DCTF's Greg Tepper previews a huge slate of small-school games across Texas.
One of the great things about the smaller classifications of Texas high school football -- 3A and below -- is that the district are smaller. That means that A) we get more non-district showdowns, and B) every district game means exponentially more to a team's playoff hopes.
And with district season upon us, it's officially time to separate the contenders from their counterparts.
As always, I solicited suggestions from our Facebook friends for games to preview in each classification, and picked one for each class. Want to see a game you're interested in previewed next week? Like us on Facebook!
Without futher ado, here is your 3A, 2A, 1A, six-man and private school preview for Week Six of the 2012 Texas high school football season.
Abilene Wylie (5-0, 0-0) at Big Spring (5-0, 0-0)
We knew District 4-3A would be tough, but that was before Big Spring started one of the season’s most remarkable turnarounds. After finishing 0-10 last year, the Steers are 5-0 and playing all sorts of good football. QB Tobyn Tannehill – yes, Ryan’s younger brother – has been fantastic, with WR Devin Roberson as his top target, but this team is better when it’s winning with defense, with guys like LB Max Pappajohn and DB Tyler Wiggington. But man…this Abilene Wylie team is good. Really good. Like, potential state champion good. The defense is salty, with LB Cole Townsend. The offense is humming behind RB Garrett Martin. And what’s more is that arguably their two best performances – wins over Argyle and Brownwood – have come on the road, so you know they won’t be scared to travel. It’s hard to pick against Wylie here, but let’s put it this way: if Big Spring wins, they won’t just be in the Top 25. They’ll be crashing the Top 20 and maybe even Top 15 party.
Tepper’s pick: Abilene Wylie 35, Big Spring 23
China Spring (3-2, 0-0) at Waco La Vega (3-2, 0-0)
I still think Waco La Vega is the best team in District 17-3A, but boy howdy, they haven’t looked like it lately. A loss at home to Stephenville is acceptable, but a two overtime loss to Gatesville? Bizarre. Coach Willie Williams is hoping his Pirates have righted the ship over their bye week, and that the defense of LB Jimmy Gamble and Javon Arnett has figured it out, because here comes a China Spring team with an outstanding running game (RB Hunter Hancock already has 15 touchdowns) and a serviceable passing game behind QB Kade Munden. The China Spring defense against RB Randy Gober and company will be intriguing, but I think the game is won or lost when La Vega doesn’t have the ball.
Tepper’s pick: Waco La Vega 33, China Spring 20
Henderson (3-2, 1-0) at Gilmer (5-1, 2-0)
Time for our weekly look into the Game Du Jour of the District of Doom in 16-3A. Remember how last week, I said that Kilgore could be the favorite in this district? I stand by that, but Gilmer’s going to have a lot to say about it. The Buckeyes’ offense has been humming behind QB Tanner Barr; the only question is, does the defense show up? It better, because even though Henderson has been relatively disappointing this season, they’ve got weapons – WR Patrick Brown and QB Janson Moore – and points will be at a premium against the Lions’ defense. I expect a slugfest. I also expect the Buckeyes to win.
Tepper’s pick: Gilmer 27, Henderson 26
Vernon (5-1, 0-0) at Graham (5-1, 0-0)
Two things about this District 5-3A opener. Thing the first: this will be the only noteworthy game in the district all year, because the Lions and Steers appear to be head and shoulders above everyone else in the district. Thing the second: these two teams are remarkably similar. Both play outstanding, hard-hitting defense – Vernon behind fly-around safety Tyrone McFarland, Graham with big DT Husky Melendez. Both have balanced offenses – though Graham’s best weapon is QB Ben Davis, while Vernon runs the ball a little better with its stable of RBs. And both are very, very well-coached. This should be a tight one, but I think I side with the home side.
Tepper’s pick: Graham 29, Vernon 20
Huffman Hargrave (4-1, 2-0) at Cleveland (5-1, 2-0)
It’s time for our 3A Facebook Friend Request, this one coming to us from Kraig Erwin, and, well, it’s an awful good one. Both of these teams look like playoff squads – unless you think someone like Shepherd or Splendora is going to catch fire, which is possible but not likely – so this one’s more for playoff positioning than anything. The marquee matchup is going to be the HH offense – the amazing Preston Townley throwing to Cole and Chase Harrell – against the Cleveland defense, which has allowed barely more than 10 points per game thus far behind LB Brandon Foster and DB Francisco Gonzales. Whoever wins that matchup wins this one.
