WEEK 3 PREVIEW: Breaking down the biggest games in Texas high school football

Manvel-Pearland, Katy-The Woodlands, Cameron Yoe-China Spring highlight a huge Week 3 slate of Texas high school football action.
Photo by Diana Porter

Photo by Diana Porter

Manvel (2-0) at Pearland (2-0)
Few 5A teams in the state boast the kind of resumé that Manvel has through two weeks of the season. The Mavericks have wins over Crosby and North Shore, and will look to take down former district rival Pearland to close out the non-district slate. Known as an offense-first team, the Mavericks showed they have the ability to win a low scoring defensive battle last week, beating North Shore at their own game in a 26-13 win. Pearland once again is off to a nice start as the Oilers rolled past Houston Memorial 36-0, and it was a nice bounce back after learning that Texas A&M commit QB Connor Blumrick will miss the rest of the year with a foot injury. Expect the Oilers to lean more heavily on RB Jaelin Benefield, who had a big game last week, rushing for 124 yards and four touchdowns. Manvel’s non-district run has been brutal, and I’m not sure how much they have left in the tank after last week’s slugfest with North Shore. Pearland has always matched up well with the Mavericks, and I think at The Rig, the Oilers win a close one.
Stepp’s Pick: Pearland by 3
Craven’s Pick: Manvel
Max’s Pick: Manvel

Katy (1-1) at The Woodlands (2-0)
It’s a really good week in the Houston area for high profile matchups as Katy – fresh off a double overtime 50-49 win over Klein Collins – takes on longtime nemesis The Woodlands. Even in dominating years, Katy has always had a tough time with The Woodlands. Maybe it’s just good matchups or maybe it’s because the Highlanders aren’t intimidated by the Katy mystique. Whatever it is, more times than not, it ends up being a good game. The Tigers defense in two games has given up more points than all of 2015, so that’s certainly a concern for Coach Joseph and his staff, and slowing down what looks to be a much improved TWHS offense will be tough. QB Eric Schmid directs the high-octane attack and in true “son of the head coach” fashion, he doesn’t make a lot of mistakes and puts the ball in spots where his playmakers can make things happen. Katy has been really good early on offensively with RB Deondrick Glass as talented as advertised – and even better at times. The key here is: Can Katy’s defense improve? I’m betting on yes. Despite it being a short week, I think the Katy staff is going to really focus on getting some of the defensive lapses cleaned up, and the Tigers get a big win to close out a tough non-district slate.
Stepp’s Pick: Katy by 4
Craven’s Pick: The Woodlands
Max’s Pick: The Woodlands

Waxahachie (2-0) at Ennis (1-1)
After years of getting dominated by their neighbors 15 miles to the south, Waxahachie made a statement last year that they were back, stunning the defending state champion, Ennis, at home. That, combined with the usual level of dislike between these two, should lead to a hotly contested 2016 edition of “The Battle of 287.” Waxahachie got a huge win last week, stunning Highland Park 40-37 at home. The Tribe rallied from a 37-27 fourth quarter deficit to pull the win out, led by WR Jalen Reagor, who had eight receptions for 205 yards and three touchdowns. His sidekick, TCU commit Kennedy Snell, had 141 yards of offense and two touchdowns as well. The Indians offense has been as advertised, but can their defense hold up against a powerful Ennis rushing attack? Ennis trailed Tyler John Tyler 17-14 heading to the fourth quarter last week, but they allowed two late scores and CUJO pulled away for a 30-14 win despite over 200 yards of offense from RB Tycen Thompson. Ennis will look to wear Waxahachie down with ball control and keep the explosive offense of Coach Kitna’s squad on the sidelines. A year ago, Hachie was the underdog and threw a ton of tricks and onside kicks at Ennis, so don’t be surprised if Ennis HC Jack Alvarez has a trick or two up his sleeve this week. This one is a rivalry game, so anything and everything is bound to happen. I’m going with Ennis since they’re at home, and with a hunch that, after an emotional win last week, Waxahachie may have a little let down. Plus, Ennis hasn’t forgotten what happened last year.
Stepp’s Pick: Ennis by 2
Craven’s Pick: Ennis
Max’s Pick: Waxahachie

