3A/2A/1A/PVT/6M Preview: Week 9
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 LEANDER ROUSE AT AUSTIN VANDEGRIFT!
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! (Note: the show may be bumped to Fox Sports Southwest Plus in your area. Check FoxSportsSouthwest.com to find your channel!)
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!
Melissa (7-1, 2-0) at Princeton (7-1, 1-1)
In District 12-3A, this game had a lot more sizzle about a week ago…and then Princeton thudded back to earth with a surprising loss to Anna. The Panthers simply couldn’t stop the run last week, which is troubling but not necessarily predictive of how this will go. The offense still hums with QB Jourdan Blake and WR Jakari Dillard, but the usually good defense led by DB Colt Goen and DT Quintrell Anderson needs to have a bounceback game. That’s because Melissa’s high-flying attack is rolling into town. The weapons are bordering on the unfair for the Cardinals – QB Taylor McGehee, WR Xavier Mason, RB Marcus Ellis, the list goes on and on. They score in bunches. The defense is one of those “good-not-great” units, consistently giving up between 20 and 28 points per game. So, basically, it’s up to Princeton to hold Melissa under 30 points. Feel good about that possibility considering last week? Me neither.
Tepper’s pick: Melissa 39, Princeton 28
El Campo (6-1, 3-1) at Sealy (5-3, 3-1)
Perhaps we haven’t given District 25-3A enough love. Five teams have three wins in district – El Campo, Bellville and Sealy at 3-1, Wharton and Columbus at 3-1. That’s parity, and more importantly, that’s quality. Bellville’s win over El Campo remains the most impressive victory anyone has in the district, but EC can clinch at least a share of the district title with a win tonight. The defense has really been the star for the Ricebirds, as LB Blaine Fuechec and DT Kyle James have become a formidable front. The offense, though, isn’t as explosive as it was last year; it goes through RB B.J. Flagg, and they simply haven’t had the same success as in their state title game run. Sealy’s kind of in the same boat – the defense has been pretty good with DE Blake Weido and LB Alex Avalos, but the QB situation has remained unsettled for the Tigers, and that’s been a flat tire for the offense all year. Who breaks through offensively?
Tepper’s pick: El Campo 29, Sealy 21
Cleveland (6-1, 4-0) at Coldspring-Oakhurst (7-1, 5-0)
It’s pretty easy to overlook Cleveland. District 22-3A is strong enough – especially at the top – that if you think of Coldspring-Oakhurst and nothing else, it’s understandable. But boy, the Indians can ball. The defense has been electrifying with appropriately named DL Kevin Strong and DL Cedric Gambrell, and the running game of RB Eric Louis and QB D.D. Jackson is churning and churning behind a big, strong offensive line. So, here’s your shot, Cleveland. You travel to Coldspring to take on the perennial district favorite and (seemingly) annual state title contender in the Trojans. And you know what you’re getting from them: running with Alec Dunham and Patrick Giddens, and a bruising defense. Cleveland doesn’t have the high-powered offense that Coldspring does, so it’ll need to keep the score low to win this one. Still, it’s hard to imagine that, with a district title on the line, Coldspring will let one slip at home.
Tepper’s pick: Coldspring-Oakhurst 33, Cleveland 22
Lubbock Cooper (7-1, 3-0) at Shallowater (8-0, 3-0)
It was difficult to choose the final 3A game to preview because there are so many good ones, but this tussle out west gets the nod because, well, this really may be Shallowater’s toughest test to date. We know all about the Mustangs’ dominance this season – RB Jarek Black has been crazy-go-nuts good (1,826 yards and 22 scores so far), QB Wes McCutcheon has emerged as a solid threat to keep opponents from loading the box on Black, and the defense led by DL Skylar Westbrook and LB Rocky Martinez has played lights-out defense, especially against the run. But Cooper’s probably the second-best team in District 2-3A, and they’re more than capable of springing the upset. QB Stanton Keane has been as advertised this season – he’s thrown for 1,205 yards and 10 touchdowns and run for another 751 yards and 8 scores – and the defense has been pretty good as well behind DE Montana Vega. Shallowater’s the better side, and they’re at home, so they’re the smart pick…but with Keane playing the way he is, if Shallowater commits a couple of turnovers, the Pirates are good enough to take this one.
