50 Must-See High School Games: 20-11
Continuing our countdown Texas high school football's 50 must-see games.
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This week, Dave Campbell’s Texas Football is counting down the top 50 must-see Texas high school football games in 2014. Keep in mind: this is not necessarily a ranking of the top 50 games, but rather the 50 games you won’t want to miss. One rule to remember: each game must feature two Texas teams. We will take a look at the best Texas vs. out of state games later this month.
20. Austin Westlake at Lake Travis (Week 9)
Of course this game makes the list. Two of Austin’s preeminent powers will renew their fierce rivalry in what should more-than-likely prove to be the District 14-6A championship game. Every time the Cavs and the Chaps lace ‘em up, it’s must-see football. But this year feels especially big, considering the changes both teams have undergone, be it Westlake’s high-profile new coach in Todd Dodge or Lake Travis’ defensive renaissance thanks to DB James Bailey and LB John Brewer. Expect the usual fireworks.
19. Mart vs. Goldthwaite (Week 1)
These two teams might play in the lowest classification of 11-man football in the state, but don’t be surprised if Mary-Hardin Baylor’s Crusader Stadium is packed to capacity on August 28. Despite not being in the same district, Mart and Golthwaite have met one numerous occasions over the past five years including in the 2010 state title game, and each contest has been a thriller. So there is no reason to expect any different this season. Mart, 2A DI’s No. 1 team, brings back tons of talent on both sides of the ball including our preseason 8-2A DI Offensive MVP DeNerian Thomas and 2A Defensive Player of the Year Collin Nail. But No. 9 Goldthwaite does return seven starters on each side of the ball and topped the Panthers, 39-33, in one of those epic battles a year ago.
18. Stratford at Canadian (Week 9)
The best-kept secret of a rivalry in the state of Texas, we were delighted to see these two longtime rivals back in the same district when realignment came out. And while any of the matchups between Canadian, Stratford and District 1-2A DI bunkmate Wellington are primetime worthy, we went with this one for the sake of the rivalry. Can Canadian’s offense keep churning thanks to WR Braiden Galla? Can Stratford’s always-stingy defense find an answer thanks to LB Tanner Stone? And what will the emotion be like on the field? This is high school football at its best: two teams from two small towns that know each other well, don’t care for one another and will leave it all on the field.
17. Galena Park North Shore at Manvel (Week 2)
As the largest school in 21-6A, North Shore is lock to head to DI in the postseason. Manvel, however, will very likely head down the DII path, which means we won’t see these two Houston-area powers collide in the playoffs. So it’s only fair that we see them meet up in non-district play. No. 10 North Shore has a new head coach in Jon Kay, but the Mustangs won’t miss a beat with talented running back and Texas commit Tristian Houston in the backfield and monster defensive end Dorrance Armstrong holding down the fort on defense. Just three years removed from a state title appearance, No. 11 Manvel is hungry to get back and might have its most talented squad yet. Guys like D’Eriq King, Deontay Anderson, Will Lockett and Internet sensation Gary Haynes are all household names on the recruiting trail and are dynamo players on the gridiron. What a blockbuster matchup down in H-Town.
16. Argyle at Graham (Week 4)
The relatively recent trend of top-tier teams scheduling non-district games against other top-tier teams has us over the moon, so we owe a great deal of thanks to Argyle coach Todd Rodgers and Graham coach Kenny Davidson for setting this one up. It’s the defending state champion Argyle, looking to reload after losing 14 starters from a year ago, traveling to take on one of the state’s early favorites to win a title in the Steers. The reason Graham’s so highly touted: the defense, led by DB Mike Freeze and DE Dustin McWhorter. We don’t have a great feel for how Argyle, now sans Ian Sadler, will look offensively, but RB Nick Ralston against that Graham defense has the makings of the best clash of the non-district season.
