4A/3A/2A/Pvt. Preview: Week 1
Analyzing the weekend's best small-school action across Texas
It's Friday night in Texas, which means tonight belongs to high school football! DCTF's EJ Holland previews the biggest games across Class 4A, Class 3A and Class 2A while Greg Tepper takes a closer look at the private school ranks. You won't want to miss these games!
Abilene Wylie at Argyle, 7:30 p.m. Friday — A potential future playoff clash, this one has the makings of something special. Argyle captured a state title a year ago but was decimated by graduation. Still, the Eagles are ranked No. 5 in 4A Division I, and we expect them to keep doing what they do best — run the ball with 2,000-yard rusher Nick Ralston, one of the most underappreciated players in the state, and play tough defense. No. 10 Abilene Wylie, a West Texas power, didn’t quite live up to its potential last season but with all-state linebacker Clay Johnston, a Baylor commit, and 6-foot-5, 250-pound defensive Baylen Baker back in the fold, the Bulldogs are primed to make a deep run this season.
EJ’s pick: Argyle 28, Abilene Wylie 24
La Grange at Liberty Hill, 7:30 p.m. Friday — Unfortunately, we won’t see these twoteams meet up in the playoffs. Liberty Hill was placed in Division I while La Grange ended up in Division II, so we’ll have to settle for this non-district tilt. But hey, we’re not complaining. Instead, we’re looking forward to seeing La Grange athletes Bralon Hutchinson and JK Dobbins make plenty of highlight-reel plays. That is if they can get past a tough as nails Liberty Hill defense led by defensive end Jacob Covington, who recorded 106 tackles and three sacks a year ago. Both teams are ranked in the top 10 in their respective divisions and are legitimate state title contenders. Need any more reasons to watch this one? Didn’t think so.
EJ’s pick: La Grange 31, Liberty Hill 23
Newton at Tatum, 7:30 p.m. Friday — A battle of classes is just what we need on Texas high school football’s opening Friday night. You’ve heard us rave and rave about Newton whenever we talk 3A football. The Eagles, after all, always seem to find a way to make a deep run in the playoffs and return seven starters on both sides of the ball including do-it-all athlete Roney Elam, a Texas A&M commit. But can they compete with a bigger school like Tatum? Of course, but getting a win against those Eagles won’t be easy. Tatum brings back a wrecking crew on defense led by linebacker Kyshaun Smith and an offense filled with potential.
EJ’s pick: Newton 34, Tatum 31
Anchorage South (AK) at Stephenville, 7:30 p.m. Friday — Texas pride will be on the line in this one as Stephenville hosts Anchorage South, which is making a haul all the way down to the Lone Star State from Alaska. That’s right, Alaska! Anchorage South will travel approximately 4,000 miles for this game, and it will mark the first time a Texas school faces an opponent from Alaska. And we really don’t see Stephenville, our No. 1 team in 4A Division I, missing an opportunity to make history by being the first Texas team to beat a squad from Alaska. Anchorage South did win the 2012 Alaska big school state title, but the Wolverines won’t mess with Texas.
EJ’s pick: Stephenville 50, Anchorage South (AK) 17
Kerrville Tivy at Big Spring, 6 p.m. Saturday at San Angelo
EJ’s pick: Big Spring 27, Kerrville Tivy 24
Hardin-Jefferson at Jasper, 7:30 p.m. Friday
EJ’s pick: Jasper 38, Hardin-Jefferson 27
La Vernia at Wimberley, 7:30 p.m. Friday
EJ’s pick: La Vernia 28, Wimberley 20
Canadian at Bushland, 7:30 p.m. Friday
EJ’s pick: Canadian 38, Bushland 37
Gladewater at Daingerfield, 7:30 p.m. Friday — This has our vote as one of the most intriguing matchups of opening weekend. Gladewater is ranked No. 7 in 4A Division II and boasts inarguably the best small-school player in the state in defensive tackle Daylon Mack. The ‘Mack Truck’ racked up an eye-popping 35 tackles for loss last year and when he’s in at fullback, well, let’s just say you won’t want to get in his way. But it’s not all about Mack, Gladewater brings back seven other starters back on defense and 10 on offense. Daingerfield, on the other hand, lost some key pieces from last regional semifinalist team. But the Tigers enter the year ranked No. 6 in 3A Division I and have in explosive playmaker at wide receiver in Denzel Mims.
