An expansive look at the best small-school action this weekend.
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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, Angela Hamann 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 biggest games across Class 3A, Class 2A, Class 1A, Six-Man and the private school ranks. You won't want to miss these games!
Gainesville (4-0) at Vernon (5-0)
Raise your hand if you figured that this would be the game we previewed first this deep into the season. If you have your hand raised, you are a liar. Gainesville’s defense has been fantastic thanks to Jonathan Mendez and Demarius Farr, but it’s the running game led by Adam Berryman – and the pace of the game at which that dictates – that steers the ship. Vernon’s a surprise undefeated team, and the running game of Orlando Hayman and Danny Valverde (combined 1,500 yards and 20 TDs) has a lot to do with it. But have the Lions been tested? This will be their toughest game yet, but a big defensive effort from LB Corrie Luster and DL Zach McMahan could turn the tide.
Tepper’s pick: Vernon 37, Gainesville 35
Gilmer (5-0, 1-0) at Tyler Chapel Hill (3-2, 1-0)
Let’s take a moment to recognize Tyler Chapel Hill. The 2011 3A DI state champions had a miserable 2012, but have bounced back well thanks to the running game with Wesley Thompson and QB Andrew Black. But quite frankly, there may be no team in 3A that can beat Gilmer right now. Whether it’s QB Tanner Barr, RB Kris Boyd, LB Josh Walker, WR Devondrick Dixon or anyone else, the Buckeyes just have so many different ways to beat you. Unless Chapel Hill’s defense shores up in a hurry, the Buckeyes will continue their march in the District of Doom.
Tepper’s pick: Gilmer 41, Tyler Chapel Hill 24
Silsbee (3-1, 1-0) at Buna (4-1, 1-0)
Down in District 21-3A, there’s something brewing. We figured it would be West Orange-Stark, Silsbee, and everyone else. But Buna has forged into the discussion thanks to the tough running of RB Matthew Biddle and some really surprising defense, allowing just 13 points per game. Is that enough to officially vault to the top tier of the district by taking down Silsbee? QB Patrick Reed has been as advertised, but the defense, led by DT Seth Adams, has had fits and starts all season. At home, in front of a rowdy crowd, Buna has a chance to pretty much solidify itself as a contender, at least in the district.
Tepper’s pick: Silsbee 33, Buna 28
Bellville (3-2, 0-1) at El Campo (3-0, 0-0)
Two great games in District 25-3A (with Sealy-Wharton being the other), but in the end, I went with this one because, well, I still think these are the two best teams in the district. El Campo’s definitely lost a step offensively from last year’s state title run, but the defense fueled by LB B.J. Flagg has not; they’ve been worth the price of admission. Bellville’s offense has been just fine thanks to the sturdy running game of Bronson Allen and Lakeiath Nunn, but there has to be some defense somewhere. The good news about this one: it’ll be over in about two hours, considering both teams are going to pound the ball on the ground. The question is, who plays the better defense tonight?
Tepper’s pick: El Campo 29, Bellville 28
Other 3A Games to Watch…
Pittsburg (2-2) at Palestine (3-2)
Tepper’s pick: Palestine 41, Pittsburg 34
Melissa (3-1) at Lubbock Estacado (2-3)
Tepper’s pick: Melissa 44, Lubbock Estacado 34
Decatur (4-1) at Alvarado (2-3)
Tepper’s pick: Decatur 39, Alvarado 36
Sealy (3-2, 1-0) at Wharton (5-0, 1-0)
Tepper’s pick: Wharton 40, Sealy 28
New Boston (5-0, 1-0) at Daingerfield (2-3, 1-0)
So, Daingerfield’s season has been pretty lackluster so far. 1-3 in non-district play will do it to you, especially when the defense has had trouble stopping anyone. But hope springs eternal in district play, and boy, they have a chance to make everyone forget about that pesky non-district slate tonight when New Boston comes to down. One of 2A’s very best teams so far, any criticism of the Lions would qualify as nitpicking at this point: the defense has been fabulous behind DB Jawaun Johnson and LB Wes Teague; the offense has hummed with the running game of RB Quinn Dedmon and sophomore Devontae Wade; and, well, they’ve just been great. Can Daingerfield keep up? First things first: the best defensive effort of the year is needed from the likes of LB Calvin Bryant and DB Cory Smith. Then, QB Keris Alexander has to get back to playing like the Keris Alexander we saw last year. And even then, it may not be enough. New Boston’s really good.