Tepper’s pick: Shallowater 37, Lubbock Cooper 24
Other 3A Games to Watch…
Atlanta (5-3, 2-1) at Liberty-Eylau (5-3, 3-0)
Tepper’s pick: Liberty-Eylau 38, Atlanta 24
Waco La Vega (4-4, 2-1) at Waco Connally (6-2, 2-1)
Tepper’s pick: Waco Connally 48, Waco La Vega 36
Snyder (2-6, 1-2) at Abilene Wylie (5-3, 2-1)
Tepper’s pick: Abilene Wylie 37, Snyder 28
Pecos (6-2, 3-0) at Clint (6-2, 3-0)
Tepper’s pick: Clint 27, Pecos 24
Alba-Golden (5-3, 3-1) at Edgewood (8-1, 4-1)
With Cooper’s dominating victory over Edgewood last week, I think it’s fair to concede the District 8-2A DII title to the Bulldogs. That would leave three teams -- Edgewood, Alba-Golden and Clarksville – battling for position in the other three playoff spots. Well, two of those squads will lock horns tonight. Edgewood looked bad against Cooper, but then again, most teams look bad against Cooper. QB Jackson Tyner and RB Carlos Bolton continue to fuel a relentless offensive attack, and the defense (basically aside from last week) has been pretty solid behind DB Jakeb Hunter and DL Kevin McClelland. Alba-Golden plays a much more low-key style of football: great defense with LB Brett Chrapowicki and NG Gus Peacock, and offense where they can get it from RBs Cody Melton and Edward Salinas. This one’s a matter of pace – a high-scoring affair favors Edgewood, while a low-scoring game gives A-G the edge.. Drama!
Tepper’s pick: Edgewood 45, Alba-Golden 27
Mount Vernon (5-3, 3-1) at Redwater (4-4, 2-2)
Another week of showdowns in District 8-2A DI. Between this game and Queen City-Daingerfield, We’ve got us a full weekend. Mount Vernon, at 3-1, is sitting pretty and can clinch a playoff spot with a win or a Queen City loss to Daingerfield. Redwater’s got itself a little climb. As far as the game is concerned, well, I wouldn’t expect a ton of points. Combined, these two teams are averaging under 40 total points per game. It’ll likely come down to who makes big plays – we’re talking the punt returns, the 50-yard run, the 80-yard missed-tackle-turned-touchdown. Is it Redwater RB Neo Hudson? Is it Mount Vernon RB Kris Ables? Both of these teams can still make the playoffs, but the winner will have a pronounced upper hand.
Tepper’s pick: Redwater 21, Mount Vernon 17
Comfort (5-3, 3-1) at Wall (8-0, 4-0)
This year, Wall’s name is especially appropriate, because for the Hawks’ opponents, it’s been like running into one. The defense has been masterful, allowing just 11.1 points per game and getting terrific play from the likes of DB Brent Matschek, DE Marcus Michalwicz and DE Chad Kellermeier. The offense has been arguably just as good (maybe even better), as QB Luke Dacy and RB Clint Masters have carved up foes to the tune of 49.5 points per game. You did the math right: Wall is 8-0 with wins by an average of 38.4 points per game. Yowza. Is Comfort – the last remaining obstacle between Wall and a district title – any match? The Bobcats tend to play close games, which is good – playmakers like WR Robert Tolar and RB Garrett Pressler keep them in it. But the defense will absolutely need its best game of the year if they’re going to spring the upset. The way Wall’s playing these days, it’s possible that nobody beats them.
Tepper’s pick: Wall 45, Comfort 21
Eastland (8-0, 4-0) at Comanche (6-2, 3-1)
A year removed from a lackluster 3-7 campaign, Comanche has roared back and looked like a legit District 4-2A DI contender. Why? Defense. DB Daniel Davila and LB Jesse Luker have led the Indians’ defensive renaissance, allowing just 17.3 points per game compared to 31.3 points per game last season. The offense hasn’t been outrageous, but QB Cassion Montieth has been solid triggering the attack. But boy, it’s going to take a special effort to knock Eastland from the ranks of the unbeatens. The Mavericks have been ludicrously effective offensively this season, averaging 53.8 points per game with QB Josh Moylan and WR Matthew Majors. Averages aren’t your thing? Consider that the fewest points they’ve scored is 34. The fewest! The defense ain’t bad, either, with LB Brant Bailey and Samuel Joiner monitoring the middle. Comanche may slow down the Mavericks’ attack, but it’s hard to figure they find a way to keep it down enough to win.
