3A/2A/1A/6M/PVT Preview: Week Zero
Small-school action returns in full force in Week Zero.
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Dave Campbell's Texas Football has again teamed up with Fox Sports Southwest to bring you Fox Football Friday Powered by DCTF, a four-hour live high school football show coming to you from the site of one of the biggest games of the week. Join Jeff Power and DCTF associate editor Greg Tepper as they bring you unprecedented Texas high school coverage, with highlights, score updates, analysis and more from all across Texas. It all starts on Friday, and it all starts on Fox Sports Southwest!
I've made no secret about my love for the small-school ranks. There's something about 3A and below -- maybe it's that the kids play both ways, maybe it's that the fans are just more passionate -- that truly resonates as the essence of Texas high school football.
That's back tonight, and that's a great feeling.
Without further ado, here is your Class 3A, 2A, 1A, Six-Man and Private School Preview for Week Zero of the 2013 Texas high school football season.
Argyle (0-0) at Abilene Wylie (0-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
Looking for the tastiest 3A matchup in Texas this week? Look no further. Both teams enter the season ranked in DCTF’s preseason Top 10 – Argyle at No. 4, Abilene Wylie at No. 8 – but they seem to be going in different directions. I wonder about Abilene Wylie this year – they lose a ton from last year’s regional finalist, returning just four starters. But when you have stars like LB Jaxon Bounds and a coach like Hugh Sandifer, worrying is about as worthwhile a use of time as yelling at the ocean. Argyle, on the other hand, looks like they’re ready to make some noise again, and it all starts with DCTF’s preseason 3A offensive player of the year, ATH Ian Sadler. He can run, he can receive, he can do it in special teams, heck, he can probably drive the bus. And when you surround him with talent like Argyle has – LB Sam Sizelove and DB Connor Wilson head up a salty defensive crew of eight returning starters – you have a recipe for a state title contender. Argyle’s the favorite here, but a Wylie win could catapault them into statewide contendership.
Tepper’s pick: Argyle 34, Abilene Wylie 23
West Orange-Stark (0-0) at Little Cypress-Mauriceville (0-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
Ah, the annual Orange Bowl down in the Golden Triangle. Not much like it in Texas – the pageantry, the intensity, the pure and unadulterated savagery of this rivalry. To be honest, West Orange-Stark is the heavy favorite here, even on the road – the offense, led by RB Chris James and a solid offensive front, should be enough to win it, even though the defense looks like a work in progress. But LCM won’t lie down, especially with a home run hitter like WR Dalton Doyle. And anyone in the stands knows what’s at stake here – pride, pride and more pride. Always fun when these two lock horns; even moreso in the first week.
Tepper’s pick: West Orange Stark 31, Little Cypress-Mauriceville 17
Lindale (0-0) at Tyler Chapel Hill (0-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
Let’s just come out and say it: last year stunk for Tyler Chapel Hill. The Bulldogs went from state runner up in 2010, to state champs in 2011…to 3-7 in 2012. Yuck. But hope springs eternal, and for coach Thomas Sitton’s crew, there’s plenty of reason for hope. RB Joseph Clark was one of the few bright spots for the Bulldogs last season, and he’ll be joined by QB Andrew Black on what should be a pretty stout offense. And the defense – that’s Chapel Hill’s specialty when they’re very good – looks solid as well, with LB Wesley Thompson back to lead the charge. They’ll get a big challenge from 4A Lindale this week: last year was disappointing, but having a big offensive line of DJ Williams and Justin Long is a nice place to start. Consider today the beginning of a potential Tyler Chapel Hill redemption tour.
Tepper’s pick: Tyler Chapel Hill 41, Lindale 24
Monterrey Tec (MX) (0-0) at Stephenville (0-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
Surely not, right? C’mon. Surely, lightning won’t strike twice. Right? It can’t. There’s no way…right? Last year, Monterrey Tech (one of a handful of Mexican teams that cross the border to play teams from Texas) walked into Stephenville – the top ranked, state-title favorite Stephenville – and beat them, sending shockwaves through 3A. Now, the Yellowjackets went on to win the 3A DI title, and all’s well that ends well, but still. This is the debut of Jarrett Stidham at QB, moving from his spot at WR, and he’ll lead what looks like a powerful squad. Of course, we know what happened last year, and…no, wait, c’mon. It’s not going to happen two years in a row…right?
