WEEK 2 PREVIEW: Breaking down the biggest games in Texas high school football

Cuero-Yoakum, Midway-Cedar Ridge, Steele-Lake Travis highlight a huge Week 2 across the state.

Cuero (0-0) vs Yoakum (1-0)
One of the state’s most underrated rivalries is renewed this week in front of what should be a packed house in Cuero. The Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) talent on the field will be in large supply as both teams have realistic state title hopes in their respective classifications. Cuero had its opener cancelled last week due to Hurricane Harvey, so expect a little first-game sloppiness but head coach Travis Reeve is hoping that the Gobblers experience will offset Game 1 jitters. Yoakum played last week and the Bulldogs did what was expected in easily defeating Hondo 33-0. Jordan Moore had an interception on defense and hauled in a touchdown pass for Yoakum in the win. Both teams are loaded at the skill spots, so to me that’s a wash. This game comes down to the trenches and which defense can get stops. I lean toward Cuero in what should be a fantastic game.
Stepp’s Pick: Cuero by 3
Max’s Pick: Cuero
Ishmael’s Pick: Cuero
Brady’s Pick: Yoakum
Tepper’s Pick: Yoakum

Waco Midway (1-0) vs. Round Rock Cedar Ridge (1-0)
Midway pulled what many thought to be a surprise last week (I picked the Panthers) as they knocked off Cedar Park, 35-28, on the strength of over 200 yards rushing and three touchdowns from James Fulbright. Oklahoma commit quarterback Tanner Mordecai was solid as well tossing a pair of touchdowns in the win. Cedar Ridge had no problems in new head coach Sam Robinson’s debut rolling past New Braunfels Canyon 46-14. Ezekiel Coss had an 85-yard touchdown run in the win and Simi Bakare ran for 157 yards and a pair of scores as the Raiders’ balanced attack and team speed were just too much for Canyon. Expect a high scoring game with lots of firepower on both sides, but Cedar Ridge’s team speed won’t phase Midway who sees team speed quite often. Look for the Panthers offensive balance to be a difference.
Stepp’s Pick: Midway by 6
Max’s Pick: Midway
Ishmael’s Pick: Cedar Ridge
Brady’s Pick: Midway
Tepper’s Pick: Midway

Cibolo Steele (1-0) vs Lake Travis (0-1)
Similar situation to a year ago, Steele rolled past San Antonio Madison in Week 1 and Lake Travis is in real danger of going 0-2. The difference is that LTHS had a late-game collapse in its loss to Judson in 2016 while last week the Cavaliers were simply taken to the woodshed in a 65-45 defeat. Can the Cavaliers’ defense, which was shredded, bounce back and contain Steele’s versatile and speedy offense? Steele didn’t have Rice commit Brenden Brady last week who suited up but didn’t play in the 36-3 win over Madison. There were no worries in that department as De’Quavion Thomas and Tylee Tyson combined for 225 yards and three touchdowns. The big matchup here is Lake Travis quarterback Matthew Baldwin, a Colorado State commit, matching up with a Steele secondary that includes defensive back Caden Sturns (Texas), JayVeon Cardwell (Oklahoma State) and J.T. Woods (Baylor). On paper, Steele looks to be the better team, but I have a weird feeling Lake Travis’ defense is going to play much better this week and that offense looks as strong as ever.
Stepp’s Pick: Lake Travis by 10
Max’s Pick: Lake Travis
Ishmael’s Pick: Lake Travis
Brady’s Pick: Cibolo Steele
Tepper’s Pick: Lake Travis

Wall (1-0) vs. Cisco (1-0)
Few teams in the state were quite as dominating as the Wall Hawks last week who summarily dismantled a good 4A team in Monahans to the tune of 50-13. Casey Braden and Tymber Carr led a dominant and balanced Wall ground attack while the Hawks defense totally shut down a speedy Monahans Wing-T offense. Cisco’s defense was a dominant force last week in a 20-6 win over Breckenridge. The Lobos held BHS to just five first downs and 134 yards of total offense. Cisco’s offense wasn’t exactly sharp but Coach West’s squad did just enough as Dathan Harding ran for 131 yards and a pair of scores. Cisco has lost one game at home in the past eight years. That lone loss was to Wall in 2015. This is a tremendous inter-divisional rivalry in Class 3A out west and Cisco hasn’t forgotten about the loss. But Wall is massive up front and its depth at the skill spots is going to be too much for a good, but slightly under-manned Cisco team.
Stepp’s Pick: Wall by 14
Max’s Pick: Wall
Ishmael’s Pick: Wall
Brady’s Pick: Wall
Tepper’s Pick: Wall

