Oilers, Eagles picked as playoff teams


PEARLAND — As the 2017 football season approaches, it no surprise that the Pearland Oilers and the Dawson Eagles are pre-season picks to advance to the post-season.

Despite the recent retirement of Pearland head coach Tony Heath, the Oilers are the early pick to capture the District 23-6A title. But anyone who follows high school football knows that the games are won on the field and not by predictions.

Alief Taylor and Dawson shared the district championship as both teams only had one loss in the title race.

The Oilers will be in good hands as James Farmer, who is beginning his 14th season at Pearland, was named as interim head coach for the 2017 season with hopes that interim title might be removed when a decision will be made for the next head coach in January.

"James knows that Pearland football is not about him," Heath said. "He knows it's about the program, and he gets that. More than anything, he has the kids' back.

"He relates very well to the players, and he understands what gets them going. He'll be a great motivator, and he'll do an excellent job."

Farmer is just trying to learn the ropes as a head coach and he is open to making sure that Pearland continues to be a strong football program.

"I didn't realize all the responsibilities that Tony had," Farmer said. "I am being hit from all different directions so I am trying to soak it all in and respond to each situation.

"The most important things Tony has passed on to me are what it takes to be successful. That means the structure of the program, and the demand for doing things right as far as the kids and the staff are concerned.

"On the field, the expectations are always there. To get to that point, you have to have a great work ethic from the coaches and the kids."

One of the reasons that Pearland got the nod as the favorite to capture the district crown is because they have nine offensive and six defensive starters returning with 25 lettermen.

The one position that fans always ask about is who is going to be the quarterback. It appears that junior Austin Landry has the inside track as he has grown to 6-0, 190 and engineered the Oilers to qualify for the state 7-on-7 tournament at College Station.

"Austin has really come along this spring and he really looked good at the 7-on-7 state tournament," Farmer said.

The Oilers also have a strong stable of running backs including senior Evan Burgess (5-11, 195), who is considered one of the top backs in the Houston area, and running mate junior Jaelin Benefield (736 yards rushing, 9 TDs).

Pearland hopes to stay healthy since last season saw numerous injuries including starting quarterback Connor Blumrick (Texas A&M) who suffered a season-ending injury on the third snap of the first game.

Players to watch this season for Pearland on offense include: OL Jaret Porterfield, C Sincere Haynesworth, OL Dawson Murdock, WR Brett White, WR Clayton Broeder, and K Jacob Keller.

Players on defense include: DE Gilbert Ibenene, CB Austin Deason, LB DeAntoine Carter, LB Mitchell Johnson (66 tackles), S Johnny Tamayo, S Colton Johnson, and DL Pierce Tupa.


Dawson Eagles

Dawson lost only one district game last season and that was to Alief Taylor. The Eagles ended up sharing the title with the Lions after they lost their final league contest with both teams finishing 5-1.

It was a breakthrough season for Dawson after they beat their cross-town cousin Pearland 34-32 for the first time in three tries to claim the annual Pear Bowl Trophy.

Head coach Eric Wells begins his 11th year at the helm of the Eagles football program and he has done a great job each year compiling an overall record of 83-31.

However, for the first time in school history, Dawson fell in the opening round of the playoffs last season and Wells wants to avoid that happening again. Dawson finished 8-3 in 2016.

Leading the way for Dawson will be Arizona commit RB Darrius Smith who was named the District 23-6A Offensive Player of the Year last season after he rushed for 1,499 yards on 209 carries while scoring 17 touchdowns. He also caught 18 passes for 307 yards and two more TDs.

Dawson faces the same task as the Oilers and that is finding a strong field general to direct the offense.

Players to watch include: OG Eddie Scott, TE Spencer Wells, K Claire Jeffress, and DT Khris Pruitt.


Brazoswood Buccaneers

This will be a rebuilding season for head coach Dean DeAtley as the Bucs return three offensive and five defensive starters to go with 20 returning lettermen.

The Bucs do not figure to be in the playoff hunt this season, but they could be a spoiler if other teams take them for granted. Brazoswood was 4-6 overall in 2016 and 1-5 in league action.


Alief Elsik Rams

Elsik is another team that doesn't figure to be in the playoffs after they were 1-9 in 2016 and winless in district at 0-6.

The Rams have six offensive and nine defensive starters returning with 22 lettermen, but they would have to have a significant turnaround to avoid a second year in the district cellar.


George Ranch Longhorns

George Ranch got their induction into Class 6A last season by the big boys finishing fourth in district while making the post-season. The Longhorns entered the season as the defending Class 5A Div. I state champions, but finished the 2016 campaign 6-5 overall and 4-2 in district.

The Horns have only four offensive and four defensive starters returning to go with 30 lettermen to start the 2017 season. But they are a pre-season pick to finish second in district behind the Pearland Oilers.

The fell to Pearland and Dawson last year while upsetting Alief Taylor to hand them their only league loss.

The Horns lost to Friendswood in the opening round of the 6A Region III Div. II playoff contest.


Alief Hastings Bears

Hastings will be the other teams that doesn't figure to be in the playoff race after finishing last year 2-8 overall and 2-4 in district.

The Bears do have a much stronger team entering the 2017 season and could sneak in to the four spot if someone takes them lightly.

Hastings has nine offensive and eight defensive starters returning with 20 lettermen. They are still young, but they do have some key skill people on offense returning that could get them over the hurdle and into the playoffs.


Alief Taylor Lions

Taylor knocked off Pearland and Dawson in key wins for a share of the league title, but were upset by George Ranch in the season finale that allowed Dawson to grab a share of the district championship. Both finished 5-1.

The Lions were hit hard by graduation and only have two offensive and two defensive starters returning to go with 17 lettermen so it may be a struggle to make the playoffs this year.

Taylor was 9-2 overall after falling in the opening round of the playoffs.


PRE-SEASON PREDICTION FOR 24-6A

Here is how the early sports prognosticators see the playoff picture for 23-6A in 2017.

    Inside Picks
  1. Pearland
  2. Richmond George Ranch
  3. Dawson
  4. Alief Taylor
  5. Outside Looking In
  6. Alief Hastings
  7. Clute Brazoswood
  8. Alief Elsik

2017 Pearland Oilers Football Schedule
Fri - 9/01 Clear Springs Home 7:00 p.m.
Fri - 9/08 SB Memorial Away 7:00 p.m.
Fri - 9/15 Manvel Away 7:00 p.m.
Fri - 9/22 Pas Memorial Home 7:00 p.m.
Thu - 9/28 *Alief Elsik Away 7:00 p.m.
Fri - 10/06 *Alief Taylor Home 7:00 p.m.
Thu - 10/12 *Alief Hastings Away 7:00 p.m.
Fri - 10/20 *Dawson Away 7:00 p.m.
Fri - 10/27 *George Ranch Away 7:00 p.m.
Fri - 11/03 *Brazoswood Away 7:00 p.m.
Fri - 11/10 OPEN
* Denotes District 23-6A Game

2017 Dawson Eagles Football Schedule
08/31 Thu Oak Ridge Away 7:00 p.m.
09/08 Fri Deer Park Home 7:00 p.m.
09/15 Fri Summer Creek Home 7:00 p.m.
09/21 Thu Pas. Dobie Away 7:00 p.m.
09/29 OPEN
10/05 Thu George Ranch Away 7:00 p.m.
10/13 Fri Brazoswood Home 7:00 p.m.
10/20 Fri Pearland Home 7:00 p.m.
10/27 Fri Elsik Home 7:00 p.m.
11/03 Fri Taylor Away 7:00 p.m.
11/10 Fri Hastings Away 7:00 p.m.