WEEK 7 PREVIEW: Breaking down the biggest games in Texas high school football

Can Westlake break the streak against Lake Travis? Can A&M Consolidated regain College Station supremacy? It's a mammoth week of TXHSFB.

Lake Travis (4-1, 1-0) at Austin Westlake (5-0, 2-0)
The most high-profile rivalry in the Austin area is renewed on Friday and recently it’s been all Lake Travis. The Cavaliers have been totally dominant in this series winning the last 10 meetings including two wins last year in which the Cavs outscored Westlake 100-10. Lake Travis led by Iowa State commit, quarterback Matthew Baldwin and sensational junior receiver Garrett Wilson, had a week off to prepare for a Westlake squad that provides a different look than in past years. This version of the Chaps is much more physical and ground oriented led by Wisconsin commit running back Nakia Watson who averages 161 yards per game on the ground. Westlake’s veteran defense definitely has the edge in this one as Lake Travis’ young defense has shown vulnerability at times. This one, for me, comes down to which team can impose its will on the other. If it turns into a track meet, that’s definitely an edge to Lake Travis, but a slower paced more grind-it-out game favors Austin Westlake. Lake Travis, I think, has a bit of mental edge on Westlake as well. I think if it can jump out quick on Westlake with a few bye week wrinkles, that could put that seed of doubt back in the heads of the Chaparrals.
Stepps Pick: Lake Travis by 10
Maxs Pick: Lake Travis
Ishmaels Pick: Lake Travis
s Pick: Lake Travis
Teppers Pick: Lake Travis

Grandview (5-0, 2-0) at Kemp (5-0, 2-0)
Powerful Grandview looks to stake its claim to a district title this week when it travels out to East Texas to take on surprising Kemp. The Zebras dominated early on led by a suffocating senior laden defense and a strong ground game paced by Earnest Crownover. New head coach Brad Davis has seen his share of great teams and he believes this group has the ability to bring a state title to Johnson County. Kemp, led by one of the state’s better young coaches in Brandon Hankins, has an offense averaging an incredible 58 points per game. Which group has the edge in this one? My money is with Grandview. The Zebras have played a tougher slate and have more big game experience and in these types of matchups. I’m going with that experience combined with the punishing rushing attack.

Stepp’s Pick: Grandview by 14
Maxs Pick: Grandview
Ishmaels Pick: Grandview
s Pick: Grandview
Teppers Pick: Grandview

Texarkana Pleasant Grove (5-0) at Gilmer (4-1)
The biggest game in East Texas pits traditional powerhouse Gilmer against East Texas’ upstart powerhouse, Texarkana Pleasant Grove. For Pleasant Grove, this is a game that really could signal its arrival as a true contender in Region II, while Gilmer is looking to send a message that Region II still goes through the team wearing orange and black. Pleasant Grove certainly sent a message two weeks ago with a rout of a Texarkana Liberty-Eylau squad that took Gilmer to the limit in Week 1. Last week, the Hawks ripped past Krum, 63-0, as the Hawks rolled up over 600 yards of offense, including 252 through the air, which is unusual considering the Hawks run the Wing-T offense. They’ll try and control the clock and let a defense, led by Texas Tech commit linebacker Xavier Benson, get after the Gilmer offense piloted by quarterback Aaron “Poppy” Brown. The Buckeyes won a shootout with 5A Nacogdoches 51-49 as Brown accounted for 562 yards of offense and five touchdowns in the win, but the Gilmer defense once again showed some vulnerability. Pleasant Grove is coming into this one with something to prove and I think the Hawks give Gilmer all it wants, but with the game being in Gilmer I expect Poppy to provide some magic late and lead Gilmer to a win. However, don’t be surprised if these two meet up again later in the playoffs.
Stepp’s Pick: Gilmer by 4
Maxs Pick: Gilmer
Ishmaels Pick: Gilmer
s Pick: Gilmer
Teppers Pick: Gilmer