Graham (1-0) vs. Brownwood (1-0)
Two teams that are on the cusp of jumping into the elite of Class 4A meet up at one of the state’s most historic venues – Gordon Wood Stadium. Both offenses put on an absolute show a week ago in wins over solid programs. Graham, fresh off a 7-on-7 state title, picked up where it left off in the summer with a dominant 55-14 win over Sanger. Chase Gilmore ran for 159 yards and three touchdowns while quarterback Tucker Horn was on fire throwing for 345 yards and four touchdowns. Brownwood blasted Class 5A Canyon 60-20 as the Lions scored on their first seven possessions of the game. Nick Salazar hauled in two touchdown passes to lead a cavalcade of Brownwood points. Running back Gavin Jefferson added 115 yards on the ground in addition to a 66-yard touchdown reception as well. With this kind of offensive firepower on the field, this game will come down to which defense can get the job done and in this matchup. I give the edge to a very good Brownwood defensive line.
Stepp’s Pick: Brownwood by 4
Max’s Pick: Graham
Ishmael’s Pick: Brownwood
Brady’s Pick: Graham
Tepper’s Pick: Graham

DeSoto (1-0) vs. Denton Guyer (1-0)
Talk about a big time Thursday night matchup. Defending state champion DeSoto heads north to take on powerful Denton Guyer. Neither team had a flawless effort a week ago as DeSoto needed to hang on for a 41-36 win over Dallas Jesuit. The Eagles jumped out to a 28-6 lead, but needed a late interception in the end zone to extend their winning streak to 17 games in a row. Quarterback Courtney Douglas had 262 yards of total offense in the win and accounted for five touchdowns in the win. Denton Guyer opened the season slowly falling down to 5A Mansfield Lake Ridge 21-3 in the first quarter, but the Wildcats cranked up their ground attack in the game’s final 36 minutes and the defense stuffed Lake Ridge down the stretch in a 37-21 win. Running back Kaedric Cobbs ran for 116 yards and two scores and Devin Jefferson added in two scores as well. The biggest concern for Guyer is the lack of a passing game. The Wildcats will likely struggle against elite teams and defenses if they remain totally one dimensional. DeSoto’s defense is too good to be a run only team and if Guyer doesn’t have the threat of a passing game, the edge has to go to the Eagles.
Stepp’s Pick: DeSoto by 8
Max’s Pick: DeSoto
Ishmael’s Pick: DeSoto
Brady’s Pick: Denton Guyer
Tepper’s Pick: DeSoto

Frisco Lone Star (1-0, 1-0) vs. Mansfield Timberview (1-0)
One of the top matchups in DFW features two teams who have designs on contending for the Region II crown. Lone Star had a rare season opening district game as the Rangers pulled away from Frisco Heritage in a 41-20 win. Running back Kirby Bennett led the way for Lone Star rushing for 244 yards and four touchdowns as Lone Star scored the game’s final 21 points. Timberview was dominant in a 44-8 rout of Everman. The Wolves defense forced five turnovers and Missouri commit Jaylen Knox had 137 receiving yards and a touchdown. A year ago, THS struggled to throw the ball consistently, but it appears the team has shown major improvement in that area and that makes them dangerous. Timberview’s defensive speed is the key in this game and I think it pulls off a mild upset at home against a very good Lone Star squad.
Stepp’s Pick: Mansfield Timberview by 2
Max’s Pick: Lone Star
Ishmael’s Pick: Lone Star
Brady’s Pick: Lone Star
Tepper’s Pick: Lone Star

