District 4-4A Division I Pre-Season Football Poll and Preview

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DISTRICT 4-4A DIVISION I VOTING

1. Decatur 86 (4)

The Eagles have a proven coach in Steve Huff to take over the program after enjoying great success at College Station, winning a state title in 2017 and playing for another last season. Huff’s career record is 88-19, and he brought several members of his coaching staff with him to Decatur.

And some of those assistants have talented sons who will make a difference for the Eagles.

Decatur didn’t receive the most votes for first place, but had the most consistent vote among the 10 pollsters, with no one picking the Eagles below third place.

2.Springtown 80 (5)

The Porcupines got the most votes for the top spot thanks in large part to the quality of program coach Brian Hulett who developed there. The Porcupines have won at least 10 games and made four rounds of the playoffs for three consecutive seasons.

They don’t return much starting experience, only three of them on defense, but the Porcupines haven’t given voters any reason to lose faith.

Springtown’s five first-place votes were countered by three third and one fourth.

3. NMHS 68 (1)

The Coyotes are considered a threat in the district according to this panel, with all 10 having the Coyotes in the playoffs. However, two voters barely ranked them in fourth place.

The Coyotes lost just 11 men of letters from last season’s team and brought back 11 defensive starters. They also have the most enrollment in Class 4A, Division I.

The Coyotes got one vote for first place, four for second place and three for third place.

Lubbock-Cooper's Ryan Wilcox is chased by Wichita Falls High's Cameron Gould (13) and Brigman Steward (33) in a District 3-5A Division II game Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020 at Memorial Stadium.

4. Mining shafts 38

The Rams return the most letter players in the district with 30, including eight offensive starters and nine defensive. But the players they lost are notable contributors on both sides of the ball.

Mineral Wells was picked to make the playoffs by all but three voters, earning five fourth-place finishes and two third-place finishes.

5. Burkburnet 28

Voters still see Burkburnett’s quest to end a long playoff drought dating back to 2015 as an uphill battle.

Only three of 10 ballots had the Bulldogs in the playoffs, including one vote for third place.

But it is necessary to position oneself, especially in attack where the Bulldogs return eight starters. That should mean a huge improvement for a team that averaged just 12 points per game last season.

DISTRICT 4-4A SECTION I FAILURE

FIVE PLAYERS TO WATCH

Ayden Ramirez, DB, WFHS – Ramirez is a versatile defensive back capable of playing multiple positions in the secondary depending on the Coyotes’ needs at that time. It can be either a closed corner or a ball peddling safety.

Rylan Stringfellow, WR/DB, Burkburnett – If the Bulldogs get a big play, chances are Stringfellow will. And that goes for attack, defense and special teams.

Nate Palmer, RB, Decatur- New Decatur coach Steve Huff brought several of his assistants from College Station with him, including running backs coach Daniel Palmer. Nate Palmer is Daniel’s son and a coveted college freshman with 23 offers, including from Oklahoma, Baylor, Florida State, Texas Tech, USC and Notre Dame.

Hudson Hulett, QB, Springtown — Hulett is entering his second season as a starter, and it was his experience and ability in his father’s (head coach Brian Hulett) system that made many pick the Porcupines to win the district.

Cameron Gould, RB/LB, WFHS – It’s hard to keep Gould off the field. He is entering his fourth season as the Coyotes’ starting running back and is also their best returning LB.

Springtown's Hudson Hulett looks to kick the ball against Hirschi on Friday, October 15, 2021 at Memorial Stadium.

FIVE ESSENTIAL GAMES

Decatur at WFHS (October 14) – Old High has a chance to prove itself as a district title contender right away, opening the game 4-4A DI against Decatur.

WFHS at Burkburnett (October 21) – Matchups have been mostly competitive since that rivalry was renewed in 2018, though Burkburnett is looking for his first win against the Coyotes since 2011.

Springtown at Decatur (October 21) – Many see it as the de facto district title game. Springtown and Decatur earned that billing by being perennial powerhouses in the regional playoffs.

Springtown at WFHS (November 3) – But Old High has the talent to compete with porcupines and eagles. And with both teams coming to visit Memorial Stadium, the District 4-4A Division I title could go to Wichita Falls.Mineral Wells at Burkburnett (November 4) – The Rams and Bulldogs are selected fourth and fifth, respectively, in the district’s preseason poll. And if this is close to the truth, the winner of this game will go to the playoffs.

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