The 2020-21 high school sports year was rife with challenges for Plano ISD, Lewisville ISD and Coppell, from navigating athletics during the COVID-19 pandemic to acclimating to a revamped district landscape as part of 6-6A.
The result was another year of quality athletics from several of the most prominent programs in the state.
Throughout the summer, Star Local Media will reflect on the year that was for 6-6A’s eight schools while also looking ahead to what lies in store for 2021-22.
1. Who is the preliminary favorite to win 6-6A football?
David Wolman: As the old saying goes, “To be the man, you’ve got to beat the man.”
For the last two years, all roads in 6-6A have run through Marcus. The Marauders have won back-to-back district titles for the first time in their storied history and did so in dominating fashion last year by winning all six conference games by an average of 30.2 points.
Marcus' title defense won't come easy. The Marauders lost reigning 6-6A MVP and quarterback Garrett Nussmeier (LSU signee) and wide receiver J. Michael Sturdivant (Cal pledge) to graduation. But, Marcus appears to be in good hands.
The Marauders have two capable quarterbacks in senior Jaxxon Warren (33-of-49, 359 yards, 2 TDs last season), who started in the Marauders’ playoff game against Prosper last season (injury to Nussmeier), and sophomore Cole Welliver.
Senior Dallas Dudley (685 receiving yards, 7 TDs) is a big target in Marcus' passing game. The Marauders can also count on their running game to get the job done. Seniors Gabe Espinoza and Walker Wells combined for 14 rushing touchdowns last season.
With a strong front seven, Marcus has the talent to fend off top competition, and the Marauders will certainly be challenged by teams like Coppell, Flower Mound, Hebron, Lewisville and Plano West.
2. Who are some early MVP candidates in 6-6A football?
Matt Welch: Whoever emerges from the Marcus quarterback competition, be it Jaxxon Warren or Cole Welliver, will have a litany of skill position talent to spread the ball around. If the Marauders intend to follow through on a third consecutive district title, much like the past two seasons under alum Garrett Nussmeier, expect either Marcus quarterback to have their say in the district MVP race.
Ditto for Lewisville senior Damien Martinez. He split 6-6A co-offensive player of the year honors with teammates Taylen Green last year and enters the fall entrenched as the focal point of the Farmers’ offense. Martinez was among the top backs in the state as a junior, rushing for 2,012 yards and 31 touchdowns.
Elsewhere in the district, if Flower Mound is able to wedge its way into the playoff conversation, expect senior quarterback Nick Evers to receive some consideration as well. The Florida commit came into his own as last season progressed — over the final month of the season, he passed for 437 yards against Plano East, 298 against Plano and 310 against Coppell. Evers threw four touchdown passes in all three ballgames as well.
The Jaguars have plenty of talent back out wide as well, including seniors Parker Clark and Cade Edlein, and that should only accelerate Evers’ production through the air.
3. Which team will finish with the top offense in 6-6A football?
David Wolman: When you have a running back like Lewisville senior Damien Martinez and a star receiver such as senior Armani Winfield, trying to slow down the Farmers' dynamic offense won't be easy.
Martinez was a threat to score a touchdown every time that he touched the ball last season. The Oregon State commit carried a whopping 193 times for 1,634 rushing yards for an average of 8.5 yards per tote with 25 touchdowns. Those statistics made him an obvious choice for 6-6A's offensive player of the year for the 2020 season.
Although Lewisville graduated a 1,000-yard receiver in Isiah Stevens, senior Armani Winfield assumes the No. 1 role this season. Winfield (Texas commit) totaled 576 receiving yards on 37 catches with four touchdowns.
Winfield will have a new quarterback to throw him the ball this season. Alum Taylen Green is now playing football for Boise State. But whoever is at quarterback for Lewisville, he knows that he has a reliable target in Winfield.
4. Which team will finish with the top defense in 6-6A football?
Matt Welch: Although its football program has been associated plenty with offense over the years, don’t see surprised if Lewisville turns in a strong year on the other side of the ball.
The Farmers were young last year with just four returning starters but came into their own as the season progressed. Over its final four regular season games, Lewisville held Flower Mound, Coppell and Hebron to 21 points or less. The Farmers impressed in the bi-district playoffs in a 48-24 victory over McKinney Boyd before turnovers and special teams miscues unraveled the team against Arlington Martin, 68-0.
Lewisville is more seasoned on that side of the ball this time around, returning playmakers at all three levels. That includes in a secondary headlined by district defensive newcomer of the year Jaydan Hardy, who was recently named to the MaxPreps Preseason Sophomore All-American team.