July is the die-hard high school football fan’s least favorite month. August through the state championship in December is the main course. The offseason of January-April can bring talk of position changes, possible transfers and coaching moves.
Spring football in April and May give a glimpse of the fall. Pads are crunching. June can serve as a distraction with the 7-on-7 season.
July offers ... nothing. The summer performance course programs continue but don’t move the needle. What’s worse is that the month has 31 days. It’s almost as if the calendar makers are playing a cruel joke on football fans. August is so close, and yet so far.
Fear not! As usual around this time of year, we can help build the bridge with our review of the bible of Dave Campbell’s Texas Football and its predictions for the upcoming 2017 high school football season for Northeast Tarrant County teams. This should quench your thirst for football talk for the time being.
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District 3-6A: Abilene is the predicted district champion. Keller Timber Creek, Keller Fossil Ridge and Keller Central are the other three playoff teams in that order. Keller is predicted fifth.
TLN Reaction: It’s never wrong to pick the Eagles as district champions. Del Van Cox has kept the momentum going from an 11-2 Division II regional semifinalist team.
You know Keller is growing when Timber Creek, the youngest school, is now the largest school. When it comes to the Keller schools, it’s pretty much a crapshoot on the order of finish.
Personally, I would flip positions between Fossil Ridge and Timber Creek. Both are introducing new quarterbacks. But for me, Fossil Ridge earns the nod because it returns eight defensive starters.
Timber Creek enjoyed a historic 2016 — its first winning season and first playoff win — but the defense was suspect and only returns three starters. It could be better, but we have to see it. Central is going to be solid. Keller just needs some breaks after a miserable 1-9.
District 5-6A: Southlake Carroll is predicted to win the title, followed by Euless Trinity. Northwest Byron Nelson is predicted fifth. Hurst L.D. Bell is projected seventh.
TLN Reaction: Although the Dragons have not picked their starting quarterback yet, there’s always going to be enough in other key positions for this team to repeat. Rising sophomore defensive back/wide receiver R.J. Mickens might be the best dual-threat player in the area.
The overall strength of this district is a mystery, because Trinity is coming off a down year by its standards. The Trojans went 7-4 and were bounced in the first round of the Division I playoffs. They probably get the nod as the second-place team because of their history. It’s not a lock. This program needs to bounce back in the fall.
Kevin Atkinson returns to his roots at Flower Mound Marcus and has some talent. Nelson has a lot of newbies in key skill positions. However, the 2016 shock-the-world team could make a run.
This is the third year for Mike Glaze at Bell. The Blue Raiders need to show they’re ready to contend for a playoff berth.
District 6-5A: Reigning Class Division II state champion Aledo is predicted to win the district. Justin Northwest is predicted third. Haslet Eaton is predicted fifth.
TLN Reaction: I like Northwest’s team, because there are enough key players returning so that the Texans could unseat Saginaw Boswell as the runner up. Quarterback Prince Mavula should make big strides.
Eaton would have made the 2016 playoffs had it won its final game of the season. In the program’s second year and under new head coach Ellis Miller, making the postseason will depend on how far along the offensive and defensive lines have come in the offseason.
District 8-5A: Colleyville Heritage is forecast as district champions followed by Grapevine and Richland. Birdville is predicted fifth behind Fort Worth Dunbar.
TLN Reaction: Agree with this. The difference between Colleyville Heritage and Grapevine is on defense. The Mustangs are breaking in a new front seven. The Panthers have experience returning. Grapevine gets the edge at quarterback with Texas Tech commit and four-year starter Alan Bowman.
CHHS hasn’t picked a starter yet. The Panthers arguably have the best wide receiver corps in the area, led by Kam Brown and Ke’Von Ahmad. Grapevine’s appears solid, but it’s a little inexperienced beyond David Clayton.
Richland suffered key losses from its 10-2 team. But there’s enough returning to make the playoffs. The fight between Birdville and Dunbar for the other playoff berth comes down to their head-to-head meeting Oct. 26.