The Blue Jays will battle old faces this football season but they have a new road to the state title.
The Needville High School football team moves back to Region III after two seasons in Region IV. The region will feature more Houston-area teams than teams from coastal bend and San Antonio area teams from Region IV.
The Blue Jays will enter the new region with a top 20 ranking by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine to start the season.
Needville is ranked No. 17 in the Class 4A, Division I poll. The polls also serve as the Associated Press polls for Texas High School football.
The Blue Jays’ path through the playoffs is far different in Region III. Needville is the second-highest ranked team in Region III behind another member of District 12-4A DI: El Campo.
The Ricebirds check in at No. 9 overall in the 4A-DI rankings. The Dave Campbell’s staff also projects the Region III championship to feature a rematch between El Campo and Needville.
The top 10 rankings include Waco La Vega (14-2 last year), Argyle (13-1), Lampasas (13-2), Corpus Christi Calallen (12-2), Port Lavaca Calhoun (9-3), Springtown (13-2), Corpus Christi Miller (12-1), Dumas (13-1), El Campo (10-3) and Decatur (12-1).
Among the teams ahead of Needville, seven are in Region II while four are in Region IV. There are only two teams total in either Region I or III ahead of Needville.
The top list also features three teams that not only dropped down from Class 5A but also pushed Needville over a region. That list includes Corpus Christi Calallen, Port Lavaca Calhoun and Corpus Christi Miller.
Needville played against three teams ahead of them in the rankings list last season, going 1-2 overall, with a 47-27 win over El Campo, a 20-19 loss at home against Calallen and a 66-44 loss to Lampasas in the regional quarterfinals.
The Blue Jays did lose key players with the graduation of Class 4A state player of the year Ashton Stredick and defensive anchor Xavier Lott.
Needville has plenty of skill positions returning with seniors running back/wide receiver/defensive back Walker Warncke, lineman Blake Boenisch and quarterback Trevor Baker getting looks from Division I college football recruiters.
Needville will play in a slightly smaller district this coming season with Sealy and Fulshear moving out. The Blue Jays will face Bay City, Brazosport, West Columbia, El Campo and Stafford. The headline contest against El Campo falls on the final week of the regular season in Needville on Nov. 6.