Tepper’s pick: New Boston 34, Daingerfield 24
Waskom (4-0, 1-0) at Paul Pewitt (3-1, 1-0)
Full disclosure: Waskom has perhaps my favorite player in the entire state. His name is June Bug Johnson. Let me repeat that: Waskom has a quarterback named June Bug Johnson. And he’s pretty great. June Bug has been a big reason why Waskom is 4-0, especially with his feet, but he’s not alone: the Wildcats are running wild on folks with RB Kevin Johnson and the aforementioned June Bug Johnson, and the defense, led by LB Chan Arnie, has been devastating. For Paul Pewitt, it’ll take one of the better games of the year from RB Zane Mackay and a defense that has been good-not-great. District 9-2A DII appears to be wide open, though Hughes Springs may have something to say about that; can Waskom and its quarterback June Bug Johnson take control of it tonight? Also: June Bug Johnson.
Tepper’s pick: Waskom 36, Paul Pewitt 20
Newton (4-0, 1-0) at Kirbyville (3-1, 1-0)
You want a real, live, slap-you-in-the-face mega-matchup in 2A? You’ve got it. Newton is still the No. 1 team in our 2A DI rankings, and why not? The Eagles haven’t given us any reason to doubt them, especially the way RB Kevin Shorter is running and the way LB Anthony Hadnot is fueling that defense. Can Kirbyville put a dent in them and, in turn, make District 10-2A DI interesting? They have to keep the score low – this is a defense-first team, yes, with DB Tevin Samuel and DE Monte Diggles, but also because the offense isn’t built for big points. Keep Newton under 30, and Kirbyville’s in business, but that’s easier said than done.
Tepper’s pick: Newton 37, Kirbyville 20
Centerville (4-0, 1-0) at Crawford (4-0, 1-0)
With all due respect to Rosebud-Lott and maybe Buffalo, I’m comfortable calling this the District 11-2A DII championship game. This is, a lot like Newton-Kirbyville, a game that will be dictated by what the score looks like. If it’s high-scoring, that benefits Crawford, where explosive WR Colton Adamick and QB Wyatt Griffith can really light it up. If it’s low-scoring, that benefits Centerville, with that devastating D led by LB Tyler Brown and DL Kurtis Parker. What’s more, that’ll allow RB Tully Pickens to dictate the pace. This is a tight one, but I almost always lean toward the superior defense in a game like this. Alas…
Tepper’s pick: Centerville 27, Crawford 21
Other 2A Games to Watch…
Lago Vista (2-2, 0-1) at McGregor (4-0, 1-0)
Tepper’s pick: McGregor 34, Lago Vista 28
New Deal (5-0) at Slaton (3-1)
Tepper’s pick: New Deal 39, Slaton 31
Hughes Springs (4-0, 1-0) at New Diana (3-1, 0-1)
Tepper’s pick: Hughes Springs 44, New Diana 32
Gruver (4-0) at Shamrock (4-0)
This is the game we all expected to highlight the 1A slate this week, right? If you’re not up to speed on Gruver, it’s OK, but get up to speed quickly. The defense has been on fire for the Greyhounds, with LB Johnny Terrazas and DB Victor Guereca taking the lead. And the offense, predicated on the big play, has been hitting said big plays, with WRs Beau Blankenship and WR Carson Williams making opponents pay. Can Shamrock match them? We wonder if they’re for real, because the offense has been humming behind RB Austin Hall and QB Tyler Whitely, while the defense has been doing its part as well behind NG Trent Angton. This will be Shamrock’s biggest test to date.
Tepper’s pick: Gruver 42, Shamrock 28
Seymour (5-0) at Stamford (4-1)
So, Stamford lost last week. Big. But it was to Cisco, one of the very best teams in 2A, so there’s no shame in that. The key is to make sure that one loss doesn’t beat you twice, and make no mistake about it: Seymour is more than capable of beating Stamford on its own. With the fantastic front seven of LBs Davis Carter and Balatzar Castro, Seymour’s defense has been fantastic, while dual-threat QB Zach Barton has been doing his thing. Can Stamford shake off the effects of last week’s loss and play up to snuff? We know how talented they are – from QB Bo Wimberley to superstar WR/DB James Washington to emerging DL Zai Zai Smith. It’s a matter of focus.
