3A/2A/1A/PVT/6M Preview: Week 7
An expansive look at the best small-school action this weekend.
Fox Football Friday Powered by DCTF
LIVE Tonight, 7-11 p.m. on Fox Sports Southwest!
LIVE FROM CY RIDGE AT CY FALLS!
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!
Sanger (4-2, 0-0) at Gainesville (6-0, 1-0)
On one hand, the addition of a fourth playoff team in 3A is good, because it allows more teams to make the playoffs, and that’s always good. On the other...boy, it would’ve been fun to watch the five-team District 9-3A duke it out for three playoff spots. Alas, that’s not the case, and with winless Bridgeport bringing up the rear, both of these teams appear to be locks for the playoffs. But that doesn’t stop this from being a fun game! Sanger’s big offense is back, but if you’re expecting the pass-happy Indians of Dane Evans, you’re mistaken. Sure, QB Brandon Mann has been great, but it’s junior RB Trevon Jackson that’s the real star. The defense, though, hasn’t been much to write home about, and that’s a problem going up against Gainesville’s bruising RB Adam Berryman. With big offenses on both sides, it comes down to defense, and the Leopards’ – led by senior LB Jonathan Mendez – is superior.
Tepper’s pick: Gainesville 42, Sanger 28
El Campo (4-1, 1-1) at Wharton (7-0, 3-0)
Maybe we’ve figured out El Campo. They’re still a team with a devastating defense, led by LBs BJ Flagg and Blaine Fuechec, but the offense appears to have lost a half-step from last year’s state runner-up, though Flagg – also the star RB – is a sturdy component. Wharton, on the other hand, is the dark horse, one of the highest risers in 3A this year, and it’s due in large part to the big offense of QB Joseph Kreneck and RB Toney Rogers. They’re lighting people up, which makes the battle against El Campo so compelling. The bigger question: can Wharton’s D slow down Flagg and company enough to make the offense meaningful? You could say that Wharton’s played a relatively soft schedule; a win here would remove any doubt about their value and put them tantalizingly close to a playoff spot.
Tepper’s pick: El Campo 31, Wharton 30
Robinson (6-0, 1-0) at Waco Connally (5-1, 1-0)
Consider yourself noticed, Connally. The Cadets sprung a mild upset last week, knocking off district favorite Lorena, and it’s because the ground game got churning with QB Kristian Brown and RBs Joshua Terrell and Chris Robinson. Coach Mike Rabe’s squad has to be brimming with confidence as it heads into yet another major District 17-3A clash against high-flying Robinson. Nobody has come close to slowing down QB Michael Davila, RB LeVonte Owens, WR Jacob Fuentes and the Rockets’ offense this season – their season low in points is 47! And the defense has been very solid so far behind LB Matt McNew and DE Kalil Washington. This will be their toughest test so far; does Connally have another big win in them?
Tepper’s pick: Robinson 38, Waco Connally 33
Abilene Wylie (4-2, 1-0) at Monahans (3-2, 1-0)
While it’s true that four combined losses have taken a bit of the luster off of this District 4-3A showdown, I think it’s fair to call this the two best teams in the district going at it. Wylie scored a huge win over Big Spring last week, and the “winning ugly” strategy employed by Hugh Sandifer continues to work: run, run, run with RB Hayden Lewis, and hit, hit, hit with LB Jaxon Bounds. Monahans seems to subscribe to that same philosophy, as a killer defense anchored by LB Bryan Venegas and DE Barry Clayton has made up for what has been a struggling offense. That appears to be bad news for Monahans; good offenses struggle with Wylie’s D, so a so-so one may not fair so well. Best strategy for Monahans: low-scoring. Under 24 points may win it for Monahans; over that, it favors Wylie.
Tepper’s pick: Abilene Wylie 26, Monahans 21
Other 3A Games to Watch…
Bullard (3-2, 1-1) at Tyler Chapel Hill (4-3, 2-1)
Tepper's pick: Tyler Chapel Hill 34, Bullard 21
Celina (7-0, 1-0) at Frisco Lone Star (5-2, 0-1)
Tepper’s pick: Celina 47, Frisco Lone Star 24
Sinton (4-2, 0-1) at Orange Grove (6-0, 1-0)
Tepper’s pick: Orange Grove 40, Sinton 27
Alvarado (4-3, 1-0) at Stephenville (5-1, 1-0)
Tepper’s pick: Stephenville 44, Alvarado 24
Lubbock Estacado (3-3, 1-0) at Shallowater (6-0, 1-0)
Tepper’s pick: Shallowater 45, Lubbock Estacado 23
Tatum (6-0, 1-0) at Troup (5-1, 1-0)
It is officially an absurdly deep week of 2A football, and it starts with this headliner out of District 9-2A DI. Tatum is…well, what can we say? They’ve been nearly perfect. The defense has been smothering behind DL Collin Gage and LB Kyshaun Smith, and the offense has been just as solid with the emergence of QB JD Taylor alongside WR Deyante Roberson. But Troup isn’t going to be scared, not when they’ve got big-play QB Blake Lynch back there, along with WR Hitachi Lydia and Marcus Kinkaid. The defense has been good, but can it be good enough? Tatum’s defense is so impressive that it’ll take a massive effort from DB Anfernee Ross and LB Dakota Deese to match it.
