Week 0: Thursday preview
As the 2013 season kicks off, DCTF previews the mega-sized slate of games.
It’s been 235 days since the last meaningful football game in the state of Texas.
The wait is over. Today is the first day of the 2013 Texas high school football season and, in turn, football season across the Lone Star State.
Here is your Thursday preview for Week Zero of the 2013 Texas high school football season.
(As you can imagine, all records are 0-0; also, games kick off at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted.)
El Paso Bel Air at Onate (NM), 8 p.m.
Amarillo Palo Duro at Amarillo Tascosa
We start up in the Panhandle where the battle of Amarillo – don’t worry, we didn’t forget you, Sandies – starts things off. Tascosa’s disappointing 2012 (1-9) is mercifully behind them, and coack Ken Plunk’s defense should take steps forward thanks to the return of DB Beau Gray, LB Austyn Beasley and six other full- or part-time starters. But they’ll have their hands full controlling Palo Duro’s attack, led by star QB Mailk Sims. Even without all-everything ATH Montrel Meander, there’s still oodles of talent on Steve Parr’s Dons. Tascosa will need to figure things out quick to win this one.
Tepper’s pick: Amarillo Palo Duro 36, Amarillo Tascosa 21
Prosper at Keller
Is Keller ready to break through? A third year under coach Carl Stralow should help the Indians improve, and having the Teuhema Bros. – senior LB Sione and junior OT Tristan, both Texas commits – gives them big talent at important positions. For Prosper, there could be some rebuilding – losing guys like QB Davis Webb to Texas Tech and Torii Hunter Jr. to Notre Dame hurts – but RB Marquez Houston and WR Zach English should give them powerful home run threats. The key is tempo – if it’s a home run-hitting contest, Prosper walks; if it’s a slow, grinding affair, it could be Keller.
Tepper’s pick: Prosper 31, Keller 21
Keller Fossil Ridge at Grapevine
Irving Nimitz at North Garland
Denton Guyer at Cedar Hill
Forget the game of the night; you could make an argument that this is the game of the weekend. You’ve got Guyer, the defending 4A Division I state champion, the No. 1 team in DCTF’s 4A poll, with arguably the best player in the state (QB Jerrod Heard) and 11 other starters returning around him. Then you’ve got Cedar Hill, the 5A Division II state runner-up that, despite some losses, still has one of the most menacing defenses in the state with CB Marcus Green and LB Doveon Dillard leading the way. Oh, and did I mention two of the very best coaches in Texas – Guyer’s John Walsh and Cedar Hill’s Joey McGuire? There’s too much talent to mention here, so let’s get to the bottom line: the onus is on Cedar Hill’s offense. If RB Larry Hill can break through that talented Guyer defense, anchored by the fearsome front of DT Carl Thompson and DE Thomas Ferguson, they’ll win. But the real slobberknocker of a matchup is that Guyer offense (and it’s not just Heard; RB DJ Breedlove’s pretty solid, too) against the CHill defense. Either way, don’t miss this one.
Tepper’s pick: Denton Guyer 28, Cedar Hill 26
Garland Naaman Forest at Rockwall
It’s a big year for both of these squads. Naaman Forest faces a tough District 11-5A, and will have to do that without most of its defense…but boy, it’s nice to have QB Justin Walker and WR Marcus Perkins, one of East Dallas’ most potent pass-catch combos, back in the fold. Rockwall’s going to go with a different approach: run, run, run, run, run with RB Chris Warren, a bull at 6-2 and 215 pounds with outstanding speed for his size. This one comes down to whichever side gets an extra stop, and with LB Chris Hinckley leading the way, I think it’s the Yellowjackets.
Tepper’s pick: Rockwall 41, Garland Naaman Forest 34
Alief Elsik at Kingwood
Klein vs. Katy (at Reliant Stadium)
Oh, hello, defending 5A Division II champion Katy, what’s up? How was your offseason? Well, you lost all-everything RB Adam Taylor, and you lost all-everything DE Matt Dimon, and you lost guys like Isaiah Brown and Aaron Sowell…and yet, you’re still a state title contender. Why? Well, coach Gary Joseph, for one. But also guys like RB Rodney Anderson, who was fabulous as Taylor’s backup, and LB Jake Blomstrom leading the always-salty defense. Oh, and did I mention that QB Kiley Huddleston is back? That said, there are a lot of moving pieces with this team, and Klein is much more set – and potentially dangerous. RB David Hamm and QB Rainer Ausmus should provide some pop for the Bearkats offense, and if LB Antoine Chivers can lead the experienced defense, this could be a big year for Klein. It’s probably asking a little too much too soon to knock off Katy, though.
