The experts have begun to weigh in on what the latest high school football season will be like, as Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine appeared on news stands last week. According to the bible of Lone Star pigskin, the city can expect one playoff team in 2010 with another getting close to the mix.

North was picked to finish second in District 31-5A behind defending champ Harlingen, with EHS fifth and Econ seventh. The magazine predicts P-SJ-A to make a resurgence into a playoff spot after a subpar 3-7 season in 2009, with Pharr North expected to gain the other slot for the postseason.

Texas Football has this order of teams down in 32-5A: Los Fresnos, San Benito, Brownsville Pace, and Weslaco. In 30-5A, it’s Sharyland, McAllen Memorial, McAllen, and McAllen Rowe. The mag has been fairly consistent in its success at prognostication in recent years.

If North is to make the future come true, it will depend on a defense that returns seven starters from last year’s record-setting 9-win club that went to the third round of the dance for the first time ever. The linebacking corps should be among the best in the Valley with Robert Rodriguez and Alan Garcia back, and the reemergence of 260-pound Cory Esparza on the defensive line should bolster the unit quite a bit. Esparza sat out last season, but is a potentially dominant force with great strength and excellent quickness.

Offensively, senior Michael Pacheco steps in to replace departed superstar Matt Munoz at quarterback, while on that side of the ball, the Coogs must replace most of the skill-position players off a team that scored over 400 points in 2009.

EHS lost a ton of seniors from the intense squad that advanced to the area round of the state playoffs, but brings back a fine QB in senior Stevie Guerrero. The Bobcats have runners galore but are looking to find receiving options after Steve Trevino and Manny Menchaca graduated.

Defensively, linebacker Ciro Reyna and ballhawking DB Sal Martinez are the leaders, with the unit deep on the line and searcing for replacements in the secondary.

Though they are picked to miss the playoffs again, the Jags of Econ looked solid in spring ball, and provided elusive Nelson Hampton is fully recovered from offseason surgery, could be the darkhorse of 31-5A. They need to develop some young offensive line prospects, keep their formidable defensive group and hope that the league, much like Texas Football, has erroneously underestimated the chances of an Orange Revolution emanating from the East Side.

Other TF predictions: in the Valley’s 4A league, Weslaco East is slated first followed by Mercedes, Mission Vets, and Rio Grande City, which moves down from 30-5A. In 3A, the word is that Port Isabel will end its two-year postseason drought, with Zapata and Rio Hondo joining them in the Second Season.

From that 3A league, Alex Villarreal, a 6-foot-4, 290-pound interior lineman with amazing 4.9 speed, is the only RGV kid named to one of the magazine’s Super Teams, earning a slot on the second unit.

TEXAS FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

2010 HS FOOTBALL PREDICTIONS

DISTRICT 31-5A

1 HARLINGEN

2 EDINBURG NORTH

3 PHARR NORTH

4 P-SJ-A

5 EHS

6 P-SJ-A MEMORIAL

7 ECON

8 HARLINGEN SOUTH