Marshall (0-1) vs. Longview (1-0)
One of the state’s oldest and nastiest rivalries renews in Longview as Marshall looks to knock off its larger rival to the west. The Mavericks showed flashes in their loss to Tyler Lee last week, but in order to pull the upset they’ll need a lot more consistency, especially in the passing game where the Mavs completed just 33 percent of their passes. Longview’s defense showed massive improvement from a year ago when it had major struggles. The team rolled past Lufkin 35-16 and it was a complete win as a heavy defensive line rotation dominated. The Lobos scored on special teams, on the ground and through the air. The difference here is Longview’s defense. This is the Lobos defense we’ve grown to love and while they are still trying to settle on a consistent offensive identity, that defense is going to be there all year long. The biggest thing I’ll be watching in this one is Longview’s quarterback rotation. All three quarterbacks played last week and all three had their moments. They aren’t making head coach John King’s job of settling on a primary quarterback much easier.
Stepp’s Pick: Longview by 21
Max’s Pick: Longview
Ishmael’s Pick: Longview
Brady’s Pick: Longview
Tepper’s Pick: Longview

Ennis (0-1) vs. Tyler John Tyler (1-0)
It’s a battle of Lions out at Rose Stadium as Ennis takes the trip out east to take on a strong John Tyler squad. Ennis was stunned at home on the game’s final play last week in a 29-28 defeat to South Oak Cliff (SOC). Running back Tycen Thompson helped Ennis jump out to an 18-6 lead with a pair of touchdown runs, but the Ennis defense couldn’t hold late and SOC pulled off what many consider a mild upset. John Tyler had no such issues as CUJO went to Plano and drilled Plano West, 49-13. The Lions rolled up nearly 600 yards of offense, led by Cameron Grant who ran for 200 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Roderick Hawkins added in 149 yards rushing and a score. Quarterback Devlen Woods, in his first varsity start, was efficient tossing a pair of touchdowns, while also running for 80 yards as JTHS looks to be more ground-oriented at least early on. Ennis will have to slow the tempo down in this one, but trying to run at John Tyler plays into the strength of what is an experienced defensive unit. Look for John Tyler to run their record to 2-0 this week at home.
Stepp’s Pick: Tyler John Tyler by 18
Max’s Pick: Tyler John Tyler
Ishmael’s Pick: Tyler John Tyler
Brady’s Pick: Tyler John Tyler
Tepper’s Pick: Tyler John Tyler

Silsbee (0-0) vs. Newton (0-0)
After dealing with the effects of Hurricane Harvey last week, football will be played this week in Southeast Texas as 4A Silsbee takes on 3A powerhouse Newton. Silsbee under second year head coach Randy Smith returns thirteen starters headlined by WR Kalon Barnes who is a Baylor commit. The Tigers struggled at times with a young defense last year, but they should be much improved with a second year in the system and more experience. Newton is a machine that just doesn’t quit, the Eagles went 13-1 a year ago and bring back plenty of firepower of their own. RB Darwin Barlow who ran for well over 1,300 yards returns to lead the offense, while Newton’s defense led by LB Corbin Foster might be one of the best in the state at the 3A level. Newton’s got some holes to fill up front along the offensive line, but their defense is the difference in this one.
Stepp’s Pick: Newton by 9
Max’s Pick: Newton
Ishmael’s Pick: Newton
Brady’s Pick: Silsbee
Tepper’s Pick: Newton

Tatum (1-0) vs. Henderson (1-0)
Both teams come into this one fresh off impressive shutout wins to open the season. Tatum, at home, knocked off Arp 14-0 as the Eagles scored a pair of first half touchdowns and that proved to be more than enough as THS forced four Arp turnovers in the win. Henderson took the long road trip up to Atlanta and rolled past the Rabbits 36-0 as five different Lions scored touchdowns in very balanced attack. Defensive back Ty Blanton had a pick-six which capped off a 21-point second quarter explosion that turned the game into a 29-0 halftime lead. That left the result in little doubt. Both defenses are solid, but Henderson’s explosive ability on the offensive side of the ball is the real difference.
Stepp’s Pick: Henderson by 10
Max’s Pick: Henderson
Ishmael’s Pick: Henderson
Brady’s Pick: Henderson
Tepper’s Pick: Henderson

