The Manvel Mavericks and second-year head coach Kevin Hall open their 2019 regular season football slate by traveling to Webster’s Challenger Columbia Stadium to face Clear Lake on Aug. 30.
The game with Lake will be the only Saturday contest on the Mavericks’ regular season schedule.
Manvel then follows with back-to-back Thursday home games at AISD’s Freedom Field against Crosby (Sept. 5) and Sharpstown (Sept. 12) with the latter game also being the Mavs’ 11-5A Division II opener.
Manvel cruised to a 42-6 victory over the Falcons in last year’s opener, while suffering a 49-47 road heart breaker to Crosby with the Cougars scoring a touchdown on the game’s final play.
“We start off with two good football teams,” Hall said. “Lake is a really solid football team. They’re going to have a new offensive coordinator and I’m sure there will be things different about them. Crosby has a new head coach, who was successful in the Corpus area, so he will also bring new things to them.
“We’re going to find out real early where we are. We also have a scrimmage with Spring Dekaney (Aug. 22) at their place.”
Other Thursday games on the MHS schedule include a Oct. 24 visit to Houston’s Barnett Stadium to meet Sterling and a Nov. 7 trip to Butler Stadium to play Waltrip.
Rounding out the Mavs’ slate will be Friday games against Fort Bend Marshall (Sept. 20 at Missouri City’s Hall Stadium), Northside (Sept. 27 at Freedom Field), Madison (Oct. 4 at Butler), Milby (Oct. 11 at Freedom Field) and Willowridge (Nov. 1 at Freedom Field).
While 23 lettermen return this year for Kevin Hall at Manvel, receiver and 2018 all-district first team selection Jalen Paxton (6-0, 185, 4.5) is the lone offensive veteran, while five Mavs are back for the second-year coach on defense.
Paxton grabbed 23 receptions for 333 yards and five touchdowns in 2018.
“Pax had a great spring and if there’s only one kid coming back, you want a kid like him,” Hall said.
Other players to watch for Hall and company include QB Tucker Yarborough (6-1, 215, 4.9), running backs Donovan Eaglin (5-11, 225, 4.6) and Jordan Vaughn (6-1, 190, 4.6), cornerbacks Vinson Brown (6- 1, 180, 4.5) and Jaqai Neal (5- 10, 185, 4.6), defensive tackle De`Undre Potts (6-0, 285), offensive tackle Christen Robinson (6-4, 285), defensive back Treyvon Jenkins and place kicker Luis Moreno.
“Tucker threw the ball real well in the offseason and at the 7-on-7 state tournament, where we got to the top eight again,” Hall said. “Donovan also ran well in the spring and has gotten a lot stronger in the weight room. He’s a mix between Ladarius (Owens) and Garrison (Johnson) in terms of style.
With just a handful of combined starters returning, Hall also elected to have the MHS gridiron program go through spring training drills for the first time in several years.
“We felt like as many young kids we have this upcoming fall, we needed to find out where they were as far as their physicality. The best thing about the spring is we didn’t get anybody hurt,” he said. “We could have as many as eight sophomores starting.
“We may also have three sophomores starting on defense, but they had really good springs and despite the fact they’re young, they’re developing into really good players.”
Fort Bend Marshall is tabbed by DCTFM to win the 11-5A crown and advance to the Division II state finals again, but ends up on the short end to Aledo for the second straight year. Willowridge and Houston Sterling are the favorites by the magazine’s pundits to finish in the running for the district’s third and fourth seeded playoff berths, as well. Marshall edged Manvel in a 52-51 overtime thriller last year and went on to compete in the Division II state title contest against Aledo.
“Marshall has tons of kids back, who are dynamic,” Hall said. “The quarterback (Malik Hornsby) is a tremendous football player and the (Devon) Achane is the total package both on and off the field.”
“Coach (James) Williams has done a great job over there and they’re going to be good in every place.”
The Division II rankings include the following teams: 1. Aledo; 2. Fort Bend Marshall; 3. Corpus Christi Calallen; 4. Marshall (East Texas); 5. Huntsville; 6. Manvel; 7. A&M Consolidated; 8. Frisco Reedy; 9. Lubbock-Cooper; 10. South Oak Cliff.
The Mavs went 9-3 in 2018, finishing as the district runners-up and rallying to defeat Barbers Hill 62-42 in bi-district round, before falling to Huntsville (34-10) in the second round.
“We didn’t finish where we wanted to last year, so we will go at it again and see,” Hall said. “Our kids are way ahead of the learning curve when we put in a new defense last year. We want to work more on the little things like getting more turnovers and being better tacklers.
Last year was such a sharp learning curve that we didn’t work as much on the little things as we should have.”