Tepper’s pick: Tatum 31, Troup 17
Kountze (5-1, 3-0) at Newton (6-0, 3-0)
Oh yeah, and the No. 1 team in 2A DI has a huge challenge, too. Kountze has very quietly rolled to 5-1 on the season, and it’s because the defense has been fantastic. DB Blake Best, LB Ashton Whittle and the rest of the Lions have been dominating people, making up for what’s been an up-and-down offense under QB Justin Harper. This was going to be a tough test for Newton to begin with, but now with news that star RB Kevin Shorter is out for the rest of the regular season with a very scary injury (concussion and bruised spinal cord), it’s even tougher. Still, Newton is not a one-man band – RB Brandon Johnson is a more-than-capable backup, and the defense led by LB Anthony Hadnot is still great – and will take Kountze’s best possible game to topple them.
Tepper’s pick: Newton 35, Kountze 21
Elkhart (5-1, 1-0) at Franklin (6-0, 1-0)
Here’s what you need to know about Elkhart: RB Jeffrey Wilson. A lot of him. The senior has been crazy-productive: 1,381 yards, 18 TDs – a cool 8.8 yards per carry, and 230 yards per game. Can Franklin’s defense slow him down? DL Zach Short and DE Will Phillips will be challenged to control the line of scrimmage to prevent Wilson from going nuts. But the problem for Elkhart comes on the other side of the ball, where Franklin’s offense has been off-the-charts good with QB Dylan Smotherman and RB Morgan Brewer. How good? Try 50.6 points per game good. Wilson is great, but it’ll take more than just him to hand Franklin its first loss.
Tepper’s pick: Franklin 41, Elkhart 28
Canadian (5-1, 1-0) at Spearman (5-1, 1-0)
Sure, the adage of the shootouts out West has some historical value, but if Spearman has its way, it won’t be nearly as combustible. The Lynx D has been one of the Panhandle’s best, holding opponents to just 11 points per game behind NG Sergio Guzman and LB Bruce Hawkins. It’s not like the offense is any slouch running behind Tanner Baird and Beau Brown, but this is a D-first squad. Canadian, on the other hand, airs it out big-time. It’s QB Ben Arbuckle and his bevy of wide-outs, led by Boston Hudson and Brandon Galla. We can talk all we want about Canadian’s D holding down Spearman’s offense, but let’s be real: if Spearman slows down Canadian’s passing attack, they’ll probably win; if Air Canada lifts off, it’s all Wildcats.
Tepper’s pick: Canadian 41, Spearman 30
Other 2A Games to Watch…
White Oak (5-1, 0-1) at Gilmer Harmony (5-1, 1-0)
Tepper’s pick: White Oak 28, Gilmer Harmony 26
Cooper (6-0, 2-0) at Alba-Golden (5-2, 3-0)
Tepper’s pick: Cooper 48, Alba-Golden 28
Mount Vernon (4-2, 2-0) at Queen City (5-2, 2-1)
Tepper’s pick: Queen City 24, Mount Vernon 21
Kirbyville (4-2, 2-1) at East Chambers (4-2, 2-1)
Tepper’s pick: East Chambers 32, Kirbyville 28
Crane (6-0, 1-0) at Stanton (5-1, 1-0)
Tepper’s pick: Crane 36, Stanton 24
Idalou (4-2) at Denver City (6-0, 1-0)
Tepper’s pick: Denver City 27, Idalou 24
Pineland West Sabine (5-0, 1-0) at Alto (4-2, 1-0)
Hey, do you like passing attacks? Then you will absolutely hate this game! Two of 1A’s best rushing attacks strap it up tonight for a spot atop District 10-1A DI. Alto has DCTF 1A coverboy Jacolby Whitaker, who hasn’t missed a beat after last year’s breakout season. West Sabine has both dual-threat QB Reshod Williams and RB Nick Williams to pace their attack. With such rushing firepower, defense will be of utmost importance, and that’s where West Sabine and LB Hunter Cabral appear to have the most significant edge.
Tepper’s pick: Pineland West Sabine 36, Alto 25
Stratford (6-0, 1-0) at Sunray (4-1, 1-0)
Is Stratford the best team in Class 1A Division I? They’re ranked at the top of DCTF’s rankings, and though there are other teams – Stamford, Anson, Mason, the aforementioned West Sabine – who could make a claim to it, it’s Stratford’s to lose. The offense continues to hum with QB Rett Schoonover and RB Luke Uttley, but it’s the defense – Tanner Stone, Chase Lutes, etc. – that has the Elks looking like a state title favorite. Can Sunray break through? There’s a whole lot to like about the Bobcats, especially defensively with DB Mario Lechuga and LB Dominique De La Rosa. But can they find enough firepower to match up with Stratford and take a surprising leap to the top of the district table?
