3A/2A/1A/6M/PVT Preview: Week 4
An expansive look at the best small-school action this weekend.
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It's Friday night in Texas, which means tonight belongs to high school Football! DCTF's Greg Tepper previews the biggest games across Class 3A, Class 2A, Class 1A, Six-Man and the private school ranks. You won't want to miss these games!
Fairfield (4-0) at Navasota (4-0)
You want a showdown? You got a showdown. Fairfield has been one of those teams that DCTF has held off heaping praise on because, well, they haven’t really played anyone. But the results have been impressive regardless of competition: RB Larry Rose and QB Jacob Gallegos have been lighting people up, and the defense is promising with DL Devin Eggins and LB Dedrick Garner. But that defense will need its best day, because Navasota’s huge offense is coming. The Rattlers haven’t missed a beat without Kadarius Baker, as RBs Derrion Randle and Lamarquis Jefferson, as well as new QB Shelton Eppler, have been nearly unstoppable. This will be the toughest defensive test for both sides, but for Navasota, having DT Jordan Wells – still one of 3A’s finest players – looks like the difference.
Tepper’s pick: Navasota 39, Fairfield 28
Gladewater (2-2, 0-0) at Gilmer (4-0, 0-0)
So, Gladewater’s defense is pretty good. When you have a player like DT Daylon Mack – one of the very best players in the Class of 2015 – you’re going to be pretty good. But as District 16-3A – the District of Doom – kicks off play, it’s hard not to look at this as anything but a two-team race between Gilmer and Kilgore. The Buckeyes look solid as a rock this year, and it starts with QB Tanner Barr and RB Kris Boyd. The defense has been good, but the offense has been great. Unless Gladewater’s defense has its biggest game to date, Gilmer – especially at home – looks good to start 1-0 in district.
Tepper’s pick: Gilmer 35, Gladewater 21
Rio Grande City Grulla (4-0) at Port Isabel (4-0)
We’ve reached the point in the season where a battle of unbeaten teams actually means something, and we’ve got a great one here. Grulla is off to the best start in its short history, and it’s because of the fantastic defense le dby LB Joel Villarreal and DB Robert Camarrillo. The offense has been consistently good-not-great, with QB Rey Penablanca getting help from a big OL anchored by Brandon Solis. Port Isabel…well, you know what you’re getting. You’re getting a bruising running game, led by Jaime Gonzalez, Jacob Losoya and Juan Aguilera, that’s churning out 339.8 yards per game on the ground. And you’re getting an intimidating defense that features big DE Jacques Guillot (one of my favorite players in the state). Grulla’s story is great; Port Isabel’s team looks better.
Tepper’s pick: Port Isabel 38, Rio Grande City 21
Amarillo (2-2) at Stephenville (4-0)
And out in West Texas, it’s a battle of a 3A power against a reeling 4A squad. Amarillo may not know which way is up right now, considering the loss to Frenship last week, and one has to be especially concerned about the defense. We know there’s talent, especially NG Hunter Flory and LB Demarcus Harmon, but they just haven’t put it all together yet. The offense has been great, though, as QB Isaac Garcia has really emerged. But for all the question marks surrounding Stephenville – especially with WR-turned-QB Jarrett Stidham taking the reins of the offense – they’ve answered in the affirmative. If the defense, led by playmakers like DB Mookie Carlile and DE Jonah Noah, continues to thrive, there’s no reason they can’t make another run. Can Amarillo’s defense make enough plays to topple the Jackets? This is truly too close to call.
Tepper’s pick: Stephenville 33, Amarillo 32
Other 3A Games to Watch…
Orangefield (3-1, 0-0) at Silsbee (2-1, 0-0)
Tepper’s pick: Silsbee 38, Orangefield 21
Cuero (2-1) at Ingleside (3-1)
Tepper’s pick: Ingleside 31, Cuero 20
Palestine (3-1) at Athens (4-0)
Tepper’s pick: Athens 44, Palestine 33
Abilene Wylie (2-2) at Lubbock Estacado (2-1)
Tepper’s pick: Abilene Wylie 34, Lubbock Estacado 24
Stamford (4-0) at Cisco (4-0)
Oh baby is this a good one. In one corner: Stamford, the defending 1A Division I state champs, the No. 1 team in DCTF’s Class 1A DI rankings, the team that has not even stutter-stepped without QB Hagen Hutchinson. QB Bo Wimberley has filled in exceptionally, and WR James Washington is looking like 1A’s biggest big-play threat. In the other corner: Cisco, the No. 2 team in DCTF’s Class 2A DII rankings, the undefeated Loboes that look like a buzzsaw thanks to star two-way player RB/LB Mason Reed and QB Colton Kent. Both teams have explosive offenses. Both teams have incredible defenses – if you haven’t seen Stamford’s Zai Zai Smith, you’re missing out. Both teams have great coaches. This is, in all honesty, the best high school football game in the state, regardless of classification.
