5A/4A Preview: Week 4
The 12 biggest games in Class 5A and 4A across Texas.
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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!
It's Friday night in Texas, which means tonight belongs to high school Football! DCTF's Greg Tepper previews the 12 biggest games in 5A and 4A this weekend (plus some games that just missed the cut). That way, you know which ones you should really have your eye on.
Just Missed The Cut…
Mesquite (2-2, 0-0) at Longview (3-1, 0-0)
Tepper’s pick: Longview 34, Mesquite 22
San Antonio Stevens (2-2, 1-1) at San Antonio Brandeis (3-1, 2-0)
Tepper’s pick: SA Brandeis 39, SA Stevens 21
Georgetown (3-1, 0-2) at Manor (4-0, 1-0)
Tepper’s pick: Manor 29, Georgetown 21
Austin Westlake (2-2, 0-0) at Austin Bowie (4-0, 0-0)
Tepper’s pick: Austin Westlake 33, Austin Bowie 31
Vidor (2-1, 0-0) at Nederland (2-1, 0-0)
Tepper’s pick: Nederland 35, Vidor 21
Channelview (4-0, 0-0) at Galena Park North Shore (4-0, 0-0)
Tepper’s pick: Galena Park North Shore 32, Channelview 18
San Angelo Central (4-0, 2-0) at Abilene (1-3, 1-1)
Tepper’s pick: San Angelo Central 44, Abilene 28
The Top 12 Games
12. Plano (3-0) at Hebron (2-2)
Well lookee there! It’s the site of Fox Football Friday Powered by DCTF, airing live from 7-11pm on Fox Sports Southwest! My television common law spouses Jeff Power and Angela Hamann will once again put up with me as we bring you four hours of continuous high school football coverage from across the state, with a special emphasis on this game LIVE from the Woodshed! So tune in or set your DVR! Last week, a bug landed on me and I freaked out. How will I embarrass my family this week? Only one way to find out!
Anyways, onto this game, which is shaping up to be one of the most pronounced defensive struggles in the state. Both of these defenses are flying right now. Plano just gave up their first points of the season in their last game – a 35-7 win over Garland Naaman Forest – and LBs David Griffith and Myles Solsberry have been front and center. They started with back-to-back shutouts for the first time since 1986…and you know how Plano finished that year? As champs. But they’d better be great, because the Woodshed will be rockin’ with Hebron’s outstanding defense, led by all-everything DB Jamal Adams and LB Gavin Burford. The onus is on the offenses to break through, and while both have battled bouts of inconsistency, there is hope on either side – RB Treyvon Hughes for Hebron, converted WR-turned-QB Mitchell Hansen for Plano. 21 points really might be enough in this one.
Tepper’s pick: TO BE REVEALED ON FOX FOOTBALL FRIDAY, 7-11PM, FOX SPORTS SOUTHWEST
11. Boerne Champion (3-0, 0-0) at San Antonio Alamo Heights (2-1, 0-0)
Down in San Antonio, there’s something potentially special brewing at Champion. This may be one of SA’s more underrated squads, and it’s because of that offense – RB Travis Pospisil has been great, as have QB Alex Flores and WR Dillon Manz. The defense has only been OK, but with the offense soaring, it hasn’t been an issue yet. For Alamo Heights, there are two ways to view things: they’re either flying high (after all, 2-1 ain’t nothing to turn your nose up at), or they’re untested (their one tough opponent, San Antonio O’Connor, beat them). There’s talent on the defensive side with DE Juan Alvarez and DL Ben McSween, but it’ll be up to the offense led by RB Byron Proctor to keep up with Champion. Is Champion for real? With district play kicking off, we’re about to find out.
Tepper’s pick: Boerne Champion 31, San Antonio Alamo Heights 30
10. Abilene Cooper (2-2, 1-1) at Odessa (2-2, 1-1)
Ah, the Little Southwest Conference never fails to intrigue. Cooper righted the ship last week, beating Lubbock Coronado, and we’re starting to get a bead on exactly who they are. When the Cougars play defense, they win; when they don’t, they don’t. That seems simple, but it’s the truth. This team really appears to be missing DB Cordell Dorsey, who ran into legal trouble, so it’s up to DB KV Hazlett and LB William Coleman to lead. We know the offense with QB Lorenzo Joe and RB Trey Dye will hum; can the defense step up? Odessa’s been a bit of a surprise so far, but fell back to earth last week with a shellacking at the hands of San Angelo Central. The defense is usually the strength of this team, with LB Edgar Contreras and DB Cameron Reeves, but the offense – led by RB CJ Eddison – has to get churning early to put the pressure on Cooper. With both teams at 1-1 in district, this is a critical game.
