5A-I preview: Reg. 1 loaded with powerhouses


Overview: It would almost be a surprise in six weeks time if this region does not produce the 5A Division I state champion.

Five of the 16 teams in this loaded field are district champions and two others are co-champions. Three own perfect 10-0 records: Allen, Euless Trinity and Southlake Carroll. All three have won at least one state title in the last six years.

Except for Abilene’s state title run in 2009, the balance of power in Region I has clearly swung away from West Texas, where it rested for decades, and to the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

The two District 4-5A representatives, Arlington Bowie and Arlington Martin, have the opportunity to play West Texas teams in the opening two rounds. Martin used that route to reach the third round of the 2010 playoffs for the second consecutive season. On each occasion, the Warriors were eliminated by Trinity.

Favorite: Allen. The Eagles survived some close calls to go 7-0 in the always-difficult District 8-5A. Being forced to come from behind so many times in the late stages of games could serve the Eagles well in the playoffs when games figure to be tight.

The Eagles are solid and experienced at the skill positions with quarterback Alec Morris, running back Jonathan Williams and wide receiver Andrew Rodriguez.

Allen has proven itself in unfriendly environments with road wins at Longview and Flower Mound Marcus. Both opponents finished the regular season with 9-1 records.

Watch out for: Cedar Hill. The Longhorns landed in the easier half of the bracket and, provided they can shake off a 56-55 overtime loss to Duncanville in Week 10, their speed could possibly carry them to a regional final. The Longhorns' 7-3 record is deceptive because of a tough schedule that included losses to Allen and DeSoto in the first three weeks. The Longhorns have notable wins over playoff teams Denton Guyer, Mansfield Timberview and Mansfield.

Can’t wait to see: Euless Trinity-Duncanville (7:30 p.m. Friday, Irving Schools Stadium). The bi-district contest is an interesting clash of styles. Trinity is better than 4-to-1 run to pass in its offensive play selection and loves to grind out long drives. Defensively, the Trojans are among the best in the area, allowing an average of 191 yards per game. Duncanville counters with an offense that averages 429 yards per game, led by the running and passing of Deandre Grimes, who comes into the playoffs off his best game. In a 56-55 overtime win over Cedar Hill in Week 10, Grimes threw for 166 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 245 yards and two scores.

We hope to see: Allen-Euless Trinity. If this rematch happens, unfortunately, it will come in the second round, just as it did last season when Trinity squeezed out a 37-35 victory at Cowboys Stadium in one of the best spectator games of the postseason. Since losing to Allen 35-28 in a nondistrict game in 2009, Trinity’s record is 38-1. Allen’s record since that game is 28-3. Trinity won state championships in 2005, 2007 and 2009, while Allen won a state title in 2008.

Talent pool (FBS recruits): Abilene Cooper: QB Clayton Nicholas (Texas Tech). Allen: QB Alec Morris (Alabama), RB Jonathan Williams (Missouri), LB Thaddeus LaGrone (Baylor). Arlington Bowie: QB/WR Kolby Listenbee (TCU), RB Russell Hansbrough (Arizona State), DE Jesse Rogers (North Carolina). Arlington Martin: DE Devonte Fields (TCU), K Jaden Oberkrom (TCU), OL Steven Baggett (Boise State), DB Stephen Amoako (Oregon), DB Eric Amoako (Oregon). Cedar Hill: OL Aderius Epps (Kansas State). Duncanville: OL Adam Butler (Vanderbilt), WR Jeffrey Thomas (Colorado). Euless Trinity: DE Polo Manukainiu (Oklahoma), OL Hiva Lutui (UCLA). Hurst L.D. Bell: OL Kimo Tipoti (Texas A&M). Keller Central: DB Zack Sanchez (Baylor), OL Simon Goines (Missouri). Mansfield: DE Hassan Ridgeway (Texas). Southlake Carroll: WR Sabian Holmes (Baylor), WR Peyton Williams (Colorado), LB Will Davis (Kansas State).