Photo by Ashley Wirz

Photo by Ashley Wirz

Lubbock Cooper (1-0) at Wolfforth Frenship (2-0)
The top two programs in the Hub City hook up in what looks to be a fascinating matchup. Cooper’s season opener against Amarillo was halted in the second quarter, but the Pirates notched a big win this past week, taking down a solid Canyon Randall squad 34-21. The Pirates defense forced four Randall turnovers in the first half, jumping out to a commanding 24-0 halftime lead. QB Jarrett Doege tossed four touchdown passes in the win, but the downside is he threw three interceptions, something that can’t be done this week against 6A Frenship. The Tigers improved to 2-0 last week with a 42-28 win over El Paso El Dorado, as RB Garrison Johnson went wild, rushing for 342 yards and four touchdowns to lead Frenship to a tough road win. This game has potential to turn into quite the rivalry, and with fast growth south of Lubbock it’s not far-fetched to think in a few years this will be a district game. Frenship’s depth in the trenches and ability to force turnovers could prove key in this one.
Stepp’s Pick: Wolfforth Frenship by 5
Craven’s Pick: Lubbock Cooper
Max’s Pick: Lubbock Cooper

China Spring (2-0) at Cameron Yoe (2-0)
A tremendous inter-class matchup in Central Texas features two unbeaten. China Spring in Class 4A handed the Yoemen their only loss of the regular season last year, and served notice they’d be a team to watch. The Cougars ripped through Class 5A Huntsville last week 55-8, as QB Cutter Haigood tossed four touchdown passes and versatile Keaton Dudick ran for a pair of scores. CSHS jumped out to a 35-0 halftime lead and cruised to the easy win. The task will be much tougher this week as they have to travel south on Highway 77 to Cameron, where getting a win is never an easy task. Yoe blasted 4A Gatesville last week 69-31 behind a huge performance from WR Sicory Smith. The senior from Yoe had six catches for 189 yards and five touchdowns and also returned a kickoff for a touchdown. China Spring’s top priority will be slowing Smith down, but the Yoemen look to be picking up right where they left off as they’ve got plenty of talented playmakers to rely on and firepower at the QB position. Expect a shootout in this one and the defense that makes some plays will likely emerge the victor. Slight edge at home to Cameron Yoe.
Stepp’s Pick: Cameron Yoe by 3
Craven’s Pick: China Spring
Max’s Pick: Cameron Yoe

Coleman (2-0) at Post (2-0)
Two of the top small schools in West Texas hook up in one of the state’s top games regardless of classification. Coleman got a hard-fought 24-10 win over Comanche, while Post blasted Tahoka 74-28. Coleman was led last week by Bryson Hammonds, who ran for 165 yards and a touchdown in the win, as the Bluecats rolled up nearly 300 rushing yards in the victory. Coleman only attempted three passes on the night. Post, on the other hand, exploded for 74 points as A.J. Reed ran for 258 yards and five touchdowns, while also returning a pair of kickoffs for scores. The focus of the Coleman defense will be slowing down the speedy Antelopes running back, and the Bluecats will certainly be bigger and more physical. Late in the game that makes a difference. I think Coleman declares that it is a team to watch in 3A Division II with a big win.
Stepp’s Pick: Coleman by 11
Craven’s Pick: Post
Max’s Pick: Coleman

Odem (2-0) at George West (2-0)
It’s a clash of styles in South Texas this week as high-powered sling-it-around Odem hooks up with George West, which recently switched to the spread offense from the Slot-T. But make no mistake, the Longhorns prefer to run the football. Odem earned itself a wild and unique win last week over Mathis 49-37. The game was to be played in Odem, but lighting struck in the area, knocking power to the Owls stadium out, so the game was moved to Mathis and kickoff was pushed back to 8:30 p.m. It didn’t faze Odem senior QB Michael Everett, who threw for 273 yards and five touchdowns, while RB Robert Martinez added much needed balance, rushing for 149 yards and two scores. Odem had a hard time slowing down Mathis’ offense, but the Pirates are a bigger and more physical team and they are fresh off a trip to the 3A Division I semifinals. GWHS will present Odem with similar challenges as evidenced by their big time rushing effort. Even more impressive has been the Longhorns defense, which in two games has allowed just six points. They’ll have their hands full with potent Odem, which has one of the top offensive units in all of South Texas. The Owls are flying high and I look for another big game from Everett, who will graduate from Odem with a lot of South Texas records.
Stepp’s Pick: Odem by 14
Craven’s Pick: George West
Max’s Pick: Odem

