The Dumas Demons went a historic 13-1 overall making the Class 4A Division I state quarterfinals last season. [John Moore/ Press Pass Sports]
1. Dumas: Indeed, Fear The Fork in 2020. If you don’t like this Dumas team you don’t like good football. Riding high on momentum from last year’s impressive 13-1 season which included a run to the regional finals, Dumas is primed again this year to repeat as distict champs and make serious playoff noise. Dumas has a bit of everything: a passionate coach (Aaron Dunnam) who refuses to allow compliancy in the locker room; a gifted silent assassin in returning at QB Spencer Williams; one of the top linebacker tandem in all of the Texas Panhandle in seniors Dallan Dill and Cade Cox; even Dumas’ kicker is a stud in state wrestler and a clutch game-changer in Ah Lee Yart.
2. Canyon: Let’s just say these Eagles are one group who won’t Fear The Fork and able to put fear in opposing teams. Led by one of the top passing combination in all of the state of Texas in QB Jay Defoor to WR 6-3 Jack McKay, expect big things from the Eagles. Remember Canyon was 6-0 last year before Defoor was lost to an injury. Plus, Canyon coach Blake Bryant and his many long-time assistants bring a stability and comfort few teams own in the great football playing state of Texas.
3. Pampa: All Pampa did last year was roll to a 9-3 playoff record. Can the young Harvesters (seven returning starters) do it again? If you ask Mr. Glass Half Full (aka Pampa coach Grey Poynor) of course they can. And why not? Poynor oozes with positivity every second of the day and Pampa’s cupboard from last year isn’t totally empty with returning dual-threat running back Cornelius Landers. Landers eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark last year and snagged 44 passes scoring 12 times. Depth is the only question for Pampa to finish ahead of Dumas and Canyon.
4. Hereford: The young Herd (four starters return) are led by veteran coach Don DeLozier, a Hereford native who grew up in a house a long field away from the Whiteface Stadium and will coach with a heavy heart with the recent passing of his father. With only four teams in the district, Hereford will have plenty of time to grow confidence and will use the skills of junior WR Noah Brown to lead the way.
Dumas at Canyon, 7 p.m., October 30
With all four teams already in the playoffs and those playoff shirts printed before the first kickoff off the season, many would think a district title doesn’t mean diddly-squat. Many would be wrong. Any time Dumas and Canyon take the field it’s on. With a district title on the line in newly remodeled Happy State Bank Field, this one should be an instant classic and must see Friday Night Lights starring two veteran and talented quarterbacks in Dumas’ Williams and Canyon’s Defoor.
1. Lubbock Estacado: Can you say reload? The Matadors under popular coach Joe Cluley went 12-1 last year and expect much of the same in 2020. Oh, the Mats lost plenty of talent to graduation but remain the class of this district. While the defense must gain a personality and confidence during non-district, the offense is in good _ no, great hands _ in returning quarterback Jay’Lon Dobbins. Dobbins passed for more than 2,000 yards a year ago and will be a nightmare for d-coordinators to defend. The Mats may have win some shootouts but that’s not asking too much.
2. Seminole: Second-year Seminole coach Ty Palmer is coming off an 8-4 year and returns 12 starters. But this Seminole team will have new look on offense going all-out spread with former Bushland and West Texas High head coach Steve Flowers moving in as offensive coordinator. Expect some early growing pains. But expect some district wins and a playoff berth.
3. Perryton: Many might look at this pick and say, what? Here’s what. New coach Kurt Haberthur isn’t new at all as he played his high school football at Perryton and wants to return this program to excellence. The Rangers were just 2-9 last year and return a mere six starters. Hab’s knows he has a solid defense in place and he likes to feature a spread offense. If the young players come through, the offense finds a groove, look for the Rangers to step up and be the surprise team of this district securing the third spot.
4. Borger: The Bulldogs may be coming off a 1-9 season but things are looking up with this program under second-year coach Duane Toliver. Borger opened its new stadium last year and while a winning season may be asking a bit, Toliver does have a strong nucleus returning 15 starters and 21 lettermen. Senior WR-DB Hunter Wilkinson is a legit two-way starter who will impact games and help put the Bulldogs in the playoffs.
5. Levelland: The Lobos under coach Andy Correll could easily flip the switch on this pick and finish as high as second with talented running back/defensive back Isaiah Salazar leading the way. If Levelland finds consistency on offense a 2-2 district finish like last year is a legit prediction.
Seminole at Lubbock Estacado, 7 p.m., October 9
Right off the bat it looks like this district championship could be unofficially decided when Seminole and Estacado meet. Now, there are a ton questions to be answered in non-district by these five 2-4A DII teams. But Estacado remains the team to beat and if Seminole wants to open eyes in this district it must in the season opener.