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West Texas high school football: 20 best returning quarterbacks in 2023

From the Panhandle to El Paso, West Texas boasts a loaded group of QB's
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The 2023 Texas high school football season has arrived.

Preseason practices for UIL schools are under way as the countdown to the beginning of the football season reaches its final stretch ahead of opening weekend.

As the high school football season in the Lone Star State approaches, SBLive Texas is taking a look at the top returning teams and players around the state by region, starting with the toughest position in sports.

We started with the Top 20 quarterbacks in North Texas, moved to the Top 20 in Central Texas, the Top 20 in South Texas, Top 20 in East Texas as well as Southeast Texas before now turning our attention by finishing with West Texas.

Stay with SBLive Texas (@SBLiveTX) for a position-by-position look at the top high school football players across each of the Lone Star State's six regions entering the 2023 season, along with reader polls asking fans to choose the best on each watch list. Players are listed in alphabetical order.


Midland Legacy's Marcos Davila.

Midland Legacy's Marcos Davila.

Lando Belcher, 5-10, 170, Sr., Jacksboro

In addition to having a cool name, Belcher put up some silly-good numbers in 2022. As a junior, he threw for 2,869 yards and 37 touchdowns and rushed for 675 yards and 10 more scores to lead the Tigers to an 8-4 record and a playoff win over Wichita Falls City View. Also a standout on the baseball diamond, Belcher earned District 5-3A Division II Offensive Most Valuable Player accolades on the gridiron.

Jaime Buitron, 5-8, 155, Sr., Sonora

A gifted athlete, Buitron led the Broncos to a 10-3 record and a trip to the regional semifinals as a junior in 2022. He threw for 1,640 yards and 16 touchdowns, but was especially effective on the ground with 2,114 rushing yards and 21 scores. Buitron was last season's District 3-2A Division I Most Valuable Player. He also plays baseball for Sonora.

Hayven Book, 6-2, 165, Sr., Miles

Good luck trying to stop Book. As a junior last season, he threw for 2,435 yards and 38 touchdowns with six interceptions, while rushing for 384 yards and 13 more trips to the end zone to lead the Bulldogs to an 8-3 finish and a playoff berth. Book earned District 6-2A Division II Offensive Most Valuable Player honors. He also led Miles to its second straight 7-on-7 state title earlier this summer.

Camren Cavalier, 5-11, 180, Sr., Canadian

In what turned out to be head coach Chris Koetting's swan song, Cavalier tallied 3,069 total yards to lead the Wildcats to a 12-3 record and a trip to the Class 3A Division II state semifinals as a junior last season. Cavalier earned a First-Team selection on the Texas Sports Writers Association's Class 3A All-State Team, along with a spot on this season's preseason all-state squad.

Marcos Davila, 6-3, 215, Sr., Midland Legacy

Davila has already put together an impressive high school career. Last year, he accounted for 3,052 yards and 36 touchdowns to lead the Rebels to a 7-5 record and a postseason win over El Paso Franklin. Davila is the No. 32 overall prospect in Texas by, while has him at No. 49 overall. The Purdue commit is on track to graduate from Legacy in December.

Ike Hall, 6-2, 180, Sr., Brownwood

A gifted, multi-sport athlete, Hall led a storied Lions program to their first district championship in a decade by going 111-of-208 for 1,837 yards with 17 TD's and six picks. He also rushed for 948 yards and 12 touchdowns on 125 attempts. That helped Hall earn District 2-4A Division I Offensive Most Valuable Player honors. He is the only returning starter on offense this season, so he will have to carry the load for Brownwood.

Tate Hendley, 5-10, 165, Sr., Idalou

Hendley, another multi-sport standout, led the Wildcats to a 9-4 record and a regional semifinals appearance last season. He threw for 1,148 yards (101-of-177) and five TD's with five interceptions. Hendley, a 4-3A Division II First-Team All-District selection, also rushed for 407 yards and seven more scores.

Hudson Hutcheson, 6-0, 180, Sr., Wolfforth Frenship

Hutcheson put up big numbers as a junior to lead a young Tigers team to a 9-3 record and a playoff win over El Paso Eastlake in 2022. Also a star baseball player for the Tigers, Hutcheson threw for 3,742 yards (fourth most among returnees in Texas) and 36 TD's to go with 497 rushing yards and 11 more end zone visits. He was honorable mention on the Texas Sports Writers Association's Class 6A All-State Team.

Dawson Jaco, 6-1, 170, Sr., Bushland

Jaco had some gaudy passing numbers last season, throwing for a whopping 3,360 yards (14th most among returnees in Texas) and 41 touchdowns. He added 206 rushing yards and seven scores on 64 carries, as the Falcons finished 11-2 and advanced to the regional finals. Jaco landed a spot on the 2-3A Division I All-District team. Also a baseball standout, Jaco should have another big season on the football field.