Tepper’s pick: Abilene Cooper 37, Odessa 24
9. San Antonio Madison (3-1, 0-0) at San Antonio Churchill (3-1, 0-0)
Back down to the Alamo City…what do we make of Madison’s tumble to Smithson Valley last week? One bad game or a harbinger of things to come? We know how explosive the offense can be with QB Cody Ennis and WRs Byron Daniels and JaMichael Brown, but the defense got housed last week, giving up 610 yards to Smithson Valley. They’ll go up against a balanced attack from Churchill this week, as QB Nate Pearson, WR Dimitri Flowers and RB Nick Smisek give the Chargers plenty of weapons. The defense has been consistently good for coach Glenn Hill’s squad. In all, Madison’s probably the better side here, but will they play like it after their blowout loss?
Tepper’s pick: San Antonio Madison 38, San Antonio Churchill 31
8. Austin Vandegrift (3-1, 0-0) at Cedar Park Vista Ridge (3-1, 0-0)
Vandegrift’s defense has been the barometer for the Vipers this season – as it goes, so go the Vipers. The front seven, anchored by DL Gunner LInhart and LB Elliott Byrd, has had spells of inconsistency, but as in last week’s 41-0 win over Anderson, it can be dominant. The offense, on the other hand, has been relatively consistent, with dual-threat QB Jamie Hudson doing most of the damage. Now they must travel to face an up-and-coming Vista Ridge squad whose defense has been a star all season. LBs Michael Thomas and Brett Burrington lead a unit that is pretty much solely responsible for their 3-1 start. Why? Because the offense, even with do-it-all Stedman Mayberry and QB Matthew Snow, hasn’t broken out yet. Is this the week they break through? Or will Vandegrift’s defense show once again that it’s ready for the fight?
Tepper’s pick: Austin Vandegrift 28, Cedar Park Vista Ridge 25
7. Edinburg Economedes (3-1, 1-1) at Mission Sharyland (3-0, 1-0)
I’ve consistently said from the beginning of the season that Mission Sharyland looks like the Valley’s best squad this year, and I’m sticking to it. The offense continues to roll behind QB Lance Madden and WR Christian Martinez, and the defense – the relative question mark on the Rattlers – has been solid, led by DT David Aguayo and LB Joe Garza. But you could argue that Economedes will be their toughest test yet, especially slowing down QB Luis Alvarez. The Econ defense, on the other hand, is a problem – last week’s close call to Edinburg Vela was largely due to the defense’s inability to get off the field. Can LB Aliver Garza and company step up, or will Sharyland continue to roll?
Tepper’s pick: Mission Sharyland 41, Edinburg Economedes 27
6. Tyler Lee (3-1, 0-0) at Mesquite Horn (4-0, 0-0)
I’m comfortable saying that we haven’t talked enough about Mesquite Horn this year. The Jaguars – remember, under new coach Mike Overton, in from West Mesquite – are rolling, and it’s largely thanks to the offensive duo of QB Destri White and RB Justyn Olyphant. They’re lighting opponents up, and Tyler Lee looks like a prime candidate to be lit up; as good as the Red Raiders have been this year, it’s been because of the offense of QB Zach Hall and RB Tavon Wesley, not their defense. But…I mean, there’s Zach Hall and Tavon Wesley! This one could turn into a shootout unless one team finds a defensive magic bullet, but in the end, Horn’s defense, especially at home, looks like the difference in this suddenly-very-fun District 12-5A matchup.
Tepper’s pick: Mesquite Horn 42, Tyler Lee 35
5. Cedar Park (3-1, 0-0) at Leander (2-2, 0-0)
You know it’s a big week when this game barely cracks the Top 5. DCTF’s preseason pick for the two best teams in District 25-4A do battle tonight, and this game is shaping up to be much different than we would’ve thought before the year. For one: Cedar Park’s defense, once thought to be the team’s strength, has only been OK this season, though LB Thomas Middleton and DB Ryan Lemmons’ unit appear to be rounding into form. For another…man, we just don’t know what Leander is. The defense has looked outstanding behind DE Michael Epley and LB Martin Nwakamma, and it’s looked very average. The offense has had flashes of brilliance with QB Brandon Hopp and RB Darion McClatcher, and it’s had total power outages. It depends on which Leander team shows up, but the strongest, most consistent unit on the field will be the Cedar Park offense, led by QB Nate Grimm. That should be the difference.