Tepper’s pick: Stamford 39, Seymour 21
Bremond (5-0) at Bosqueville (4-1)
To central Texas we go, where it seems like we’re writing about a big game involving Bosqueville every week. You know the deal by now: QB CJ Collins is fantastic, RB Greyson Gonzalez has been a great complement, it’s all about whether or not the defense led by DL Trent Andrews plays as well as it’s capable of. But here’s Bremond, unbeaten, looking fantastic behind one of the best defenses in the state. How good? Here are their point totals allowed from their first five games: 2, 13, 6, 0 and 14. Yeah, that’ll do. LB Harrison Hull and DL Colby Wilganowski do the heavy lifting, while the run-first offense of James Jones and Josh Anderson is key to the whole thing working. This is a non-district clash of central Texas titans, and regardless of who pulls this one out, we’ll see a lot more of these two teams in the weeks to come.
Tepper’s pick: Bosqueville 39, Bremond 35
Mart (2-3) at Chilton (5-0)
So…is it time for Mart to worry? That’s three losses now, albeit to a strong private school team (Dallas St. Mark’s), a very strong 2A team (Rogers) and a traditionally strong 1A powerhouse (Goldthwaite). But the defense is beginning to be a bit of an issue, and that’s not good going up against one of 1A’s very best teams in Chilton. This defense has been relentless behind DB DeMarcus Simpson and DL Charles Lyons, and the running game of QB Javarius Young and RB Charles Simpson has led the way to an unbeaten start. Can QB DeNerian Thomas foster some magic and, perhaps more importantly, can LB Collin Nail rally the defense to what would be a resounding win for Mart? This is still non-district play, so a win isn’t critical, but…well, nobody wants to be 2-4.
Tepper’s pick: Chilton 31, Mart 25
Other 1A Games to Watch…
Celeste (3-2) at Detroit (2-3)
Tepper’s pick: Detroit 31, Celeste 22
Shiner (2-2) at Weimar (2-1)
Tepper’s pick: Shiner 27, Weimar 20
Tenaha (3-1) at San Augustine (1-3)
Tepper’s pick: Tenaha 42, San Augustine 31
San Angelo TLC (4-0, 1-0) at Menard (3-1, 1-0)
Tepper’s pick: San Angelo TLC 45, Menard 31
Anson (5-0) at Tahoka (3-2)
Tepper’s pick: Anson 44, Tahoka 22
McCamey (2-3, 1-0) at Wink (3-2, 0-1)
Tepper’s pick: Wink 34, McCamey 23
Trinity Christian-Addison (4-0, 0-0) at Fort Worth Nolan Catholic (3-2, 1-0)
Not just the best private school game in the state, but one of the very best games in the state, period. This one’s for TAPPS Division I District I position, and it couldn’t be more fun. You have TCA Addison, with one of the private school ranks’ biggest offenses behind QB Christian Hutzler and his bevy of receivers led by WR Will Troop. The defense has been solid so far, but not spectacular. For FW Nolan Catholic, it’s a lot more conservative. Win with the defense lf LBs Myles Murray and Brennan Murnane, and grind people down with RB Luke Alves. Here’s a key: if TCA-Addison gets up by two scores or so, that’s bad news for Nolan; they’re not built for quick scores. Instead, Nolan wants to keep this game low and ugly, while TCA-Addison want to light it up. This one will be a lot of fun.
Tepper’s pick: TCA Addison 36, FW Nolan Catholic 31
Bellaire Episcopal (3-0, 2-0) at Houston St. John’s (4-1, 2-1)
Good news for my newspaper friends on deadline covering this one: it’ll be over quick. Both teams love to run the ball, with Epsicopal leaning on RB Tyriek Gray while St. Johns uses QB Wes Wallace to get its job done. The difference in this one: Episcopal’s defense, led by LB Trey Horne, has been pretty much impenetrable, while St. John’s has been good-not-great.
Tepper’s pick: Bellaire Episcopal 34, Houston St. John’s 21
Dallas Bishop Dunne (4-1, 1-0) at Plano Prestonwood (4-1, 1-0)
Back up in the Dallas area, boy, Prestonwood’s offense is fun to watch. Whether it’s QB Twayne Blackwell, WR Michael Irvin, WR Jonathan Heasley or RB Ryan Bradberry, they can beat you in a lot of different ways. The question is, can Bishop Dunne’s defense keep up? They haven’t had a ton of success so far this season, so maybe it’s better to try to match them score for score, especially when you’ve got rocket-armed QB Micah Simon back there. Bishop Dunne’s best shot is a shootout.
Tepper’s pick: Plano Prestonwood 42, Bishop Dunne 31
Be sure to check out Ken Capps’ six-man blog for even more six-man football coverage.
This week, six-man guru Leman Saunders previews a big weekend of action.