Sundown (5-0) at Abernathy (5-0)
It’s quite possible that the district title in District 2-2A Division I will be decided this week as Sundown visits nearby Abernathy. A couple of weeks ago, the Roughnecks got a massive win over Farwell to really establish themselves on the South Plains and had no let down as they blasted past Tahoka, 44-12. The Roughnecks jumped out to a 26-0 lead at halftime in the win and put it on cruise control in the second half. Last week, Abertnathy rolled past 3A Lubbock Roosevelt 55-0, sophomore quarterback Bryson Dailey ran for 133 yards and three touchdowns and threw for another score as the Antelopes rolled to 42 first-half points in the win.  Sundown’s tough defense will have its hands full trying to slow down Daily and the rest of the Abernathy attack. As teams have zeroed in to slow Daily, other weapons like versatile Kole Kurklin have emerged and that will be of massive benefit to Abernathy come playoff time as it looks to repeat and exceed last year’s semi-final run.
Stepp’s Pick: Abernathy by 16
Maxs Pick: Abernathy
Ishmaels Pick: Abernathy
s Pick: Abernathy
Teppers Pick: Abernathy

Arlington Martin (5-0, 2-0) at Mansfield (4-1, 2-0)
The only two unbeaten teams in 4-6A meet up in Mansfield this week in a big matchup that likely has district title implications. Although not quite mirror images of each other, both Martin and Mansfield get things done with a physical style of play and punishing rushing attacks. Over the past two weeks, the Warriors have played games that were over at halftime, outscoring Arlington Bowie and Fort Worth Paschal 92-0 in the first half. Last week the Warriors threw up 49 first half points as they blasted the Panthers 76-0. Quarterback Juma Otoviano accounted for four touchdowns in his limited action as Martin dominated an overmatched team from start to finish. They’ll likely need four quarters this week to take out a very strong Mansfield team that dismantled previously undefeated Arlington 34-13 last week. The Tigers defense, led by UCLA commit defensive back Cam’ron Jones, simply suffocated an explosive Arlington offense. The Mansfield offense rotated running backs, controlled the clock and then when AHS was sleeping, took the top off the Colt defense with a long scoring pass from quarterback Shawn Hartsfield to Baylor commit speedster receiver Jackson Gleeson. I expect a ground-it-out type of game. Both defenses are very good and tough to consistently sustain long drives on, so whichever team can pop a few big plays gets the edge in this one and I like Mansfield in what many would consider a slight upset.
Stepp’s Pick: Mansfield by 4
Maxs Pick: Mansfield
Ishmaels Pick: Arlington Martin
s Pick: Arlington Martin
Teppers Pick: Arlington Martin

Canadian (5-0) at Childress (5-0)
A budding rivalry in the panhandle sends unbeaten Canadian south to newly renovated Fair Park Stadium to take on undefeated Childress. A year ago, when these two played, it was a physical battle that Canadian won at home and it wouldn’t surprise me if we saw something similar this year. When most think of Canadian, they think of an up tempo spread team, but the Wildcats are very comfortable mixing it up and playing physical football. Expect Childress, who thrives on that kind of game, to try and take the fight to Canadian at home. Canadian’s defense has been the story allowing just 21 points in the past four games, but junior quarterback Casen Cavalier can still sling it around as the Canadian offense is more than capable of putting up 40 points. Childress prefers to remain more ground-oriented and the Bobcats hang their hat on team speed across the board. The Bobcats the last two weeks have outscored opponents 87-7 and own an impressive win over a 4A playoff team in Iowa Park. Quarterback Luke Latimer threw for 221 yards and one touchdown and ran for another as the Bobcats ripped past Henrietta 41-7 last week. I expect a close, low scoring game, but I think the Canadian defense is on such a hot streak at the moment, so I’m looking for the Wildcats to get a big road win.
Stepp’s Pick: Canadian by 3
Maxs Pick: Canadian
Ishmaels Pick: Canadian
s Pick: Canadian
Teppers Pick: Canadian

