Back home, on their own campus, the Kingwood Mustangs football team is looking forward to a new season in a new district with a new set of challenges.
Overcoming adversity in 2017 when Hurricane Harvey forced them off campus, the Mustangs rallied from a 0-3 start to not only make the playoffs for a third consecutive season, but advanced three rounds deep for the first time since 1990.
Now back home on its own campus and with seven starters returning on each side of the football, from the 6-6 season (4-3 in District 21-6A), Kingwood is being considered by many to contend for league honors in 2018.
It’s a new league. Realignment has the Mustangs in the nine-team District 22-6A. Kingwood joins Humble ISD schools Atascocita, Summer Creek and Humble, which makes the jump to 6A with a mere 89 students above the 6A cutoff of 2,190.
The Humble ISD group will be competing with Pasadena ISD members South Houston, Dobie, Sam Rayburn, Memorial and Pasadena High Schools.
Atascocita, which posted a 10-2 record last season and reached the Division I region semifinals, is the prohibitive favorite. But most would agree that Kingwood is poised to give the Eagles a run for their money.
Much will be dependent upon the development of senior quarterback Cameron Pavloski (6-2, 180) who guided the junior varsity team to a 9-0 season last year. Junior move-in Grant Wall is also a viable candidate for the position, which was left wide open by the graduation of both quarterbacks from last season.
Two-year starter Austin Hodges and Connor Derelioglu return to provide protection on the offensive line, where Lucas Borchers is also expected to contribute. Blake Parr is back after rushing for 526 yards and three touchdowns a year ago, and Carter Amarantos is another key to the offense. The versatile senior WR/RB also played defense (safety) last season.
Michael Van Uden returns to lead the charges on defense. The senior has been tabbed by “ Dave Campbell’s Texas Football” as the 22-6A Preseason Defensive MVP. The Mustangs’ leading tackler (114) from last season, Van Uden leads an inexperienced corps of linebackers that could be bolstered by juniors Parker Hemphill and Brandon Lewis.
Mathew Wheatley (96 tackles) and Ryan Vincent (52 tackles) are also among the key returning players on defense for Kingwood.
The Mustangs open practice this week and are scheduled to scrimmage Conroe on Aug. 23 before opening the season at Ridge Point (Hall Stadium) at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 30.
Kingwood opens the home schedule at Turner Stadium with Spring Dekaney for a 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 6, game. The home schedule also includes Friday games with Atascocita (Sept. 14) and Sam Rayburn (Sept. 21), and a Thursday, Oct. 4, meeting with Pasadena Memorial. All are scheduled for 7 p.m. starts.
Kingwood will be the visiting team in games at Turner Stadium with Summer Creek at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 19, and Humble (4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, kickoff).
District road encounters at Pasadena Veterans Memorial Stadium include a Sept. 28 meeting with South Houston, an Oct. 12 date with Dobie, and an Oct. 25showdown with Pasadena. Those games begin at 7 p.m.