5A/4A Preview: Week 7
The 12 biggest games in Class 5A and 4A across Texas.
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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…
Denton Ryan (5-0, 1-0) at Hebron (3-3, 0-1)
Tepper’s pick: Denton Ryan 27, Hebron 21
San Antonio Warren (4-2, 3-1) at San Antonio O'Connor (5-2, 4-1)
Tepper’s pick: San Antonio O’Connor 38, San Antonio Warren 29
Weslaco (5-1, 4-0) at Weslaco East (4-2, 3-1)
Tepper’s pick: Weslaco East 26, Weslaco 24
Victoria West (5-1, 2-0) at Port Lavaca Calhoun (6-1, 2-1)
Tepper’s pick: Port Lavaca Calhoun 38, Victoria West 24
Schertz Clemens (6-0, 3-0) at Buda Hays (4-2, 2-1)
Tepper’s pick: Schertz Clemens 33, Buda Hays 21
EP Chapin (4-3 4-0) at EP Andress (5-1 3-0)
Tepper’s pick: El Paso Chapin 32, El Paso Andress 31
The Top 12 Games
12. La Porte (4-2, 2-0) at Deer Park (2-4-1, 1-2)
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As far as the game is concerned…well, I think it’s fair to call this a must-win for Deer Park. Slipping to 1-3 in District 21-5A play would be a really, really deep hole for the Deer, especially with a game against Galena Park North Shore looming at the end of the season. Can QB Connor Means and RB Trey Farmer put together a win? And, more importantly, can the defense – which has been a liability to this point – hold it together? La Porte has been a squad that hasn’t performed up to our expectations, but haven’t tumbled too far; the return of star LB/RB Hoza Scott has provided a spark to the rest of the team, and the defense should take a significant step forward. Can QB Jordan Jackson and RB Britt Gant make it worthwhile? A win may lock up a playoff spot; a loss would open up more possibilities than coach Jeff LeReau would prefer.
Tepper’s pick: TO BE REVEALED ON FOX FOOTBALL FRIDAY POWERED BY DCTF, 7-11PM, FOX SPORTS SOUTHWEST
11. Southlake Carroll (6-0, 3-0) at Justin Northwest (5-1, 2-1)
It’s been a while since we talked about Southlake Carroll, basically because they haven’t really played anybody of note since their opening week loss to Allen. But since then, QB Ryan Agnew has really blossomed as the Dragons’ signal-caller, and the defense of LB Steven Bergmark and DL King Newton has continued to progress to normal SLC standards. Justin Northwest has fallen a half-step off of its DFW Darling status of earlier this year, but this is still a really, really talented squad: QB Jesse Drummer has been fantastic alongside RB Dennis Adrole, and the defense has normally been very good, especially up front with DE Duke Kicinski and DT Joe Gonzales. Therein lies Northwest’s best chance: pressuring Agnew. If the Texans can get in Agnew’s kitchen – and keep him in the pocket, too, as he’s the Dragons’ leading rusher – they’ll be able to hang. Otherwise, Carroll’s offense could pick them apart.
Tepper’s pick: Southlake Carroll 41, Justin Northwest 26
10. Manor (5-1, 2-1) at Georgetown East View (5-1, 2-1)
OK, so, Elgin’s probably winning District 17-4A. That’s not necessarily breaking news – their win over Manor last week pretty much sealed the deal. And East View is coming off its own devastating loss to a rival, as it fell to Georgetown last week. But it’s probably fair to call this the second-place game in the distirct. Manor’s offense has never been a problem – QB Denzell Feaster, RB Tyrone Owens, WR Datrin Guyton (who has been impossible to cover) – but its defense failed it last week. East View’s offense had fits and starts last week, but I’m still a big believer in RB Cornelio Garcia. It’ll be up to the EV defense to get timely stops with DB Adrian Contreras and DL Jon Andrews. Who has the advantage? It’s hard to say. Both teams’ mental states will stay more than the talent is concerned, but it’s hard to pick against the explosive Manor offense.
Tepper’s pick: Manor 34, Georgetown East View 24
9. Midland (3-3, 2-2) at Midland Lee (5-1, 4-0)
Well, THAT escalated quickly. District 2-5A looked like it was cruising toward an Abilene Cooper-San Angelo Central showdown to decide things…and then Amarillo Tascosa beat Central, and things went berserker. All of a sudden, Midland Lee is at the top of the table in the Little Southwest Conference, and WR/DB Alex Bell’s return isn’t just looking like a blessing; it’s been a game-changer to the entire district. Combining him with QB Caden Coots has given a noticeable spark to the Rebels’ attack, giving its good-not-great defense a chance to relax. Meanwhile, for Midland, the offense has been pretty darn good, as RB Lance White and QB Sam Grimes have helped to lead things. But the defense simply has not been good, and it’ll need to have a big game if they’re going to take home bragging rights (and stay right in the mix for a playoff spot).