Tepper’s pick: Stephenville 34, Monterrey Tec 20
Marble Falls (0-0) at La Grange (0-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
This looks like a big year for La Grange. Coach Matt Kates’ Leopards have 14 starters back from last year’s playoff squad, and the ground game should hum with RB Rodney Filmore running behind big (and coveted) OL Zachary Ledwik. The defense, too, should be excellent, as long as underclassmen step into the few starting holes available. But, of course, all eyes will be on Marble Falls and Todd Dodge’s high-flying Air Raid offense. Is this the year they break through? WR Garrett Gray, one of the state’s most prolific pass-catchers, is back, alongside WR Carson Bowen, but the QB is a question mark – it should fall to sophomore Brennan Wooten. A lot of this game depends on how he plays, but boy, it may not matter – La Grange looks that good.
Tepper’s pick: La Grange 35, Marble Falls 27
Other 3A Games To Watch
Port Isabel (0-0) at Brownsville Veterans Memorial (0-0), 7 p.m. Saturday
Tepper’s pick: Port Isabel 28, Brownsville Veterans Memorial 27
Alvarado (0-0) at Bridgeport (0-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
Tepper’s pick: Alvarado 42, Bridgeport 24
Crowley (0-0) at Kennedale (0-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
Tepper’s pick: Kennedale 33, Crowley 25
Burkburnett (0-0) at Gainesville (0-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
Tepper’s pick: Gainesville 48, Burkburnett 21
Fort Worth All Saints (0-0) at Brownwood (0-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
Tepper’s pick: FW All Saints 33, Brownwood 22
Kaufman (0-0) at Athens (0-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
Tepper’s pick: Athens 26, Kaufman 20
Ingleside (0-0) at Refugio (0-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
Here’s a helpful tip to determine whether your friends are a true Texas high school football fans: ask them if they’re excited about this game. Because everyone should be. This may be the most exciting quarterback matchup in Texas since…well, I’m having trouble identifying the superlative I want to use so imagine me saying a long time ago here. It’s Ingleside QB Tristen Barajas, one of Texas’ most criminally underrated signal-callers (all he did was throw for 2,951 yards and 35 TDs last year), against Refugio QB Travis Quintanilla, a guy who has a chance to become the state’s all-time leading passer in terms of both TDs and yards this season. Are you not entertained? Of course, there’s other things to consider – Refugio’s defense should actually be pretty stout, and Ingleside has seven starters back on defense ,led by LB Christian Britt – but the QBs are the best part. Ask your friends about this game, and if they don’t know about it, get new friends.
Tepper’s pick: Refugio 42, Ingleside 28
Tatum (0-0) at Arp (0-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
This is another game that might sneak under the radar some weeks, but boy, it’s a treat in Week Zero. It’s gotten to the point where Tatum is to be feared until they decide not to be feared, and this season looks no different for Andy Evans’ Eagles. With playmakers like WR Deyante Roberson and RB Jaylen Shans on offense, and a lightning-quick defense led by DL Collin Gage, they look stout once again. And Arp…well, this may just be Arp’s year. Coach Dale Irwin welcomes back eight starters, and none more important than OL/DL Tyrone Hunt, a key starter on both sides of the ball. He’ll plow the road for RB Marcalas Johnson, which helps with their grind-it-out style. For some reason, this one has low-scoring slugfest written all over it for me.
Tepper’s pick: Tatum 24, Arp 20
Mart (0-0) at Teague (0-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
My friends at 1660 AM ESPN Central Texas – where I’m a guest every Thursday afternoon around 12:15pm – are rightfully geeked up for this one, and so am I. For one, Mart looks like a runaway freight train in Class 1A: between do-it-all superstar QB DeNerian Thomas, sturdy LB Collin Nail and the so wonderfully named WR Walker Love, this is a loaded, experienced, explosive, [insert another synonym for awesome] team. And they’ll have their hands full in Week Zero when they tackle Teague and, more specifically, try to tackle QB Austin Skinner. After throwing for almost 3,500 yards last year, he’s back with WR Aaron Mitchell – who caught 81 balls for a ridiculous 1,395 yards and 24 scores last year – in tow. I do think Mart has the better chance of winning a title, but will the Teague passing attack and just being deeper as a 2A school push the Lions to a win?