Tepper’s pick: Eastland 45, Comanche 29
Other 2A Games to Watch…
Troup (5-3, 1-2) at Gilmer Harmony (6-2, 2-1)
Tepper’s pick: Gilmer Harmony 30, Troup, 23
Queen City (5-3, 2-2) at Daingerfield (6-3, 5-0)
Tepper’s pick: Daingerfield 38, Queen City 17
Kirbyville (6-2, 4-1) at Kountze (5-3, 3-2)
Tepper’s pick: Kirbyville 20, Kountze 17
Alpine (5-3, 2-1) at Crane (8-0, 3-0)
Tepper’s pick: Crane 32, Alpine 23
Booker (6-1, 1-0) at Wellington (7-0, 1-0)
This is the kind of game that high school football nerds like me really geek out over. We’ve talked about Wellington and how good they are – they’re probably the favorite to win the 1A Division II title because of a hyper-speed offense of QB Klark Ashmore and RB Terry Gilbreath, and a relentless defense headed by LB Edgar Tellez. But Booker? Oh, Booker. Booker has Hunter Lile. In case you don’t know who Hunter Lile is, I wrote about him in the offseason. Suffice to say: he’s one of the state’s most prolific passers, and he has a chance to be the most prolific passer in Texas state history. He’s already up to 14th on the all-time career passing yards list…and he’s only a junior! In an awesome small-school twist, his leading receiver, Jared Reagan (also a junior, mind you), is his cousin! How cool is that? Anyways, the Kiowas are going to provide a huge test for Wellington, but the Skyrockets are a more complete team, so they’ll probably win. Still: giddy!
Tepper’s pick: Wellington 42, Booker 23
Ganado (6-2, 2-0) at Shiner (5-2, 2-0)
We don’t like to toot our own horn around here too much, but we pretty much called a Ganado-Shiner district title game back in the 2013 summer edition. OK, OK, so it seemed pretty obvious from the outset that these were the two best teams, but c’mon, we get a little credit, right? Anyways, these two teams are very familiar with one another, and should put on a bone-jarring display of defense. Both are led by dynamic (and bruising) two-way players – Ganado RB/DB Clay Vesely and Shiner RB/LB Jacob Stafford. Those are the headliners, but it’s the supporting cast that will determine who comes out on top in this one. Ganado’s got a more explosive offense, but Shiner, with DE Caleb Kalich and LB Brian Kloesel, has the superior defense. That, especially at home, should win the day.
Tepper’s pick: Shiner 21, Ganado 18
Beckville (6-2, 2-1) at Harleton (6-2, 2-1)
Hey, who wants a playoff spot in District 9-1A DI? Price Carlisle looks good at 3-0 in district (and, considering they play winless Big Sandy tonight, is looking even better). But then there’s a glut of three teams at 2-1 – Harleton, Beckville and Joaquin. Joaquin has already beaten Beckville and will play Harleton next week (after presumably beating Timpson this week), so they’re in a good spot tiebreaker-wise. So, really, you can view this as the most important game remaining in the district: winner’s in a good spot, loser – especially if it’s Beckville – is in a really, really bad way. Harleton has (with all due respect) been winning in boring fashion, using that defense of LB Chase Duncan and DL Payton Alexander to lead the way for QB Taylor Henson and RB Jed Smith to score just enough points to win. Beckville, on the other hand, has had times when the offense looked incredible behind RBs Trail Smith and Colton Searcy, and other times when it’s looked flat. Can they put the pieces together in what is the most important game of their season to date?
Tepper’s pick: Harleton 24, Beckville 20
Brackettville (8-0, 3-0) at Mason (6-1, 3-0)
Here’s the good news for Brackettville and Mason: they’re both in the playoffs! Yay for them! Here’s the good news for us: this game is for the District 14-1A DI title (and a first-round bye), so we’re going to get an awesome game. Yay for us! Brackettville’s remarkable season has been a testament to a complete team effort – the offense of QB Coltan Stephenson and RB David Ortega has soared, and the defense of DB Ex Rivas and DL Cooper Newsom has been devastating to opponents. But a quick glance of their schedule reveals that this is probably the toughest game they’ll have (though handing Sabinal its lone loss of the year in Week 0 is pretty impressive). Mason is, well, they’re Mason. They’re the Puncher program we’ve come to set our watch by. The offensive line led by big Drigo Martinez is plowing people over for QB Elliot Bibb and RB Luis Castillo to bull behind, and the defense – as always – is fierce with LB Miguel Castillo and DB Raul Silguero. One thing worth noting in what looks like a close game: Mason hasn’t lost a game at home since a 42-7 loss to Goldthwaite back on October 29, 2010, and it hasn’t lost to a non-Goldthwaite team at home since a 55-39 loss to Menard back in 2008. They defend the Puncher Dome well, and that should hold up here.