Tepper’s pick: Midland Lee 42, Midland 26
8. Mission Sharyland (6-0, 4-0) at Donna (4-2, 3-1)
Down in the Valley, District 30-5A may have one of its handful of main events tonight as Sharyland travels for a very, very tricky road game. Donna – best known as winning the Valley’s last state title, back in 1960 – is going to slow this game to a grind, relying on its defense of DB Augustin Cantu and LB Alex Garcia and letting RB Aldo Silva do the rest. The fewer possessions in this one, the better for Donna. But that’s easier said than done against Sharyland, whose defense continues to be among the best in the state anywhere. LB Joey Esquivel and DT David Aguayo have led a Rattlers defense that’s allowed 30 points in six games. That’s not 30 points per game; that’s thirty points total. Combine that with the dual-QB dynamo of Lance Madden and Diego Chrysler, and you have what I still believe to be the best team in the Valley. Donna’s got a chance if it controls the pace, but it’s hard to see Sharyland losing.
Tepper’s pick: Mission Sharyland 38, Donna 21
7. Uvalde (4-2, 3-0) at Floresville (4-2, 2-1)
Sticking in south Texas, District 29-4A will take shape tonight based on this game, and this isn’t for the Air Raid crowd. Both of these squads win on the ground. Uvalde’s offense runs through RBs Zach Sanchez and Marco Blanco, and when QB Jerry Almaraz hits a big play, it’s usually with his feet. Floresville’s running game with RB Gilbert Ortiz is a touch less explosive, but it’s still very solid, and anyways, the defense is why they’re at this point. LB Kyle Bippert and DE Sam Handowski have been extraordinary in their efforts. The good news: this one will more than likely be done in about two hours, considering the clock may never stop. The bad news: it’s about as tough to call as they come. Give the edge to Floresville with their defense, but boy, it’s close.
Tepper’s pick: Floresville 29, Uvalde 26
6. EP Del Valle (5-2, 5-0) at EP Eastlake (5-1, 4-0)
I hope I’m not being overdramatic, but this appears to be the biggest weekend of El Paso football that we’ve seen in some time. It’s very hard to pick just one, but here it is, and it’s a doozy out of District 2-4A. Eastlake has continued to be one of the Sun City’s biggest surprises, led by the big offense of QB David Armendariz and WR Fernie Marquez. But what’s more – the defense has been really good as well, especially DB Billy Cuellar and DL Rudy Guevara. Are they ready for the district frontrunner? Del Valle has done little to shake our confidence in picking them to win the district in the preseason – QB Steven Montez has dazzled, the defense of LB Alex Lopez and DB Eddie Alvarez has shined. This is more than just a game for district standings; this really could represent a changing of the guard. Here’s a chance for Eastlake to prove, in their infancy, that they are a force with which to be reckoned in El Paso. Or, alternately, here’s a chance for Del Valle to prove that while the days may drop off the calendar, they are still the Sun City powerhouse of record. Here’s your chance, boys. Show us something.
Tepper’s pick: El Paso Del Valle 31, El Paso Eastlake 28
5. Cedar Park (5-1, 2-0) at Leander Rouse (6-1, 3-0)
Oh, hey, remember District 25-4A? Now, it’s not the devastatingly deep district that it was last year – Leander’s dropoff has hurt things – but these appear to be the two best teams in the lot (although Vandegrift fans may fill up my e-mail inbox suggesting otherwise). Rouse isn’t sneaking up on anyone like it did last season, but it doesn’t need to – QB-turned-RB Billy McCrary has been sensational, and WR-turned-QB Wesley Geisler has helped turn this offense from “pretty good” to “something special.” Cedar Park’s offense, too, has been fantastic – we can’t get enough of QB Nate Grimm, but give some credit to his top WR Bill Estevanott, who has become one of Central Texas’ most dangerous wideout threats. So, give Cedar Park a slight edge offensively. But what about defense? We’re still waiting for Cedar Park to rise to that defensive level we expected them to reach, while Rouse’s has been consistently good with LB Michael Denmon and Ryan Heinrich. So, slight edge to Rouse defensively. What’s that give you? Anybody’s ballgame.
