MESQUITE FOOTBALL

Mesquite takes aim at its third consecutive playoff appearance when it opens the 10-6A season on Friday against Skyline.

Mesquite, North Mesquite and Horn wrapped up their 2019 district seasons on Nov. 8.

Nearly one year later, the Skeeters, Stallions and Jaguars will finally embark on a new district journey when the 10-6A season gets underway this week.

While the district number changes from 11 to 10-6A, much of the landscape remained the same when the University Interscholastic League announced their 2020-2022 realignment back in February, with the three Mesquite ISD teams, two Rockwall ISD programs and Tyler Legacy remaining intact.

The one notable change was the departure of perennial powerhouse Longview, who dropped down to Class 5A, and the arrival of Skyline, another traditional playoff team who has qualified for the postseason in 25 of the last 26 years.

Here is a look at the field:

Mesquite (0-3)

The Skeeters have made back-to-back playoff appearances and do not be deceived by their 0-3 start. Mesquite took on a talented Coppell team in the opener and had their chances the last two games, as losses to South Grand Prairie (28-26) and Grand Prairie (20-16) have been by a combined total of six points.

The Skeeters have used a pair of quarterbacks with senior Hunter Nucci and junior Chance Edwards, with Nucci taking all the snaps in their last game due to an injury to Edwards.

Junior running back Anthony Roberts has had a nice start to the season and is coming off a 100-yard effort.

Senior K.B. Frazier is a returning playmaker on the outside and senior Jacolby Thomas has also shown glimpses of being a breakout player.

Defensively, Mesquite returned senior linebacker Jayden Brown, a first-team all-district honoree who recorded more than 100 tackles last season.

The Skeeters have an anchor on the defensive line in junior Marlon Thompson-Leatch, last year’s district newcomer of the year, and while the secondary is young, but there is talent there, including junior cornerback Ja’Travion Rudd.

North Mesquite (1-3)

The Stallions got started on the right foot with a win over Fort Worth Trimble Tech, but have since dropped three in a row.

Quarterback Liam Thornton, a third-team all-district selection last season, has the ability to make plays with feet and is a solid passer when given time.

Junior Kobie Norman is potential game-changer both in the ground game and as a receiving option and Thornton has spread the ball around to a number of different receivers, including Marcus Yow, Cordale Russell and Christian Perales.

Defensively, the Stallions are led up front by junior Davion Carter, a disruptive force at defensive tackle after a second-team all-district campaign.

Carter is joined in the trenches by linemen Dominique Miles and Tristan Layson.

North Mesquite should be solid in the secondary with third-team safety senior Jaylon Mosley, Zamoray Richardson, Ashton Williams and promising junior Kelvin Ochoa.

The linebacker corps also has potential with third-team senior inside linebacker Tim Cobb and senior outside linebacker Tommy Doan.

Horn (2-2)

The Jaguars got off to a solid start with a 31-24 win over Pearce, but had some offensive issues in losses to Odessa Permian (51-10) and Arlington Bowie (31-3).

Last week might have marked a defining moment in their 41-27 victory over Tyler.

Junior Darrius White, one of the team’s leading tacklers, made his first start at quarterback and the result was fireworks.

White completed 9-of-15 passes for 281 yards and four touchdowns and also ran for 67 yards and a score. Each of the touchdowns was a big play, as he found the end zone on a 25-yard run, hooked up with Camden Taylor for a 34-yard score and threw touchdown strikes to Xavier Brown of 38, 54 and 71 yards.

Brown is averaging 25.9 yards per catch (8-207), while Taylor (40-291, 2 TDs) and Eddryk Ruff (38-192) have each been effective on the ground.

The defense was also active a week ago, as D.J. Coleman made 13 tackles and had an interception and Tarance Johnson added 12 stops, including a sack.

That pair also leads the team on the season, as Johnson has 32 tackles, Coleman has 26 and Jordan Prince and Cylan Terrelonge have added 26 and 23, respectively.

Charles Demmings has also made plays, with a team-high two interceptions and he also returned the opening kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown a week ago.

Rockwall (3-1)

The Yellowjackets, coming off a trip to the state semifinals a year ago, were off to a flying start with wins over Denton Braswell (59-40), Jesuit (60-38) and Southlake Carroll (44-42) before getting brought back down to Earth a bit with last week’s 46-18 loss to Highland Park.

Despite the hiccup, Rockwall is considered a favorite to win the district title.

Junior Braedyn Locke has thrown for 1,004 yards and 11 touchdowns. Sophomore Zach Hernandez has emerged in the ground game with 58 carries for 305 yards and they have replaced all-state wide receiver Jaxson Smith Njigba with a committee that includes Caden Marshall (19-375, 4 TDs), Jax Johnson (17-368, 3 TDs), Brenden Bayes (17-218, 2 TDs), Goodnews Iwuamadi (17-169, 2 TDs) and Brennan Ray (14-142, 4 TDs).

Rockwall-Heath (3-1)

Like their crosstown rivals, the Hawks enter district with plenty of confidence, particularly in its offense.

The Hawks have earned blowout wins over Lewisville (72-52), McKinney Boyd (38-0) and McKinney North (56-14) and also competed well in their one setback, a 72-57 loss to Southlake Carroll.

Rockwall-Heath also features one of the best quarterbacks in the area in junior Josh Hoover, who has thrown for 1,107 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Hoover’s top targets have been a pair of transfers from Sachse in Jay Fair (24-454, 4 TDs) and Jordan Nabors (10-244, TD), as well as Corbin Cleveland (19-168, 2 TDs).

Make no mistake about it, though, the Hawks are anything but a one-dimensional team, as they boast one of the best 1-2 rushing punches in the area in Zach Evans (75-501, 4 TDs) and Preston Landis (71-447, 11 TDs).

Tyler Legacy (2-2)

The Red Raiders opened the season with solid wins over Lufkin (70-32) and rival Tyler (40-28). They have since dropped two in a row, but against elite competition in state power Longview (37-14) and national power Little Rock Pulaski Academy (50-25).

Unlike many of its contemporaries, Legacy’s bread-and-butter is on the ground with Jamarion Miller and Bryson Donnell, who are each averaging better than 10 yards per carry.

Senior quarterback Trent Adams has not been asked to carry the load, but he has been efficient when asked to pass.

There are playmakers on defense, as well, including Aaron Sears, Jack Janis, Cayden Starks and Jakelyn Morgan.

Skyline (1-1)

The Raiders opened the season with a 21-13 loss to McKinney and were on the verge of dropping to 0-2 before rallying for a 34-32 win over Keller last week.

That game not only saw them even their record, but playmakers emerged.

Quarterback Jaylon Robinson threw for 165 yards and three touchdowns, Qualon Farrar rushed for more than 100 yards and a score and Quaydarius Davis was the recipient of all three scoring passes, as he caught six passes for 123 yards.

The Skyline defense returned five starters and has annually produced college talent on this side of the ball.

For continued coverage on the local sports scene, follow Devin Hasson on Twitter: @DevinHasson

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