Tepper’s pick: Cleveland 29, Huffman Hargrave 28
Other 3A Games to Watch…
Shallowater (5-0, 0-0) at Seminole (2-3, 0-0)
Tepper’s pick: Shallowater 34, Seminole 20
Waco Connally (3-2, 0-0) at Lorena (4-1, 0-0)
Tepper’s pick: Waco Connally 18, Lorena 16
Silsbee (5-1, 2-0) at Bridge City (2-3, 1-0)
Tepper’s pick: Silsbee 44, Bridge City 24
Gonzales (4-1, 0-0) at La Grange (4-1, 0-0)
Tepper’s pick: Gonzales 19, La Grange 18
Cuero (2-3, 0-0) at Giddings (5-0, 0-0)
Tepper’s pick: Giddings 35, Cuero 17
Lago Vista (3-2, 1-1) at Cameron Yoe (5-0, 2-0)
No rest for the weary, and in this case, the weary is Lago Vista. The Vikings are coming off a disappointing loss to a strong McGregor squad, and what’s their reward for playing such a tough game? A meeting with the state’s top team in Yoe! The LV offense has got to get going again, and that’s a bad place to be against the Yoemen defense, where LB Somari Wright and NG Edgar Luna have turned the state of Texas into their own personal pain distribution center. Factor in that Yoe’s offense is clicking behind QB Jason Kopriva, and this looks like a Yoe victory. The Vikes’ best chance is to keep the score lose, milk the clock, and take the air out of the ball with RB Seth Lozano.
Tepper’s pick: Cameron Yoe 28, Lago Vista 17
East Chambers (4-1, 2-0) at Newton (5-0, 2-0)
If you haven’t seen the East Chambers defense yet, oh man, you’re missing out. Between DL Blaine Acevedo and DB Jared Guillory, the Bucs have gotten better and better every week, and they have the type of offense with RB Glenn Roberts that can limit the number of times their opposition see the ball. The problem is…man, the Newton running game has been even better. RB Kevin Shorter and Brandon Johnson have been terrific, and I think QB DJ Dean is maturing. And then there’s the defense, where LB Corey Jenkins and the emergence of sophomore DB Raylin Davis have the Eagles soaring. Winner probably wins District 10-2A DI. I think that winner is…
Tepper’s pick: Newton 29, East Chambers 14
Frankston (2-3, 1-0) at Arp (4-2, 2-0)
Sure, the records don’t look pretty, but this is a critical early-in-district-season clash in 10-2A DII. The whole district – which includes an upstart Winona squad and an always-tough Garrison team – is starting to get a little muddled, so a win for Arp would be huge. How can they accomplish that? Offense. The running game of RB Marcalas Johnson, RB Mikechell Potts and QB Michael Roberson – the Three M’s! – has been the constant for the Tigers, even while their defense has gone through dry spells. Frankston’s got the better defense – LB Tye Griffin will be the best defender in the game – but I’m not sure their offense is equipped to keep up with Arp.
Tepper’s pick: Arp 36, Frankston 21
Danbury (6-0, 2-0) at Hitchcock (3-2, 1-0)
Quick: who is the other undefeated team (you know, not East Bernard) in District 13-2A DII? As you probably guessed by reading the records next to each team above this paragraph, it’s Danbury, and holy cow they Panthers have been clobbering people. Five shutouts in six games, and an offense, led by QB Spencer Seman and a wide variety of weapons – that’s averaging a whopping 46 points per game. There’s just one…little…problem: the Panthers haven’t played anyone yet. Yeah, maybe Anahuac isn’t bad, but facts are facts: Danbury’s six opponents have combined to win six games this year. That’s not good. Hitchcock will not be a pushover. The Bulldogs can score with QB Devin Molis and an impressive offensive line, and while their defense hasn’t been superb, they’ve got playmakers like LB T.J. Combs. I think Danbury wins, but they get their first true test tonight.
Tepper’s pick: Danbury 34, Hitchcock 24
Lone Oak (4-1, 1-0) at Malakoff (4-2, 1-1)
This week’s 2A Facebook Friend Request comes to us from Casey Jordan, and it takes us to Henderson County for an interesting 7-2A DI tangle. Winnsboro was our preseason pick in this district, but all of a sudden, it like wide open, with three teams between two and four wins. This game will determine a lot of who is a true contender in this district. Malakoff’s offense has, at times, been explosive, but last week’s baffling loss to Eustace has me wondering. Can Malakoff RB Demontez Dowell get back on track? He’d better, since Lone Oak can flat out score as well, with RB Ty Tolleson doing it all for the Buffaloes. Expect this to be a “last one with the ball wins” type game.