Tepper’s pick: Katy 38, Klein 24
Klein Collins at Cy Woods
Another suburban Houston 5A heavy hitter, I think Klein Collins has a little something this year, and a lot of that has to do with ATH Jordan Thomas. A terrific WR, he’s also a talent in the defensive backfield and is an X-factor for coach Drew Svoboda’s squad. Cy Woods is a squad that’s hoping the 1-2 offensive punch of RB Sam Stewart and QB Mason Roberts is enough to get them into the playoffs in the always-tough District 17-5A. KC will have the best player on the field and a surprisingly stout defense with LB Christian Snow; will that be enough in this tough non-district test?
Tepper’s pick: Klein Collins 29, Cy Woods 21
Katy Cinco Ranch at Cy Ranch
I imagine that Cinco Ranch is tired of being “the other Katy school.” Last year, the Cougars were terrific, but now they’ve got some holes to fill, especially at the skill positions with RB Jamel James and QB/ATH Cole Thomas off to FBS schools. That playmaking responsibility will fall in part to QB Luke Klingler (yes, David’s son), but it’ll be the defense with DB Trent Soechting that has to lead the way. And Cy Ranch will be able to score – QB Cole Martin is back with WR Bryce Johnson in tow. I think Cinco Ranch’s defense is the difference in this one.
Tepper’s pick: Katy Cinco Ranch 35, Cy Ranch 23
Houston Davis at Aldine MacArthur
Spring Woods at Pasadena
George Ranch at Fort Bend Austin
We venture for the first time this season into Fort Bend ISD, and man, Fort Bend Austin looks like the real deal. The Bulldogs bring back six offensive starters, led by a duo of dominating runners in RB Vic Enwere and DeAndre Williams – they combined for almost 2,000 yards and 26 TDs last year. The defense will need to improve, which is what LB Trevor Myklebust will need to see to .They’ll open up against a George Ranch squad that’s going way, way underrated right now – 10 starters back on offense, 8 back on defense, and some real talents like LB Tsola Efejuku and RB Collins Kwabena. Both of these teams are on an upward trajectory; a win for either of them could set the stage for big, big things.
Tepper’s pick: Fort Bend Austin 27, George Ranch 20
Rosenberg Terry at Clear Falls
San Antonio Churchill at San Antonio Clark
The main event in San Antonio comes Friday – Madison at Cibolo Steele – but how’s this for and undercard bout? Churchill is coming off a disappointing season at just 4-7, but bringing back stud WR Dimitri Flowers and his QB Nate Pearson sure gets you excited if you’re a Chargers fan. There are, however, questions on defense, which is where Clark presents its biggest challenge – the Cougars are going to pound and pound with RB Brandon Valle. If Churchill can’t find a way to slow that down – or if junior QB Trenton Ford can find his footing early – Clark has a chance to make Flowers’ all-important presence relatively moot.
Tepper’s pick: SA Clark 34, SA Churchill 25
San Antonio Roosevelt at San Antonio Stevens
Port Lavaca Calhoun at Corpus Christi Carroll
Death, taxes and an exceptional Calhoun running game: these three things are guaranteed. And with the return of RB Cory Williams, who ran for more than 1,100 yards and 16 scores before injuring his knee in the 7th game of the season, and QB Hunter Boerm, a thundering cloud of a run-first running back. Corpus Christi Carroll probably don’t match up well with the Sandcrabs – they did go 1-9 last year – but Tigers fans should be excited about what RB Charles Miles can do this season. It could be enough to boost them into the playoffs, but probably not enough to win this one.
