The 2016-17 high school sports year produced a new look for District 6-6A, with Plano ISD, Allen and McKinney ISD welcoming Denton Guyer and Wylie into the fold. The result was another year of quality athletics from several of the most prominent programs in the state.
Throughout the summer, Star Local Media has reflected on the year that was in 6-6A, while also looking ahead to what lies in store for 2017-18.
With that said, here’s the tenth installment of 66 Questions for District 6-6A.
1. Which team wins the unofficial city championship in football between the Plano ISD schools?
Tim Glaze: Plano ISD is a bit of a question mark when it comes to the gridiron this season. Plano East grabbed third place in district last year, but graduated the majority of its squad and now has a huge question mark at quarterback. Plano Senior is desperate to make the playoffs after missing the postseason in the past two seasons, and Plano West won only one game last year.
So, how do we sort this all out?
I think West will improve, but I doubt the Wolves crack the top four in such a competitive district. Senior should also be a better squad in 2017, especially with star running back Ky Cumby back for another year.
East has the two best running backs in the district and a solid offensive line, but the uncertainty of the quarterback position worries me.
I’m giving the slight edge to Senior in this exercise. If a Plano ISD team qualifies for the playoffs, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the Wildcats.
2. Who is the fourth best team in 6-6A football?
Tim Glaze: It’s Wylie, surprisingly.
I don’t expect Guyer to regress too much despite losing Noah Cain to transfer, and Allen should continue its historical dominance of district opponents. Those are my top two teams in 6-6A, as of today.
I’m bumping McKinney to third place in district this season. The Lions have an explosive offense and an improving defense, led by a solid secondary.
That leaves Wylie in fourth place – the same seed it grabbed last season en route to the playoffs. I think the Pirates will qualify for the playoffs over the Plano ISD schools, and McKinney Boyd.
3. How will the offseason transfer of Guyer running back Noah Cain affect the 6-6A football landscape?
Matt Welch: For the second consecutive season, Guyer will enter the year without its best returning player. Prior to 2016, quarterback Shawn Robinson transferred to DeSoto and earlier this year, Cain opted to take his talents to IMG Academy in Florida.
It’s a tough blow to the Wildcats’ district championship prospects, given Cain’s credentials in the backfield. Last season, the five-star rusher logged 1,683 yards (more than 8 yards per carry) and 22 touchdowns.
His unique blend of vision and physicality won’t come easy to replace, especially with backfield mate Myron Mason having graduated, but Guyer should still be a handful to contain.
Similar to last season, the Wildcats will deploy a committee of rushers, with Devin Jefferson, Kaedric Cobbs and Kaleel Rhoden getting looks during the spring. Keep an eye on Cobbs, who’s only a sophomore and averaged 9.1 yards per carry during his freshman year at Melissa.
Couple that with a stout offensive line, headlined by John Lanz and Dylan Alexander, and any regression talk with Guyer might be a bit overstated.
4. Will the same four teams make the playoffs in 6-6A football in 2017?
Matt Welch: Allen is the obvious favorite to repeat as 6-6A champions, while Guyer should remain solid for reasons stated above. East has one of the best running back-offensive line combinations in the district, and if it can stabilize things under center between Reece Field or Brandon Mallory – granted, no easy feat considering they’re replacing district MVP Miklo Smalls – the Panthers should fall off too far.
Wylie snagged fourth place last season and there’s plenty of reason for optimism about a return venture for the Pirates. Quarterback Stacy Conner’s decision to transfer from Bishop Dunne should go a long way towards overcoming the graduation of Emilio Ames, and the Pirates are as stocked with returning skill-position experience on offense as any team in 6-6A.
Plano has the potential to muddy the equation here; the Wildcats were good enough to make the playoffs last season, but late-game shortcomings contributed to three district losses by a combined seven points. McKinney has experience working in its favor with 17 returning starters, but the Pirates feel like the safer pick at this juncture.
5. McKinney and McKinney Boyd combined for three district wins last season. How can the Lions and Broncos close the gap on its 6-6A opponents in 2017?
Kendrick E. Johnson: If either team is going to make the playoffs this season, they both must improve on the defensive side of the ball. Both teams gave up more than 30 points per game last year and need to bring a more physical approach if either want to upset Allen, Guyer or a Plano ISD school.
McKinney's saving grace should be an explosive, senior-laden offense which can put up points with anybody. Boyd's defense brings back nine starters and had a very productive spring.
6. Make one bold prediction for the 2017-18 school year.
Matt Welch: Plano East will lead the district in playoff appearances across the eight bracket sports. That’s right – no pressure, Panthers.
East only qualified for the postseason in four of those sports last year (football, girls basketball, boys soccer and softball) but placed fifth in three others. It’ll definitely require some fortuitous breaks along the way, but the Panthers remain on the upswing as an overall athletics program and 2017-18 should see that trend continue.
Tim Glaze: Going off of what I mentioned earlier, no Plano ISD schools will make the football playoffs this season.
East, West and Senior all come in a notch below Wylie and McKinney, in this writer’s opinion, and will not be participating in the Texas high school postseason in 2017.
Kendrick E. Johnson: With both teams expected to be better in 6-6A, I'm predicting that the Boyd vs. McKinney game in the final week of the season will determine which of the two teams will qualify for the playoffs.
Boyd will have a slight advantage -- it's won the last eight matchups between the two, including last year's 38-14 blowout.