Blackwell, Sweetwater earn top ranks from TF

Ron Howell
Sports Editor

High school football fever is officially here now that Dave Campbell’s 2018 Texas Football Magazine has arrived.
Two Nolan County teams — Blackwell (No. 7) and Sweetwater (No. 19) have earned preseason statewide recognition in Class 1A, Division II and Class 4A, Division II, respectively.
Blackwell is also favored to win its new district (6-1A) after returning three offensive and four defensive starters from last season’s 11-1 regional semifinalist.
Blackwell quarterback Brandon Brinkman is the district’s preseason offensive MVP after throwing for 1,063 yards and 25 TDs this past season and rushing for 702 yards and 12 scores. He is one of three returning players who earned all-region or all-state honors along with Joe Sanchez and Cameron Coldiron.
Sweetwater is picked for a second-place finish behind Midland Greenwood (No. 11 in 4A, D-II) in its new 1-4A district, though it has just two offensive and two defensive starters returning after finishing with a 10-3 record and making the third round of the playoffs in ‘17.
There are three linemen returning who earned all-district honorable mention in 2017 — Max Rodriguez, Logan King and Justin Castereno. Sweetwater’s other “players to watch” include running back Alex Gallegos; defensive linemen Reggie Walker and Nick Granado; fullback Tony Padilla; defensive backs Josh Camacho, Reece Palafox and Tyler Warner; linebacker Andres Neri; running back-linebacker Kei Griffin; and receiver Markus Meneses.
Roscoe, which went 6-5 in 2017 and was a bi-district finalist, is expected to be in the playoffs again by finishing third behind No. 5 Albany and No. 12 Hamlin this season in its new District 7-2A, D-II. It will return eight offensive and eight defensive starters, including second team all-state defensive back Jose Ortega, a threat for the Plowboys as a dangerous running back, receiver and kick returner as well. Roscoe’s other “players to watch” include Brandon Lavalais at receiver and defensive back; Jayden Gonzales at quarterback; linebackers Nick Limones, Jacob Rainey and Jordan Blain; linemen Rey Martinez, Coltin Watts, John Herrera, Adrian Lomas and Roman Garza; Micheal Wright, Junior Martinez, Ryan Highsmith, Tristan Baker and Jaythan Coale at receiver and defensive back; and quarterback-receiver Barrett Beal.
Highland also made it to the playoffs in ‘17 but is picked third behind No. 4-ranked Garden City and Sterling City this time in its new 6-1A, D-I district.
Highland running back Eli Sauer was named the district’s preseason offensive MVP after rushing for 1,616 yards and 36 TDs this past season and along with Richard Fomby, who ran for 728 yards and 12 TDs, make for a formidable duo.
Nolan Montgomery, Dakota Bowen, Hayden Adams, Max Ferguson, Jacob Hamilton, Dylan Jeffrey, Dominique Gonzales and Chase Crosson are also “players to watch.” Highland returns four offensive and four defensive starters from a 7-4 team in 2017.