Thursday night preview
Greg Tepper previews the enormous slate of Thursday games.with district showdowns galore.
I'm not one to demean non-district play, because I love non-district play. It's where you can see big-time matchups week in and week out, and teams are looking to make a statement.
And yet...they don't really mean anything. Winning a non-district game gets you literally no closer to winning a state championship. It's the district games that matter, and we've got a Thursday full of them.
This time, it matters.
Without further ado, here is your Thursday night preview for Week Six of the 2012 Texas high school football season.
El Paso Socorro (2-3, 0-2) at El Paso El Dorado (3-2, 1-1) [8 p.m.]
In an eight-team district like 1-5A, you have to assume that five district wins gets you in the playoffs, four district wins gets you on the bubble, and three district wins has you on the outside looking in. So, I don’t think I need to tell you how critical this game is for both teams. El Dorado’s been the better team this season – even after their heartbreaking loss to Montwood last week in which they surrendered the last 21 points – and if QB Cade Terrazas keeps playing the way he has been, I think the Aztecs roll.
Tepper’s pick: EP El Dorado 44, EP Socorro 17
Keller Fossil Ridge (1-4, 1-1) at Keller (0-5, 0-2)
Euless Trinity (3-2, 2-0) at Irving Nimitz (2-3, 1-1)
It’s safe to say that Euless Trinity is back. After dropping two of their first three games – albeit to outstanding teams – the Trojans are back into form in district play, beating Colleyville Heritage on the road and taking care of a pesky Irving MacArthur squad. The multi-headed running game, led by QB Matt Hawkins and RB Kenneth Gonzales, is back on track, and that’s bad news for a Nimitz team that’s had all sorts of trouble stopping people this year.
Tepper’s pick: Euless Trinity 48, Irving Nimitz 14
North Garland (1-5, 0-2) at Garland Naaman Forest (0-5, 0-1)
Humble Kingwood (2-3, 2-1) at Klein Collins (5-1, 3-1)
Oh, District 13-5A; you’re a weekly source of intrigue on Thursday nights. If you haven’t been paying attention Collins has been putting a hurtin’ on people offensively thanks to a run-first offense of Jeremy Fair and Tre White, plus the ability to hit opponents over the top with QB Blake Jackson to WR Jordan Thomas. Kingwood’s defense hasn’t been great – though I think LB Hector Sandoval is a bona fide player – but they have the tools to keep the ball away from Collins, most notably RB Kade Harrington. Kingwood’s best bet is to sit on the ball and keep the Tigers offense on the sideline, but I’m not sure that’s a sustainable strategy.
Tepper’s pick: Klein Collins 38, Humble Kingwood 21
Jersey Village (2-3, 1-3) at Cypress Springs (1-4, 1-3)
Think about it: in a district with ten teams and four playoff spots – like 17-5A – the key number is six. Six district wins probably locks up a playoff spot. Anything less is a one-way ticket to Bubble City. That means that any more than three losses is trouble. And, well, here are two teams sitting at 1-3 in district. Jersey Village has not been consistent this season, but with the Cy Springs defense in almost complete disarray, I think JV stays in the hunt.
Tepper’s pick: Jersey Village 41, Cy Springs 20
Aldine Nimitz (4-2, 1-1) at Alief Taylor (3-2, 1-0)
Talk about polar opposite offenses. Taylor is the kind of team that gets its points wherever it can – usually from RB Trevorris Johnson – and leans on its star-studded defense to make key plays. For Nimitz, any moment they’re not scoring is a moment wasted. With RBs Dre’Vian Young, Trey Toomer and Martinez Syria, the Cougars can put it on you in a hurry. In a battle of wills – defense vs. offense – I’m almost always leaning toward the defense.
Tepper’s pick: Alief Taylor 24, Aldine Nimitz 21
Katy Mayde Creek (3-2, 0-2) at Katy Cinco Ranch (3-2, 1-1)
This should be a Cinco Ranch squad itching to get back on the field after last week’s tough overtime loss to Katy Morton Ranch. Expect the running game of Adam Johnson, Denzell Bates and Jamel James to take out a little frustration on a Mayde Creek team that’s surrendered 42+ points in three of their five games this year.
