It comes during the middle of every summer and provides the starting point for a countdown to the beginning of yet another football season.
For generations Dave Campbell’s Texas Football has been an anchor for fans in the lead-up to the school year. This version is the 61st edition and the prognostications and predictions come — as always — with a double-edged sword.
Either the expectations are so high that they provide immediate pressure to perform or they give a rallying cry where "nobody believes in us" based on the projected finish in the district standings.
Here is what the magazine forecasts for Texoma teams this fall, assuming a regularly-scheduled season we all hope isn’t majorly affected by the coronavirus pandemic which put a premature end to spring sports back in the middle of March.
District 7-5A (I)
The Bearcats are picked to finished fifth in the district and just miss out on the playoffs for the second straight season. Last year Sherman was the odd-team out on a three-way tie for third place. The projected playoff teams, in order, are Longview, Highland Park, John Tyler and McKinney North. The Bearcats, who bring back seven starters on offense, are listed ahead of West Mesquite and Wylie East.
Realignment didn’t help Sherman’s cause — the Bearcats are not just the smallest team in the district with the only enrollment under 2,000 (all but Wylie East have at least 2,100 students) but additions of Longview and Highland Park — No. 3 and No. 4, respectively in the preseason 5A Division I poll — seemingly have the other five teams fighting for the final two playoff spots.
District 7-5A (II)
The Yellow Jackets will enter the season with a preseason ranking as they look to get to the playoffs for the first time since 2017. Denison has missed the postseason each of the past two years due to tie-breakers but comes into the 2020 campaign ranked No. 24 in the preseason 5A Division II poll based on a big core returning — seven on offense and nine on defense.
Despite all that, the Jackets aren’t predicted to win the district title because Frisco enters the season No. 8 in the statewide poll and the only team expected to finish in front of Denison in the standings. Lovejoy and Frisco Liberty are seen as the other two playoff teams with Lake Dallas, Princeton, Frisco Memorial, Frisco Lebanon Trail and Prosper Rock Hill finishing fifth through ninth.
Yellow Jacket junior running back Jadarian Price was selected as the 7-5A (II) Preseason Offensive MVP.
District 4-4A (II)
The Panthers make the move up in classification and are picked to have some immediate success in their first foray into 4A. Van Alstyne is picked third in the standings behind Celina and Aubrey and ahead of Sanger and Krum. Since it is a five-team district, essentially all the Panthers would need to do is win just one district game to clinch a playoff spot and a pair of wins would guarantee it.
It will be a young group on both sides of the ball after graduation hit the units hard but the Panthers are poised to extend their streak of playoff appearances to six.
District 4-3A (I)
The Bearcats played well in an underdog role during last year’s playoffs with a bi-district upset in Cody Fagan’s first year as head coach. Whitesboro will be projected to try and do the same as it is slated fourth in the standings behind Brock, Pilot Point and Boyd as the district’s final playoff team ahead of Paradise, Ponder and Bowie. Brock is ranked No. 1 in the preseason 3A Division I poll while Pilot Point is at No. 14.
Whitesboro has made the postseason every year since 2010 and the Bearcats are looking to keep that going into this decade of action.
District 5-3A (I)
Coming off the best season in school history and returning key starters on both sides of the ball, Pottsboro is not only projected to win the 5-3A (I) title, the Cardinals are ranked No. 3 in the preseason 3A Division I poll. Pottsboro is behind Brock, which it beat in the state semifinals, and two-time defending champ Grandview, which held off the Cards, 42-35, in the title game to hand Pottsboro its only loss in a 15-1 season.
Both senior wide receiver Titus Lyons and senior defensive lineman Silas Barr are preseason 3A all-state selections and the Cardinals are projected to get to the 3A Division I Region II final but lose to Grandview, which moved over from Region III to Region II in the latest realignment — guaranteeing one of two best teams in 2019 won’t even have a chance to return to the final game of 2020.
Senior quarterback Braden Plyler was picked as the 5-3A (I) Preseason Offensive MVP and Pottsboro is slated to finish in front of Winnsboro, Mineola and Mount Vernon among the playoff teams. All three came over in realignment.
Howe is projected to finish seventh, behind Emory Rains and Commerce and in front of Bonham. The Bulldogs will look to improve on a 3-7 record and a 2-4 finish in district play.
District 8-3A (II)
Gunter, Bells, Whitewright, S&S
All of Texoma’s 3A Division II teams were placed in the same district and for three of them, it isn’t a good thing to be paired with the defending state champion.
Gunter, which has won two titles in the past four seasons with a staggering 60-3 mark in that span, will be more than happy to have the predictions come true as the Tigers enter the season ranked No. 1 in 3A Division II and picked to defend their crown with a victory against Daingerfield in the title game. The magazine sees Gunter beating Eastland in the Region II final and then facing Canadian for the fifth straight season in the semifinals, a match-up Gunter has won three of the past four meetings.
Senior linebacker Mitchell Brewer was picked as the 8-3A (II) Preseason Defensive MVP while the Tigers will need to replace several key starters to keep the best stretch in school history going.
Bells, which is coming off its first district title since 1996 and a region semifinal appearance for just the second time and first since 1989, is picked as the district runner-up and starts the season ranked No. 24 in the statewide 3A Division II poll. The Panthers won nine games in their first year running the Slot-T but will have to replace Wrangler Priest, who was the district MVP a year ago.
Both Whitewright and S&S are not picked to make the playoffs.
Whitewright was in the postseason last year, ending a two-year skid, but checks in fifth for these projections as Leonard and Blue Ridge nab the other two playoff spots. The Tigers will need to beat at least one of those foes to get into the top half of the standings once again.
S&S is coming off a 1-9 season and the Rams showed improvement in several areas over a winless 2018 campaign. Taking the next couple steps comes with almost the entire starting units returning — the program lost just four seniors.
District 5-2A (I)
Collinsville, Tioga, Tom Bean
A change in this district due to realignment guaranteed a pair of teams which made the playoffs in 2019 were not going to repeat the feat since all six are fighting to return and there are just four spots. This scenario has Collinsville making it but Tom Bean and Tioga being pushed out of the top four.
That’s because Lindsay comes in and is projected to win the district title, ahead of Collinsville as the runner-up, and another newcomer, Alvord, is slotted in third place. Trenton is given the nod for the last spot in front of the Tomcats and Bulldogs.
TAPPS Six-Man Division III District 2
The Eagles were scheduled to play an 11-man schedule last season but did not have enough players and so TCS ending up sitting out 2019, regrouping and are now going to be a six-man program in the latest TAPPS realignment.
Texoma Christian is picked third in its district, behind Fort Worth Covenant Classical, last year’s state runner-up, and Irving Faustina Academy while finishing ahead of Dallas Fairhill.