Tepper’s pick: Cedar Park 38, Leander 31
4. Port Lavaca Calhoun (4-0, 0-0) at Corpus Christi Calallen (3-0, 0-0)
Well now we’re talkin’! With all due respect to Gregory-Portland and some other teams, this is pretty clearly the District 30-4A title game, and it may be over in under two hours. Why? Because these teams are going to run, run, run, run, run. Calhoun is churning out an outrageous 409.8 rushing yards per game, behind the big offensive line and runners Jakorious Williams, Hunter Boerm and Brandon Smithwick. Calallen, known forever for its running game, is still pounding thanks to RB Chris Price, but they’ve actually found a little bit of offensive diversity thanks to QB Derek Scheible. But that’s overlooking the true star for Calallen: the defense. LBs Kade Young and Trevor Moses lead a fearsome Wildcats defense that’s allowed just 28 points all season (all to Flour Bluff). Can Calhoun, led by DB Taylor Lee and coming off its best defensive effort of the year, match them stop for stop? This is an absolutely fascinating contest that will go a long way toward determining the 30-4A champ.
Tepper’s pick: Corpus Christi Calallen 36, Port Lavaca Calhoun 22
3. Crosby (4-0, 2-0) at Humble Summer Creek (3-0, 1-0)
It’s a battle of DCTF darlings – one new, one old. We’ve been driving the Summer Creek train for some time now, ranking them 7th in our preseason 4A poll, and they haven’t done anything to dissuade us. The defense has been as advertised, with LB Dakota Allen and DB Byron Francis heading up a unit that’s allowing just 214 yards per game so far. The offense hasn’t exploded yet, but it’s only a matter of time for QB Aaron Sharp and RB Jordan Braden. Crosby, on the other hand, is our new football crush; the offense has reached absurd heights so far, with the Walter brothers – QB Aston and RB Austin – doing most of the heavy lifting. Eventually, though, the defense is going to be needed, and that’s where we wonder about Crosby – a close call to Dayton last week has us a little spooked. LB Chase Nix and DB Henrix Weishampel will be charged with holding down Summer Creek’s attack. Come for the Crosby offense against the Summer Creek defense; stay for what looks to be a fantastic finish.
Tepper’s pick: Humble Summer Creek 29, Crosby 27
2. Carthage (4-0) at Whitehouse (4-0)
Out in East Texas, all eyes will be on Whitehouse for one of the biggest clashes of the season. Now, it’s important to note: this is non-district. Carthage is our No. 1 team in 3A; Whitehouse is our No. 5 team in 4A. So does this make or break a season? No, not at all. But boy it’s going to be fun to watch. You have Whitehouse’s stupefying offense, triggered by QB Pat Mahomes, who has already thrown for 1,566 yards and 17 touchdowns. They are a complete juggernaut right now with WRs Jake Parker, Coleman Patterson and Jaylon Dews hauling in pass after pass after pass. Then, you have the Carthage squad that’s looking like a complete team. QB Blake Bogenschutz has been fabulous; WR/DB Tee Goree is doing big things on both sides of the ball; RB Tevin Pipkin is getting healthy and helping to dominate. For both sides, the question marks lie on the defensive side. Can Carthage DL Mario McClain put pressure on Mahomes? Can LB Joseph Klein lead Whitehouse to enough stops to get his offense back on the field? A key factor here: Whitehouse’s depth. Simply by being a 4A program (and nearly twice the size of Carthage), they’ll have a considerable depth advantage. That could pay dividends in the fourth quarter. This is can’t-miss football out in East Texas, and if you have a chance to go to this one, I’m pretty jealous.
Tepper’s pick: Whitehouse 48, Carthage 38
1. Coppell (3-0) at Allen (4-0)
Listen: I know there is a contingency out there that is tired of hearing about Allen. Trust me: I’m getting tired of previewing them every week. But when they schedule the absolute murderer’s row of non-district games…what choice do I have? The finale of their non-conference slate of doom is a big one, as the Eagles host the only team to beat them last year: Coppell, who edged them 27-24 in overtime. And this Coppell team…well, it really may be better than last year’s squad. The running game of RBs Charles West and Gavin McDaniel has exploded, and that defense is living up to the hype, led by DE Solomon Thomas and LB John Herubin. But as much better as Coppell is, you could say the same thing about Allen. QB Kyler Murray has hit another gear, WR Cole Carter has emerged as one of DFW’s best receivers, and the defense of LBs Tay Evans and Christian Sam is shutting people down week by week. Here’s the key to the game: can Coppell run the ball? They’re averaging 284 yards on the ground per game, but Allen’s allowing just 93.3 yards on the ground. If Allen can force QB Skyler Bonneau to beat them, they’ll probably win; but if Coppell can continue grinding out first downs and keep Kyler Murray off the field, that’s their best shot. Expect a classic.
Tepper’s pick: Allen 32, Coppell 24
Greg Tepper is the associate editor of Dave Campbell's Texas Football and TexasFootball.com.