Tepper’s pick: Katy Cinco Ranch 38, Katy Mayde Creek 21
Fort Bend Hightower (2-3, 0-2) at Fort Bend Clements (1-4, 0-2)
Clute Brazoswood (2-3, 0-1) at Clear Lake (2-4, 0-2)
I still think there’s a playoff spot for Brazoswood out of District 24-5A – the Bucs have faced a very difficult schedule and need to clean up things like turnovers – but I reserve the right to change my opinion if they drop this one to Clear Lake. And if the defense implodes like it has done on occasion, Clear Lake’s impressive QB Sam Smith can make them pay.
Tepper’s pick: Clute Brazoswood 29, Clear Lake 20
Smithson Valley (5-0, 0-0) at San Marcos (1-4, 0-0)
District 25-5A opens play tonight with the frontrunner Smithson Valley traveling to play the team likely pegged to finish last in the Rattlers. This just seems like a bad matchup overall for the Rattlers: SV should be able to run the ball pretty effectively with Lawrence Mattison, and their swarming defense doesn’t bode well for San Marcos RB Jonoah Fabian.
Tepper’s pick: Smithson Valley 48, San Marcos 16
San Antonio Jay (3-3, 3-1) at San Antonio Taft (2-3, 1-2)
Hey, don’t look now, but Jay’s Mustangs – whom we picked to miss the playoffs – have already scored important district wins over Stevens, Holmes and Warren. The defense has really looked impressive over the past three weeks, as DB Josh Williams and DT Luis Trujillo have really stepped up, and RB Adonis Hulbert and QB Jose Martinez are just doing their thing, grinding out wins. Taft poses an interesting challenge – the Raiders have an outstanding dual-threat QB in Jocques Butler but their defense has been lit up recently – if Jay’s going to continue their impressive rise.
Tepper’s pick: SA Jay 33, SA Taft 22
San Antonio East Central (3-2, 0-0) at Corpus Christi Carroll (0-5, 0-0)
It’s the opener for District 28-5A, and I have a hard time seeing how this ends well for Carroll. They’re having a hard time moving the ball at all – just 44 points all year, and an even harder time keeping opponents out of the end zone. This could be big breakout game for Hornets RB Johnathan Jackson.
Tepper’s pick: SA East Central 41, CC Carroll 10
Edinburg North (5-1, 3-1) at La Joya Palmview (2-3, 1-2)
I’m just going to go ahead and put Edinburg North on Upset Alert. Aside from its loss to Donna, Palmview has played everyone close, and QB Sammy Bacillio is really coming along. Edinburg North will be playing off a loss for the first time, and the offense – normally steady behind RB Victor Montemayor – has to get back on track. The good news: Edinburg North’s defense, especially LB Fidel Orozsco, remains potent.
Tepper’s pick: Edinburg North 29, La Joya Palmview 19
PSJA (1-5, 0-4) at McAllen (4-1, 2-1)
Harlingen (2-3, 2-1) at Brownsville Pace (0-6, 0-4)
El Paso Austin (3-2, 1-1) at El Paso Chapin (5-1, 3-0) [8 p.m.]
I think Chapin is the best team in El Paso. I love this offense, triggered by QB Seth Gonzalez, WR Jay Addison and RB Geremiah Satale. And the defense is flying around, with senior LB Max Flores doing the heavy lifting. This is as complete a team as El Paso has to offer. Austin’s got some things going for it – especially if the running game of Myles Douglas and Andy Banuelos gets going – but this seems like the kind of game where Chapin tells District 1-4A, “This is our district. Come and take it.”
Tepper’s pick: EP Chapin 45, EP Austin 24
Dumas (3-2, 0-0) at Amarillo Caprock (3-2, 0-0) [7:30 p.m.]
Just for the sake of argument, let’s say that the two undefeated teams – Canyon Randall and Canyon – and the team I think is the best in the district – Amarillo – get into the playoffs out of District 3-4A. That leaves one spot for three teams, and two of them tangle tonight. Caprock has played this wild brand of football – the average score of their games has been 50-49 – and it’s thanks to an explosive offense (thanks to the incredible QB Michael Guerrero) and an almost non-existent defense. Dumas doesn’t have the firepower to keep up – though QB Ryan Gerber is a heck of a signal-caller himself – but its defense is better than Caprock’s. So…your guess in this critical game is as good as mine.
Tepper’s pick: Amarillo Caprock 51, Dumas 41
Plainview (2-3, 0-0) at Lubbock (1-4, 0-0)
Lubbock hasn’t won a district game since October 23, 2009; does that slide – a 12-game losing streak – end here? Plainview’s beatable, especially their defense, but I think Bulldogs RB Daniel Miller makes enough plays to get Plainview a win.