Humble Atascocita (3-1, 2-0) at Galena Park North Shore (2-2, 2-0)
These two met twice last year with North Shore winning the regular season meeting in fairly dominant fashion, but the rematch in the state quarter-finals was totally different as Atascocita stunned North Shore to win the Region III crown. After dropping their season opener to Klein Collins, the Eagles have bounced back to win three straight games, including a 62-7 rout of Channelview last week. Quarterback Jack Roe accounted for 303 yards of offense and five touchdowns to lead Atascocita’s offense, while the Eagle defense forced four turnovers. North Shore, after losing its first two games, bounced back in 21-6A play with two fairly easy wins. Last week, North Shore rolled past Houston King 45-28. The rushing duo of Kerrion Hadnot and Zach Evans combined for 263 yards rushing and four touchdowns in the win. North Shore’s defense, which is again among the best in the Houston area, will be the difference in this matchup. The Mustangs will contain the Atascocita offense which doesn’t have the elite game breaking talent they had a year ago.
Stepp’s Pick: Galena Park North Shore by 11
Maxs Pick: North Shore
Ishmaels Pick: Atascocita
s Pick: North Shore
Teppers Pick: Atascocita

West Mesquite (5-0, 2-0) at Highland Park (4-1, 2-0)
West Mesquite has flown under the radar a bit this year, but a win over Highland Park at Highlander Stadium would put the Wranglers squarely in the crosshairs of all the pundits. Beating the Scots on the road won’t be easy, as Highland Park hasn’t dropped a game at home against an in-state opponent since 1998. Both teams are fresh off a bye week, so they’ve had plenty of time to prepare and both bring quarterbacks who are playing extremely well, West Mesquite’s Connor Neil and Highland Park’s John Stephen Jones. Both players are efficient operators of their respective offenses who limit mistakes but don’t mistake either for bus drivers. Both are plenty capable of big plays. West Mesquite’s athletic defense will be tested as Highland Park’s execution on the offensive side of the ball has been nearly flawless the past couple of weeks. I expect the Highland Park offense to control this one and frustrate a West defense that’s been really good through the first half of the season. If the Wranglers can withstand an early barrage they’ve got a shot to pull the upset, but I’m sticking with the proven commodity in this matchup.
Stepp’s Pick: Highland Park by 12
Maxs Pick: Highland Park
Ishmaels Pick: Highland Park
s Pick: Highland Park
Teppers Pick: Highland Park

Midland Lee (6-0, 2-0) at San Angelo Central (5-0, 1-0)
It’s another showdown of undefeated teams in the Little SWC as Midland Lee visits the Concho Valley to take on the Angry Orange Bobcats. Last week, Lee took down unbeaten Amarillo Tascosa 56-42 as once again quarterback Colby Standard had a big night for the Rebels rushing for 234 yards, two scores and throwing for 165 yards and two scores to pace a Midland Lee attack that put up 612 yards of offense last week. Josh Traylor and Avery Akbar were solid compliments to Standards’ heroics combining for 213 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. The Midland Lee defense had to prepare to slow down a ferocious triple option offense last week, but this week’s challenge is a high-powered passing attack from San Angelo Central led by junior quarterback Maverick McIvor. The Bobcats started slow falling behind Odessa High 20-3 in the first half before rallying for 35 straight points in a 38-20 win. McIvor threw for 322 yards and five touchdowns in the win, but the Bobcats lost one of their top receivers in the game and are beat up a bit on the defensive side of the ball as well. It was the second straight week that the Bobcats have gotten off to a slow start and they can’t afford another shaky start against a surging Midland Lee bunch, but at home I don’t see it for Central. I expect a lot of points in this one as no one has found a way to slow the Bobcats’ passing game or the Lee ground offense. The big home crowd is a factor in San Angelo and I think that surge pushes the Bobcats to a win.
Stepp’s Pick: San Angelo Central by 3
Maxs Pick: San Angelo Central
Ishmaels Pick: San Angelo Central
s Pick: Midland Lee
Teppers Pick: San Angelo Central

