There were a plenty of story lines being discussed prior to the start of the 2014 season.
What would Sachse, coming off a perfect 10-0 regular season, do for an encore?
Is this the year longtime power Garland puts together another sustained playoff run?
Does newcomer Rockwall boast the best set of skill players in the area and how will an upstart Tyler Lee team that peaked late last season fare in their new surroundings?
And what about Lakeview; after showing steady improvement recently, would this be the year they break a playoff drought that has lasted since 1995?
Flying under the radar for the first time in several years was Rowlett, a perennial playoff team during the past decade who appeared to have a solid defense but had an assortment of question marks on offense.
There were plenty of twists and turns along the way in a playoff race that was not settled until the final day of the season, but when it did, the Eagles were back in a familiar place, as they extended their Garland ISD record of postseason appearances to 10 in a row.
Their accomplishments were recognized by their peers as evidenced by the 11-6A all-district team, where they collected four superlative awards, which was more than any other team including champion Rockwall.
(For the complete 11-6A all-district team, see http://starlocalmedia.com/rowlettlakeshoretimes/sports/a-all-district-football-team/article_07ea9db2-7c42-11e4-a682-fffcdbf92258.html)
Leading the way for the Eagles is McNeece Egbim, who was named defensive most valuable player. In a promising sign for the future, Rowlett swept the sophomore of the year honors with LaDarius Dickens on offense and Trenton Gordon on defense, and the Eagles coaches shared staff of the year with Rockwall.
In all, Rowlett had 17 players named to the first two teams. Sachse, who had its three-year playoff run come to an end, had 12 honorees, including five on the first team.
Rockwall's Xavier Castille did a little of everything in helping the team win its first 12 games. The senior caught 90 passes for 1,606 yards and 19 touchdowns, averaged better than 10 yards per carry (63-632, 7 TDs) and even threw for a pair of scores on his way to capturing most valuable player for the second consecutive season.
Yellowjacket teammate Chris Warren, a top-100 national recruit who rushed for 2,329 yards and 34 touchdowns, and Tyler Lee's electric junior quarterback Zach Hall, who accounted for more than 3,000 yards and 36 touchdowns, shared offensive most valuable player honors.
Here is a closer look at the Rowlett and Sachse selections.
Defensive Most Valuable Player
McNeece Egbim, LB, Sr., Rowlett--Following in the footsteps of his older brother, Chester, a former all-district linebacker, McNeece was one of the leading play makers on 11-6A's stingiest defense. An active player both against the run and the pass, he finished with 64 tackles and forced three forced fumbles.
Offensive Sophomore of the Year
LaDarius Dickens, WR, So., Rowlett--On a team looking for answers on offense, Dickens quickly became a go-to option. He led the team with 52 catches for 754 yards and eight touchdowns. He broke out in his first game with four receptions for 76 yards and two touchdowns and later had a nine-catch night against Rockwall and a 117 receiving yards and a score against Tyler Lee. In two of the biggest games, Dickens also showed his ability to run the ball, as he had 14 carries for 138 yards and two touchdowns against Lakeview and nine carries for 75 yards and three scores in the victory over Sachse.
Defensive Sophomore of the Year
Trenton Gordon, DB, So., Rowlett--The Eagles defense returned plenty of experience with seven starters but the 5-10, 170-pound sophomore not only found a way into the rotation, he made a big impact. Gordon was solid against the run and flashed his special teams skills in the playoffs against Killeen Shoemaker when he helped tackle the punter in the end zone for a safety. But his main contribution was in the secondary, where he was among the team leaders with nine passes defended for a group that allowed 171.7 yards per game.
Co-Coaching Staff of the Year
Rowlett--Second-year head coach Doug Stephens and his staff led the Eagles to the playoffs for the 10th straight season. The Eagles grew stronger as the year progressed. After posting a 4-1 record in games decided by five points or less to get into postseason position, Rowlett won three district games by an average of 35 points and then blasted Killeen Shoemaker, 33-6, for the first playoff victory since 2011.
First Team Offense
Logan Bonner, QB, Jr., Rowlett--Sophomore of the year in 2013, fought through some injuries to throw for 2,186 yards and 18 touchdowns with two scores on the ground.
Brett Cox, QB, Sr., Sachse--Made a smooth transition in first year as a starter, completed 173-of-275 for district best 3,096 yards and 34 touchdowns, with 362 yards and four scores rushing.
Devine Ozigbo, RB, Sr., Sachse--Iowa State commitment, a strong runner (5-11, 220) who had 845 yards and 15 touchdowns rushing, but also has good hands, with 24 catches for 433 yards and four scores.
Devin Duvernay, WR, Jr., Sachse--One of the top national prospects in the Class of 2016, the speedster caught 61 passes for 997 yards and nine touchdowns, rushed for 290 yards and three scores and was also a dangerous kickoff returner.
Christian Gardner, OL, Sr., Rowlett--Leader of offensive line that paved the way to average 328.6 yards and 29.3 points per game.
Ben Moye, OL, Sr., Sachse--Louisiana-Monroe pledge anchored a line for offense that rolled up 488.5 yards per contest
Josh Williams, K, Sr., Rowlett--A top kicking prospect, hit 18 extra points and four field goals, including 46-yarder in playoffs against Horn.
First Team Defense
D.J. Middlebrooks, DT, Sr., Rowlett--Key cog up front in defense that allowed a district-low 314.9 yards per game.
Charles Omenihu, DE, Sr., Rowlett--Texas commitment continues to progress, led team with five sacks and eight tackles for loss.
Tra Relford, ILB, Sr., Rowlett--Team leader with 71 tackles, also had a fumble return for a touchdown in playoffs against Killeen Shoemaker.
Avery Wright, OLB, Sr., Rowlett--Played his best in big games, recorded 61 tackles and helped limit opponents to 151.3 yards on the ground.
Jerek Capdeville, S, Sr., Rowlett--College prospect is a three-time all-district selection, including sophomore of the year in 2012, had 43 tackles.
Jared Mayden, S, Jr., Sachse--Rated as the No. 15 player in Texas in Class of 2016, had 29 tackles, an interception and six passes defended.
Carl Brown, CB, Sr., Rowlett--Play-maker on the outside, had a pair of interceptions and broke up seven passes.
Drew Galitz, P, Sr., Rowlett--Baylor commitment ranked as the No. 2 kicker in the country by Rivals.com.
Second Team Offense
Kobe Morrow, RB, So., Rowlett--191-952, 10 TDs rushing, 24-235, TD receiving
Kameron Steen, WR, Jr., Sachse--36-679, 11 TDs receiving
Christian Martinez, OL, Sr., Rowlett--Offense scored 30+ points in six of last eight games
Sam Weldon, OL, Jr., Sachse--Mustangs scored 43.5 points per game
Donovan Duvernay, Ath., Jr., Sachse--20-413, 5 TDs receiving, 2 INTs, KO return for TD
Second Team Defense
Dave Matthews, DT, Sr., Rowlett--Defense allowed 151.3 rush yards per game.
Matt Yarbrough, DT, Jr., Sachse--65 tackles, 13 for loss, six sacks
Kevin O'Neill, ILB, Sr., Sachse--Team-high 153 tackles, nine for loss, five blocked kicks
Jalen Brooks, OLB, Sr., Sachse--68 tackles, five for loss, three quarterback hurries
Jalann Wright, S, Sr., Rowlett--37 tackles, INT return for touchdown vs Sachse
Javon Collins, CB, Sr., Sachse--39 tackles, three INTs, seven passes defended