Tepper’s pick: Lone Oak 37, Malakoff 31
Other 2A Games to Watch…
Hempstead (4-1, 0-0) at Edna (3-2, 0-0)
Tepper’s pick: Hempstead 29, Edna 21
Tatum (4-1, 0-0) at White Oak (4-1, 0-0)
Tepper’s pick: Tatum 35, White Oak 21
Jefferson (5-0, 0-0) at Troup (5-0, 0-0)
Tepper’s pick: Troup 26, Jefferson 25
Merkel (4-2, 2-0) at Eastland (4-2, 2-0)
Tepper’s pick: Merkel 34, Eastland 32
Blanco (3-2, 1-0) at Schulenburg (5-1, 2-0)
Tepper’s pick: Schulenburg 36, Blanco 27
Alpine (4-1, 0-0) at Sonora (4-1, 0-0)
Tepper’s pick: Sonora 22, Alpine 13
Ballinger (5-0, 0-0) at Colorado City (3-2, 0-0)
Tepper’s pick: Colorado City 17, Ballinger 14
Price Carlisle (5-0, 0-0) at Joaquin (5-0, 0-0)
Hey, listen: if you’re going to start off district play right – like District 9-1A DI – why not do it with the two best teams facing one another? It’s hard to tell what kind of game this is going to be. On one hand, both teams have explosive offenses – Joaquin’s running game of RB Wyatt Hairgrove has been sensational, and Carlisle’s do-it-all QB Gunner Baker has been unstoppable all season. But these are also two teams that pride themselves on defense, and have outstanding leaders in the middle (Clay Allphin for Carlisle, Lance Lawson for Joaquin) that keep everything running smoothly. It’s a battle of two excellent teams who do the same things well. These are the toughest games to call, but when in doubt, go with the home team.
Tepper’s pick: Joaquin 28, Price Carlisle 21
Bosqueville (6-0, 0-0) at Axtell (3-3, 0-0)
I think Axtell is a better team than their record indicates. Something clicked after their 0-3 start, and the Longhorns have been a wrecking machine ever since, especially on defense, allowing just seven points over the last three weeks. But that defense is about to get a huge test from an unbeaten and, really, barely challenged, Bosqueville squad. Bulldogs QB C.J. Collins is in complete command of this offense, and the defense has come around as well. The best bet for Axtell is to keep the ball on the ground with Dylan Haralson and Tanner Fields, milk that clock, and keep the ball away from Bosqueville.
Tepper’s pick: Bosqueville 27, Axtell 20
Chilton (2-4) at Wellington (6-0)
Non-district action? You betcha! Chilton, much like Axtell, is a lot better than its record indicates, but it’s not because something “clicked.” It’s because they’ve run a gauntlet, losing to Thorndale, Burton, Bosqueville and Mart – all of whom are ranked. That gauntlet continues with perhaps 1A DII’s biggest challenger to Munday, the Skyrockets of Wellington. From QB Klark Ashmore to a devastating defense, this is an exceptional team, and I think it continues at home in their final non-district tune-up.
Tepper’s pick: Wellington 34, Chilton 24
Burton (4-1, 0-0) at Milano (4-1, 0-0)
And following the trend, District 13-1A DII decided to have its de facto district title game in its opener, too! I really, really like this Milano defense. From senior LB Dominique Messar to the emergence of sophomore DL Trent Ellison, there’s a bunker’s worth of weapons on the Eagles defense. Their offense has come and gone – RB Jordan Millar has been the most consistent – but the defense has always been there. Burton, aside from its stumbling loss to Bremond, has been pretty much exceptional all year; the question is, can this offense – especially the Juwon Mathis-led running game – crack the Eagles D?
Tepper’s pick: Burton 29, Milano 16
Woodsboro (6-0, 0-0) at Runge (5-0, 0-0)
The 1A Facebook Friend Request comes to us from Walter “The Man Punted” Baxter. Falls City is probably still the favorite in District 14-1A DII, but there are only two undefeated teams, and they ain’t Falls City. Woodsboro got here largely on the strength of an explosive offense, which coach Wade Miller transformed from the slot-T to the wide open spread. The result: QB Tyler Quesada has been terrific, thanks to guys like Logan Moses on the outside. Runge’s defense has been completely dominant so far, with senior Justin Vasquez and sophomore Jeric Esparza doing the heaviest lifting. Something’s gotta give, right?