Tepper’s pick: Mason 32, Brackettville 24
Other 1A Games to Watch…
Crosbyton (6-2, 2-0) at Ralls (6-2, 1-1)
Tepper’s pick: Crosbyton 44, Ralls 41
Iola (4-3, 0-1) at Colmesneil (8-0, 1-0)
Tepper’s pick: Colmesneil 42, Iola 23
Goldthwaite (5-4, 3-0) at Santo (6-2, 1-1)
Tepper’s pick: Goldthwaite 37, Santo 21
Collinsville (6-2, 3-0) at Lindsay (3-5, 3-0)
Tepper’s pick: Collinsville 29, Lindsay 21
San Augustine (3-5, 2-1) at Alto (5-3, 2-1)
Tepper’s pick: Alto 37, San Augustine 27
Springlake-Earth (3-5, 2-0) at Farwell (5-4, 2-1)
Tepper’s pick: Springlake-Earth 20, Farwell 19
Milano (6-2, 2-1) at Bartlett (4-4, 2-1)
Tepper’s pick: Bartlett 23, Milano 21
Argyle Liberty Christian (6-2, 3-1) at Fort Worth Nolan (5-3, 3-1)
Back to the most insane district in private school football – TAPPS 1-DI. If you think Prestonwood is the class of the district (and at 5-0, they likely are), then these two teams look like the very evenly matched second-place squads. Liberty Christian is a fairly easy team to diagnose: the offense is going to show every week with QB Colby Moore, RB JonAaron Howell and WR Justus Lee; whether or not the defense shows up determines whether or not they win. Nolan’s a lot more difficult to figure out. There have been times when they’ve looked like world-beaters – see: win over Trinity Christian-Addison and even last week’s two-point loss to Prestonwood – and other times when they’ve looked listless. The key will be what kind of offense develops around star RB Luke Alves. If the quarterback situation – whether it’s Ryan Cash or Twayne Blackwell back there – comes around, the Vikings are dangerous.
Tepper’s pick: FW Nolan 42, Argyle Liberty Christian 37
FW All Saints (9-0) vs. Houston St. John’s (5-3)
I don’t meant to alarm anyone, but WE’VE GOT PLAYOFF FOOTBALL! That’s right: the SPC playoffs kick off this weekend, and this looks like the best game in the small-school bracket’s bi-district round. St. John’s is probably better than its record indicates – run-first QB Wes Wallace and RB Preston Neal has the Mavericks’ offense churning of late, and the defense of LB Wain Wanguri and LB Michael Newar has been solid all year. But All Saints is a different animal. The offense is absurd; 54.8 points per game thanks in large part to the unstoppable QB Foster Sawyer (2,597 yards, 37 TDs, just 2 INTs). And don’t forget WRs Blaze Moorehead and Kendall Adams, and 16-touchdown-scoring RB Daniel Gresham. The defense has been pretty good too, not that it’s needed to be. Until someone finds a way to slow down All Saints’ offense (season low points total: 42), how its defense plays will be pretty irrelevant.
Tepper’s pick: FW All Saints 49, Houston St. John’s 28
Houston Kinkaid (9-0) vs. Episcopal School of Dallas (6-3)
And in the big-school bracket, we have this tantalizing clash of regions. ESD’s strength is decidedly offensive, where QB Richie Loftus (1,934 yards, 21 TDs passing) and RB Jack Johnson (1,544 yards, 25 TDs rushing) form perhaps SPC’s most dynamic duo. But it’ll be up to the defense to have its best game of the year as it takes on Kinkaid, with the silly-explosive QB JT Granato (2,926 yards, 35 TDs) and WRs Jacob Matthews and Sam Mays (oh, and star recruit Mavin Saunders). What sets Kinkaid apart, though, is a surprisingly effective defense; DB Thomas Dillon and LB John David Johnson have been exceptional for the Falcons. Expect that to continue.
Tepper’s pick: Houston Kinkaid 41, Episcopal School of Dallas 28
Other Private School Games to Watch…
Fort Worth Christian (5-3, 3-1) at Waco Reicher (4-4, 3-1)
Tepper’s pick: FW Christian 28, Waco Reicher 24
Katy Pope John Paul XXIII (6-2, 3-1) at Houston Northland Christian (3-4, 2-1)
Tepper’s pick: Houston Northland Christian 26, Katy Pope John Paul XXIII 24
Six-man guru Leman Saunders offers his take on a big weekend of six-man football across Texas.