Tepper’s pick: Mart 37, Teague 36
Lubbock Cooper (0-0) at Idalou (0-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
For no reason other than that I want to, I will preview this game in rhyme:
Things look mighty good for Idalou
With RB Koal Houchin, and DE Kleat Smith, too
But don’t overlook Cooper’s Pirates, you see
With their WR-turned-QB Stanton Keane
The difference in this game, you should know
Will not be who runs, or who throws
It’ll be which team plays the best defense
That belongs to the Wildcats, hence…
Tepper’s pick: Idalou 27, Lubbock Cooper 22
Pecos (0-0) at Alpine (0-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
We don’t talk too much about our small-school friends out in way, way West Texas, but both of these squads are going to be worth paying attention to. For Pecos, it’s all about that defense – LB Ignacio Rodriguez is one of West Texas’ best, and LB AJ Flores is an excellent complement. For Alpine, you’ll want to keep an eye on the Bucks’ super-stud QB Evan Moore, who threw for 2,000 yards, ran for another 850 and also played outstanding defense in the secondary last year. Can he slice and dice the Pecos defense, or will the Eagles stand tall?
Tepper’s pick: Alpine 30, Pecos 23
Other 2A Games To Watch…
Daingerfield (0-0) at Gladewater (0-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
Tepper’s pick: Daingerfield 23, Gladewater 20
Waco Connally (0-0) at Cameron Yoe (0-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
Tepper’s pick: Cameron Yoe 41, Waco Connally 24
Sweetwater (0-0) at Eastland (0-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
Tepper’s pick: Eastland 27, Sweetwater 18
Clarksville (0-0) at Hughes Springs (0-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
Tepper’s pick: Hughes Springs 31, Clarksville 17
Elysian Fields (0-0) at Corrigan-Camden (0-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
Tepper’s pick: Corrigan-Camden 27, Elysian Fields 22
Farmersville (0-0) at Cooper (0-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
Tepper’s pick: Cooper 35, Farmersville 24
Kerens (0-0) at Edgewood (0-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
Tepper’s pick: Edgewood 36, Kerens 24
McGregor (0-0) at Goldthwaite (0-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
Now these are the type of non-district games we like to see: a Top 10 team from a lower classification taking on a really good team that’s bigger than them. Goldthwaite, starting off at No. 10 in our 1A DI rankings, will have that wishbone offense up and rolling again, with RB Dakota Perry carrying the bulk of the load. But the real star for the Eagles will be DL Jaggar Parrish and what should be a very solid front seven defensively. They’ll be charged with the task of slowing down McGregor QB Troy Allison, a 2,000-yard passer who’s about as complete a quarterback as you’ll find in 2A DI. It’s an interesting clash of styles – wishbone vs. spread – and what usually happens in these games? The team with the superior defense wins out.
Tepper’s pick: Goldthwaite 35, McGregor 27
Hallettsville (0-0) at Ganado (0-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
Nobody has ever accused Ganado coach Jimmy Thompson of backing down from a fight. The latest example: his Indians open up against state-ranked 2A power Hallettsville, a squad that has people from southeast Texas wondering if the Brahmas will bring home a crown come December. That defense is going to be really something special, with DB Dalton Herrington, LB Justin Reeves and LB Dyllan Kerr. If the offense – which features the return of injured QB Nate Kowalik and a slew of receiving options – lives up, this is a legit state title contender, and has a chance to go 10-0 in back to back seasons. But Ganado ain’t just lying down; RB/DB Clay Vesely is a fantastic two-way player who leads on both sides of the ball, and OL/DL Will Malek will take care of business up front. Ganado picked a fight with a big one in Week Zero; can they slay the giant?
Tepper’s pick: Hallettsville 27, Ganado 20
Chilton (0-0) at Thorndale (0-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
DCTF anointed Chilton as “that team you’re probably not paying attention to that you really should be” this year, ranking them No. 3 in the preseason 1A DII poll. Why? Well, QB Javarius Young is a magician with the ball, and the defense brings back eight starters. Pretty easy to understand, right? They’ve got a chance tonight to really turn some heads when they travel to Thorndale, which harbors its own outstanding signal-caller (Riley Schaefer) as well as a stout defense led by LB Lorenzo Llana. Chilton will probably have the most dynamic player on the field in Young; can the Pirates prove worthy (at least right now) of DCTF’s preseason praise?
Tepper’s pick: Chilton 36, Thorndale 32
Munday (0-0) at Windthorst (0-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
The state title defense begins tonight for Munday, as does the post-Dee Paul era, but coach Patrick Corcoran isn’t worried. And why should he be? He’s still got state title game Defensive MVP DE L.J. Collier, a menace off the edge, to lead what should still be a very strong defense. The key, of course, will be replacing the playmaking skills of Paul, and that responsibility will fall to new QB Alfonso Nunez and possibly to junior RB Zac Edgar. For Windthorst, it’s been a weird couple of seasons – the Trojans have fluctuated between outstanding and average – but with WR Hayden Hoffman and QB Chandler King back to lead the offense, coach Chris Tackett has reason for optimism.