Bruni (2-0) at Yorktown (2-0)
A playoff rematch from last year (that was won by Bruni in a thriller) will take place down in Yorktown on Friday. YHS has moved up to Division I, and is off to a good start to 2016 after a solid 23-22 win over Class 3A Universal City Randolph. After a shaky first half, the Yorktown defense stepped up big in the second half of the win, as turnovers proved to be the difference. Bruni, after upsetting Falls City to open the season, kept its hot start going as the Badgers had no trouble with Kenedy in a dominant 32-13 victory. The Badgers have established themselves as one of top teams in 2A Division II Region IV, but matching up with a deeper and more athletic Yorktown squad on the road is a tall task. We’ll go with Yorktown in what should be a fun matchup.
Stepp’s Pick: Yorktown by 5
Craven’s Pick: Bruni
Max’s Pick: Yorktown 

Photo by Gary Sanderson

Photo by Gary Sanderson

Allen (2-0) at Coppell (2-0)
Allen will play its first road game of the year, visiting unbeaten Coppell, a squad that always seems to match up well with the Eagles. It’s tough to gauge where Allen is in comparison to the rest of the state as both of their wins are over out-of-state opponents. The Eagles drilled Shreveport Evangel last week 45-10, led by a smothering defense that forced five turnovers. The offense didn’t put up huge numbers, but it was more than enough in the easy win. Coppell is unbeaten, but the Cowboys haven’t exactly lit the world on fire either with wins over Bell and McKinney Boyd. The Cowboys trailed 14-0 at halftime last week, but rallied late for a 31-21 win. The victory was sealed with a late 65-yard pick six by Tristan Kalina as Boyd was driving for a potential game-tying field goal. Allen’s defense, which was thought to be a question mark going into 2016, has been tremendous thus far and that trend continues as I expect the Eagles to roll past Coppell on the road.
Stepp’s Pick: Allen by 17
Craven’s Pick: Allen
Max’s Pick: Allen

Whitehouse (2-0) at Carthage (1-0)
Whitehouse is off to a good start, knocking off rival Tyler Chapel Hill 34-7 at Rose Stadium a week ago. WHS forced five Bulldog turnovers, including a pick six by DB Javier Neal, who also had another interception in the game. WR Zach Parker did plenty of damage as well, hauling in nine passes for 112 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The task will be much tougher this week as they visit Panola County to take on Carthage. The Bulldogs went up to Texarkana last week and earned a hard fought 34-20 win over Liberty-Eylau. Carthage jumped out to a quick 28-0 lead behind QB Kason Davis, who threw for 292 yards and four touchdowns with Carthage is employing a much more wide-open attack early in the season. L-E rallied back to cut the lead to 28-20, but RB Keaontay Ingram scored with little more than two minutes left to seal the win. Ingram finished with 172 yards rushing. If Carthage continues that kind offensive production this year they will be a tough out, and will be on the short list of state title contending teams. Look for the Bulldogs to roll at home.
Stepp’s Pick: Carthage by 13
Craven’s Pick: Carthage
Max’s Pick: Carthage

Henderson (2-0) at Pittsburg (2-0)
It’s been an impressive start for the Lions, who drilled Tatum last week 45-13. In two games, Henderson has outscored opponents 89-26. Versatile Tristan Ebner threw a touchdown, ran for one and caught another as Henderson built a 31-6 lead after the first play of the second half and cruised to a win. Pittsburg had no trouble with 5A Longview Pine Tree, as the Pirates rolled to a 51-26 victory. The balanced offense from PHS led the way with Deldric Shields running for 146 yards and four touchdowns on just 15 carries, while QB Jaylon Jimmerson threw for 150 yards and a score. Expect a lot of points in this one. Both teams are among the top offenses in East Texas, but Henderson has played the tougher schedule and been the more dominant team early on, so we’ll take the Lions to win a shootout between two top ten teams in the DCTF 4A polls.
Stepp’s Pick: Henderson by 10
Craven’s Pick: Pittsburg
Max’s Pick: Henderson

El Paso Chapin (2-0) at El Paso Pebble Hills (1-1)
A lot of the talk at the 5A level in the Sun City has centered on Eastlake, but Chapin served notice that it shouldn’t be overlooked when it stunned Eastlake 14-0. The Huskies defense was simply unbelievable, forcing five turnovers and containing what many feel is one of the top offenses in the city. New school Pebble Hills has been more than competitive early on, losing a close game to Andress last week. Coach Torres’ squad is very young but they have plenty of talent and will be a dangerous opponent. However, Chapin’s defense once again proves to be the difference in a big win.
Stepp’s Pick: El Paso Chapin by 12
Craven’s Pick: Chapin
Max’s Pick: Chapin

