Mesquite, North Mesquite and Horn have each enjoyed their share of success on the pitch in recent years, but it has not been easy.
The two Rockwall ISD programs have been consistently good, as has Tyler Legacy, and the new addition, Skyline, has shown it will be a factor, as well.
Those are the ingredients for an entertaining district race, and through just a handful of matches, that appears to be what is materializing.
Here is a look at the field:
Mesquite (0-2-0, 0 points)
The Skeeters had already secured a playoff berth and were in the driver’s seat for the district championship when last season was suspended, and ultimately, cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But Mesquite also knew it would be going through a transition process with the graduation of 10 all-district performers, including offensive player of the year Lenny Andrade, defensive player of the year Sammy Navarette and midfielder of the year Kevin Parra.
And with teams limited to a shortened non-district schedule, most of that growing was going to have to happen during the 10-6A slate.
The Skeeters have dropped their first two district matches, but head coach Philip El-Aya believes that if the team can shore up the defense, and continue to make progress, they will be in the thick of the playoff race at season’s end.
Mesquite did return a solid nucleus with seniors Gael Cancino and Eduardo Zamora and juniors David Perez and Joshua Sanchez.
Cancino has posted a team-high four goals with one assist, Perez has three goals and a pair of assists, Carlos Segovia has two goals and Zamora and Sanchez have added assists.
The Skeeters have also seen newcomers emerge to become key members of the rotation, including senior Hector Barco, sophomores Diego Martinez, Angel Flores and Gael Alvarado and Brandon Lee, Alfredo Martinez and Martin Contreras.
North Mesquite (1-0-1, 4)
The Stallions were set to be on the outside looking in at the playoffs last season, but that has only served as motivation to get back after a one-year hiatus.
North Mesquite played several younger players last season and a year of experience should pay large dividends this season, as it did on Tuesday with a 1-0 victory over a solid Rockwall team.
That game was scoreless until late in the second half, when junior Jonathan Zuniga, who has been one of the strong newcomers, set up senior Abdul Kanu for the game-winner.
The Stallion defense has lived up to high expectations thus far, with senior goalkeeper Lorenzo Dominguez and senior defender Oscar Hernandez, who was a first-team all-district selection last season.
North Mesquite also returned junior midfielder Jonathan Dominguez, last year’s newcomer of the year, as well as second-team senior midfielder Tahir Arreaola and junior forward Christian Valdez.
Horn (0-2-0, 0)
The Jaguars have taken on Rockwall-Heath and Tyler Legacy, and while both matches have been competitive, they are still looking for their first district win.
But Horn has plenty of reasons for optimism, including an improved offense that has already scored more goals than it did all last year.
The Jaguars returned a trio of all-district honorees with senior center midfielder Antonio Mercado, senior center midfielder Ernesto Reynoso and sophomore defender Carl Elaya.
Junior forward Jonathan Alvarez has emerged as one of the top scorers in the district, and leads the team with seven goals, while junior defender/center midfielder Jose Candelas and junior defender Christian Chavez have been other players to watch.
The Jaguars have shown they can go toe-to-toe with the best in 10-6A, and if they can turn some of those close losses around, they should be in contention for their first playoff berth since 2015.
Rockwall-Heath (3-0-0, 9)
The Hawks have ascended into the district’s top spot with the maximum nine points, outscoring their opponents 7-1 in their three victories.
Rockwall-Heath returned a talented nucleus with several all-district performers, including a trio of first-teamers in senior midfielder Gabriel Anguiano and senior defenders Brock Bernard and Jose Ramirez.
Also back are second-team junior midfielder Corey Kossowski, senior goalkeeper Henderson Bonilla and sophomore goalkeeper Eli Finley, and in their most recent 3-0 victory over Horn, the Hawks got a pair of goals from senior Chris Rodriguez and another from freshman Drew Cooley.
Tyler Legacy (2-0-1, 7)
The Raiders were in the hunt for the playoffs a year ago and this season has their eyes on the district title.
Tyler Legacy has one of the better overall records in the state thus far at 10-2-2 and is coming off a 2-1 win over Skyline on Tuesday.
The Raiders’ offense came courtesy of underclassmen, as sophomore Noe Robles tallied both goals, with assists from sophomore Landon Bravo and junior Cash Spalding.
The contributions of younger players adds to an already solid nucleus that includes several all-district performers, including senior midfielder Junior Avelar, senior goalkeeper Trisatn Whelchel, senior defender Travis Vordenbaumen and Spalding.
Rockwall (1-2-0, 3)
The Yellowjackets got off to a good start in a 4-1 district-opening win over Mesquite, getting a pair of goals from junior Jake Dobson and additional scores from senior Mateo Canales and Garrett Randle, but have scored just one goal in their last two matches.
Rockwall returned a pair of first-team all-district selections in senior forward/midfielder/defender Canales and junior defender Andrew Corral, as well as second-teamers in junior midfielder Eli Owen and sophomore midfielder Collin Clark.
Skyline (1-2-0, 3)
The Raiders are the newcomers to the district and have given a good account of themselves thus far, with a win over Rockwall and narrow, one-goal losses to Rockwall-Heath and Tyler Legacy.
Skyline gradated all four all-district selections from last season, meaning there were holes to fill.
Early on, the Raiders have gotten goal-scoring contributions from sophomore Kevin Vega, sophomore Prason Kami and senior Emiliano Martinez and Anthony Ortiz.