Early Rankings: Houston Area Top 11

By: Nick Gradney (@StatZ_G) 


   Texas High School Football is a culture like none other. It holds the largest playoff pool in the country. The Houston area alone have so many teams worthy of being mentioned with greats. You can only imagine how difficult it was to narrow it down to just a select few. Keep in mind that this is just a pre-season ranking list, which is subject to change twice – mid-season and after the state finals. These rankings are based on a combination of projection, strength of schedule, returning impact players and the momentum from the prior year. Here are the top 11 teams in order for the upcoming 2023 season. Best of luck and congrats to everyone involved.


11. Kicking things off are The Lamar Texans (HC – Michael Lindsey). Lamar is unquestionably the kings of HISD and have been sitting atop the throne for decades with minimal threats from any other school in the district. The Texans are coming off of a 18-6A district title in 2022 which led to a narrow four point loss in the 2nd round of the playoffs. Although losing QB Kenneth Rosenthal will be a big gap to fill for Lamar, 2024 ATH Jordan Reaves has shown he have the tools to play under center and will be protected by a solid offensive line anchored by four-star OL Dramodd Odoms. Not to mention, one of the best wide receivers in the city will be returning in Tristen “T5” Brown so that will give the Texans an advantage every time he lines up. The defense will be fast and and I believe its strength will be on the backend. DB starters Cam Vandible, Christopher Boykins and Corwin Gaines will have to fly to the ball and create turnovers. Overall, the expectation from Lamar is to not only dominate the district but also be a threat to make it to the regional round of the playoffs.

Rising ⭐️: 24′ TE Jadon Garza-Pender



10. Despite a second round loss to a battle tested Summer Creek team in 2022, Shadow Creek (HC – Brad Butler) definitely deserves to be in the top 10. The Sharks finished the 2022 year 10-0 in the regular season and put everyone on notice that they’re back in the spotlight after a couple subpar years following a state championship in 2019. The standards for Shadow Creek are very high. This team is loaded with potential D1 talent, most noticeably 2025 ATH Jacorey Watson who will switch from WR to QB for his junior season and 2024 LB/S Maurice Williams. They have a great run vs pass balanced attack and they also possess the speed to get in the  backfield on the defensive side. Shadow Creek have one of the best coaching staffs in the Houston area and will put together weekly game plans to make their impact players stand out. I don’t see much resistance that’ll stop them from going into the postseason with an unblemished record. The Sharks will most likely be in the 6A-D2 bracket and will look to make a run at it barring any major injury. 

Rising ⭐️: 25′ WR Ashton Jones



9. Summer Creek (HC – Kenny Harrison) is one of those teams you have to bypass their record and focus on strength of schedule and the eye test. They may never go undefeated because they’re in arguably the toughest district in Texas, which is 21-6A. However, they’ll enter the playoffs battle tested. The Bulldogs made it to the regional round in 2022 and the expectations are now growing. Summer Creek will have Freshmen phenom Isaiah “Rocket” Rasheed coming in to replace Jahrik Jones at the quarterback position. Make no mistake about it, this is still a highly experienced team even with the loss of a few key players. The Bulldogs already have one of the best rushing attacks in the Houston area with lead RB Lloyd Avant, who hold over 10 D1 offers. The defense will be go as far as the front line goes and many believe it will take them far behind two special edge rushers – All district first team selection Kyran Duhon and top 5 nationally ranked Chad Woodfork. Diverse senior DB Jaylen Carter will patrol the secondary by playing both safety and nickel. With all that said, Summer Creek alumni and fans have much to be excited for.

Rising ⭐️: 24′ WR Bryce Crawford



8. Next up is perennial Houston area powerhouse Westfield (HC – Matt Meekins). I know what you’re thinking – “Why are they so low?” Well, the only reason the Mustangs aren’t higher on the list is because of the loss of Texas State signee and star standout QB Preston “PJ” Hatter. In 2022, PJ was responsible for over 4,000 passing yards, 800 plus rushing yards and 66 total touchdowns. I’d be remiss if I didn’t also bring up 2023 WR Dajohn “Dae Dae” Palomo, who accounted for 1,045 receiving yards and 19 touchdown receptions. So yeah, that’s a ton of offense that won’t be on the field next season. However, one of the most underrated running backs in the city, Taji Atkins will be returning for his senior campaign. The Westfield Mustangs newest addition in the secondary is 2025 S Joseph Albright, who transferred over from Eisenhower. If you know anything about Westfield, then you know the Mustangs are always big on both sides of the line and they’ll field a great defense so don’t expect any less this year. 