Tepper’s pick: Munday 34, Windthorst 24
Booker (0-0) at Spearman (0-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
Pardon my gushing, but HUNTER LILE PLAYS TONIGHT! HUNTER LILE PLAYS TONIGHT! I detailed Lile’s prolific passing in the offseason but here’s the Cliff’s Notes version: the Booker QB could very well be the most prolific quarterback in Texas high school football history by the time it’s all said and done. The junior will take aim first at Spearman, which looks like it’s in rebuilding mode (just four starters back) but does bring back talented NG Sergio Guzman and RB Tanner Baird. Booker’s probably the favorite here; the bigger intrigue are what kind of numbers Lile puts up as he begins the second half of his already prolific high school career.
Tepper’s pick: Booker 44, Spearman 32
Other 1A Games To Watch…
Tyler Grace Community (0-0) at San Augustine (0-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
Tepper’s pick: Tyler Grace Community 25, San Augustine 23
Rio Grande City Grulla (0-0) at La Villa (0-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
Tepper’s pick: Rio Grande City 37, La Villa 30
Springlake-Earth (0-0) at New Deal (0-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
Tepper’s pick: Springlake Earth 26, New Deal 22
Joaquin (0-0) at Tenaha (0-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
Tepper’s pick: Tenaha 40, Joaquin 21
Moody (0-0) at Bremond (0-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
Tepper’s pick: Bremond 44, Moody 21
Brackettville (0-0) at Sabinal (0-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
Tepper’s pick: Sabinal 31, Brackettville 18
Monahans (0-0) at Midland Christian (0-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
It’s funny: when most schools, especially private schools, lose a talent like RB Christian Whigham, there’s talk about how big the step back will be. For Midland Christian – who had to play basically the second half of their state title season without the injured Whigham – that’s not a concern. Not with QB Mason McClendon and a bevy of other talent back to lead the way. They’ll open up their title defense against 3A Monahans, a team that has an eye on overtaking Abilene Wylie for District 4-3A supremacy, and with players like two-way star WR/DB Junior Morales and undersized-but-quick LB Bryan Venegas heading the way, that’s a real possibility. This is an interesting public-vs.-private game, and should give us a good barometer for where both of these teams really are.
Tepper’s pick: Midland Christian 33, Monahans 20
Henderson (0-0) at Plano Prestonwood (0-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
It’s another year of pretty absurd talent at Plano Prestonwood. The Lions said goodbye to Mike Mitchell (off to Ohio State), but welcome back one of the private school ranks’ most talented secondaries, led by DBs Jake Reed and Austin Tankersley. For Henderson, the Phil Castles era begins tonight as the coach, in from a successful run at Corsicana, takes over a Lions program that has established itself as one of East Texas’ best. There aren’t the eye-popping stat-grabbers on this squad this year, but WR Isaiah Tre Hollins and RB Jordan Dickeson provide enough firepower to make them, once again, a threat in the District of Doom, 16-3A. These are the kind of non-district games that make Week Zero so much fun; I just think Prestonwood will have too much depth for Henderson to overcome in Castles’ debut.
Tepper’s pick: Plano Prestonwood 38, Henderson 28
Houston St. Pius X (0-0) at Houston Kinkaid (0-0), 7 p.m. Friday
The two most prominent Houston-area private school football factories square off in what should be a prospect-hound’s dream. For St. Pius, even without star QB (and now Minnesota Twin) Kohl Stewart, there’s still the matter of LB Corinthians Walker, WR Brian Newman and CB Chase Fontana. For Kinkaid, I mean, where do you start? Well, you start with WR dynamo Mavin Saunders, then move on QB J.T. Granato, and then on to DB Thomas Dillon…what I’m saying is that those recruiting sites that track every little thing a recruit says should probably just set up camp here.
Tepper’s pick: Houston St. Pius X 37, Houston Kinkaid 24
Other Private School Games to Watch…
Springtown (0-0) at Argyle Liberty Christian (0-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
Tepper’s pick: Argyle Liberty Christian 36, Springtown 20
San Antonio Christian (0-0) at Austin St. Michael’s (0-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
Tepper’s pick: Austin St. Michael’s 41, San Antonio Christian 28
Whitesboro (0-0) at Fort Worth Christian (0-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
Tepper’s pick: Fort Worth Christian 47, Whitesboro 41
For our six-man preview, we go to the man himself, Leman Saunders of SixManFootball.com.
