Kennedale’s Kirven strikes a Heisman pose
Texas high school football doesn't start for another five months but that doesn't mean we can't talk about it right?
With schools starting spring practice this month, we dive in and take a look at some of the storylines to watch, teams to keep an eye out for, and more in our "Spring Forward" series.
First up, we take a look at the top local teams to watch in Class 4A.
The Wildcats are coming off their two best seasons in program history, capped off by their first trip to the state title game in December. They went to the state semifinals in 2016. Led by coach Richard Barrett's Wing-T offense, Kennedale can show off two, three or even four runners. Last year it was the duo of Jaden Knowles and D.J. Kirven, who combined for 4,500 yards rushing and 45 TDs, which oddly enough is Kirven's career numbers in three years. Both players were named to the Star-Telegram football all-star team. Kirven will return as a senior in 2018 and considered one of the premier backs in the state. Also watch for DB J.D. Coffey, who was named first team all-state as a freshman last season. Coffey recorded 88 tackles, 11 for loss, team-high six interceptions and four deflections. Look out for a Week 2 match up with Midlothian Heritage.
2. Midlothian Heritage
The Jaguars have met with the Wildcats in the playoffs in back-to-back years with the margin of victory being a combined four points. Heritage still presents one of the more talented teams in the Metroplex, and just in two years, where its gone 23-3. In two seasons, the Jaguars offense has gained nearly 12,000 yards, which comes out to 460 yards per game. QB Landon Ledbetter will be a senior and threw for 2,500 yards and 33 TDs to only three interceptions. Another 2019 kid is DB Noah Parker, who was honorable mention all-state. He can play both ways, but did record 95 tackles and led the team with eight picks and eight deflections. Heritage also plays Waco La Vega in Week 5.
Argyle has excelled in every sport, but especially football. The Eagles have won 10 or more games in nine consecutive seasons and have gone 118-11 in that span. The Eagles were state champs in 2013 and went to the state title game four other times (2005, 2011, 2014, 2015). On offense, QB Hayden Clearman (63-of-95, 1,036 yards, 10 TD) and RB Noah Lang (84 carries, 886 yards, 18 TD) will be seniors. Clearman also plays defense where he was all-state honorable mention. He recorded 71 tackles in 2017 as a free safety. Other seniors-to-be include Chase Petter (113 tackles, 28 for loss, 15 sacks) and Blake Ramsey (32 tackles, 5 INT, 6 deflections), who both made the all-state team. The Eagles do have a tough schedule with Stephenville, La Vega, Melissa and Celina, who went a combined 46-10 in 2017.
4. Dallas Carter
The Cowboys went 9-3 last season, matching their win total from the previous three seasons combined. They also won their first playoff game since 2012. Carter started last season 6-1 and won its first three games by a combined score of 182-21. Overall the Cowboys averaged 42 points per game and allowed 15.5. Their only losses in the regular season came to Heritage and 5A Dallas South Oak Cliff, which also went to the second round. The Cowboys were reclassified in District 8-4A Division I where the other six teams went a combined 16-46 in 2017.
5. FW Dunbar
People might be scratching their heads on this one as the Wildcats have gone 12-20 the past three years. They won just one playoff game in the past 15 seasons, which came in 2016. But you're thinking of 5A Dunbar. The Wildcats, who always played up a class, move down to their enrollment size during February's UIL realignment. Despite the numbers, Dunbar had been a playoff regular. From 2007-16, the Wildcats made the postseason every year but one. They were put into Kennedale's district, but the Wildcats should at least contend for the No. 2 spot for the next two seasons.
Honorable Mention: Glen Rose, Godley, Celina, Stephenville, Melissa
Check back on Tuesday for the top 5A teams.