In Central Texas, August means scorching days and heated preseason debates about the area’s top high school football teams. Leading up to the season’s kickoff, we unveil our Top 10, as selected by our high school reporting staff.
Coach: Doug Warren (47-7, fifth season)
2019: 12-4, Class 4A Division II area finalist
Hello: WR/DB Christian Marshall, RB/DB Juan Olmedo, RB Moses Wray
Goodbye: QB Cooper McCollum, OL/DL Carson Minnix
Returning starters: 6 offense, 8 defense
2019 stats: Averaged 40.5 ppg, allowed 27.3 ppg
QUESTIONS TO PONDER
1. Who will start at quarterback for the Texans? The departure of McCollum leaves a big hole in Wimberley’s lineup, and three players are battling for the starting nod. Senior Cole Schroeder is one of the toughest players on the squad and has a firm grasp of the system, while junior Kyle Mitchell impressed as the junior varsity’s quarterback last season. But Matthew Tippie, a senior who started for Burnet a year ago, has the ability as well as the experience to step in and start from the first snap when Wimberley opens the season against visiting Canyon Lake on Aug. 28.
2. What player is indispensable to the Texans’ defense? Schroeder’s experience might earn him snaps at quarterback, but he’s also the heart of Wimberley’s "Code Red" defense. A unanimous all-district selection at linebacker a year ago, the 5-foot-9, 190-pound ball hawk makes all the defensive calls and led all returners in tackles a year ago.
3. What team looks like the biggest threat to Wimberley’s regional crown? The Texans won’t have to look far to find their fiercest competition. District 14-4A Division II will come down to Wimberley and Geronimo Navarro — again. The rivals have spent the past decade battling for district supremacy. Last year Navarro beat Wimberley in the regular season to claim the district title, but the Texans exacted vengeance in the playoffs with a 42-12 win in the regional championship.
RELATED: Sacrifice makes Wimberley a state power
NEW DISTRICT, NEW PROBLEMS
Neither Wimberley nor Navarro was happy with the UIL after the biennial realignment in February. The two powerhouses found themselves in a district with New Tech and Eastside Memorial, which went a combined 1-19 last season; San Antonio YMLA, an in-district charter school starting up a football program; and Austin Achieve, a former charter school moving up from six-man football. Concerned about the competitive contrast as well as subvarsity competition, both Wimberley and Navarro appealed their placement. The UIL denied both appeals.
Warren said rebuilding his offensive line is a priority during summer camp. Ryan Rubio, a 6-3, 275-pound all-state selection a year ago, recently joined summer workouts and will anchor the young group. Keep an eye on players such as Walt Gold, Reece Randig and Ethan Lancaster; all of them played primarily on defense a year ago but might start on the offensive line, especially early in the season, when the younger linemen are still learning the ropes.
PARTING THE DEFENSES
Wray burst onto the scene in a big way last year as a sophomore, rushing for 1,254 yards and 17 touchdowns. At 5-11 and 215 pounds, with a 4.6 time in the 40-yard dash, Wray has the size to bludgeon defenses and the speed to take any carry to pay dirt. He also has a compelling personal story; he was adopted by Andrew and Sheila Wray from his native Liberia, a country of 4.7 million people on the west coast of Africa, when he was 2 years old.
DID YOU KNOW?
Warren, who was an assistant on the Texans’ 2011 state championship team, is one of five head coaches in the Austin area to have worked on the staff of his current school during a championship season. Todd Dodge (Westlake), Hank Carter (Lake Travis), Carl Abseck (Cedar Park) and Jeff Walker (Liberty Hill) are the others.
Where does Wimberley rank among area football programs?
Thomas Jones: I rank the Texans behind only Lake Travis and Westlake, primarily because of their playoff runs. Wimberley always seems to get better as the season progresses; the program has won at least two playoff games in five of the past six seasons.
Rick Cantu: Central Texas produces some top-flight football teams that have won state championships. Six-time winner Lake Travis leads the crop. Westlake would be my No. 2 team, followed by Cedar Park at No. 3 and Wimberley at No. 4.