EJ’s pick: Gladewater 42, Daingerfield 28
Paul Pewitt at Arp, 7:30 p.m. Friday — Staying in the #bEASTtexas area, we have a finger-lickin’ good matchup featuring two 3A Division II powers. No. 11 Arp returns six starters on both sides of the ball including four-year starting running back Marcalas Johnson. The 5-foot-9, 185-pound speed back rushed for 1,900 yards and 30 touchdowns a year ago and is a threat to score every time he touches the ball. Expect Arp to pund the football, and No. 12 Paul Pewitt to do the same. The Brahmas run the old Slot-T and have a stout offensive line led by center Josh Hill and guard Jared Hicks. If dual-threat quarterback Isaiah Porter can build on last season, watch out.
EJ’s pick: Arp 45, Paul Pewitt 42
Rogers at Franklin, 7:30 p.m. Friday — Boy, it’s a big night for 3A Division II. Not only do we have the aforementioned colossal clash between Arp and Paul Pewitt, we also have No. 4 Franklin squaring off with No. 5 Rogers. If that doesn’t get you excited for football, we don’t know what will. Rogers is known for its steady rushing attack out of the Slot-T, and that won’t change this year with 1,700-yard rusher Brody Malovets back in the mix. And guess what? Franklin runs the exact same offense and has a talented ball carrier of its own in running back Morgan Brewer. Home field advantage might be just enough to give the Lions the slight edge in what should be a dog fight to the bitter end.
EJ’s pick: Franklin 35, Rogers 34
Austin St. Michael’s at Lago Vista, 7:30 p.m. Friday — Lago Vista is doing everything it can to prepare for a gauntlet of a district slate, which features No. 2 Cameron Yoe and No. 4 Rockdale. But don’t feel bad for the Vikings. Lago Vista is our No. 7 team in 3A Division I and returns a bevvy of talent including tight end Daegan Fowler and defensive tackle Tyler Huff. And playing a tough private school team like Austin St. Michael’s will only help the Vikings grow stronger. Austin St. Michael’s made some noise last season with an 8-3 finish and saw versatile athlete Jameson Houston, a Baylor commit, breakout on both sides of the ball.
EJ’s pick: Lago Vista 33, Austin St. Michael’s 31
Schulenburg at Luling, 7:30 p.m. Friday
EJ’s pick: Luling 28, Schulenburg 24
Ferris at Glen Rose, 7:30 p.m. Friday
EJ’s pick: Glen Rose 37, Ferris 35
Lubbock Cooper at Idalou, 7:30 p.m. Friday
EJ’s pick: Lubbock Cooper 49, Idalou 35
New Boston at Atlanta, 7:30 p.m. Friday
EJ’s pick: New Boston 42, Atlanta 30
Anson at Hamlin, 7:30 p.m. Friday — Anson, our No. 12 team in 2A Division I, might have a new head coach in Chris Hagler, but the Tigers will have plenty of familiar faces on both sides of the ball. Among them are monster defensive end Drew Cumpton and running back Dustin Moore. But Hamlin has even more experience. The Pied Pipers — by the way, that’s one of the coolest mascots in Texas — are loaded on defense with eight returning starters and have a playmaker of their own in the backfield in running back Tyrone Johnson.
EJ’s pick: Hamlin 30, Anson 27
Stratford at Sunray, 7 p.m. Friday — Eddie Metcalf is a veteran of the game. The long-time Stratford head coach is entering his 11th season and has yet another talented squad to work with. Quarterback Rett Schoonover was last year’s District MVP and defensive end Trevor Melton recorded seven sacks in 2014. Stratford, our No. 8 team in 2A Division I, will get a chance to make a statement right off the bat against Sunray, our No. 20 team in 2A Division II. Sunray didn’t have an ideal season a year ago, but the Bobcats return numerous key starters.