Tepper’s pick: Port Lavaca Calhoun 42, Corpus Christi Carroll 21
San Antonio Southwest at Laredo United
Brownsville Porter at Edinburg Economedes
Edinburg Vela at Pharr-San Juan-Alamo
Mission at La Joya Palmview
Mission Memorial at Brownsville Rivera
It’s not a great slate of Valley games tonight – Economedes, Vela and Mission look like pretty clear favorites – but this game intrigues me for a variety of reasons. For one, Brownsville Rivera looks like a team ready for a leap. After a disappointing 2-8 2012 campaign, coach Tom Chavez welcomes back seven starters on both sides, led by RB Jacquil Evans, one of the most exciting backs in the Valley. Mission Memorial counters with the dazzling quarterback play of Santos Villarreall, a sensational dual-threat who should be a bigger statewide name than he is. Expect points, and lots of them; after all, it’s the Valley, baby!
Tepper’s pick: Mission Memorial 45, Brownsville Memorial 33
Las Cruces (NM) at El Paso Chapin, 8 p.m.
Granbury at Wichita Falls
Hey, I’m kind of excited about Granbury! The Pirates bring back QB Ryan Suitt, who was a revelation as a sophomore in throwing for more than 1,600 yards, and having WR Nick Doughty back should give them some pop. Defense may be an issue, but if that comes around, watch out. We’ve been waiting for a while for Wichita Falls to come back, and maybe the introduction of new coach Danny Russell will jumpstart the once-proud program. Having DE Devin Bazile back in the fold is a start, but it’s a long road for the Coyotes.
Tepper’s pick: Granbury 34, Wichita Falls 18
Venus at Fort Worth Polytechnic
Fort Worth Carter-Riverside at Dallas Pinkston
Mesquite Poteet at Frisco Liberty
Where to start with this one? For one, it’s the first game of the post-Randy Jackson era at Poteet, and he left behind one heck of a squad when he took the job at Plano East. LB Malik Jefferson, LB Denzel Thomas, ATH Verkedrick Vaughans, WR Nathaniel Gaines…yowza, the Pirates are loaded. There’s also the matter of Liberty and the long road back to contention. Coach Galen Zimmerman enters his second season at the helm with excitement, and for good reason: when you have a playmaker like WR Rodray Perkins, you’ve got a chance. Still, Poteet seems like the more complete team from day one.
Tepper’s pick: Mesquite Poteet 31, Frisco Liberty 17
Carrollton Newman Smith at McKinney North
It’s been a gut-wrenching offseason for Newman Smith. First, the death of big-time DL Jaquis Jones in an accident at Lewisville Lake; then, news that starting safety Kalen Berry had been diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer. If there’s anyone who could use a distraction, it’s the Trojans; and don’t worry, coach Paul Ressa will have them ready to roll. They’ll face a McKinney North squad that’s big on offense (RB Ronald Jones sees to that) and very thin on defense. Regardless of the outcome, it’ll be good to see them on the field.
Tepper’s pick: Carrollton Newman Smith 27, McKinney North 20
Wilmer-Hutchins at Dallas Conrad
Dallas Molina at Dallas Hillcrest
Cedar Park Vista Ridge at Bastrop
Say, you didn’t forget how good District 25-4A was, did you? Aside from state champion Cedar Park (the site of Fox Football Friday Powered by DCTF on Friday night, 7-11pm on Fox Sports Southwest!), Leander made a regional semifinal, Leander Rouse soared to a state semifinal and Vista Ridge won a playoff game. Now, the Vista Ridge Rangers are hungry for more, and with RB Stedman Mayberry and LB Micah Thomas back, they’re good enough to compete with anyone. Bastrop’s fallen on hard times recently – 3-7 last year, and losing LB Paul Whitmill and DL Antwuan Davis hurts – but maybe WR Logan Allen can give the Bears a spark.
Tepper’s pick: CP Vista Ridge 36, Bastrop 20
Clear Creek at Fort Bend Ridge Point
Austin Akins at Austin Crockett
Austin Anderson at Austin McCallum
In the capital city, it’s time for the annual Taco Shack Bowl, but that’s not just the delicious tacos you smell. There’s something cooking at McCallum, and I think it’s going to be really, really fun to watch. The Knights are full of home-run hitters, from WR Willie Mays (yes, his real name) to DB Wes Bellomy to DE Marquis King-Smith – this is a team of athletes who can turn the game around with a single play. Their first test: an Austin Anderson squad that’s talented on defense, especially with Des Blake Allen and William Griffin, but coming off a 1-win season.