Tepper’s pick: Plainview 26, Lubbock 21
Byron Nelson (4-1, 1-1) at Denton Guyer (3-2, 2-0)
Now here’s a game with all sorts of intrigue. I got asked in the DCTF Live Chat – 1 p.m. every Wednesday on TexasFootball.com – why we haven’t been giving love to Guyer. Well, starting off 0-2 didn’t help, but the Wildcats have bounced back nicely, beating a tricky Flower Mound Marcus squad and drubbing two district also-rans. QB Jerrod Heard has found his way, and now with WF Rider QB J.T. Barrett out for the year with a knee injury, District 5-4A looks, once again, there for the taking. Now comes the Wildcats’ first big district test, against upstart Byron Nelson. Nelson’s success has been relatively simple: pound the ball with RB Tylor Blake, hit a couple of big plays to WR Chad Loving, and lock it down on defense. That’s what they’ve done in every one of their game (except the 50-14 loss to Rider). Can they keep the formula working against a Guyer team that’s looking like it deserves another look in the Top 25?
Tepper’s pick: Denton Guyer 34, Byron Nelson 23
Birdville (6-0, 4-0) at Fort Worth Eastern Hills (2-3, 2-1)
As impressed as I’ve been with Eastern Hills’ defense, anchored by the front of DLs Quenton Jordan and Deontae Norman, Birdville has been a buzzsaw. I think Hawks QB Justin Martin – he of 19 touchdowns against just one interception – keeps doing his thing, and Birdville punches the state’s first playoff ticket in Class 4A.
Tepper’s pick: Birdville 48, FW Eastern Hills 14
Fort Worth Polytechnic (0-5, 0-3) at Fort Worth North Side (0-6, 0-4)
Normally, I wouldn’t preview a game between two winless teams, but this one has one major wrinkle: the loser is eliminated from playoff contention. It’s a long shot that either one of them storm into the postseason, but it’ll be official for one of them after this. I think the Parrots keep their hopes alive.
Tepper’s pick: FW Polytechnic 23, FW North Side 20
Little Elm (2-3, 1-1) at Frisco (3-2, 2-0)
Can the Raccoons keep their roll going? Frisco’s gotten great play from their defense of late, with DL Shane Roberson and LB Derek Dieter leading the way. Dieter’s also been the key cog running the ball with that Raccoons running game, but Little Elm will provide a unique challenge, as they bring a so-so defense but a lights-out offense. The question is, will LE’s outstanding RB Ke’aun Kinner explode again like he did last week (343 yards, 5 TDs)?
Tepper’s pick: Frisco 36, Little Elm 21
Highland Park (4-1, 2-0) at Mesquite Poteet (5-0, 2-0)
Game of the night? Probably. This one will give either the Scots or Pirates the inside track to the District 10-4A crown. Poteet’s been great – obviously, they’re undefeated – but their schedule’s a little lacking. Can QB Tanner Ramsey replicate his outstanding results against a team like HP, whose defense looks like it’s peaking? And don’t forget about HP’s terrific QB Jet Tuma, a threat with both his feet and his arm. For some reason, though, I’ve just got this hunch that Poteet’s got some magic working.
Tepper’s pick: Mesquite Poteet 28, Highland Park 26
Dallas Kimball (3-2, 1-1) at Dallas Adamson (4-1, 1-1)
Neat-o: the entire District 11-4A is in action tonight! This is the best game of the bunch, pitting two defense-first squads against one another. Kimball’s looked mortal the past couple of weeks, dropping decisions to Lancaster and Carter before bouncing back against lowly North Dallas. The defense has to get back on track. Adamson’s coming off their first loss of the year – also to Carter – and has had that same defensive tenacity as Kimball. The difference in this one, to me, is that Kimball’s just a little more explosive offensively thanks to RB Teriyon Gipson. This one’s a dogfight, though.