Lubbock Cooper (1-0) at Canyon Randall (0-0)
Cooper started the year off with a solid home win over a good Amarillo team 17-13 at home. Andrew Simnacher’s 19-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter proved to be the difference for the Pirates in a low scoring defensive slugfest. Simnacher had both of the Pirates’ touchdowns as he hauled in a 5-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter to tie the game at seven. Cooper’s defense was bend-don’t-break, but in key moments it held the Amarillo Wing-T offense in check. Canyon Randall had the week off last week and the Raiders look to be much improved under second0-year head coach Gaylon Selman. The key for Randall will be remaining healthy as there isn’t much depth. I expect Lubbock Cooper, with one game already under its belt, to be much sharper than Randall. Combine that with the Pirates’ better offensive balance and look for Cooper to move to 2-0.
Stepp’s Pick: Lubbock Cooper by 13
Max’s Pick: Lubbock Cooper
Ishmael’s Pick: Lubbock Cooper
Brady’s Pick: Lubbock Cooper
Tepper’s Pick: Lubbock Cooper

El Campo (0-0) vs. Angleton (0-0)
This one is a great way to kick the season off as due to the lingering effects of Hurricane Harvey. Many of the larger schools in Houston are electing to just scrimmage this week, thus Angleton is one of the few 5A’s that are playing. The Wildcats are one of the favorites in 5A Region IV, especially with the return of Texas commit B.J. Foster who missed much of last year with a knee injury. Foster’s explosiveness and big-play capability makes Angelton’s Wing-T offense one of the most dangerous in the Houston area. 4A El Campo stunned favored Angleton at home last year, but the Ricebirds were hit hard by graduation. A young team in their first game against a larger school with a lot of experience back could mean a big win for the Wildcats.
Stepp’s Pick: Angleton by 17
Max’s Pick: Angleton
Ishmael’s Pick: Angleton
Brady’s Pick: Angleton
Tepper’s Pick: Angleton

McAllen Memorial (1-0) vs. Weslaco East (1-0)
The highlight game in the Valley this week pits two teams who prefer old school smash-mouth football. Perennial RGV power McAllen Memorial, led by sophomore sensation running back Campbell Speights, finished with 133 yards rushing and three touchdowns in a 41-24 win over Mission Pioneer after a slow start in the first half. The big question for Memorial is the status of quarterback Angel Almaguer who left the game in the second half with an apparent knee injury. Weslaco East made a major statement last week as the Wildcats blasted Mission Sharyland 62-0. ATH J.C. Vargas did a little bit of everything in the win including two touchdown receptions and if East can consistently throw the ball, the Wildcats could be a team that emerged as a viable Valley contender at the 6A level. East’s defense and experience is big in this one and I wouldn’t be surprised if they unleashed running back Roy Pedraza this week after for the most part keeping him under wraps last week.
Stepp’s Pick: Weslaco East by 6
Max’s Pick: Weslaco East
Ishmael’s Pick: McAllen Memorial
Brady’s Pick: Weslaco East
Tepper’s Pick: Weslaco East

San Antonio O’Connor (1-0) vs. San Antonio Churchill (1-0)
In San Antonio, the 6A landscape begins and ends with Steele and Judson, but on that next level and looking for a breakthrough are teams like O’Connor and Churchill. O’Connor rolled past San Antonio MacArthur 49-24 as quarterback Roel Sanchez tossed four touchdown passes and ran for another as the Panthers offense rolled up 500 yards. Churchill, who had a surprise quarter-final run a year ago, kept that momentum up with an impressive 48-20 rout of San Antonio Clark last week. The Chargers, who normally prefer to keep things on the ground, unleashed quarterback Derek Perez who accounted for four touchdowns in the win and had a perfect 14-for-14 passing day as well. Both quarterbacks are among the best in the Alamo City, but the difference in this one is O’Connor has the more explosive offensive attack and just more playmakers across the board.
Stepp’s Pick: San Antonio O’Connor by 8
Max’s Pick: San Antonio O’Connor
Ishmael’s Pick: San Antonio O’Connor
Brady’s Pick: San Antonio Churchill
Tepper’s Pick: San Antonio O’Connor