Armando Lujan, 6-0, 185, Jr., Sunray

Lujan is coming off a huge sophomore season that saw him throw for 4,467 yards and 51 touchdowns to lead all passers in the state. For good measure, he also rushed for 16 TD's. Lujan, the District 1-2A Division II Most Valuable Player, led the Bobcats to a 9-3 season and a 53-35 bi-district win over Shamrock. Expect more dizzying stats for Lujan with 10 starters back on offense for Sunray this season.

Reid Macon, 6-0, 160, So., Canyon West Plains

Yet another freshman starter last season, Macon proved he was up to the task by throwing for 2,273 yards and 19 touchdowns to lead the Wolves to a 7-5 record and a postseason victory over Pecos. That performance led to a District 2-4A Division II Offensive Newcomer of the Year selection for Macon. He should be in for another big year with an array of talented receivers returning.

Evan Minjarez, 6-1, 200, Sr., El Paso Eastwood

Another standout signal-caller from District 1-6A, Minjarez was a force for the 9-3 Tigers as a junior a season ago. He threw for 2,749 yards and 34 TD's and rushed for 1,075 yards and 13 more scores. Minjarez was also honorable mention on the Texas Sports Writers Association's Class 6A All-State Team. He is drawing some interest from Austin Peay.

Mark Moore III, 6-2, 205, Sr., El Paso Americas

Another dual-threat quarterback with varsity starting experience heading into last season, Moore III earned District 1-6A Co-Offensive Most Valuable Player honors when the dust settled. He threw for 1,282 yards and 10 touchdowns and rushed for 1,016 yards and seven scores for the 5-5 Blazers. With a new head coach, Noe Robles, Americas and Moore III could be on track for a breakout year and a playoff run.

Cheno Navarrette, 5-9, 170, Sr., Monahans

After leading the Loboes to a 9-4 record while starting as a sophomore, Navarrette followed up with a monster junior season. The multi-sport star rushed for 2,088 yards and 34 touchdowns and passed for 1,411 yards and nine more scores to lead Monahans to a 10-4 season. For his performance, Navarrette was honorable mention on the 2022 Texas Sports Writers Association's Class 4A All-State Team.

Gael Ochoa, 6-2, 175, Sr., El Paso Pebble Hills

After putting up big numbers as a sophomore, Ochoa followed up with a scintillating 2022 season that culminated with a 10-2 record and a playoff victory for the Spartans. Ochoa, a UTEP commit, threw for 2,029 yards and 24 touchdowns and rushed for 453 yards and nine more scores last season. He was also honorable mention on the Texas Sports Writers Association's Class 6A All-State Team.

Gavin Padron, 5-10, 150, Sr., Big Spring

As a junior last season, Padron broke the school record for passing touchdowns with 28. He also threw for 3,411 yards to lead the Steers to a 6-6 record and a playoff win over El Paso Riverside. Padron earned a spot on the 2-4A Division I All-District team. He could be in for an even bigger 2023 as one of nine returning starters on offense for Big Spring.

Daveon Singleton, 5-9, 160, So., El Paso Chapin

Singleton started as a freshman QB1 on varsity last season, which speaks volumes about his talent and potential. He responded in a big way, throwing for 637 yards and nine touchdowns, while rushing for 902 yards and 14 TD's for the 4-7 Huskies, who made the playoffs. Singleton earned District 1-5A Division II Newcomer of the Year accolades.

Shay Smith, 6-2, 215, Sr., El Paso Franklin

Smith put up some elite numbers at the top level of high school football in Texas last season. He threw for 3,727 yards and 42 touchdowns to lead the Cougars to a 6-5 record and a playoff berth. Smith was also a first-team all-district selection, which is no small feat in District 1-6A. He is drawing some interest from FBS schools. His father, Paul, played fullback for eight seasons in the NFL (San Francisco, Detroit, St. Louis, Denver).

Dallas Summer, 5-10, 190, So., New Deal

Last year, Summer threw for 1,593 yards (104-of-176) and 16 touchdowns with seven interceptions and also rushed for 651 rushing yards and nine more scores to lead the Lions to a 9-4 record and a regional semifinals berth. How's that for a freshman starting on varsity? Summer was also one of the District 2-2A Division I Offensive Most Valuable Players. With three more seasons left in his career, the sky is the limit for Summer and for New Deal.

Trent Wilson, 5-9, 165, Sr., Sudan

Wilson, a dual-threat quarterback with three years of varsity starting experience, threw for 1,230 yards and 15 touchdowns with three interceptions and rushed for 853 yards and 11 TD's in 2022. The Hornets finished with a 9-2 record and a playoff win over Ropes. Wilson earned District 3-2A Division II Most Valuable Player accolades for his big junior season.