Mission Veterans Memorial (6-0, 4-0) vs. Laredo Nixon (4-1, 3-0)
Because of construction at Tom Landry Stadium in Mission, the Patriots’ home game this week will be played in Mercedes. It’ll be a contrast of styles as Mission Vets is a wide open, up-tempo spread offense and it’ll go against the Slot-T grind it out offense of Laredo Nixon. Mission Vets is led by quarterback Landry Gilpin who has been putting up video game like numbers the past few weeks including a spectacular 626-yards, eight-touchdown effort last week in a 61-38 win over Mission Pioneer. Nixon had a week off to prepare for this one so first-year head coach Antonio Villalon will have a few tricks up his sleeve for sure. The Mustangs also played Pioneer in their last outing, winning at home 36-14. Running back Emil Oliva had a big game with 171 yards and three touchdowns to pace Nixon in the win, while Esteban Guerra chipped in 116 yards and a touchdown on the ground. This one comes down to Nixon’s offense. Can they can control the pace and keep the Mission Vets offense on the sideline? If they can do that, they have a shot to win this one and get the inside track to their second straight-district title. However, I think the long road trip and a high-powered Patriots attack may be too much for the Mustangs and the difference will be another big game from Gilpin.
Stepp’s Pick: Mission Veterans Memorial by 9
Maxs Pick: Mission Veterans Memorial
Ishmaels Pick: Mission Veterans Memorial
s Pick: Mission Veterans Memorial
Teppers Pick: Mission Veterans Memorial

Port Arthur Memorial (4-0, 4-0) at Port Neches-Groves (4-0, 3-0)
The 22-5A title will likely be on the line as last year’s district champion Port Arthur Memorial will face easily their toughest test of the year this week as they visit what will be a hornets nest at Port Neches-Groves.  The crowd will be large and dressed in purple as the Indians led by Texas commit Roschon Johnson at quarterback feel like they have the personnel to take the Titans down.  Memorial has been solid in getting three wins, but far from the dominant team they fielded last year.  A good example was last week, they knocked off Lumberton 31-19 but the Titans trailed early 13-0 and not until Elijah Hines 38 yard touchdown run with 7:22 left did PAM have the game in hand.  Memorial’s defense was outstanding allowing just 158 yards of offense on the day and having to deal with four games in eighteen days certainly was a major test of Memorial’s depth and resolve.  PNG’s offense has been on fire in district play averaging over 52 points per game, as last week the Indians rolled past Baytown Lee 59-21.  Johnson had another monster game throwing for 299 yards and five touchdowns, while also rushing for another 77 yards and a touchdown in the victory. Port Arthur Memorial’s defense and the speed they bring to the table will be PNG’s biggest test to date, but Johnson and his crew of playmakers seem to be peaking at the right time and I look for them at home to turn this into a high scoring shootout which plays right into the Indians hands.
Stepp’s Pick: Port Neches-Groves by 10
Maxs Pick: Port Neches-Groves
Ishmaels Pick: Port Neches-Groves
s Pick: Port Neches-Groves
Teppers Pick: Port Neches-Groves

Beaumont West Brook (4-0, 2-0) at The Woodlands (2-1, 1-0)
A year ago, The Woodlands came into Beaumont and put a major humbling on the unbeaten West Brook Bruins to the tune of 72-7. There’s no doubt that result hasn’t been forgotten as the Golden Triangle’s only 6A program looks to make amends from that defeat a year ago. This time, West Brook has to hit the road and should be much better equipped to face the challenge the Highlanders bring to the table, but pulling the upset will be a large task. Last week, The Woodlands earned a hard fought 45-21 road win in Lufkin. The Highlanders trailed 21-17 at the half but exploded for 28 second half points and pitched a shutout to get the win. Wide receiver and Texas Tech verbal commit KeSean Carter had five catches for 110 yards and a touchdown to lead the way. West Brook dominated The Woodlands College Park, rolling to an easy 51-3 win.  The Bruins got a big game from quarterback La’Ravien Elia who, in just one half of action, accounted for 338 yards of offense and four touchdowns as the Bruins built a 44-3 halftime lead and rested their starters in the second half. I expect a spirited effort from West Brook. It’ll be intent on setting the tone early and it won’t surprise me if this one is close for a half. But The Woodlands is still head and shoulders above the fray in 12-6A and I expect its defense to again be the difference.
Stepp’s Pick: The Woodlands by 17
Maxs Pick: The Woodlands
Ishmaels Pick: The Woodlands
s Pick: The Woodlands
Teppers Pick: The Woodlands 

