Ranking the 2017 Yoemen football schedule

This week, I’m going to look ahead to the Yoemen’s 2017 football schedule. As with every year, this schedule is going to provide many challenges along the way. First off, Cameron is going to be in one of, if not the toughest district in the state with 10-3A. The best way to prepare for a daunting district is to play quality opponents in your non-district schedule. The Yoemen will be challenged with four 4A programs - three of which who advanced to at least the area round of the playoffs last season.


10. Jarrell (1-9/0-6)

After going just 1-3 in non-district, the Jarrell Cougars had to know it was going to be an uphill battle in district. Jarrell proceeded to lose their next six games while giving up an average of 48 points per contest in the losses. The Cougars had just five players on the all-district list and lost all of them to graduation. There is really only room for improvement, but it’s going to take some big strides to compete and get into playoff contention this season.


9. Little River Academy (4-6/1-5)

Last year, the Bees began the season by taking down rival Rogers, Whitney and Goldthwaite. That generally means good things, but Academy proceeded to go just 1-5 in district and missed out on the playoffs for the first time since 2013. The Bees ordinarily don’t have the athletes to compete with the top end teams in the district, but could pull an upset or two and sneak into that fourth and final playoff position.


8. Troy (5-6/3-3)

This may be somewhat of a questionable pick in some people’s eyes, but I am trying to rank the teams that present the biggest challenge to the Yoemen this season. Having Troy eighth is based mostly on the struggles this Trojan team has had in this game historically, as Cameron has dominated the series and has never lost. Troy always has decent talent coming up in the system and should most certainly be in the playoff picture.


7. McGregor (4-6/2-4)

Last season, the Bulldogs lost what was essentially a play-in game to Troy in the final week of the season. That loss resulted in no playoffs for McGregor, and a few months later long-time head coach Tim Seward made the move into administration. Judd Thrash, who spent the last three seasons as defensive coordinator at Colleyville Heritage, will be taking his first head coaching job. The Bulldogs lost a good crop of seniors and will have a new system to learn, but have played Cameron relatively close at times.


6. Gatesville (4-6/1-4)

This is where the games start getting a bit tougher. Last season’s 69-31 loss to the Yoemen was a bit deceiving as the game went back and forth most of the way until the very end. The Hornets are still one of a select few 4A and smaller programs that have a winning record versus Cameron all-time, but this year’s game will be at Yoe Field. The Hornets return five of eight all-district players and only lost 13 total seniors, so it could be a tough battle.


5. Bellville (8-4/4-0)
Whenever you have a team like Bellville as your fifth toughest game, then you know you have some qualify teams on your schedule. The Brahmas easily steamrolled their way to a district championship last season and fell to eventual state champion West Orange-Stark (49-7) in the regional semifinals. Out of the 21 all-district players, only 6 will be returning. Additionally, the Yoe freshmen and JV also picked up impressive wins over the Brahmas last season.


4. Bay City (7-4/4-2)

If there was a surprise game from 2016, it was when Bay City traveled to Cameron and took the Yoemen to the wire, 30-27. Coach Guadalupe Florez and his Blackcats continued that trend the rest of the season by playing multiple close games, including a 10-point win over sealy and 7-point loss to El Campo. Top offensive threat QB Dylan Davidson, who threw for over 2,100 yards and rushed for another 750, will be returning for his senior season. The 2 hour and 45 minute road trip will also play its role.


3. Franklin (8-3/4-2)

No one had a more impressive start to 2016 than Franklin. The Lions defeated Navasota, Caldwell, Lorena and Connally before easily handling Troy in the district opener. Cameron managed to end that winning streak on the road by holding off a late Lion rally. A little less than half of all-district honorees return, but we all know there will be plenty of athletes to choose from in the talent pool.


2. Rockdale (11-2/6-0)

There is arguably no more heated rivalry than the Battle of the Bell. Anything can and probably will happen in these games as we saw in the score-fest this past season. Rockdale is losing two or their big three playmakers on offense, but Jaquayln Crawford, a four-star receiver, is returning. On top of that, Torry Locklin, a quarterback with an offer from New Mexico State, has transferred in to help reload what should be a potent offense.


1. China Spring (12-2/4-1)

Last week, I mentioned that China Spring was clearly the best team that Cameron had played in 2016. Regardless of how far Cameron goes this year, I expect that these Cougars will hold that same title. 19 seniors are gone but Coach Mark Bell will look to reload instead of rebuild. This game is already tough, but having to play it on the road at China Spring only makes it that much more difficult to win.