Rising ⭐️: 25′ LB Devin Smith



7. The Klein Collins Tigers (HC – Adrian Mitchell) may be one of the more seasoned teams in 6A. The Tigers are a sound, extremely well coached bunch. Last season, they gave a great Westfield team all they could handle in the second round of the playoffs. Breakout star QB Tucker Parks is a very savvy player who can make all the necessary throws and looks to go out with a bang as he enters his senior year. Parks will have 2 reliable receivers with the return of 15-6A all district 1st team WR Donovan Baker and 2nd team WR Rodny Ojo. The offensive line is solid, as well as the running game. Look for 2024 RB Michael Wilson to be a big time playmaker in this Tigers offense every time he touches the field. The most physically gifted player on this Tigers’ defense and possibly the entire team, is none other than 2024 S Chris Gant Jr. Chris is a hard hitting safety that can cover the field. Gant Jr already have over 15 collegiate offers, with his most notable one coming from The University of Kentucky. With Gant and fellow safety Zac Cole owning the back end of the Tigers secondary, good luck to anyone who decides to step in their zone. Klein Collins will be a tough out for opponents this year, keep your head on a swivel because they’re coming!

Rising ⭐️: 24′ DL Antoine Milon



6. Fort Bend Marshall (HC – James Williams) always have a loaded squad but something just feels different about this roster. The Buffs have a legitimate shot at competing for a 5A state championship in Jerry’s world in December. Marshall have a ton of playmaker on both sides of the ball. The Buffaloes have one of fastest teams in the state. Junior WR Ja’Kayden Ferguson is an impact player and a true mismatch for anybody if covered one on one. Perhaps the one player isn’t getting nearly as much attention as he should is the running back, Jarrod Howard – but he’ll be looking to make a name for himself throughout the season. The entire starting secondary of FB Marshall are D1 caliber players who have multiple offers. The dynamic CB duo of 2026 Isaiah Williams and 2025 Caleb Chester could see more than 40 offers by the end of the season at the pace they’re going. You better tighten your chin strap once you see safety Joshua Lair, who is a highly coveted prospect in the 2024 class himself with nearly 30 offers. We’d be here all day if we continue to name all the talent on this stacked roster. Just know this, Fort Bend Marshall have a chip on their shoulder due to how things ended last year and every school in their path, will have to be on their A+ plus game if they want to defeat The Buffs.

Rising ⭐️: 26′ QB Kaeden “KK” Johnson



5. The Woodlands Highlanders (HC – Jim Rapp) have a high powered offensive attack that’ll outscore most teams. I’ll challenge anyone to find a bigger and meaner offensive than this group. They are led by seniors Ryan Hughes and Koltin Sieracki, both OL with Big 12 commitments to TCU and Baylor respectively. Wisconsin QB commit Mabrey Mettauer is a blue chipper with an outstanding receiving group. The Highlanders go-to guy is 2025 highly touted WR Quanell X Farrakhan Jr, a four star recruit that can excel at all the levels in the passing game. 2024 WR Aden Self is expected to have a great senior campaign and take some pressure off of Quanell X Farrakhan Jr. The Highlanders brought in transfer RB Kiandrea Barker from Beebe, Arkansas. The Penn State commit is a game breaker every time he touches the ball. The Woodlands defense lost a bunch of guys from the previous year so they’ll have to prove it with Cayden Clayton and Jack Miller being the veterans. If this defense can become legit, this team can be dangerous because the offense will always keep them in it.

Rising ⭐️: 24′ OL Everett Champlin



4. The Cy-Fair Bobcats (HC – Jeff Miller) are no strangers to the spotlight. Cy-Fair is known to keep college level talent year in and year out and nothing will be different in 2023. Senior QB Trey Owens is a Texas Longhorns commit but yet, still seem to be overlooked. Owens have a cannon and will need to show it off in a great way if the Bobcats want to make noise in the postseason. Cy-Fair top returning receiver is Owen Carter – a kid who can turn 7 yards into 70 in a heartbeat. By stretching the field, that should allow for Junior running back John Kelly to get loose. Kelly should easily get over 1,000 yards from scrimmage behind a well oiled machine offensive line that this school produces every single year. Expect the Bobcats defense to be stingy. Their bread and butter is in the front 7 – a ferocious defensive line led by the nationally ranked DE Landon Rink. Landon can do it all – rush the passer, play the run and create turnovers. Making the playoffs isn’t in doubt for the Cy-Fair Bobcats, the question is how far will they go?