San Antonio Johnson (4-2, 2-0) vs. San Antonio Churchill (4-2, 1-1)
The Johnson Jaguars can firmly entrench themselves in the district title chase with a win over Churchill Friday night. It has been a dominant start to district play as the Jags’ defense pitched back-to-back shutouts including Saturday’s 28-0 win over San Antonio MacArthur. Johnson’s balanced offense put up 424 yards total and contained MacArthur to just 221 yards. Wide receiver Brandon McDuffie is a major weapon on the outside and will be a matchup problem for the Chargers secondary. Churchill quarterback Derek Perez had another outstanding game accounting for 298 yards of offense and two touchdown passes but it wasn’t enough as the Chargers fell to San Antonio Reagan 28-21. If Churchill wants to pull the upset, it’ll need some other weapons to emerge because the Johnson defense is too strong for a one-dimensional team to have much success.
Stepp’s Pick: San Antonio Johnson by 13
Maxs Pick: San Antonio Johnson
Ishmaels Pick: San Antonio Johnson
s Pick: San Antonio Johnson
Teppers Pick: San Antonio Johnson

Plano (4-1, 1-1) at Allen (5-0, 2-0)
Some of the luster for this matchup was certainly lost last week after Plano was stunned by upstart McKinney, but make no mistake the Wildcats would love for nothing more than a shot to hand Allen their first ever loss at Eagle Stadium. Last week, the Wildcat offense was stuck in neutral in the 24-21 loss to McKinney as Plano only managed 239 yards of offense. It’ll need a big game from Kyron Cumby if the team wants to pull the upset as a big key to beating the Eagles is keeping their explosive offense on the sidelines where they can’t do damage. Quarterback Grant Tisdale and company are averaging 60 points the past two weeks as last week they were dominant in a 59-0 rout of Plano West. Wide receiver Theo Wease had nine catches for 135 yards and three touchdowns, while Arizona State commit running back Brock Sturges paced the ground game with 144 yards and two scores. Expect Plano to throw everything it has at Allen and, physically, the Wildcats matchup better with Allen than most simply because they aren’t overwhelmed by Allen’s sheer size and depth. The difference is that although similar in numbers, Allen’s top-end talent is elite and are true difference makers, so look for the cream to rise to the top in the second half as Allen will pull away for a comfortable win.
Stepp’s Pick: Allen by 21
Maxs Pick: Allen
Ishmaels Pick: Allen
s Pick: Allen
Teppers Pick: Allen

College Station (4-2, 2-0) at A&M Consolidated (5-1, 1-1)
Although the rivalry between Bryan and A&M Consolidated has more history, in recent years the rivalry for bragging rights in College Station has been the most exciting in the Brazos Valley. What makes this more interesting is the little brother College Station High has dominated the series against older brother Consolidated, winning all three meetings. That no doubt is something first-year head coach and Tigers’ alum Lee Fedora wants to change and in a hurry. The Tigers dropped a heartbreaker on the road last week losing 28-20 to powerful Temple. AMC trailed 28-7 heading into the fourth quarter but rallied late and with less than a minute left, the Tigers were throwing into the end zone to potentially tie the game. Consolidated can’t afford to dig themselves that sort of hole this week against an explosive CSHS attack that rolled past Waco University 62-14. Dual threat quarterback Marquez Perez has plenty of weapons at his disposal and the Cougars’ team speed at the skill positions is certainly a big asset. The big question going into this one is the health of A&M Consolidated quarterback Caden Fedora along with a couple of other key players for the Tigers who either sat out last week or were injured in the loss to Temple. I expect coach Fedora’s squad to pull out all the stops at home. But with as beat up as they are right now it’s a big ask to beat what appears to be a healthy and peaking College Station High squad.
Stepp’s Pick: College Station by 10
Maxs Pick: College Station
Ishmaels Pick: College Station
s Pick: A&M Consolidated
Teppers Pick: A&M Consolidated

