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

El Paso Franklin (5-0) at El Paso Americas (4-1): The District 1-6A title is likely to be decided in the opening week of district play as El Paso’s top two 6A teams meet up. Franklin has been an offensive juggernaut so far, averaging 49 points per game. Quarterback Danny Walther threw for 269 yards and four touchdowns two weeks ago in a 42-0 win over El Paso Chapin. El Paso Americas is equally efficient on offense, but the Trailblazers get it done differently as they will simply line up and mash you with one of the state’s top running backs in junior Aaron Dumas. The key to this one will be which defense can come up with stops. Franklin’s ability on the defensive line will be the difference as the Cougars get a close win in a game that I expect to be high scoring. 

Stepp’s Pick: El Paso Franklin by 6

Cypress Bridgeland (5-1, 3-1) at Tomball Memorial (4-1, 2-1): The playoff race in 14-6A is starting to take shape. This matchup will go a long way in determining playoff seeding and, if things break right, could still factor into the district title race. Bridgeland bounced back from its first loss of the season last week and knocked off Bryan, 49-24, as sophomore QB Connor Weigman tossed five touchdown passes to three different receivers. Tomball Memorial rolled past Houston Langham Creek, 49-14, on Saturday night as the Wildcats exploded for 35 points in the first half. Bridgeland will have to visit Tomball for this one and the Wildcats do have a bit of a homefield in this district. Bridgeland has been one of Houston’s real feel good stories of the year and that offense keeps it rolling this week in what looks to be a real shootout. 

Stepp’s Pick: Cypress Bridgeland by 5

Austin Westlake (5-0, 3-0) at Lake Travis (5-1, 4-0): It’s the annual showdown of the two powers in Austin. While Austin Westlake has been dominant all season, it has taken a little more time for Lake Travis to gel after its surprising season opening loss to Arlington Martin. However, it appears the Cavs are hitting their stride at the right time as they’ve rattled off five straight wins. Westlake rolled past Kyle Lehman, 52-7, two weeks ago without head coach Todd Dodge, who called the game from the pressbox while he dealt with an illness. But the Chaps looked crisp as QB Kirkland Michaux tossed three first quarter touchdown passes as Westlake put up 52 first half points. Lake Travis handled Lehman with ease last week while Westlake enjoyed the week off. The Cavs rolled past Lehman, 59-7, as QB Hudson Card completed all eight of his passes for 164 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for a TD as well. Most of the Lake Travis starters were out of the game by halftime, so both teams should be well-rested. Westlake has gotten the better of Lake Travis the past couple of years. The Cavs have a bit of an advantage with this one being at Lake Travis, but Westlake has had their number recently.

Stepp’s Pick: Austin Westlake by 4

San Antonio Brandeis (5-0, 4-0) vs San Antonio O’Connor (4-1, 4-0): If you are looking for one of the state’s most underrated rivalry games, look no further. This game is always guaranteed to be a packed house and could include some shenanigans off the field. But that’s what makes a rivalry fun, right? Both squads come into this one unbeaten in district play. While it’s likely they end up in different divisions come playoff time, a district title is at stake in Northside ISD. The entire district had the week off last week, so both will come into this one with plenty of tricks up their sleeve, especially O’Connor, who is known for pulling out all the stops with various gadgets and trick plays. Brandeis was very impressive in its last outing as they blasted San Antonio Brennan, 51-16. The Broncos defense forced four turnovers and got big games from QB Jordan Battles, who had 244 yards of offense and three touchdowns, and RB Corion Holmes, who had 135 yards on the ground and a pair of TDs. O’Connor struggled with San Antonio Taft for a half in their last outing, but the second half was all Panthers in a 45-14 win. RB Zion Taylor ran for 133 yards and three touchdowns, while the O’Connor defense absolutely dominated down the stretch. The difference for this matchup is the versatility and dynamic nature of Brandeis’ offense. Pair that with its above-average defense and this could be the top team in the Alamo City.

