Video: WeNext Garrett Wilson
Lake Travis star Ohio State's next great pass-catcher.
We've heard it before, Texas is king when it comes to high school football.
High school football isn't a sport in Texas, it's a religion.
Or as Pulitzer Prize-winning author Buzz Bissinger wrote in "Friday Night Lights:"
Gazing into that stadium, looking up into those rows that can seat 20,000, you wonder what it must be like on a Friday night, when the lights are on and the heart and soul of the town pours out over that field, across those endless plains.
The 2018 football season begins in Texas on this Friday night. Here are 10 questions soon to be answered:
1. Will Allen (Texas) repeat?
2. Will St. Pius X (Houston) quarterback Grant Gunnell break every career passing record?
The defending Class 6A-Division I state champs return plenty
from last year's squad that finished 16-0 and ranked No. 3 nationally by MaxPreps. Grant Tisdale
, Theo Wease
, EJ Ndoma-Ogar
and Jayden Jernigan
all are back this season as they go for the school's sixth state title since 2008.
Already the all-time leading private school passer in Texas history, the Arizona pledge is going after top marks in completions (Gunnell has 730, record is 1,047), attempts (1,043 to 1,677), yards (11,356 to 14,408) and touchdowns (142 to 186). Last year he completed 361-of-507 for 4,936 yards and 61 touchdowns.3. What will Highland Park (Dallas) do now that John Stephen Jones has graduated?
The grandson of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones led Highland Park to back-to-back state titles, but with legendary coach Randy Allen in place and impressive Chandler Morris
to replace Jones, the Scots have a shot to three-peat, albeit a long one. 4. Who will emerge as the most productive receiver in the state?
The list of blue chip recruits is long, leading with Ohio State-bound Garrett Wilson
, who had 96 catches for 1,764 yards and 26 touchdowns last season for Lake Travis (Austin)
. He's regarded as the No. 14 overall prospect in the nation by 247Sports. Here are other Top 100 senior national recruits who play receiver in Texas: No. 16, Oklahoma-bound Wease of Allen; No. 45, Texas commit Jordan Whittington
; No. 63, also bound for Oklahoma, Trejan Bridges
of Hebron (Carrollton)
; No. 77, yet a third to Oklahoma, Arjei Henderson
, of Fort Bend Travis (Richmond)
; No. 81, Texas A&M commit, Dylan Wright
, of West Mesquite (Mesquite)
; No. 85, Elijah Higgins
of Bowie (Austin)
5. Will Katy, Southlake Carroll or Celina return to grab a championship trophy?
6. How many Texas teams will finish in the MaxPreps Top 25?
All three are tied at the top with eight state titles. Katy, ranked No. 14 nationally, has gone back-to-back years without a crown but have four-year starting running back Deondrick Glass
. After 11 seasons, Carroll has a new coach in Riley Dodge, replacing Hal Wasson, who led the Dragons to their last state crown in 2011. Celina, coached by Colin Miller, last won it in 2015.
Four teams currently are in the Top 25: No. 3 Allen; No. 9 Lake Travis; No. 14 Katy and No. 23 Duncanville
But consider these others who started in the Top 100 — No. 44 North Shore (Houston)
, No. 46 Westlake (Austin)
; No. 50 Carroll (Southlake); No. 53 Aledo
; No. 58 DeSoto
; No. 66 Judson (Converse)
; No. 77 Mansfield Legacy (Mansfield)
; No. 79 Klein Collins (Spring)
; No. 91 Trinity (Euless)
; No. 95 Steele (Cibolo)
and No. 96 Longview
. 7. Will Duncanville finally break through?
It's been 20 years since Duncanville won its last state title. Is this the team to do it? Coach Reginald Samples has a couple of four-star recruits in quarterback Ja'Quinden Jackson
and defensive back Chris Thompson Jr.
8. Which top 2020 running back will gain more yards: EJ Smith or Zachary Evans?
Being the son of the NFL's career rushing leader carries a big burden. Thus far, the 6-foot, 197-pound Smith has handled it just fine for Dallas Jesuit (Dallas)
. He accounted for 1,717 yards and 31 touchdowns as a sophomore. Young Smith is considered the No. 2 all-purpose back in the country's junior class and No. 88 recruit overall, according to 247Sports. Evans, meanwhile, is regarded as the top running back nationally from the class and No. 2 recruit overall. The 5-11, 203-pounder from North Shore is a blur and strong too.
9. How high will North Shore climb?
With Evans leading the way, the Mustangs are on the rise with so much young talent. With the sophomore passing combination of quarterback Dematrius Davis Jr.
to Shadrach Banks
and defensive senior stars Keeyon Stewart
and Tony Bradford Jr.
, a pair of Texas Tech, commits, the Mustangs are a state title contender. They'll find out just where they stand, opening up with Katy on Friday. 10. Will Deion Sanders and sons lead Trinity Christian (Cedar Hill) to repeat?
As chronicled throughout the 2017 season in Learning from Legends
, the NFL Hall of Famer will lead the Tigers toward another state crown. His sophomore son Shedeur Sanders
is one of the top sophomore quarterbacks in the state.