Tepper’s pick: Cedar Park 33, Leander Rouse 31
4. Katy Seven Lakes (6-0, 3-0) at Katy (6-0, 3-0)
You know Katy. You know what they’re about. The defense has been absolutely fabulous behind LB Jake Blomstrom, DE Tim Wilkerson and DT Cody Gessler; the offense has hummed with RB Rodney Anderson and QB Kiley Huddleston. You know Katy. But do you know Seven Lakes? The Spartans are all about defense, allowing just 8.2 points per game, and between DE Jarrett Johnson and DB Bright Ugwoegbu, they may be the single unit in District 19-5A that can compare with Katy. They’re really, really good. But can the offense find some consistency? RBs Bryan Moore and Evan McDowell lead a good-not-great unit against the Tigers. Katy Seven Lakes is really good. Better than you think. And they’ll give Katy a run for their money – maybe their biggest challenge of the season. But I’m not sure it’ll be enough to topple the Tigers.
Tepper’s pick: Katy 31, Katy Seven Lakes 18
3. Mansfield Legacy (6-0, 3-0) at Ennis (6-0, 3-0)
Who would’ve thought we’d be featuring this game at the beginning of the season? Sure, Ennis was a strong candidate for a big season coming into 2013, and they’ve performed up to snuff – RB Terrance Williams has been a game-changer for the Lions, QB Devin Smith has been solid, and the defense of DB Jah’Shawn Johnson and DE James Lockhart has kept them in every game. But Mansfield Legacy? We picked them sixth in District 15-4A! What are they doing here? Well, it starts – as it often does – with balance on offense. RB Kijama “Famous” Amous (registered trademark Greg Tepper 2013) and dual-threat QB Terrance Ivery have given the Broncos a jolt, and LBs Everett Williams and Michael Sanders have been just as solid. Hence: two undefeated squads meeting in a critical district matchup in mid-October. Fun, huh? This is as close as close gets, but when in doubt, go with the home team (Ennis) or the team with the best individual player (also Ennis, with Williams).
Tepper’s pick: Ennis 35, Mansfield Legacy 31
2. Arlington Bowie (5-1, 3-0) at Arlington Lamar (5-1, 3-0)
In Arlington ISD – and, subsequently, in District 3-5A – it’s fair to say that Bowie, Lamar and Martin are excellent. So, consider this the first round of a three-team round-robin for the district crown. Lamar’s defense has been extraordinary this season, as DB Marquise McClinton and LB Blake McClendon have really helped the Vikings to a strong start. The offense has been good – maybe not great – with sophomore QB Shane Beuchele and RB Cameron Smith. But what a story from Bowie. Here’s Keaton Perry, tearing an ACL for a third consecutive season. That would devastate most people. But what’s he doing? That’s right: playing through a torn ACL. Remarkable. And noteworthy, too, since it allows Tony James – perhaps the Volunteer’s single-best athlete – to move from QB back to WR. Their defense has been consistently pretty good as well, with LB Edwin Freeman spearheading things. Lamar’s a great team, but you wonder about the emotion that Bowie is playing with – the fire they’re gaining from their signal-caller’s willingness to play through pain – and you start thinking about the all-too-often-used phrase “team of destiny.” This is starting to feel like that.
Tepper’s pick: Arlington Bowie 42, Arlington Lamar 28
1. Converse Judson (5-1, 1-0) at Smithson Valley (6-0, 1-0)
And we’ve come to the big one, the one that will ultimately decide 25-5A, one of the class’ most top-heavy districts. Converse Judson’s one loss is about as good as you can have in the San Antonio area – Cibolo Steele – and in every game besides that, the Rockets have looked excellent. The emergence of QB RayJohn Austin-Ramsey – the man with four names – has been something to behold, and when he gets support from RBs Jo’Von Kyle and Brandon Sanders, the Rockets’ attack is really special. The defense has been up-and-down, and will need a great game from LBs Justin Johnson and Malik Pryor. Why? Because they’re taking on perhaps the San Antonio area’s best team in Smithson Valley. QB Garrett Smith has been jaw-droppingly good, throwing for almost 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns (and, perhaps most importantly, no interceptions) to go along with almost 600 yards and 8 scores on the ground. Between him, RB Cameron Jones and WR Joseph Barsalou, there is firepower in excess. But to focus too long on the offense wouldn’t do justice to the true stars of the show: the defense. DE Mason Nasis and DB Shane Piatnik lead a unit that has been among the very best in the state by any metric. Smithson Valley is good because of its offense; it’s elite because of its defense. That key difference – the completion of Larry Hill’s squad – should lead them to another win and another week unblemished.
Tepper’s pick: Smithson Valley 42, Converse Judson 28
Greg Tepper is the associate editor of Dave Campbell's Texas Football and TexasFootball.com.