West Orange-Stark (2-0) at Bridge City (2-0)
The defending state champions have been among the most dominant teams in the state through two weeks. In two games, WOS has outscored opponents 87-0, including a 45-0 demolition of Little Cypress-Mauriceville last week. Special teams boosted the Mustangs early as three excellent punt returns led directly to 15 points and a quick early lead. Despite having just 82 yards of offense at the half, the Mustangs built a sizeable 30-0 lead with field position benefitting the state champions all night. Bridge City rolled past North Forest 56-12 last week as the Cardinals rolled up 479 yards rushing. Patrick Morris and Max Baker led the way with freshman Andy Lara chipping in as well. Finding those same running lanes against the tough West Orange-Stark defensive front is another matter though. QB Jack Dallas didn’t have his best game last week and the Mustangs offense moved in fits and starts. Don’t count on another bad performance from the WOS offense this week.
Stepp’s Pick: West Orange-Stark by 21
Craven’s Pick: West Orange-Stark
Max’s Pick: West Orange-Stark

Photo by Artie Guerrero

Photo by Artie Guerrero

Georgetown (2-0) at Hutto (2-0)
When you have a nine-team district; the games that count start early, and in 19-5A we have a district matchup featuring a pair of unbeaten squads. Georgetown rolled past Hays Consolidated 40-17. QB Chandler Herman accounted for four touchdowns – two rushing and two through the air – as Georgetown outscored Hays 20-0 in the second half. Hutto went to Bryan and rolled past Bryan Rudder 41-0. The Hippos were led by RB Deary’on Milligan, who had five touchdown runs. This game was over at halftime. Both teams have a preference for fast-paced, high-powered offenses, so this one will come down to which defense can get stops at key moments. I’ve been bullish on Georgetown early on and the Eagles have given no reason to back off of that ledge.
Stepp’s Pick: Georgetown by 6
Craven’s Pick: Georgetown
Max’s Pick: Hutto

Muenster (2-0) at Howe (1-1)
Unbeaten Muenster takes a step up in weight class this week as the 2A Division II power plays 3A Division I Howe. Muenster dispatched of one 3A Div. I school rather easily last week as the Hornets rolled past Pilot Point 35-12. The key was a second half surge from the Hornets, who outscored PPHS 21-0. Considering Pilot Point has nearly three times the enrollment of Muenster, the Hornets second half effort was quite impressive. Howe rebounded from their season opening loss to Gunter with a 38-13 drubbing of Bowie. The Bulldogs ran for 259 yards on the ground led by Jaden Matthews, who ran for 115 yards and two scores while also returning a kickoff for a touchdown. For the second straight week, Howe put together a strong defensive effort, holding Bowie to just 150 yards of offense. The Bulldogs, despite being a larger school, are a slight underdog in this one, but I think they wear down Muenster who may finally show signs of fatigue in their second game against a bigger school.
Stepp’s Pick: Howe by 3
Craven’s Pick: Muenster
Max’s Pick: Howe

Texarkana Liberty-Eylau (0-2) at Texarkana Texas High (2-0)
Liberty-Eylau’s brutal non-district slate continues this week as the Leopards head across town to take on unbeaten Texas High. Last week, the Leopards dug themselves a 28-0 hole against Carthage, before rallying to make the game close in a 34-20 defeat. They can’t afford to do that this week against a very good 5A program in the Tigers. Last week, T High blasted Arkansas High 37-7. UNT commit Cade Pearson had another big game, throwing for 197 yards and two scores. His top target was Quan Hampton, who had eight receptions for 132 yards and a score. Markese Martin adds plenty of balance in the running game for the Tigers, but the real story has been their defense, which through two weeks has exceeded expectations. That unit and their speed and physicality has proven to be the big reason why Texas High has been so good early on and that trend continues this week.
Stepp’s Pick: Texarkana Texas High by 9
Craven’s Pick: Liberty-Eylau
Max’s Pick: Texas High 

El Paso Eastwood (2-0) at Odessa Permian (2-0)
A really sneaky good matchup in the Permian Basin features two teams who many observers thought would be “down” in 2016. The exact opposite has proven true so far, as both are off to strong starts. Eastwood, under second year HC Julio Lopez, has picked up where it left off last year. The Troopers’ high-octane attack rolled past El Paso Bel Air 50-20 in a game that was effectively over at halftime. The test will be much, much tougher as Eastwood takes the five-hour trek east to visit Ratliff Stadium, where Permian is off to a 2-0 start. MOJO went to the west side of El Paso last week and completely destroyed El Paso Franklin 61-0. Permian led 43-0 at the half and really opened the offense up. QB Steve Steen threw for 217 yards and three touchdowns, while also rushing for 127 yards and three scores. MOJO scored on their first nine possessions and amassed 30 first downs in the rout. Expect the Permian fan base to show up big this week, as this is a team that’s exceeded early expectations. For Eastwood, this is the first true test of where the Troopers stand. Expect a fun game, but Permian at home will be too much for the Troopers.
Stepp’s Pick: Odessa Permian by 17
Craven’s Pick: Permian
Max’s Pick: Permian