Shallowater (1-0) vs. Levelland (1-0)
Talk about a great debut, in front of a live television audience on Fox Southwest. Shallowater under new head coach Bryan Wood made quite the statement blasting a good Idalou team 35-7. 2016 was an absolute disaster for the Mustangs, but it’s obvious that under Wood, who had big success at Canyon Randall, the Mustangs are poised for a bounce back. Quarterback Cutter Sparks completed all nine of his passes for 200 yards and two scores to pace the big win. The challenge gets tougher this week as Shallowater has to contend with Levelland and quarterback Chris Geber. Gerber, who moved behind center after playing running back the past two years, replaces his record-setting brother Nick and didn’t waste any time making his mark in a 54-34 win over Muleshoe. Gerber ran for 176 yards and four touchdowns along with throwing for 298 yards and three scores as well. Even with a new head coach, Levelland looks to still be a very explosive offensive unit on the South Plains. Expect Shallowater to try too slow the pace down some as it doesn’t want to get into a track meet with the Lobos. I expect this one to be close, but I think the larger school sneaks away with the win.
Stepp’s Pick: Levelland by 3
Max’s Pick: Levelland
Ishmael’s Pick: Shallowater
Brady’s Pick: Levelland
Tepper’s Pick: Shallowater

Temple (1-0) vs. Round Rock (0-1)
Although a favorite in this one, I’m putting Temple on possible let-down alert this week. The Wildcats won a hard-fought opener in front of a big crowd against their rival Belton, 38-31. Now the Wildcats have to travel south on I-35 to take on a good Round Rock team that’s starting after a surprise loss at home to Schertz Clemens 26-17. Temple last week dug itself a 14-0 hole early and trailed 31-17 in the second half, but scored the game’s final three touchdowns to pull the win out. RRHS led 17-10 at the half but its rush defense let them down in the second half as Clemens used a pair of long touchdown runs to steal the win on the road. Round Rock struggled to run the football all night and had 228 yards of offense. I expect a better performance this week and although I’m picking Temple, I think this one is going to be really close.
Stepp’s Pick: Temple by 4
Max’s Pick: Temple
Ishmael’s Pick: Round Rock
Brady’s Pick: Temple
Tepper’s Pick: Temple

Abilene (0-1) at Midland Lee (1-0)
An old school West Texas showdown on Friday at Grande Communications Stadium, has more on the line than you’d think for a non-district game. Abilene comes in as a young team in transition after losing a fantastic group of seniors.  That youth showed in the first half of a 42-28 loss to San Angelo Central, but there are some positive for the Eagles as their second half effort was vastly improved. For Midland Lee, this is a true measuring-stick game — second-year head coach Clint Hartmann thinks his squad is primed to compete for a playoff spot in the Little Southwest Conference, and they took care of business with an easy 58-24 win on the road at El Paso Coronado last week. Josh Traylor led the way for the Rebels with 184 yards on the ground and four touchdowns. The key in this one is if Abilene can avoid the slow start on the road — last week the Eagles, had just 4 yards of offense in the first half. If AHS can do that, the Eagles have a good shot at getting their first win. Lee prefers to get it done on the ground, and that plays into Abilene’s strength, as Central proved last week the way to hurt Abilene is in the air.
Stepp’s Pick: Abilene by 7
Max’s Pick: Abilene
Ishmael’s Pick: Abilene

Brady’s Pick: Abilene
Tepper’s Pick: Abilene

Each week, six-man insider Leman Saunders will provide his insight and analysis on the best games in Class 1A. Contact Leman on Twitter @LemanSaunders.

Calvert (1-0) at Coolidge (1-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
A great matchup between DI and DII schools here. DI Coolidge may be an underdog in the eyes of many, but with RB Torrey Hoover on the field — who ran for 172 yards and 5 TDs on 12 carries last week — they stand a great chance to beat anyone. Calvert is in a rebuilding year with a new head coach, and Coolidge just crushed a great private school team in Rockwall Heritage.
Leman’s pick: Coolidge
Tepper’s pick: Coolidge

Milford (1-0) at Jonesboro (1-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
Another great intra-division game, Milford survived a late scare last week as they beat Bryson 51-50 While Jonesboro won a low-scoring affair beating Iredell 30-0. Both teams probably feel they have improvements to make, which could make this a speedy back-and-forth affair. This is more like a pick ’em for me; in that case, I lean to the team with the best individual player. That’s Milford’s Taron Smith, who had 308 yards of total offense last week.
Leman’s pick: Milford
Tepper’s pick: Jonesboro