DII Calvert (5-0) @ DI Abbott (3-2)
Abbott started the season on high hopes after a 2012 campaign that saw the Panthers come within a whiskers length of the state title falling to Throckmorton in the title bout. However, the injury bug has bitten the Abbott squad hard. Coach Crawford’s team are 3-2 and coming off a upset loss to Blum. Calvert in their 2nd season without the tutelage of former coach Coylin Grimes are 5-0 and seem to be hitting their stride coming off a 1 point win over a highly ranked private school in the form of Waco Live Oak. This is a great DI v DII matchup with DI Abbott fighting to stay above .500 and the DII Calvert looking to stay undefeated. Dating back to 2000, Calvert owns the all-time head-to-head series 6-3 (source: lonestarfootball.net). I like Calvert in this one.
DII Blanket (3-2) @ DI Rochelle (5-0)
For the Blanket Tigers this will be the fourth straight week of tough opponents having faced beaten Gordon and then losing to highly ranked DI May and then DII Blackwell. The Rochelle Hornets are 5-0 and this match-up is their last before the start of a very tough district campaign (which includes May and Zephyr). The Hornets may feel a little underrated and the Tigers may be a little banged up…but again in this DI (Rochelle) v DII (Blanket) matchup…I will take the DII team. Blanket wins on the road.
DI Walnut Springs (3-1) @ DII #9 Richland Springs (3-1)
Walnut Springs after suffering a week zero loss to highly ranked DII Jonesboro has rebounded and won 3 games in a row. Now they travel to Richland Springs who also suffered a week zero loss (to DI #5 May). This will be a good test for both squads especially for Richland Springs who will start district play next week. Even though they are down a bit this season, it is still just to hard to pick against Richland Springs at home.
DI #7 Garden City (4-1)@ DII #10 Robert Lee (4-1)
In a match-up the dates back to 1982 (lonestarfootball.net), this is another DI v DII match-up. DII #10 Robert Lee plays host to DI #7 Garden City. Robert Lee’s only loss was to DI’s #2 ranked Water Valley by the 45 point mercy rule (48-0) and Garden City’s lone defeat was at the hands of DI’s #4 Ira by only 20 points (48-28). Looks like Garden City owns the upper hand in this match-up…but I will take the underdog! My pick is Robert Lee.
DII #5 Strawn (3-1) @ DII #4 Newcastle (4-1)
In what may be the best match-up in six-man this week the Strawn Greyhounds travel to Newcastle for a showdown of top ranked DII teams. Strawn owns the all-time series 13-10 going back to 1982 (lonestarfootball.net) and are coming off a huge rivalry victory over Gordon (75-30). However, the Newcastle Bobcats are the most battle tested of the two in this young 2013 season having beaten DI #8 Knox City, Private School #2 ranked Abilene Christian, and losing in a very close game to DI #5 May. This is the game you want to travel to this week if you want to see the best six-man game. I will take Newcastle and a home town victory.
PS #3 WF Notre Dame (4-0) @ DII Northside (4-0)
In a battle of undefeated, #3 ranked private school WF Notre Dame will travel to Northside in a game that is to close to pick for me. Both share a common opponent in Bryson; Northside beating Bryson 96-51 in week 4 and Notre Dame beating Bryson 85-36 in week 1. If I had to pick…I would give the edge to the home team Northside…but really this one is too close to call.
PS #6 Waco Methodist Children’s Home (4-0) @ DI Coolidge (3-1)
Coolidge is quietly making waves this season posting a 3-1 record with the lone loss coming at the hands of Aquilla in their first game of the season under a new head coach. However, the Yellowjackets have adjusted to the helm change and are rolling coming off three straight victories by the 45 point mercy rule. On the other hand Waco Methodist Children’s Home is undefeated and has a quarterback that has thrown for over 1200 yards and 18 TDs already this season, including 434 yards and 7 TD passes last week against Buckholts in a 65-26 victory. Can Coolidge keep their winning streak going or will the private school swat the Yellowjackets at home? In a battle of upstarts I think that Waco Methodists will have a joyous drive home and boasting a 5-0 record.
DII #8 Milford (3-2) @ DI Mount Calm (4-0)
DI Mount Calm is 4-0 in just their second season of UIL football after reviving their high school and are coming off an upset victory over Avalon (62-56) which vaulted them to Army Strong team of the week. However, they now face playoff perennial and DII #8 ranked Milford. I think the Mount Calm faithful will be a little disappointed by the end of the night and Milford dries home with a victory. Yap I’m picking the DII team over the DI team again!
Greg Tepper is the associate editor of Dave Campbell's Texas Football and TexasFootball.com.