Magnolia (3-1, 2-0) at Huntsville (4-0, 2-0)
Magnolia and its high-flying offense led by SMU commit wide receiver Mike Woods will literally walk into a Hornets’ nest Friday as they travel to Huntsville to take on the surprising Hornets. Magnolia is averaging 50 points per game after slipping past Tomball 56-49 a week ago. In the win, Woods had 144 receiving yards and two scores, but the big target was Ben Renfro who caught 12 passes for 200 yards and three touchdowns.  Quarterback Reese Mason was sensational throwing for 491 yards and six touchdowns, while rushing for another two scores as well. After a close win over Tomball Memorial two weeks ago, Huntsville had no problems with Willis rolling to an easy 49-7 victory. Running back Jaeryne Green hauled in a 54-yard touchdown pass on a fake punt that put HHS up 21-7 before halftime and that proved to be the fatal blow as Huntsville outscored Willis 28-0 in the second half. Green finished with five receptions for 135 yards and the touchdown, showcasing his versatility out of the backfield. Huntsville is one of the real surprise stories out of the Greater Houston area and I believe it is a playoff team. But I think Magnolia’s got a little too much firepower in this matchup.
Stepp’s Pick: Magnolia by 10
Maxs Pick: Magnolia
Ishmaels Pick: Magnolia
s Pick: Magnolia
Teppers Pick: Magnolia

Manvel (4-0, 2-0) at Fort Bend Marshall (3-1, 2-0)
This off-season many thought that if there was one team who could pose a legitimate challenge to Manvel in 23-5A, it’d be the Marshall Buffaloes who brought back a bevy of starters from a team that advanced to the quarter-finals a year ago. Marshall gets its chance on Saturday as it hosts a Manvel squad that’s once again mowing down all challengers with ease. Last week, the Mavericks took care of Galveston Ball 35-7 as Deneric Prince’s two third quarter touchdowns put what was a close game out of reach. The Maverick defense, which often gets overshadowed by their high-powered offense, was sensational as they shut down the Tornadoes in the second half. Marshall’s offense, after a slow start to the season, has gotten things cranked up scoring 134 the past two weeks, including last week’s 77-20 rout of Fort Bend Willowridge. Quarterback Jabari James had a huge night throwing for 306 yards and five touchdowns while also adding a score on the ground to lead a stampede for the Buffaloes. Both of these teams will be contenders in their respective divisions in Region III, but Manvel has superior depth at all positions and although Marshall’s front line talent can match Manvel, the Mavs depth will be key. I expect Manvel to be fully dialed into this matchup and they’ll put on a show.
Stepp’s Pick: Manvel by 19
Maxs Pick: Manvel
Ishmaels Pick: Manvel
s Pick: Manvel
Teppers Pick: Manvel

Waco La Vega (5-0) at Liberty Hill (3-1)
Powerful La Vega looks to be among the Region IV favorites once again after a dominant non-district performance. La Vega the last two weeks has been totally dominant outscoring Mexia and Waco Connally by a combined 95-9 score. In their 42-2 win over Connally two weeks ago, the Pirate defense totally decimated the Cadets allowing just two first downs and only 19 yards of offense in the second half. The rushing trio of Kemoche Hobbs, John Richards and Cameron Henry did the bulk of the damage. Liberty Hill two weeks ago took down 6A Austin Anderson 35-20 and its only loss was to 5A Port Lavaca Calhoun. The Panthers and their Slot-T offense is tough to prepare for but La Vega knows it well and has had good success slowing the Panthers down. Unless Liberty Hill finds a way to be effective throwing the ball, look for La Vega to win a physical, low scoring contest.
Stepp’s Pick: Waco La Vega by 8
Maxs Pick: Waco La Vega
Ishmaels Pick: Liberty Hill
s Pick: Waco La Vega
Teppers Pick: Waco La Vega