Throckmorton (0-1) at Gorman (1-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
This game was an epic back-and-forth battle last season, as Gorman pulled away in the second half after Throckmorton running back Jarrett Wigington went down with an injury. Wigington is back and hungry for revenge, and is joined by Aaron Hernandez, who threw for 197 yards and 5 scores last week. Gorman has a stud back themselves in Trent Pardon, who might be the best athlete on the field Friday night. I think the Greyhounds give them fits, but Gorman edges them out in the end.
Leman’s pick: Gorman
Tepper’s pick: Gorman

Valley (1-0) at Follett (1-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
In what is very likely to be a playoff preview, Valley will travel to Follett on Friday in what is sure to be a marquee matchup. Both schools had convincing wins last week over Division I opponents — Valley crushed a ranked Sterling City squad 62-28, and Follett topped Ira 45-22. Both teams are well-rounded with multiple offensive weapons, but I think Valley’s backfield triple-threat of Dax Allen, Jayton Smith and Parker Carson will be too much for Follett’s defense.
Leman’s pick: Valley
Tepper’s pick: Valley

QUICK PICKS

Normangee (1-0) vs. Buffalo (1-0)
Stepp’s Pick: Buffalo by 11
Max’s Pick: Buffalo
Ishmael’s Pick: Buffalo
Brady’s Pick: Buffalo
Tepper’s Pick: Buffalo

Argyle (1-0) vs. La Grange (0-0)
Stepp’s Pick: Argyle by 23
Max’s Pick: Argyle
Ishmael’s Pick: Argyle
Brady’s Pick: Argyle
Tepper’s Pick: Argyle

Gunter (1-0) vs Pottsboro (1-0)
Stepp’s Pick: Gunter by 9
Max’s Pick: Gunter
Ishmael’s Pick: Gunter
Brady’s Pick: Gunter
Tepper’s Pick: Gunter

Whitesboro (1-0) vs Aubrey (1-0)
Stepp’s Pick: Aubrey by 3
Max’s Pick: Aubrey
Ishmael’s Pick: Whitesboro
Brady’s Pick: Aubrey
Tepper’s Pick: Aubrey

Laredo United South (0-1) vs Harlingen (0-1)
Stepp’s Pick: Laredo United South by 6
Max’s Pick: Harlingen
Ishmael’s Pick: Laredo United South
Brady’s Pick: Laredo United South
Tepper’s Pick: Harlingen

Lubbock Coronado (1-0) vs Wichita Falls Rider (0-1)
Stepp’s Pick: Lubbock Coronado by 14
Max’s Pick: Lubbock Coronado
Ishmael’s Pick: Lubbock Coronado
Brady’s Pick: Lubbock Coronado
Tepper’s Pick: Lubbock Coronado

El Paso Eastlake (1-0) vs El Paso Chapin (1-0)
Stepp’s Pick: El Paso Eastlake by 12
Max’s Pick: El Paso Eastlake
Ishmael’s Pick: El Paso Eastlake
Brady’s Pick: El Paso Eastlake
Tepper’s Pick: El Paso Chapin

Boerne (1-0) at Castroville Medina Valley (1-0)
Stepp’s Pick: Boerne by 7
Max’s Pick: Boerne
Ishmael’s Pick: Boerne
Brady’s Pick: Boerne
Tepper’s Pick: Boerne

Corpus Christi Calallen (1-0) at San Antonio Johnson (1-0)
Stepp’s Pick: Corpus Christi Calallen by 2
Max’s Pick: S.A. Johnson
Ishmael’s Pick: Calallen
Brady’s Pick: Calallen
Tepper’s pick: Calallen

Odessa Permian (1-0) vs El Paso Franklin (1-0)
Stepp’s Pick: Odessa Permian by 27
Max’s Pick: Odessa Permian
Ishmael’s Pick: Odessa Permian
Brady’s Pick: Odessa Permian
Tepper’s Pick: Odessa Permian

PICK ACCURACY
Max Thompson (DCTF Digital Director): 82%
Matt Stepp (DCTF High School Insider): 79%
Greg Tepper (DCTF Managing Editor): 76%
Brady Keane (DCTF Contributing Writer): 74%
Ishmael Johnson (DCTF Editor): 68%

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