Tepper’s pick: Runge 28, Woodsboro 20
Other 1A Games to Watch…
Panhandle (3-2, 0-0) at Stratford (4-1, 0-0)
Tepper’s pick: Stratford 31, Panhandle 24
Thorndale (5-1, 0-0) at Weimar (2-3, 0-0)
Tepper’s pick: Thorndale 35, Weimar 30
Electra (4-1, 0-0) at Muenster (3-2, 0-0)
Tepper’s pick: Muenster 35, Electra 21
McCamey (4-2, 2-0) at Iraan (3-3, 1-1)
Tepper’s pick: McCamey 28, Iraan 23
Abbott (5-1) at Jonesboro (4-2)
Oh, what a tasty matchup this is in the six-man ranks. Abbott’s offense has been humming on the ground this season, with Tyler Russell, Darren Popp and Dillon Beims taking turns gashing opponents. And Jonesboro…well, they’ve been just as explosive, as the Eagles have five players – Spencer Lord, Tyler Wise, Thai Robuck, Jimmy Bradshaw and Gerritt Buster – who have rushed for at least 275 yards on the young season, all averaging no less than 10.5 yards per carry. The difference in this one: I think Abbott’s got the better defense, thanks to NG Marshall Nors.
Tepper’s pick: Abbott 56, Jonesboro 44
Savoy (5-0) at Forestburg (0-5)
This week’s six-man Facebook Friend Request is courtesy of Joe Morris, and it’s drawing attention to one of the great stories of the 2012 Texas high school football season, first drawn to our attention by Savoy ISD superintendent Brian Neal. You probably haven’t heard of Savoy, and probably for good reason. The Cardinals have never been to the playoffs. I repeat: they have never been to the playoffs. Back in 1941, the only time Savoy has won a district championship, they were a six-man team, and six-man did not have playoffs. So, it’s been 70 years since their last district title, and infinity years since their last playoff appearance. But the Cardinals, after many, many years toiling in the cellar in Class 1A, dropped down to six-man this year, and have been exceptional, out to a 5-0 start thanks to RB Justin Lawrence and an impressive defensive unit. This is a non-district game against Forestburg, a team that’s staved off being 45’d just once this season, and Savoy is all of a sudden staring at a 6-0 start. Now, none of these games matter toward getting a playoff berth, but in their district – along with 2-4 Irving Universal Academy and 0-3 Waxahachie Eagle Advantage – this could be the year. And you can bet that Fannin County will be the party capital of Texas if the Cardinals can make history.
Tepper’s pick: Savoy 56, Forestburg 12
Other Six-Man Games to Watch…
Meadow (5-1, 0-0) at Anton (4-2, 0-0)
Tepper’s pick: Meadow 58, Anton 40
Gordon (4-2) at Richland Springs (6-0)
Tepper’s pick: Richland Springs 48, Gordon 20
Jayton (6-0) at Chillicothe (2-4)
Tepper’s pick: Jayton 36, Chillicothe 32
SA Central Catholic (2-3, 0-0) at Austin St. Michael's (5-0, 0-0)
I’ve gone on at length about how good I think Austin St. Michael’s is; the defense has been humming thanks to DB Walker Drewett and LB Brennen Waites, and they’ve found a true gamebreaker in Jameson Houston. But don’t sleep on San Antonio Central Catholic. There may not be a better coached private school team in the state, as former Alamo Heights head man Don Byrd is in his first year, with former Schertz Clemens coach Greg Ferrera coordinating the defense and former North Texas QB Giovanni Vizza coaching the signal-callers. I still think St. Michael’s is the better team in this one, but you can’t overlook a team with this much pedigree on the coaching staff.
Tepper’s pick: Austin St. Michael’s 36, San Antonio Central Catholic 23
Cedar Park Summit Christian (1-4, 0-0) at Hill Country Christian School (1-4, 0-0)
Our private school Facebook Friend Request is courtesy of Jane Thompson Koble, and we head into central Texas for an Austin area private six-man grudge match. I think this game could get up and down the field, with the score in the 70s. Why? Well, not only do both teams have firepower – especially QB Matthew Pantoja for Hill Country -- but neither team has showed much defensive prowess this season, allowing a combined average of 55.8 points per game. Expect a shootout, and for the home team to hold serve on homecoming.
Tepper’s pick: Hill Country Christian 74, Cedar Park Summit Christian 54
Other Private School Games to Watch…
Addison Trinity Christian (3-2, 0-1) at Dallas Bishop Lynch (5-0, 2-0)
Tepper’s pick: Bishop Lynch 24, Addison Trinity Christian 21
Sugar Land Fort Bend Baptist (5-0, 2-0) at Houston Second Baptist (3-2, 2-0)
Tepper’s pick: Houston Second Baptist 39, Sugar Land Fort Bend Baptist 36
Greg Tepper is the associate editor of Dave Campbell's Texas Football and TexasFootball.com.