Rising ⭐️: 24′ OL Blessed Adewumi



3. When you think about The Katy Tigers (HC – Gary Joseph), you think of total team effort. Of course they may have a few players who are ranked nationally but none of that is above the team. There will never be a time where it’s all about one guy. The Tigers pride themselves on running the ball with multiple backs and having a huge, athletic offensive line to block upfront. It’s straight up throwback, smash mouth football. In 2022, Katy made it to the semifinals before an upset loss to Vandergrift. It seems like almost every year the Tigers are contending for a championship. With the loss of all time leading rusher Seth Davis, there will be big shoes to fill but that’s nothing new. Head Coach Gary Joseph have a system that has been working for years and it brought them titles. Katy is always difficult to beat mainly because they are disciplined. They play mistake-free and once they get a lead, it’s hard to gain ground on them. With fast rising Coen Echols leading the way on the OL, versatile edge rusher Daykus Brinkley is the man to remember on defense – both players combining for nearly 50 offers that includes some major D1 programs. Katy have ballers at all the levels of the defense with the likes of 2024 LB Nathan Hall and 2024 DB Jed Olotu-Judah. The Tigers have a true home field advantage. It feels like you’re in another city if you’re the visiting, due to the passionate fan base which is second to none. Legacy Stadium will be rocking once again in the fall to cheer on Katy in hopes of hanging another banner.

Rising ⭐️: 25′ RB London Pilbeam



2. Coming in at number 2 are The Atascocita Eagles (HC – Craig Stump). Some say that Atascocita would have a ring or two by now if they were in the D2 bracket of 6A. Unfortunately, there’s nothing they can do about that. However, they are one of the top teams the lone star state have to offer and most certainly deserving to be mentioned near the top in any conversation involving Houston. The Eagles soared high last year and gave North Shore a scare in the regular season. They’re returning 2024 dual threat quarterback Zion Back, who is a two sport athlete. Brown can do anything on the field but his best attribute is getting out on the edge and making a play – whether it’s in the air or with his feet. Four star junior running back Tory Blaylock had a breakout year in 2022 and will look to add to his legacy this upcoming season. Atascocita have size and speed in the interior and at the receiver position. The Eagles have always been known for their offense but last year they won games on defense as well. 2024 cornerback Braylon Conley is white hot right now in the recruitment department with over 37 well earned offers. You can guarantee that The Eagles will be right be in the mix, making a deep postseason run.

Rising ⭐️: 25′ WR Kyran Pate



1. There’s no need for a drumroll to announce that The Mustangs of North Shore (HC – Willie Gaston) is number 1 overall team in the Houston area. North Shore, or should I say “Da Sho”, have been ranked in the MaxPreps top 10 in the country for the past several years and quite frankly, I don’t see any reason that should change. Although North Shore lost their legendary head coach Jon Kay to Rice University, they have groomed the perfect replacement in Willie Gaston, who previously served as the teams’ offensive coordinator, not to mention he went to school there and was raised in the Galena Park community. To the die hard fan base of North Shore, every year is championship or bust because they know they’re that good. In 2022, they lost QB Kaleb Bailey won offensive MVP in the 6A-D1 title game the prior as a freshman to a knee injury. The Mustangs were still able to make it to the big game before coming up short to Duncanville 28-21 for the first time in four tries. Bailey is ahead of schedule and he has his eye on the prize. The Mustangs was also without 4 star wide receiver Deion DeBlanc for the entire year due to transfer eligibility rules. Add seniors Christopher Barnes and Terrence Guillory to that mix and you have a fast, hard to contain group of weapons. The run game won’t miss a beat either as it will feature D’Andre Hardeman Jr. The protection have always been top notch and this year, they’ll be more experienced, especially Jakoby Isom, who played against the nations’ top pass rusher in Colin Simmons. On the defensive side, they have the best corner in the game – Devin Sanchez have gained over 30 offers and with the departure of Jacoby Davis, he’s now CB1. Losing three starters in the secondary isn’t ideal but let’s be honest, North Shore is DB High. They have three star S Lavonte Johnson who came over from CE King. Many believe the strength will be in the linebacker spot where you’ll see multiple starters and veteran players returning, including senior Jarvon Coles. This Mustangs team never take days off and treat every practice like it’s their last. Without a shadow of a doubt, the boys from The Eastside will show up when it’s time!

Rising ⭐️: 24′ LB Dillon Dixon & 25′ WR Cameron Smith

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