Photo by Lang White

Photo by Lang White

Nacogdoches (1-1) at Tyler Lee (2-0)
Two East Texas programs that have been better than anticipated early on meet up at Rose Stadium in what looks to be a real test of the pulse with the non-district season winding down. The Dragons played archrival Lufkin much tougher than anticipated, but fell short, 42-28, as Lufkin’s big-play offense doomed the Dragons in the second half. Tyler Lee, a week after dismantling Marshall, got a tougher test on the road, but the Red Raiders passed, knocking down Corsicana 34-20. QB Chance Amie accounted for all five Lee scores, throwing for two and rushing for three to combine for 310 yards of offense. Tyler Lee, which struggled mightily on defense last year, has made significant strides under new HC Clayton George and former Southlake Carroll DC Tony Holmes. Nacogdoches has playmakers, but I’m starting to think this is a Lee team that could make a little noise once district play rolls around.
Stepp’s Pick: Tyler Lee by 7
Craven’s Pick: Tyler Lee
Max’s Pick: Tyler Lee 

Woodville (2-0) at Orangefield (1-1)
New HC Ty Robinson has the Eagles off to a high flying start after a very impressive 51-0 win to open the year over Corrigan-Camden, followed by the Eagles knocking off Class 4A Madisonville 28-14 last week. Woodville only led 6-0 at the half, but the offense got going in the second half. After an impressive start to the season, Orangefield’s offense hit the skids in a 21-7 loss to Kirbyville last week. The Bobcats only managed 231 yards of offense on the night. Two turnovers and bad snap on a field goal try also contributed to the lack of production. Woodville is an up-and-coming team, but Orangefield’s size and depth will wear down the faster Eagles in the second half. Expect a much cleaner game from Coach Smalley’s Bobcats in Week 3.
Stepp’s Pick: Orangefield by 4
Craven’s Pick: Orangefield
Max’s Pick: Orangefield

Cibolo Steele (1-1) at San Antonio O’Connor (2-0)
The best game in the Alamo City this weekend is a Saturday night tilt at Farris Stadium as powerhouse Steele visits an O’Connor team that’s very good but flying under the radar. Last week, Steele lost at home in a 59-56 double overtime thriller to Lake Travis. The Knights offense was humming all night, rolling up 603 yards of offense led by Xavier Martin, who ran for 165 yards and a score and threw for 211 yards and three scores. RB Brenden Brady led the team in rushing with 183 yards and four touchdowns. As good as the Knights offense was, the defense had trouble containing the LTHS offense as they also allowed nearly 600 yards. Expect a renewed emphasis on defense this week as slowing down O’Connor’s offense, which is averaging over 51 points per game, is a tall order. Led by QB Roel Sanchez and a number of playmakers, O’Connor blew past San Antonio Churchill 49-12 in a game that was 42-6 at the half. O’Connor will be geared up for this one at home as it feels like a statement can be made with a win over the perennial bully Steele. Expect a close one, but Steele’s defense – like it has many times in the past – rises to the occasion in this one and makes a few plays in the second half to win.
Stepp’s Pick: Cibolo Steele by 7
Craven’s Pick: Cibolo Steele
Max’s Pick: Cibolo Steele

Calvert (2-0) vs. Borden County (2-0) at Strawn
Always exciting Calvert will look to go 3-0 in a neutral site game in Strawn. The Trojans rolled last week to an easy 58-8 win over Veritas Academy, they’ll get a test this week with Borden County. BCHS is the number two team in DCTF’s 1A Division I rankings after blasting Lingelville 58-2. Look for Calvert and their speed across the board to be a big difference. For more info check out our Six-Shooter Report and Tepper’s Video Picks!
Stepp’s Pick: Calvert by 8
Craven’s Pick: Calvert
Max’s Pick: Calvert

Matt Stepp (DCTF High School Insider): 56%
Greg Tepper (DCTF Managing Editor): 56%
Mike Craven (DCTF Senior Writer): 46%
Max Thompson (DCTF Digital Director): 46%

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