What games are you going to? That was a question I always asked my good friend Don Hardin. Now I ask you what game are you going to? I, favoring the six-man game over the mess of a crowded field, would be hard pressed not to travel to Hico for their kick-off classic because of the great match-ups they will have this year.
Hico Super Saturday Line-Up: Saturday 8/31
11am Gordon v Dallas The Covenant – Gordon had some offseason drama which caused some gloom for Gordon fans but it seems that the cloud disposition of the Longhorn fans was soon blown away by the hire of alum Joe Kostiha as their new head coach and then seeing the kids show up and respond for 2-a-days practices has dispelled most of those dark thoughts about the 2013 season…but they still have to face Dallas the Covenant for their first game and many consider The Covenant to be the best six-man team in the state…and the nation. My pick The Covenant but Gordon will make it a good game.
1pm Valley v Abbott – Two highly ranked teams in this one. Abbott after making a trip to the state game and coming up short will have a chip on their shoulder to start the 2013 campaign…but offseason injury may have hampered their bid for another title run. Valley is always solid year round and may have the best player on the field in this game with quarterback Ketch Smith. My pick Valley.
3pm Strawn v Ira – Strawn is locked and loaded and ready for a championship run in DII had a great offseason with players participating in many 6-on-6 tournaments and working out on their own time, Ira, who always seems to play great football right from the start of the season (including past games at the Hico Classic) will have to replace the States All-Time Career rushing yards record holder Lance Morris…but that is all they lost and many are thinking that this Ira squad will be better without him…personally I think this game will be the best one out of the Hico lineup. My pick Strawn.
5pm Jonesboro v Walnut Springs – The local area matchup game features two perennial playoff teams both of whom may be rebuilding a little after last season, Jonesboro should be the favorite and will likely have this game in hand start to finish, but it will be a good gage for Walnut Springs to see where they are at and what kind of squad they will field this season. My pick Jonesboro.
5 Other Games Worth Traveling To…
But some people can’t make the journey to Hico…or stand the heat of afternoon games…so here are a few other games on my radar for Week 0.
8/30 7:30pm @Robert Lee v Meeteese, WY – yes an out of state team travels to Texas for the first game on Robert Lee’s new field…I believe this is the first WY v TX six-man game…can the boys from Wyoming handle the Texas heat? Can Robert Lee fill the offensive void left by graduating their All-State spread back/quarterback Justin Gartman? My pick Robert Lee…GO TEXAS!
8/30 7:30pm @Richland Springs v May – Richland Springs is riding a 45 game winning streak and has won 3 state titles in a row…but now the pendulum that swings wide across the world of small schools state wide has finally made it’s pass over Richland Springs…the passing of the pendulum bringing with it low enrollment numbers. Sporting their smallest roster number wise since Burkhart and Rogers have been there…and maybe even long before that, the 2013 season is going to be one of the toughest ones for the Coyotes and it starts early in Week 0 with May who is a solid smash mouth team in the toughest district in Division I and possibly all of six-man. Rumor is one of RS key players is nursing an injury…can the Coyotes keep the streak going??? My pick Richland Springs pulls it out but May scares the Coyote faithful enough to put some grey hairs in their pelts.
8/31 8:00pm Water Valley @ Grandfalls-Royalty – The Dave Campbell’s preseason DII #1 team Grandfalls v the DC preseason DI #2 Water Valley…it is Speed (GF) v Power (WV)and a great test right out of the gate for both teams. With a high school enrollment in the 20s I am pulling for the David in this David v Goliath matchup. One thing is for sure, that long drive to Grandfalls will be worth it! My pick Grandfalls in a back and forth game.
8/30 7:30pm Groom @ White Deer – Groom will be a tough team this season and should fight it out for a district title with Motley County. White Deer is playing an outlaw six-man schedule in 2013 and this will be their first go at the new game…will they be able to adjust to it this early in the season…it’s unlikely but they will probably score some points and the kids will have a lot more fun playing this fast wide open game and hope and energy will be higher for The Bucks come Week 1…and I bet that any doubts about making the move to six-man will likely be erased by Week 10. My pick Groom.
8/31 5:30pm @McCamey Kickoff Classic Marfa v Klondike – Marfa in their second season of six-man football faces off with a good Klondike team who is favored in this game…but I suspect Marfa may end up the victor in this battle and spark a good season for the Shorthorns. My pick Marfa.
Greg Tepper is the associate editor of Dave Campbell's Texas Football and TexasFootball.com.