The Huntsville Hornets’ season opener is less than 10 weeks away, as the return of high school football inches closer by the minute.

Huntsville is coming off a season to remember, during which it secured an undefeated District 10-5A Division II title and went all the way to the state quarterfinals — the school’s deepest postseason run in 28 years.

As the Hornets attempt to build off 2018’s success, they do so with a few key holes to fill — Texas-bound defensive end T’Vondre Sweat, leading receiver Jaylon Griffin and top rusher Jaeryne Green have all graduated. However, the team does bring back its deepest senior class of head coach Rodney Southern’s tenure, which includes the league’s reigning offensive MVP in quarterback Matthew Southern, as well as a dynamic defensive duo in Briceon Hayes and Jordan Brown that has received interest from Power Five college programs.

In the first installment of The Item’s schedule breakdown series, we take a look at what lies ahead for the Hornets in 2019 — most notably a showdown with A&M Consolidated in the district opener that could have significant implications on how the district title race plays out.

District heavyweights clash early

When Huntsville and then-No. 8 A&M Consolidated met in College Station for last year’s district opener, the game pitted the league’s eventual top-two finishers — and there’s no reason to believe this won’t ring true again in 2019.

Last season, Huntsville kick-started its undefeated district run with a 27-7 road victory over the Tigers. On September 27, A&M Consolidated will seek revenge on the Hornets’ home field.

Huntsville cruised with relative ease to hand the Tigers their only league loss of 2018. However, A&M Consolidated returns one of the most talented rosters in the area — bringing back six first-team all-district selections, as well as the league's Defensive Newcomer of the Year in junior Vince Sheffield.

Headlining the Tigers’ returners is a trio of seniors that have garnered significant college interest heading into their final run at the high school level. Receiver Brian Darby is committed to Oklahoma, while defensive back Nate Floyd and receiver Devin Price have each received Power Five offers.

Other games to watch

Non-district

Sept. 6 vs. Port Neches-Groves

While this year’s meeting between the teams might not match the hype of the 2018 installment, which pitted Sweat against future Texas teammate and Port Neches-Groves quarterback Roschon Johnson, it still features a pair of teams that figure to be among the favorites to win their respective district.

Sept. 13 at College Station

Hunstville will look to avenge its lone regular-season loss from 2018 when it heads to College Station on September 13. Although the Cougars lose key players at quarterback, running back and in the secondary, a team coached by Steve Huff — who brought the school a state title in 2017 — cannot be slept on.

District

Oct. 11 at Montgomery

After dropping back-to games to Huntsville and A&M Consolidated by a combined score of 81-6, Montgomery rebounded to win its final four district games, finishing third and clinch a playoff spot.

Oct. 18 vs. Lamar Consolidated

Lamar Consolidated claimed the district’s fourth and final playoff spot last season, finishing the year 7-4 overall and 4-3 in league play. Out of all the Hornets’ district opponents, the Mustangs gave them their only true scare in a 14-7 defensive battle.

Below is the 2019 Huntsville football schedule in its entirety:

August 23 —

vs. Lufkin (scrimmage), TBD

August 30 —

vs. Willis, 7:30 p.m.

September 6 —

vs. Port Neches-Groves, 7:30 p.m.

September 13 —

at College Station, 7:30 p.m.

September 27 —

vs. A&M Consolidated, 7:30 p.m.*

October 4 —

at Cleveland, 7:30 p.m.*

October 11 —

at Montgomery, 7:30 p.m.*

October 18 —

vs. Lamar Consolidated, 7:30 p.m.*

October 26 —

at Katy Paetow, 12 p.m.*

November 1 —

vs. Lake Creek, 7:30 p.m.*

November 7 —

at Bryan Rudder, 7 p.m.*

*denotes District 10-5A DII games