Kilgore High School’s Deundre Blanton and Sabine’s Kobe Renfro both secured a prestigious honor over the weekend, selected as a part of the 2018 East Texas High School Football Preseason Dream Team.
The team encompasses players from all classifications, all the way up through the UIL’s Class 6A. It’s players from all of East Texas, and the team was nominated and chosen by sportswriters from the Longview News-Journal (Jack Stallard, George Whitley and Hayden Henry), the Marshall News-Messenger (Nathan Hague), the Tyler Morning Telegraph (Brandon Ogden), the Lufkin Daily News (Josh Havard), the Nacogdoches Daily Sentinel (John Krueger), the Texarkana Gazette (Josh Richert), and the Kilgore News Herald (Mitch Lucas).
It’s the 11th annual East Texas Dream Team, and an awful lot of previous dream team selections have gone on to big things in the sport: Whitehouse’s Patrick Mahomes, for instance, was the East Texas Dream Team offensive most valuable player selection back in 2013 – he now starts at quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs. John Tyler’s Greg Ward, who went on to star at Houston and is now a member of the Philadelphia Eagles,, was the dream team’s offensive MVP in 2012, and more recently, Carthage’s Keaontay Ingram, about to begin his freshman season at the University of Texas, was the choice last year.
Both Blanton and Renfro are on the defensive side of the football.
Blanton, a defensive lineman about to begin his junior season, is listed at 6-foot-3, 270 pounds. Last year, he finished with 60 total tackles, four sacks, to for loss as a sophomore in helping the Ragin’ Red to a nine-win season, three rounds deep into the playoffs. He’s expected to have a big impact on the Bulldogs once again this season, as practice cranks up this week.
Renfro collected awards like crazy after having an unbelievable 191-tackle season in 2017. He also was credited with forcing five fumbles, recovering three, collecting four sacks, blocking a kick and two pass break-ups. He was named the Associated Press’ Class 3A defensive player of the year, and a member of the USA Today all-star team, representing Texas. Kobe will be in his senior season this fall.
Big Lufkin defensive tackle Carl Williams (6-4, 205) was the choice for preseason defensive MVP. Williams is an Arkansas commit, also recruited by Oklahoma, Houston, Ole Miss, TCU and many others.
The rest of the defense, as chosen by the writers: defensive linemen Breylon Garcia (Lufkin), Eric Gipson (Jefferson), Landon Jackson (Pleasant Grove), and Keivie Rose (Henderson; linebackers Rashaud Johnson (Gladewater), Ty Patterson (Linden-Kildare), Ja’Vontae Writt (Longview) and Brevin Randle (Marshall); and defensive backs Keontae Burns (Pittsburg), Jephaniah Lister (Longview), Champ Mathis (Marshall), DeShawn McCuin (Jacksonville), and Jerrin Thompson (Lufkin). Carlisle’s Gerald Turner is the choice at utility player, and Spring Hill’s Efren Barcenas is the punter.
Carthage quarterback Gunner Capps, who helped the Bulldogs win yet another state championship last season, is back, and is the choice as the preseason offensive MVP. Capps threw for an eye-popping 3,856 yards and 49 touchdowns last season.
Joining Capps on the East Texas Dream Team offense this season are Longview quarterback Haynes King; Waskom’s T.K. Hamilton, Harmony’s Barrett Hill, Tyler Lee’s Ladarius Wickware and Bran Webb of Gilmer at running back; Longview’s Jessie Anderson at fullback; Keshon Williams of Pine Tree at tight end; Liberty-Eylau’s Dazwion Cooper, Jefferson’s T.Q. Jackson, John Tyler’s Ke’Andre Street and Marshall’s Tahj Washington at receiver; and offensive lineman Jade Ashalintubbi (Elysian Fields), Riley Birdwell (Nac), Beaux Limmer (Tyler Lee), Blake Trainor (Hallsville) and Marcus Williams (Longview).
Also, Beckville’s Carlos Campos was named the team’s kicker, and Longview’s Keilyn Williams the return specialist.