FRIENDSWOOD — Moving up to Class 6A is challenging enough, yet coach Robert Koopman’s Mustangs will be well suited to a join a district that will also feature an automatic rival in nearby Clear Brook along with a Dickinson team they have faced in nondistrict during the past several years.
Coming off a 9-3 season and a trip to the Region III area round, the Friendswood football team welcomes back a bulk of its talent, including senior quarterback Brandon Sargent and running back Sam Longbotham, both of whom earned All-District honors last season. Sargent threw for 1,440 yards and 18 touchdowns, while Longbotham generated more than 1,400 yards and 16 touchdowns.
“They should be very competitive in a district that is just about as even as it can get,” said TexasHSFootball.com owner and editor Christopher Lyke. “I love their chances to be a playoff contender, yet that could be easy considering how balanced that district is.”
Having dealt with the likes of Pearland Dawson and Texas City in District 24-4A in past years, the Mustangs are well-versed in swimming in the waters of a deep district. But joining the likes of Brook, Dickinson, Clear Springs, Clear Creek, Clear Lake, Clear Falls and Brazoswood in the new District 24-6A, the currents will be dangerous on a weekly basis.
Still, as Lyke points out, the Mustangs’ success against their new mates, who comprised the old District 24-5A, is a clear sign the Mustangs will be a threat to cause havoc in their first year on the state’s highest level of play.
“Look at what they did against a very solid Dickinson team last year,” said Lyke of Friendswood’s 33-30 loss at Sam Vitanza Stadium in Week 1. “If Sargent and Longbotham can do what they did against the majority of teams they faced last year, they will be fine.”
The Mustangs lost three of their top four receivers, which opens the door for junior Ryan Bertelsman (11 receptions) to step into a bigger role. Sophomore Tyler Page could emerge of as a breakout candidate at wideout.
Long known for their wide-open offense, it is the defense that will be the anchor of the Mustangs this season. Linebacker Casey Thurman was an All-District selection as a sophomore and is in position to be the next great linebacker at the school. The secondary is also solid with top-tier experience, as Blake King and Sean White also earned All-District nods last season as juniors.
“(Their defense) should do wonders for them in this district,” said Lyke. “I wouldn’t be shocked if they rank among the top defenses in 24-6A.”
There will be plenty of anticipation leading into the Nov. 6 meeting at Clear Brook, a school minutes away from Friendswood, which will set the stage for perhaps a great rivalry.
The two schools were once rivals in District 23-4A back in the 1990s, yet the series did not continue when the Wolverines went up to Class 5A.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Lyke said of the Friendswood-Brook contest. “Given how close the two schools are, it’s surprising that it hasn’t come sooner since Brook went to a higher classification years ago.”