Tepper’s pick: Cisco 28, Stamford 27
Post (4-0) at Denver City (4-0)
Two unbeaten teams in Class 2A that you’re probably not paying attention to. Post has been scoring points in bunches, and while they struggled to get past Tahoka last week – needing DJ Brown’s 45-yard touchdown run in the final seconds to win – this is still a dangerous team. But have they been tested? Denver City has – that win over Pecos is looking better and better – and the reason they’re unbeaten is because of QB Mason Milligan and a stifling defense. Post has a very high ceiling, but hasn’t faced the rigors that Denver City has. Can the Antelopes prove that to be moot and score a big road win?
Tepper’s pick: Denver City 34, Post 24
Panhandle (3-1) at Spearman (3-1)
Do you like offense? Because Panhandle has it in spades. In the 56-53 win over Tulia last week, the two teams combined for more than 1,300 total yards, led by QB Tyler Hall, a three-year starter who looks like he’s blossoming into one of 2A’s most exciting players. But that defense…well, they gave up 53 points! That’s not going to cut it against Spearman, because the Lynx can play defense – they held down Booker’s explosive offense, even if it was in a losing effort. It’s the ol’ immovable object against unstoppable force, and it’s going to be a lot of fun.
Tepper’s pick: Spearman 31, Panhandle 30
Weimar (2-0) at Hallettsville (4-0)
Weimar’s defense has been incredible. It’s only been two games, but so far, so good thanks to LB Ortis Newhouse and DL Jose Nino. 11 points in two games? That’ll play. The offense has to get going, though, and that’s where RB Jakyle Harris – a 1,600-yard rusher a year ago – comes in. Can he bust through Hallettsville’s defense? It’s been pretty good as well, but the real headliner there is the offense, where do-it-all athlete Dalton Herrington and QB Nate Kowalik have been racking up points in bunches. Weimar’s defense is stout, but something tells me Herrington has a couple of special plays up his sleeve that push the Brahmas to 5-0.
Tepper’s pick: Hallettsville 37, Weimar 21
Other 2A Games to Watch…
Shallowater (3-0) at Idalou (3-1)
Tepper’s pick: Shalllowater 29, Idalou 17
Dalhart (3-1) at Littlefield (2-2)
Tepper’s pick: Littlefield 39, Dalhart 36
Daingerfield (1-3) at Redwater (1-2)
Tepper’s pick: Daingerfield 38, Redwater 28
Troy (2-1) at Lago Vista (2-1)
Tepper’s pick: Lago Vista 41, Troy 21
Wink (3-1) at Iraan (4-0)
When the defense I humming, there may be no team that embodies the hard-hitting West Texas football culture better than Wink. The Wildcats’ front seven, fueled by DT Anthony Ramirez and LB Troy Miller, are a force, and QB Riley Richardson does the rest. Can they get off on a good foot against perennial power Iraan and their own bruising defense? Mark Kirchoff’s Braves have mauled people this year, thanks in large part to DL Michael Ortiz and LB Ryder Sawyer. Don’t forget: this is a District 5-1A DII game. That district, despite having just four teams, plays a double round-robin style that makes it one of the more unique in the state.
Tepper’s pick: Iraan 29, Wink 20
Goldthwaite (0-4) at Mart (2-2)
For two programs that have nine state championships between them, it’s odd to see them at a combined 2-6. But credit the competition – Goldthwaite has lost to four solid teams, and Mart has losses to Dallas St. Mark’s and 2A power Rogers – and an inability to get a key stop. Goldthwaite is giving up 38 points per game; Mart is allowing a better-but-still-not-great 26. The difference in this one, though, will be Mart QB DeNerian Thomas, especially if they flank him out as a WR and put Austin Rauls under center. That versatility is an added wrinkle to coach Rusty Nail’s offense that should provide enough firepower for a win.
Tepper’s pick: Mart 41, Goldthwaite 31
Chilton (4-0) at Milano (3-0)
Unfamiliar with Milano? It’s OK; we picked the Eagles out of the playoffs in District 13-1A DII, so seeing them at 3-0 is, admittedly, a bit of a surprise. But coach Craig Jentsch’s defense has been relentless, as DL Kody Love and DB Alex Ferrara have helped the squad allow just 20 points in three games. The offense comes in spurts – dual-threat QB Jordan Millar does most of the heavy lifting – but that allows them to lean on their defense. That said…Chilton’s a whole ‘nother animal. The running game of QB Javarius Young and RB Charles Simpson is humming, and they must be brimming with confidence after last week’s win over Bosqueville. It’s not an impossible task for Milano, but it’s a tall order.