Gregory-Portland (3-2, 1-0) at Corpus Christi Calallen (5-0, 1-0)
Gregory-Portland and Calallen used to be the rivalry game along the Coastal Bend and the hope for G-P head coach Rick Rhoades is in the near future, the game can return to that kind of status after a few lean years for the red and blue Wildcats. While for the maroon-clad Wildcats on the north end of town, it has been smooth sailing after playing for a state title a year ago. Head coch Phil Danaher’s squad is unbeaten and looking quite impressive. The past three weeks Calallen’s dominance has been on full display outscoring opponents 181-7. I do expect Gregory-Portland to put a fight up. If there’s one game that they will be up for it’s this one, but Calallen’s ground game is just too efficient.
Stepp’s Pick: Corpus Christi Calallen by 20
s Pick: Calallen
Ishmaels Pick: Calallen
s Pick: Calallen
Teppers Pick: Calallen

Jacksboro (5-0) at Henrietta (4-1)
First-year head coach Brannon Rodgers has the Tigers from Jack County flying high off to a 5-0 start but they’ll get a major test with always tough Henrietta to open district play. The Tigers in their win over Boyd two weeks ago, were led by a rushing attack that piled up 309 yards, but it was a pair of second-half goal line stands at the two-yard line that preserved the Tigers perfect mark. Henrietta took it on the chin two weeks ago and shut out by a really good Childress squad at home 41-0. Quarterback Zach West was held in check to just 61 yards in the loss. Henrietta will need to get him going this week against a tough Jacksboro defensive unit. With the week off, I look for Henrietta to do just that and open district play with a solid home win.
 Stepp’s Pick: Henrietta by 7
Maxs Pick: Henrietta
Ishmaels Pick: Jacksboro
s Pick: Henrietta
Teppers Pick: Henrietta

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

Aquilla (5-1) at Abbott (3-3)
This is the proverbial “throw the records out the window” game — the Hill County Battle of the Big Cats. Not only is this a huge rivalry game, but it’s the district opener for both squads. Abbott is coming off a tough loss to a solid Oakwood team, while Aquilla had an unexpected open week thanks to a forfeit by Bynum. Both teams will try to establish the run and grind it out on the ground. This is the 20th meeting between these two squads since 2000 — Abbott has won 14 of the last 19. With a district matchup with Coolidge looming for both teams, this game will shape how the district plays out. Expect a low-scoring affair, perhaps with a slight edge toward the homestanding Panthers.
Leman’s Pick: Abbott
Tepper’s Pick: Abbott

Gordon (2-4) at Strawn (5-0)
One of the state’s great rivalries will be renewed in the Battle of Palo Pinto County. The atmosphere at this matchup is small-town Texas high school football at its finest. Separated by just eight miles, these two squads put on one of the state’s fiercest games every year. Unbeaten Strawn enters as a heavy favorite, as Gordon is in the midst of a rebuild, but that is all secondary — this game is about the rivalry, the atmosphere and (if you’re heading that way) the chicken fried steak at Mary’s.
Leman’s Pick: Strawn
Tepper’s Pick: Strawn

Ira (4-2) at Hermleigh (3-3)
What a kickoff to District 5-1A DI play! Borden County is the odds-on favorite, but the runner-up spot is anyone’s guess, making this week’s game between Ira and Hermleigh particularly important. Ira is coming off an emphatic win over Sands, while Hermleigh is hoping to shake its three-game losing streak. Ira won this one 48-0 last season, but Hermleigh has the experience edge and a bitter taste in its mouth. This will be a barn-burner.
Leman’s Pick: Ira
Tepper’s Pick: Ira

