the other two occasions.

Clear Brook finished fourth in District 24-6A in Allison's second year (2016), but the Wolverines made a deep run in the post-season including a 55-42 win over Dawson in the first round and a 42-18 win over Kingwood.

The Wolverines' playoff ride ended in the regional quarterfinals when they lost to Cy-Ridge, 49-14.

While at Dawson, Allison was the Defensive Coordinator and saw the Eagles make the playoffs each year after the inaugural season that didn't have a senior class. Dawson advanced at least three rounds deep in the playoffs during his time there including two times to the Class 4A Division I state semifinals.

Allison has a proven record with Dawson and Eagle Nation should welcome him home with outstretched arms.

Dawson is a pre-season pick to finish in third place in the District 23-6A race behind Pearland and Alief Hastings.

The Eagles have some talented players returning with six offensive and five defensive players on the roster.

On offense, look for QB Patrick Kramer to take the controls after he threw for 1,362 yards and 8 TDs. His top receiver will be WR Mason Pierce (5-7, 160, 4.6) who had 662 yards receiving and 4 TDs. The ground attack will be led by Caleb Eaton (6-0, 195, 4.5) who had 446 yards rushing and 5 TDs.

Other players to watch on offense include: C Jacob Johnston (6-2, 270), OL Calib Perez (6-5, 260) and OL Spencer Cody.

On defense, the Eagles should be an aggressive unit led by S Kris Levi (5-11, 180, 4.7), DE Steven Rochon (6-3, 215), CB Jayron Tanner (5-11, 175, 4.5), DL Kris Pruitt, and OLB Marcus Allen.

Both schools will return to District 23-6A after the University Interscholastic League (UIL) announced their biennial realignment with the following schools - Alief Elsik, Alief Hastings, Alief Taylor, Clute Brazoswood, Houston Strake Jesuit, Pearland, Pearland Dawson, and Richmond George Ranch.

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Jaelin Benefield
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Austin Landry
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Mason Pierce
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Kristopher Levi