Tepper’s pick: Chilton 33, Milano 19
La Villa (2-2) at Bruni (4-0)
At what point are we licensed to start getting really excited about Bruni? The Badgers have been nearly flawless in their opening salvo to 2013, getting 280 rush yards per game from (mainly) the freshman-senior combo of Joseph Cruz and Armando Vergara, respectively; and the defense has been a tough nut to crack as well. La Villa has bounced back nicely from its 0-2 start and appears on the way back, but it’ll take a huge game from QB Robert Serna to get past Bruni.
Tepper’s pick: Bruni 36, La Villa 32
Other 1A Games to Watch…
Flatonia (2-1) at Ganado (3-1)
Tepper’s pick: Ganado 21, Flatonia 13
Elkhart (3-1) at Joaquin (2-1)
Tepper’s pick: Joaquin 24, Elkhart 21
Axtell (3-1) at Bremond (4-0)
Tepper’s pick: Bremond 47, Axtell 24
Petersburg (2-2) at Crowell (4-0)
In general, Petersburg’s defense has been among the best in six-man football, playing downright pedestrian games like its 34-13 win over New Home last week. But can LB Chris Sharples and company slow down Crowell, and big-armed QB Ethan Swearingen enough to pull home a win? Making matters tougher on the Buffaloes: Lex Bond remains one of six-man’s most versatile defenders, and he’ll be wearing a Crowell jersey tonight.
Tepper’s pick: Crowell 44, Petersburg 28
Blackwell (4-0) at Blanket (3-1)
I’m starting to become a big fan of what Blackwell’s got this year. They’ve won in a variety of different ways – low-scoring, defense-first games; typical six-man shootouts – and SB Jayden Jones has been fabulous for the Hornets, averaging more than 13.5 yards per carry en route to his 16 touchdowns so far. Blanket’s defense has played and beaten tough opponents this year – see: 28-24 win over Gordon – but the loss to May last week has me spooked.
Tepper’s pick: Blackwell 52, Blanket 44
Other Six-Man Games to Watch…
Ropesville Ropes (2-2) at Garden City (3-1)
Tepper’s pick: Garden City 66, Ropesville Ropes 42
Fruitvale (3-1) at Coolidge (2-1)
Tepper’s pick: Coolidge 52, Coolidge 28
Aquilla (1-3) at Milford (2-2)
Tepper’s pick: Milford 48, Aquilla 32
Plano Prestonwood (3-1, 0-0) at Argyle Liberty Christian (3-1, 0-0)
Oh, hey, what a surprise, Plano Prestonwood has started putting up points and yards in chunks. QB Twayne Blackwell has been sensational, and the WR combo of Michael Irvin and Jonathan Heasley has been something special. But the defense is still a concern, and that’s what opens the door for Argyle Liberty Christian here. The exceptional balance to the Warriors’ attack – be it from versatile RB JonAaron Howell or dual-threat QB Colby Moore – is going to give people fits all year. But, again, the defense. This one has shootout written all over it.
Tepper’s pick: Plano Prestonwood 49, Argyle Liberty Christian 42
Dallas Bishop Lynch (2-1) at Dallas Bishop Dunne (3-1)
Staying in the Dallas area – and, in fact, staying in TAPPS DI District 1 – you have two teams that A) don’t like each other very much, and B) play entirely different styles. Bishop Dunne wants to get out and run, get the score as high as possible with rocket-armed QB Micah Simon and his legions of wide receivers. Bishop Lynch wants to keep things low-key and low-scoring, winning with the defense led by DE Obe Anozie. Who wins this battle of wills?
Tepper’s pick: Bishop Lynch 35, Bishop Dunne 28
Calvert (4-0) at Waco Live Oak (4-0)
Private school six-man football, boy! Junior QB Paul McCaw has been locked in since the beginning of Live Oak’s season, already notching 16 touchdown passes in just four games. But Calvert looks like it’ll be the Falcons’ toughest test yet. The Trojans, led by LB William Golden, have allowed just 16 points per game so far this season, an absurdly low total for six-man ball. Can they contain McCaw?
Tepper’s pick: Waco Live Oak 48, Calvert 42
Greg Tepper is the associate editor of Dave Campbell's Texas Football and TexasFootball.com.