Milford (5-0) vs. Crowell (4-2) — at Strawn
In a prelim for the Battle of Palo Pinto County, both state-ranked squads will have one last pre-district tune-up. Believe it or not, this is the first-ever meeting between these two schools, and it has all the makings of an instant classic. Crowell’s Skyler Hayes (1,474 total yards, 30 touchdowns) and Milford’s Taron Smith (1,539 total yards, 28 touchdowns) should light up the scoreboard, but Milford may have the slight edge in this one.
Leman’s Pick: Milford
Tepper’s Pick: Milford

Quick Picks

Brownwood (3-2) at Abilene Wylie (3-2)
Stepp’s Pick: Abilene Wylie by 6
Maxs Pick: Abilene Wylie
Ishmaels Pick: Abilene Wylie
s Pick: Abilene Wylie
Teppers Pick: Abilene Wylie

Edcouch-Elsa (4-1, 2-0) at Brownsville Veterans Memorial (4-1, 2-0)
Stepp’s Pick: Brownsville Veterans Memorial by 5
Maxs Pick: Brownsville Veterans Memorial
Ishmaels Pick: Brownsville Veterans Memorial
s Pick: Brownsville Veterans Memorial
Teppers Pick: Brownsville Veterans Memorial

Kilgore (5-1, 2-0) at Carthage (5-0, 1-0)
Stepp’s Pick: Carthage by 14
Maxs Pick: Carthage
Ishmaels Pick: Carthage
s Pick: Carthage
Teppers Pick: Carthage

El Paso Chapin (4-1, 2-0) vs. El Paso Bowie (3-2, 0-2)
Stepp’s Pick: El Paso Chapin by 24
Maxs Pick: El Paso Chapin
Ishmaels Pick: El Paso Chapin
s Pick: El Paso Chapin
Teppers Pick: El Paso Chapin

Boerne (6-0) at Fredericksburg (5-1)
Stepp’s Pick: Boerne by 7
Max’s Pick: Boerne
Ishmaels Pick: Boerne
s Pick: Boerne
Teppers Pick: Boerne

Three Rivers (4-2) at Freer (4-2)
Stepp’s Pick: Three Rivers by 11
Maxs Pick: Three Rivers
Ishmaels Pick: Three Rivers
s Pick: Three Rivers
Teppers Pick: Three Rivers

Nocona (5-0) at Holliday (4-1)
Stepp’s Pick: Holliday by 3
Maxs Pick: Nocona
Ishmaels Pick: Nocona
s Pick: Holliday
Teppers Pick: Nocona

Monahans (3-2, 0-1) at Midland Greenwood (4-2, 1-1)
Stepp’s Pick: Monahans by 21
Maxs Pick: Monahans
Ishmaels Pick: Monahans
s Pick: Midland Greenwood
Teppers Pick: Monahans

Natalia (5-0) at Poth (4-1)
Stepp’s Pick: Poth by 10
Maxs Pick: Poth
Ishmaels Pick: Poth
Bradys Pick: Poth
Teppers Pick: Poth

Panhandle (3-2) at Stinnett West Texas (4-1)
Stepp’s Pick: Stinnett West Texas by 3
Max’s Pick: Stinnett West Texas
Ishmaels Pick: Stinnett West Texas
s Pick: Stinnett West Texas
Teppers Pick: Stinnett West Texas

West (4-1, 2-0) at Whitney (4-1, 1-1)
Stepp’s Pick: West by 10
Maxs Pick: West
Ishmaels Pick: West
s Pick: West
Teppers Pick: West

Max Thompson (DCTF Digital Director): 79%
Matt Stepp (DCTF High School Insider): 79%
Greg Tepper (DCTF Managing Editor): 77%
Ishmael Johnson (DCTF Editor): 73%
Brady Keane (DCTF Contributing Writer): 70%

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