The Abilene High Eagles start a new era in the new season. For the first time in school history, the Eagles are not in the biggest classification in the UIL. Head coach Mike Fullen’s Eagles drop down to Class 5A for at least the next two years. District 2-5A Division I is the football teams new home, and they are picked to finish 2nd in 2022. Defensively, the Eagles are loaded with returning starters with seven coming back from last year’s district runner-up team. New offensive coordinators Jason Gorman and Colby Hartfield are tasked with finding six new starters on the offensive side of the ball, including quarterback and running back.

The Amarillo Tascosa Rebels are a new district rival for Abilene High, and they are the district favorite this season. The Rebels and their triple option offense are becoming a power in the region. They are in search of their fourth 10-win season in the last five years. When you play Tascosa, you know they are going to run the ball. Most teams can’t find a way to stop them.

The Lubbock Cooper Pirates are picked third by Dave Campbell’s. The Pirates are coming up to Division I from Division II in Class 5A, and they went to the state semifinals last year. They lost 33 seniors from that team, but eleven starters are back for the new season. Moving up hasn’t been a problem in the past, so you can look for the Pirates to be good again.

Here’s the rest of the picks by Texas Football. Amarillo High is expected to finish fourth, followed by Lubbock Coronado, Monterey and Amarillo Caprock.

Now we turn to Class 5A Division II where we find the Cooper Cougars and the Wylie Bulldogs in District 2-5A Division II. The Cougars are new to Division II, and they are picked to finish second in 2022. Chris Warren is back to lead the Cougars offense at quarterback. He finished last season with over 2,000 total yards, and he should be better this season. Mykei Flye will carry the load at running back, and on defense, the Cougars linebacking corps could be the best in the region.

Wichita Falls Rider is picked ahead of the Cougars to win the district, and Southtown Showdown rival Wylie is picked to finish 3rd.

Clay Martin starts his third season as the Bulldogs head coach, and Texas Football expects the growth in Class 5A to continue this season. Wylie needs thirteen new starters to step up and fill the holes left by graduation. K.J. Long looks to be the guy under center for the Bulldogs in 2022, and he’s got help up front with three offensive lineman weighing in at over 290 pounds. The Bulldogs are looking for just their second playoff appearance in the last five years.

Amarillo Palo Duro is picked to take the final playoff berth from District 2-5A Division II. Plainview and Lubbock High are expected to finish fifth and sixth.