Tepper’s pick: Austin McCallum 38, Austin Anderson 18
Lockhart at Victoria West
Pleasanton at San Antonio Edison
Corpus Christi West Oso at Corpus Christi Moody
Kermit at Midland Greenwood
Glen Rose at Carrollton Ranchview
Celina vs. Melissa (at Allen)
Talk about your battle of champions. Celina’s place in Texas high school football is well-documented – the Bobcats have won a staggering seven titles since 1995. But Melissa’s been the more noteworthy North Texas power of late, winning the 2011 2A DI title. Now that they’re both in 3A, the competition is a little more stiff. Celina’s coming off a regional semifinal run, and they bring back a dynamic talent on each side of the ball: QB Nathan Elliott (coach Bill Elliott’s son) and CB Braylin Brown. It’s the supporting cast around them that will determine their fate this year. For Melissa, there’s a chance that this offense is really, really explosive, behind RB Marcus Ellis, QB CJ Tyler and do-it-all ATH Jackson Webb. If the defense holds up its end of the bargain, it could be a big year for the Cardinals. A fantastic kickoff matchup here that’s really tough to call.
Tepper’s pick: Melissa 27, Celina 24
Gilmer at Atlanta
Out east, there’s palpable excitement for this Gilmer squad. Coach Jeff Traylor’s Buckeye have experience (13 returning starters), pedigree (and not just last year’s runner-up finish) and titanic talent (LB Josh Walker, QB Tanner Barr, WR Devondrick Dixon, to name a few). This could be a really, really big year for Gilmer, and that’s saying something. Atlanta will need to find some offensive consistency, and coach Matt McClure hopes that comes from QB Chase Musgrove, who shined as a sophomore. Still, Gilmer’s the better side here, and it would take a surprise for Atlanta to pull this one out.
Tepper’s pick: Gilmer 38, Atlanta 21
Little River Academy at West
It will be an emotional night in West as the Trojans take the field for the first time since a fertilizer plant explosion leveled much of the town. Through it all, the football team has held it together, and now they get to hit the field in front of what is sure to be a big crowd. There’s no point in breaking this one down; just getting to this point and kicking off the season is a triumph.
Cleveland vs. Kirbyville (at Lamar)
Houston Lee at Houston Scarborough
Houston Sharpstown at Houston Sterling
There hasn’t been much to talk about in District 23-3A for a while – no team won a playoff game last year – but maybe Sterling can put something together this year behind RB Demerius Davis, a quick-footed back with a propensity to make people miss. There’s not much experience around him, though; that cannot be said for Sharpstown, as the Apollos welcome back 13 starters. Despite losing talented stars like Reggie Chevis and Spencer Cook, this is still a team loaded with talent like WR Rodrick Benard and DB Cleveland Bailey. Their march to HISD supremacy starts today.
Tepper’s pick: Houston Sharpstown 32, Houston Sterling 17
Houston Sam Houston at Houston Washington
Dublin vs. Hico (at Tarleton State)
Coahoma vs. Forsan (at Midland)
Bullard Brook Hill at Frankston
An interesting bit of football to be played in Frankston tonight, as Brook Hill – one of the state’s mainstay private school powers – gets going. The Guard has loads of experience – 15 starters in all – and it’ll all start with that defense, anchored by LBs Ryan Young and Malik Alley. Frankston’s disappointing 4-6 season is in the past, and with the return of senior RB Tre Staples and junior QB Ozzie Buckner, they should give the Guard defense something to think about.
Tepper’s pick: Bullard Brook Hill 41, Frankston 24
Panhandle vs. Bovina (at Amarillo)
Anson vs. Hamlin (at Abilene)
Sure, Anson went from 0-10 to 10-2 last year, but what have you done for me lately? I’m kidding, of course, as coach Keith Woolf’s squad is absolutely loaded this season – 10 starters on offense and 7 starters on defense, led by all-everything QB Jalen Garza and a dazzling supporting staff. They’ll kick off the season against a Hamlin squad that’s got district title hopes of its own (this one in 7-1A DII). The Pied Pipers’ run to the regional semifinals was just the star, especially when you bring back bruising RB Darrius Lee and seven starters on defense, led by LB Brannon Stegemoller. The small schools always bring it in Week Zero, and with this game, consider it brought. Don’t miss it.
