Progress staff reports
Jacksonville Daily Progress
District 11-2A-I could shake out to be a battle between Alto's defense and Cayuga's offense.
Regardless of the way it is sliced and served up, the Yellowjackets and the Wildcats appear to be the saltiest of the six-team loop.
Other league members include Price-Carlisle, who can not be taken lightly after going 8-3 last fall, and Kerens, Malakoff Cross Roads and Grapeland, three schools that did not finish above .500 in 2013.
The bad news for Alto is the loss of 13 lettermen off of last season's 9-4 club.
Many of that bunch were the 'Jackets' movers and shakers on offense; so the Alto coaching staff will have to fill those holds to start off with.
There are six returning starters on both sides of the ball for the Mean Sting, so there is a lot to like about Alto's chances.
The key questions in Alto are who will spell quarterback Zac Sturns and running back Jacolby Whitaker, who were, in short, the thunder and the lighting on offense last year.
Kennan Johnson could have the inside track to take over under center, while the bulk of the running back duties will probably be handled by Jyran Shaw and Willie Skinner.
The Mean Sting have a string of running backs and wide outs but most have very little varsity experience.
Defensively, linebacker Tyarius Hackett (Dave Campbell's Texas Football's Pre-Season District Defensive MVP) returns and will be looking to improve on an 85-tackle, 11-sack season.
Linebacker JaVie'Ontae Mumphrey is another returning starter who should rattle opponents' cages on Friday nights this fall.
Defensive back L'Darius Pope anchors the defensive backfield. Pope had five interceptions a season ago.
Jackets' head coach Paul Gould has put together a challenging non-district schedule that includes playing both Troup and Brook Hill before battling Tenaha (Texas Football's Class A, Division II pre-season N. 1 ranked team) on the last Friday in September.
Those affairs should serve to have the Mean Sting ready once district play begins.
Cayuga's forte will be its offense as eight starters are expected back.
Running backs Keshawn Jackson (1,876 yards, 27 touchdowns) returns, as does full back John Venable (819 yards, 13 touchdowns.)
Carlisle looks to be a solid show bet.
Twelve starters return for head coach Rocky Baker ,who always seems to have the Indians from Rusk County in a position to win.
Lack of depth could hurt Carlisle in 2014, however.