15. Shiner at Refugio (Week 7)
Two state finalists in one district? That’s just ludicrous. Well, maybe not. Thanks to realignment, Refugio dropped down a classification and ended up in 15-2A DI along with Shiner. And both teams return plenty of starters from last year’s successful teams, making this game one for the ages. A new era, however, is set to begin in Refugio. Gone is Travis Quintanilla, the state’s all-time leading passer, and in is a young, explosive dual-threat signal-caller named Jaylor Mascorro. Refugio head coach Jason Herring told us Mascorro is more than ready to take the reigns and having top-notch weapons like running back Isaiah Perez and wide receiver Tyler Castellano will help him find his groove. Refugio is a guarantee to light up the scoreboard but if there is any team that can slow down the Bobcats, it’s Shiner and our preseason 15-2A DI Defensive MVP Dillon Kalina.
14. Longview at Lufkin (Week 1)
If you’re headed to the Piney Woods to catch this season-opening game, might we recommend some eye drops? The reason: you won’t want to blink. There will be far too much speed on the field for you to risk closing your eyes for even one moment. Whether it’s Longview’s all-everything running back JaMycal Hasty or Lufkin’s blazing wide receiver combo of KeKe Coutee and Terry Mark, there will be an absurd amount of speed on the field for this one. What’s even more amazing: there is a decent chance that this is a preview of a bi-district playoff game. That’s right: they could meet in Week 1, and then again in Week 12. Buckle up.
13. Cedar Park vs. Aledo (Week 1)
The 2012 4A state champs (Cedar Park) and 2013 4A state champs (Aledo) will meet in the first-ever football game at Baylor’s new $250 million McLane Stadium. Needless to say, the venue and atmosphere at this game will be absolutely breathtaking. As for the game itself, spectators — we’re sure plenty of neutral Baylor fans will pack the house — will be treated to one of the best non-district games in the state. Aledo brings back tons of firepower from last year’s squad, which broke national records and created controversy a year. The Bearcats, however, will have to adjust to not having Tim Buchanan, who unexpectedly stepped down earlier this month, for the first time in roughly 20 years. Cedar Park is the polar opposite of Aledo. The Timberwolves control the clock by running the football and playing smash-mouth defense. It somewhat of an old school meets new school matchup in this one.
12. Manvel at Pearland (Week 11)
When the UIL announced its realignment, we were excited to see the way District 22-6A shook out — Manvel, Pearland and Pearland Dawson all lumped in together, finding it out. When the schedule came out, we were beyond giddy at the notion that Manvel (our early pick to win the district) would travel to Pearland (the biggest challenge to Manvel) in the season finale, for all the district marbles. Nevermind the rankings, which put Manvel at No. 11 and Pearland at No. 15 in Class 6A. The district ramifications alone — and the tantalizing matchup of Manvel’s D’Eriq King-led offense against Pearland’s Deonte Givens-led defense — are enough to make us get our tickets now.
11. DeSoto vs. Cibolo Steele (Week 4)
Aledo vs. Cedar Park isn’t the only monumental non-district game-taking place in Baylor’s McLane Stadium this fall. Three weeks after our No. 13 matchup, Dallas-area heavyweight DeSoto and San Antonio-area heavyweight Cibolo Steele meet in a dogfight that’s comparable to Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier. DeSoto was a couple of plays away from knocking off Allen in the 6A DI state semifinals a year ago and returns a bevvy of FBS-caliber talent. The receiving corps is stacked with Kevin Thomas, Akile Davis and Prime Prep transfer James Proche while defensive tackle Bryce English, our preseason Defensive Player of the Year, and linebacker Chris Orr lead a salty defense. The Malcolm Brown days at Cibolo Steele are long gone, but quarterback LG Williams has emerged as the face of the program. The Texas State pledge can make special plays with both his arm and his legs. The Knights also have a couple of studs on defense in cornerback Anthony Johnson and defensive tackle Zach Edwards. Down goes…
Coming tomorrow: The Top 10 can't-miss high school games of 2014!
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