EJ’s pick: Stratford 38, Sunray 24
Thorndale at Burton, 7:30 p.m. Friday — Oh hey, another big Division I vs. Division II matchup. Thorndale enters the year ranked No. 18 (Division I) but lost an array of quality linemen. The Bulldogs will lean on running back Darius Brooks, who also starts at defensive end, and wide receiver Colton Austin. But will they be able to score on a Burton defense that returns seven starters? It’ll be tough, especially with 6-foot-6, 215-pound outside linebacker Louis Brown, a Baylor commit, roaming around for No. 19 Burton (Division II).
EJ’s pick: Burton 31, Thorndale 28
Childress at Wellington, 7:30 p.m. Friday — Even if you don’t religiously follow 2A football, you should remember Wellington from last year’s state title games. The Skyrockets dominated 2013, earned rings and finished the year with a perfect 14-0 record. While a multitude of starters, especially on offense, are gone from last year’s team, Wellington is still ranked No. 11 in 2A Division I and is threat to return to AT&T Stadium. The win streak, however, will be in jeopardy as a solid 3A Childress team comes to town. The Bobcats have the advantage when it comes to numbers, but will it be enough?
EJ’s pick: Wellington 41, Childress 35
Hubbard at Cayuga, 7:30 p.m. Friday
EJ’s pick: Hubbard 34, Cayuga 30
Centerville at Corrigan-Camden, 7:30 p.m. Friday
EJ’s pick: Corrigan-Camden 45, Centerville 32
Crawford at Tolar, 7:30 p.m. Friday
EJ’s pick: Crawford 38, Tolar 31
Alto at Crockett, 7:30 p.m. Friday
EJ’s pick: Alto 42, Crockett 37
Houston Kinkaid at Houston St. Thomas, 7 p.m. Friday — The private school ranks are starting off with a bang, that’s for darn sure. Two of Houston’s best teams will duke it out for H-Town supremacy in this one, and this could be a springboard win for either squad. For Kinkaid, it’s all about the offense with QB J.T. Granato and WR Sam Mays. For St. Thomas, they play a much more conservative brand of football, running (RB Wendell Champion) and defense (NG Laurenzo Neal). It’s an interesting clash in styles as well as classification (SPC for Kinkaid, TAPPS DI for St. Thomas). Both of these teams could end up with state titles by the time it’s all said and done.
Tepper’s pick: Houston Kinkaid 38, Houston St. Thomas 35
Fort Worth All Saints vs. Houston St. Pius X, 8 p.m. Friday at Arlington’s AT&T Stadium — And now for something completely different! A cross-regional matchup at Jerry Jones’ Monument To Himself that pits two teams searching for key replacement players. All Saints is looking for their next quarterback after Foster Sawyer ended up at TCU, but there’s no shortage of athletes on this quad — WR Matt Boyle, TE Quinton Riney, DE Josiah Kingenberg. St. Pius must replace a solid senior class of its own, but the task is softened by the return of guys like RB Micah Massey and DB Jalen Smith. We really don’t know a ton about All Saints, but we’ll find out a lot about both teams tonight.
Tepper’s pick: FW All Saints 31, Houston St. Pius X 28
Bellaire Episcopal vs. Plano Prestonwood, 4 p.m. Saturday at Denton’s Apogee Stadium
Tepper’s pick: Plano Prestonwood 49, Bellaire Episcopal 35
Dallas Christian at Dallas Bishop Dunne, 7:30 p.m. Friday
Tepper’s pick: Dallas Christian 29, Dallas Bishop Dunne 21
Austin Regents at Waco Reicher, 7:30 p.m. Friday
Tepper’s pick: Waco Reicher 36, Austin Regents 34
EJ Holland is the associate editor of Dave Campbell's Texas Football and TexasFootball.com.
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