High school players, coaches, teams to watch

August 13, 2009 7:17:15 PM PDT
Here are snapshots of players, coaches and teams to watch as another high school football season begins August 27:[SPORTS BLOG: Read the latest from the Eyewitness Sports team]

PLAYERS:

TRAYLON SHEAD, Cayuga

Cayuga RB has outside shot at state's hallowed rushing record

Cayuga coach Tommy Allison knows the circus that comes with big-time Texas high school running back recruits because he was Adrian Peterson's offensive coordinator at Palestine.

Nothing fazes Allison's latest star, Traylon Shead.

Still, things could get a little crazy in Cayuga this season.

It's a long shot, but Shead is within reach of perhaps the state's most hallowed record -- 11,232 rushing yards by Kenneth Hall at Sugar Land from 1950-53.

To get there, Shead needs 3,739 yards, which would be the second-most for a season in Texas history. But he had 3,502 last year, when Cayuga lost to Stratford in the Class 1A Division II championship game. Shead enters the season with 7,494 career yards.

"I think that's something that very few kids have ever been able to think about," Allison said.

Right now, the coach dismisses the notion of breaking the record. The Wildcats have other offensive stars and the single-minded goal of atoning for last year's loss in the title game. There's also the possibility of Shead sitting for long stretches in blowouts.

"And that's another thing that's not that big a deal to Traylon," Allison said. "I'm sure it's in the back of his mind. It would be in any normal kid. But priority No. 1 is to win football games."

Because Hall's record is nearly 2,500 yards clear of second place, Shead needs just 1,362 for the No. 2 spot. Reaching Hall's mark would require another long Cayuga playoff run. If the Wildcats played 16 games again, Shead would have to average more than 230 yards per game.

"As it gets closer and he puts himself in that situation, then who knows?" Allison said. "Right now ... that's a lot of yards. That's a lot of football games."

Others to watch:

-- Lake Travis QB Michael Brewer: The two-time state champions replace Garrett Gilbert, the son of former NFL quarterback Gale Gilbert, with the son of former Texas quarterback Robert Brewer.

-- Plano West DL Jackson Jeffcoat: The son of former Dallas Cowboys defensive end Jim Jeffcoat has been a star since he moved from linebacker to his dad's old position as a freshman. He'll be heavily recruited but loves basketball, too.

-- Graham QB Case McCoy: The brother of Texas quarterback Colt McCoy has already chosen the Longhorns. One of his district opponents will be Brownwood receiver Jaxon Shipley, the brother of Colt McCoy's top target at Texas, Jordan Shipley.

-- Denton Ryan QB Scotty Young: The state's leading returning passer threw for 4,495 yards last year with 65 touchdowns, two shy of the state record Graham Harrell set at Ennis in 2003.

COACHES:

G.A. MOORE, Aubrey

A call to unretire came at just right time for the state's winningest coach.

The winningest coach in Texas high school football history wasn't plotting the end of a four-year retirement. Aubrey athletic director Daryl Hellman just happened to call on the right day.

"I was up at the ranch working cows," Moore said. "I was on my way back. I'd been working all morning. So it wasn't a bad time to call."

Hellman wanted to know if Moore would replace him as football coach so he could concentrate on AD duties. The 70-year-old Moore, who spent 39 of 42 seasons at Celina and Pilot Point before retiring after the 2004 season, thought about it for a few days and talked it over with his wife.

"Things kind of fell in place," Moore said.

Winning at Aubrey won't be nearly as easy as winning at Celina, where Moore set a state record with a 68-game winning streak and won four consecutive state titles and six overall. But he's not having second thoughts. Besides, he lives about 41/2 miles from school. It's not like he's going out of his way.

"I'm still excited about it," Moore said. "Coaching's coaching, don't matter where it is."

Moore's career victory total dropped to 404 after he retired when Pilot Point had to forfeit all eight victories from his final season for using an ineligible player. Moore wasn't disciplined during the investigation and has been cleared by the University Interscholastic League to coach again, said league spokesman Chris Schmidt.

Aubrey returns nine starters on offense and seven on defense. Tailback/safety Justin Griffin and quarterback Kayleb Parrent are among the key returning players.

"I think we're making some progress," Moore said. "We know that we've got a long way to go, but I think everybody feels that way this time of year."

Others to watch:

-- Darren Allman, Austin Westlake: The only former Odessa Permian player to lead the vaunted Mojo program takes over a team that has a strong pedigree and is coming off a state quarterfinal appearance.

-- Gary Gaines, Odessa Permian: Speaking of Mojo, the coach from the famous "Friday Night Lights" season of 1988 returns two decades after he led Permian to the 1989 state title and then left to be a Texas Tech assistant.

-- Bob Shipley, Brownwood: The father of Texas receiver Jordan Shipley left Class 5A Coppell for this 3A job. But this isn't your typical 3A job. The Lions, winners of seven state titles, are coming off a 3-7 season, their first after dropping down from 4A.

-- Jim Streety, San Antonio Madison: He needs two wins to become the 10th Texas high school football coach to win 300 games, according to Texas Football magazine.

TEAMS:

KATY and SOUTHLAKE CARROLL

The Class 5A powers are dead-even in battle for team of decade.

Katy and Southlake Carroll are dead-even going into the final year of the race for Class 5A team of the decade. Four titles apiece. One win against the other in a championship game.

Now it's time to see whether either team can break the tie.

"If everybody volunteers to let us do that, we're in," Carroll coach Hal Wasson said.

Katy has the momentum with back-to-back titles, including last year's run to the 5A Division II title after an 0-2 start.

"It was a statement for the program in that the kids can get knocked down and get back up and persevere if they have enough confidence," Katy coach Gary Joseph said. "They can fight through stuff."

Katy running back William Jeffery, the offensive MVP in last year's title game, returns after rushing for 1,483 yards and 17 touchdowns. Defensive back Sam Holl, who was orally committed to Baylor, had 178 tackles, while defensive end Nick Narcisse and linebacker Grant Clifton were standout sophomores a year ago.

Carroll was bounced early in the playoffs each of the past two seasons after five straight championship game appearances, including four titles. Last year, the Dragons didn't win 10 games for the first time since 2000.

David Piland is entering his first full season as the quarterback after replacing injured SMU recruit Kyle Padron last year. He threw for 1,224 yards and 13 touchdowns. Tommy Avers is expected to carry the rushing load, and defensive end Jackson Richards, who has committed to Texas Tech, anchors the defense.

"We like this team a lot," Wasson said.

Others to watch:

-- Longview: The Lobos have a good chance for the school's first title since 1937 with the return of quarterback Aaron Johnson (2,550 total yards) and running back Tyler McCray (1,724 rushing yards) from a team that lost to Garrett Gilbert and Lake Travis in last year's finals.

-- Denton Guyer: The new school north of Dallas was 1-19 its first two varsity seasons, then went 12-3 and reached the 4A Division I semifinals last year. Texas-bound defensive tackle Taylor Bible anchors a defense that returns eight starters.

-- Gilmer: The Buckeyes are poised for another championship run five years after their first state title. Quarterback Darian "Stump" Godfrey leads a team that reached the 3A Division I quarterfinals a year ago.

-- Celina: The Bobcats have reached four straight championship games, alternating wins and losses. If the pattern holds, they'll reset their record with a ninth state title. The big name this year is all-state linebacker Caleb Lavey.

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