Tepper’s pick: Stratford 46, Sunray 23
Santo (6-1, 1-0) at DeLeon (5-1, 0-0)
There are two mega-sized games in District 5-1A DI tonight – Goldthwaite-San Saba is the other – but this one piques my interest because of what may be the most defined strength-on-strength clash in the state. Santo’s offense has been, for lack of a better word, “cray,” averaging better than 43 points per game with RB Grant Gilbert and QB Kyle Moore. Meanwhile, DeLeon’s defense has been very stout, giving up just 11.8 points per game thanks to LB Robert Smith and LB Blake Hooker. Something’s got to give.
Tepper’s pick: Santo 36, DeLeon 28
La Pryor (4-3, 1-0) at Bruni (6-1, 1-0)
We’re pretty comfortable declaring this the District 16-1A DII district title game, and these two teams are very, very similar. Bruni’s got a terrific defense of Joe Valderas and Isaac Ramos, and a grinding run game that features six different players that are over 100 yards on the season (led by freshman Joseph Cruz). La Pryor’s got a terrific defense of DE Nathan Martinez and DB John Ray Gonzales, and a grinding run game that features RB Chris Gonzales. Suffering a little déjà vu? It’s because they’re very, very similar in strategy. The difference in this one? Bruni has a slightly superior defense.
Tepper’s pick: Bruni 21, La Pryor 17
Other 1A Games to Watch…
Price Carlisle (4-2, 1-0) at Harleton (5-1, 1-0)
Tepper’s pick: Price Carlisle 29, Harleton 27
Goldthwaite (3-4, 1-0) at San Saba (2-5, 0-1)
Tepper’s pick: Goldthwaite 38, San Saba 20
Bellaire Episcopal (5-0, 4-0) at Houston Kinkaid (7-0, 4-0)
Let’s kick it off with some SPC action! The South division has more or less come down to these two squads, and it’s hard not to admire what they’ve done. Episcopal’s been a buzzsaw this season, winning its games by an average of more than 36 points thanks to RB Tyreik Gray and LB Trey Horne. The same can be said for Kinkaid, with a punishing defense led by DB Thomas Dillon and an explosive offense triggered by the pass-catch combo of J.T. Granato and Mavin Saunders. We tend to lean toward Kinkaid – that quick-strike offense is hard to contain for 48 minutes – but this one could go either way.
Tepper’s pick: Houston Kinkaid 34, Bellaire Episcopal 32
Addison Trinity Christian (5-1, 1-1) at Plano Prestonwood (6-1, 3-0)
Another week, another mega-matchup in private schools’ most impressive district: TAPPS 1-DI. Plano Prestonwood’s offense continues to light up the north Dallas sky every Friday night behind the dual-QB system of Twayne Blackwell and Ryan Cash, while TCA-Addison does the same thing with QB dynamo Christian Hutzler. So, in a shootout, it matters who can get the key stop at the key time. Neither defense is worth writing home about, but in this instance, that’s probably Prestonwood.
Tepper’s pick: Plano Prestonwood 48, Addison Trinity Christian 45
Houston St. Pius X (5-1, 2-0) at Houston St. Thomas (5-0, 2-0)
One more game down in the Houston area, and this one should be a doozy, especially if St. Pius X’s defense is up to the task. Offense hasn’t been a problem for St. Pius – QB Timmy Ware, RB Micah Massey and WR Brian Newman spearhead a squad that’s averaging more than 435 yards per game. But the bigger key will be the defense, which must find a way to corral the running game of William Heck, Michael Keating and Andre Pradia for St. Thomas. What’s more: St. Thomas’ defense has been excellent this season, as DE Joe Lowery and DB Chris Zook have really shined. If St. Pius can have a good game defensively, they’re in it; otherwise, St. Thomas is your favorite.
Tepper’s pick: Houston St. Thomas 38, Houston St. Pius 30
Six-man guru Leman Saunders offers his take on a big weekend of six-man football across Texas.
DI #1 Throckmorton v DI #4 Crowell
This is the first district bout for both teams and it is a doozy! Crowell has been a top 5 team in the DI polls all season, but alone at the top for the 8th week in row (longer if you count last season) has been Throckmorton. Crowell has been playing through injuries and are coming off their first loss of the season falling to DII #1 Follett last week. Throckmorton has not stumbled yet this season with their biggest win coming at the hands of PS #1 Dallas the Covenant in week 2. The game will be played at Throckmorton and Crowell has not beaten Throckmorton since 1991 when they were both still 11-man (0-17 since then).
DII #1 Follett v DI #2 Water Valley @Jayton
I love these DII v DI games and especially if there are top ranking teams involved. Follett has a DI Giant Killer having defeated current DI #9 Happy, then DI Valley, then DI #4 Crowell last week. Water Valley has been a constant in a fluctuating DI and has been sitting pretty in the #2 spot for several weeks now. Water Valley escaped with a win against DII #2 Grandfalls in the season opener…they might not be so lucky against a Follett team lead by DC cover boy Dakota Woods.
Greg Tepper is the associate editor of Dave Campbell's Texas Football and TexasFootball.com.