Tepper’s pick: Anson 34, Hamilin 24
Stamford vs. McCamey (at Big Spring)
Anson’s district bunkmate (read: biggest rival) Stamford kicks off its Class 1A Division I title defense tonight, and it’s easy to talk about who’s not there – QB/DB Hagen Hutchinson. But there’s plenty for the Bulldogs faithful to be excited about, led primarily by WR James Washington and two-way player Ty McLemore. They’ll get a huge test right off the bat; McCamey’s got experience, talent, and one of the scariest players in 1A, DE Josh Malina, who racked up 11 sacks last year. It’ll be, like most games, a battle of quarterbacks – new Stamford QB Bo Wimberley vs. McCamey’s steady-not-spectacular signal-caller Jordan Zarate.
Tepper’s pick: Stamford 40, McCamey 23
Timpson vs. Tyler All Saints (at John Tyler)
Bosqueville at Bartlett (at Waco ISD)
In central Texas, there’s a buzz around Bosqueville – that’s what happens when you bring back guys like star DL Trent Andrews and super-prolific QB CJ Collins. This could be a big, big year for the Bulldogs, but first things first: taking care of Bartlett…which may prove more difficult than you think. Coach Joe Mullins’ squad has its own sensational signal-caller in QB Weston Rafay, and if the experienced defense can hold up early, this could be a terrific game.
Tepper’s pick: Bosqueville 33, Bartlett 21
Gonzales JV at Runge
La Pryor at D’Hanis
Did I tell you that 1A brings it on Week Zero? D’Hanis has most of the same team from last year, and that’s a good thing – remember: they went 10-0 in the regular seaon. And with WR Nathan Young, QB Homer Rivera and LB Jared Hutto back, there could be even bigger things in store for the Cowboys. La Pryor enters the year with a new coach in Justin Stephens and some talent, most notably RB Chris Gonzales, but this looks like too tough an early matchup for the Bulldogs.
Tepper’s pick: D’Hanis 41, La Pryor 21
Nazareth vs. Kress (at Happy)
Petersburg vs. Throckmorton (at Jayton)
DCTF’s No. 1 team in six-man – and defending DI champs – Throckmorton take the field with QB Bryson Oliver back at the controls of the high-powered offense. Petersburg won’t take too dramatic of a step back from last year – QB Brett LaBadie and LB Chris Sharples will see to that – but it’s hard to go against the champs here.
Tepper’s pick: Throckmorton 66, Petersburg 40
Borden County vs. Newcastle (at Jayton)
It’s going to be weird to see Borden County without its dynamic leader Tanner Richey running the offense, but coach Trey Richey hopes ATH TJ Basquez can step in and fill the superstar role. Meanwhile, there’s no doubt who Newcastle’s star will be: RB Tyler Mays, who was all-state despite missing four games due to injury. A lot of this game depends on how quickly Basquez settles into his new role. In any event, this is the six-man game of the night.
Tepper’s pick: Newcastle 54, Borden County 52
Granbury Happy Hill Academy vs. Zephyr
Covington at Avalon
High Island vs. Lake Jackson Brazosport (at Alvin)
Happy JV at Fort Elliott
Sanderson vs. Grady JV (at Imperial)
Patton Springs vs. Wichita Falls Christian (at Knox City)
Bryson JV at Forestburg
San Antonio Central Catholic at San Antonio Holy Cross
Legendary Central Catholic coach Don Byrd has a bit of a situation on his hands: just one defensive starter – DE Matt Gaston – returns for the Buttons, and while the offense should be pretty good with OLs Jude Grace and Byrne James grading the road, the defensive inexperience poses a problem, at least early in the season. Holy Cross has no such situation: ATH Greg Kelly is a dynamo on both sides of the ball, and RB Cisco Flores should carry the load for the Knights. Still, it’s hard to pick against coach Byrd; you know he’ll have something up his sleeve.
Tepper’s pick: SA Central Catholic 27, SA Holy Cross 21
Pasadena First Baptist at Alvin Living Stones Christian
Milford JV at Arlington Newman
Greg Tepper is the associate editor of Dave Campbell's Texas Football and TexasFootball.com.