Tepper’s pick: Dallas Kimball 24, Dallas Adamson 21
Dallas Carter (4-1, 2-0) at Dallas Molina (2-3, 1-1)
Dallas Pinkston (2-3, 0-2) at North Dallas (2-3, 0-2)
Seagoville (2-3, 1-1) at Dallas South Oak Cliff (5-0, 2-0)
Dallas Bryan Adams (3-2, 2-0) at Dallas Hillcrest (3-2, 2-0)
And wouldn’t you know it? District 12-4A is in action in its entirety as well! The showcase comes in this battle of district unbeatens, and this one’s hard to judge. Neither team has played particularly good defense this season, but both teams also have pretty balanced offenses that start with the run. In the end, though, I think I have to go with Adams QB Jordan Harvey, who must take care of the ball to push the Cougars to a pivotal district win.
Tepper’s pick: Bryan Adams 32, Hillcrest 28
Dallas Jefferson (1-4, 0-2) at Dallas Spruce (0-5, 0-2)
Dallas Samuell (2-3, 1-1) at Dallas Lincoln (4-1, 2-0)
Dallas Woodrow Wilson (2-3, 1-1) at Dallas Conrad (0-5, 0-2)
Dayton (6-0, 4-0) at Humble (1-4, 1-2)
This just in: Dayton is really, really good. You can argue as to whether or not they’ve been tested, but you can’t argue with the results: QB Markain Chambers has developed into one of Houston’s premier dual-threat QBs, and the defense has been rocking opponents thanks to DB Jamaud St. Andre and LB Daniel Douglas. Humble’s biggest problem is that they just cannot get anything going offensively – averaging just 140 yards per game – and even if their defense is good (and it’s been OK), that’s not enough to compete for a playoff spot. I’m picking Dayton to clinch a playoff berth with a win tonight.
Tepper’s pick: Dayton 42, Humble 10
Houston Stratford (4-1, 2-0) at Fort Bend Marshall (5-0, 2-0)
Hey! Out of nowhere, a game that will probably determine the District 22-5A champion! If you haven’t been paying attention to Fort Bend Marshall, shame on you. The Buffaloes, aside from having a star-studded defense featuring our Super Team Defensive Player of the Year in LB Deon Hollins, have found an absolutely explosive offense along the way, thanks to RB Davon Crookshank and a dual-QB system featuring run-specialist JW Ketchum and pass specialist Jeremy Smith. But Stratford, well, they’ve been outstanding as well, and aside from a Week Zero loss to Houston Memorial, they’ve been every bit the Buffaloes’ equal. The defense is flying around the ball, with DE Jake Soltis establishing himself as almost unblockable and DB Jordan Bernstein (5 INTs) becoming a legit ballhawk. The offense has come around in the past couple of games, but can QB Travis Hanes and RB Terrence Peters sustain the momentum?
Tepper’s pick: FB Marshall 35, Houston Stratford 21
Baytown Lee (4-1, 1-1) at Galena Park (2-3, 1-1)
Austin Travis (4-1, 1-0) at Austin Lanier (0-5, 0-1)
I’m previewing this game because it’s the only Austin area game tonight, but…yeah, I don’t think this is going to be pretty. Travis’ offense is rolling now behind QB Jonathon Caldwell, and Lanier…well, the Vikings have managed 731 yards all season. The offense is really struggling.
Tepper’s pick: Austin Travis 33, Austin Lanier 7
Burkburnett (0-6, 0-0) at Wichita Falls Hirschi (1-5, 0-0)
Aubrey (2-4, 0-0) at Frisco Lone Star (5-1, 0-0)
District 10-3A features two games tonight: one that should be pretty competitive (this one!) and one that, well, probably won’t be very competitive (the one below this one). Aubrey, in their first year post-coach G.A. Moore, has scuffled along so far, especially on offense, where they can’t seem to get anything going. The same cannot be said for Lone Star, one of the surprises of the season so far, as the Rangers have been lighting people up behind QB Will Campbell and RB Ramon Harris. Can Lone Star’s success continue into district play? With Ranchview struggling and likely to finish at the bottom of the standings of this five-team district, and Celina and Argyle almost assured playoff spots, this could determine the third and final postseason slot.
Tepper’s pick: Frisco Lone Star 36, Aubrey 21
Celina (5-1, 0-0) at Carrollton Ranchview (1-5, 0-0)
Corpus Christi Flour Bluff JV at Lyford (2-3)
Nazareth (1-5) at Cotton Center (3-2) [7:30 p.m.]
Trent (5-1) at Patton Springs (0-6) [7:30 p.m.]
Greg Tepper is the associate editor of Dave Campbell's Texas Football and TexasFootball.com.
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