#2 Crowell (7-1) v #8 Knox City (7-1) – DI District 8 Game @Knox City
In a battle of ranked teams, Knox City hosts DI#2 Crowell, who unseated Throckmorton (who was then ranked #1) from the undefeated ranks two weeks ago and in doing so became the district favorite. Knox City is hoping to change all that a win for KC will force a week 10 showdown with Throckmorton and may force a three way tie for the district title, a Crowell would make that same week 10 matchup of KC v Throck basically a win and in situation for both those squads.
#9 Blackwell (7-1) v Robert Lee (4-4) – DII District 8 Game @Blackwell
One game to rule the district. Out of the four teams in DII District 8, these are the only two playing still, both Panther Creek and Lohn have been forced to forfeit their varsity games do to lake of players. That leaves just this one game to be played for the district title. Blackwell has had two straight open weeks after losing to their old rival Highland in a hard fought match. Robert Lee is 4-4 and also coming off an open week after having lost 3 straight. Both teams will be primed and itching for a win especially with the district title on the line.
Lake Jackson Brazosport Christian (8-0) @ Alvin Living Stone (7-1)
If you like scoring then you want to go to this game…in 8 games Lake Jackson has scored 639 points…that’s just about 80 points a game! Their Spreadback Dalton Stickley has 4,536 yards of total offense, passed for 49 TDs, rushed for 28 TDs and has caught 4 TDs. More importantly Lake Jackson is undefeated and one of the top ranked private schools in six-man. They face up with a 7-1 Alvin Living Stone, themselves playing great football this season. This game will be high scoring and your best shot at seeing a team score 100 points…heck Lake Jackson has done it 3 times already…and put up 99 last week!
Fannindel (9-0) v Leverett’s Chapel (7-1) – DI District 15 Game @Fannindel
Fannindel has flew under the radar all season and is one of only 7 undefeated teams in DI six-man, and the only one with 9 wins. In their last game of the regular season they face off with Leverett’s Chapel, whom Fannindel has not beaten since 2007. This game is a must win for Leverett’s Chapel if they want to see the post season as LC lost a close game to Fruitvale a team Fannindel beat last week. A LC win here would likely force a 3 way tie for the district title.
McLean (4-3) v Miami (5-4) – DI District 1 Game @McLean
McLean is 2-0 in district play with a game against district frontrunner Happy in week 10, while Miami is 2-1 and an open week in week 10. So this game is a must win for Miami if they want to extend their season, and it is likely a must win for McLean as well. McLean, winner of three straight, is coming off an open week and was the Army Strong team of the week two weeks ago. Their luck my run out this week as Miami has fared better against their shared district opponents, but it should still be a battle to the finish.
Santa Anna (5-4) v Lometa(6-2) – DI District 9 Game @Santa Anna
Santa Anna, a preseason favorite to make the playoffs out of this district, is sitting at 0-3 in district play with their final game to be played this week. They are facing Lometa, a team I picked to finish 5th in a district of five this preseason…Lometa is 2-0 and tied with May for the district’s top spot! No question that this is the toughest six-man district top to bottom in the state! Santa Anna’s only hope if to tie for 2nd with someone, but they can still play spoiler for Lometa! With this being their last game of the year and it being played at home…Santa Anna may just play the spoiler this Friday!
#5 May (8-0) v Zephyr (6-2) – DI District 9 Game @May
The other battle in District 9 will be at May. Zephyr is 1-1 and will have to face 1-2 Rochelle in week 10. An upset win here would help the Bulldogs significantly and set up the potential for a messy district finish with a 3 or 4 way tie. However, May is 2-0 and tied with Lometa for the top spot and those two will face off in week 10. Playing May will be no zephyr for Zephyr for May may be too much to handle for the bulldogs. But in this district nothing is for certain.
Jayton (7-1) v Guthrie (5-2) – DII District 9 @Jayton
One of six-man’s best rivalries will be played out again this Friday night in Jayton. Both Jayton and Guthrie are 1-0 in district play and this game may well decide who will be the champion and who will be the runner-up. Jayton owns the all-time series, which dates back to the 1950s, 21-13 (lonestarfootball.net).
White Deer (3-5) @ Meadow (3-5) – Non-District Game
With the season winding down, White Deer should be feeling good about their decision to play six-man football. Even though this season they played as an independent/outlaw team they have grown in the process. After running a gauntlet in their first 5 games of the season and starting 0-5 (played DII#1 Follett and PS#1 Dallas Covenant as well as 3 other six-man powerhouses in Groom, Motley County and DI #9 Happy) Coach Miracle and his Bucks have won 3 straight and are looking to make it 4 against Meadow, another playoff perennial but who has suffered through a rebuilding year this season.
Greg Tepper is the associate editor of Dave Campbell's Texas Football and TexasFootball.com.