1. Balmorhea (14-1)
The Bears are to be a forced to be reckoned with this season, returning every player from a state finalist campaign in 2016. RB Kyle Garcia will look to lead the way in the backfield after a 2,000+ rushing yards last season along with 35 TDs to his name.
2. Garden City (10-3)
Experience is lost due to graduation but the high-pedigree football does not stop in Bearkat country. QB Trent McMillan returns after throwing 1,291 yards and recording 33 touchdown total in 2016 and looks to engineer GC to another potential district title in 2017 with another year of leadership from coach Jeff Jones.
3. Grandfalls-Royalty (10-3)
District 5-1AD2 will be a tough one with the Cowboys and Balmorhea competing for the title. Returning all-state player in Jaden Helms, who recorded 62 touchdowns through the air and rushing, will be a main play-maker for Grandfalls, not to mention, the preseason offensive most valuable player pick, according to Dave Campbell’s Texas Football.
4. Ackerly Sands (7-4)
The Mustangs offense will be leading the charge for a playoff run, returning five starters that will be engineered by QB Landon Morrow. RB/LB Caleb Gillespie will be the main spark for the defense, recording 144 tackles in 2016.
5. Imperial Buena Vista (9-3)
Projected to have a big season for the Longhorns, OL/DL Markus Gomez will be the spark for the offense to go deep in the postseason, tallying 414 receiving yards and seeing the end zone seven times last season. Gomez will be joined by WR/CB D.J. Whaley, who garnered all-state honors in 2016.
Other teams to watch: Rankin, Fort Davis, Marfa