Stepp’s Pick: San Antonio Brandeis by 6

McAllen Memorial (4-1, 1-1) at PSJA (3-2, 2-0): A week after a surprising loss to Mission to open district play, McAllen Memorial bounced back last week with an easy 62-35 win over La Joya. Campbell Speights ran for 220 yards and four touchdowns, including a 78-yard score on the first play of the game. PSJA dug themselves a 14-0 hole last week against arch rival PSJA North, but the Bears rallied down the stretch for a 20-14 win. QB Justin Morales’ touchdown pass to Miguel Flores in the fourth quarter proved to be the game winner for PSJA. McAllen Memorial’s got a major team-speed edge and they should be able to move the ball on the Bears defense. The key for the Mustangs will be their secondary and if they can remain disciplined in pass coverage against a dynamic PSJA attack. 

Stepp’s Pick: McAllen Memorial by 9

Frisco Independence (5-0, 2-0) vs Frisco Lone Star (5-0, 2-0): The marquee game in the DFW area this week is at the 5A level and its on a Thursday night as two unbeatens inside of Frisco ISD meet up at the Ford Center. Frisco Independence rolled past Frisco Heritage, 49-7, last week in a game that was effectively a tune-up for this one. QB Braylon Braxton continued his monster season as he threw for 367 yards and five touchdowns in the Knights’ victory. Lone Star also had no trouble in its last outing as the Rangers demolished Frisco Wakeland, 55-14. WR Marvin Mims personally victimized the Wakeland secondary with eight receptions for 261 yards and four touchdowns. The Rangers defense doesn’t generate the headlines the offense does, but they are incredibly quick and will bring the wood. They’ll be laser-focused on containing Braxton. If they can slow Braxton down, they can slow the Independence attack down. But that’s easier said than done.

Stepp’s Pick: Frisco Lone Star by 13

Corsicana (5-1, 4-0) at Royse City (4-1, 2-1): It’s been a great start for Corsicana under HC Hal Wasson, as the Tigers have sprinted out of the gates with four straight district wins. Last week Corsicana rolled past Terrell, 42-7, behind a balanced offensive attack. QB Solomon James threw for 247 yards and three first-half touchdowns, while RB Damarius Daniels added 137 rushing yards and two touchdowns. The Tigers will go on the road this year to take on a Royse City squad fuming after their first loss of the year last week to Ennis, 38-21. The Bulldogs offense was stuck in neutral all night as they only accumulated 158 yards. Look for Corsicana to load the box up, much like Ennis did, and dare the Bulldogs to beat them in the passing game. 

Stepp’s Pick: Corsicana by 16

College Station A&M Consolidated (5-0, 2-0) at Rosenberg Lamar Consolidated (5-0, 2-0): It’s a showdown of “Consolidated’s” as A&M Consolidated trips southeast down Highway 6 to visit Rosenberg Lamar Consolidated in a Top 10 showdown on Saturday night at Traylor Stadium. A&M Consolidated Quarterback Gage Pahl had a tremendous game last week throwing for 334 yards and five touchdowns in the Tigers 41-21 win over Montgomery. The Tigers offense will get a big test this week against a Lamar Consolidated defense that is very fast and plays with a mean streak. The Mustangs rolled past surprising Bryan Rudder, 45-17, last week with a big effort from the defense, which forced four second half turnovers to turn a close game into a rout. RB Taye McWilliams was held under 100 yards rushing for the first time this year, but Lamar showed that if teams focus solely on McWilliams they have the weapons to make teams pay. A&M Consolidated’s offense is so dynamic and versatile they are a real difficult matchup for a lot of teams to stop and they’ll put the Lamar Consolidated defense in some bad matchups in this one. 

Stepp’s Pick: College Station A&M Consolidated by 11

Uvalde (3-2, 1-1) at Kerrville Tivy (4-1, 2-0): Uvalde has been a curious team early in the year. The Coyotes had a mystifying loss to San Antonio Memorial two weeks ago and looked destined for the bottom of the district standings. Then, last week, they turned around and got a huge home win over Alamo Heights. D’Andre Carroll hauled in three touchdown passes from Donovan Davila and that proved to be the key for UHS in their win at the Honey Bowl. Tivy has emerged as the clear district favorite and are tough to beat at home. They rolled past an overmatched San Antonio Kennedy team last week, 48-7, by allowing just 127 yards of offense. QB Cole Miears tossed five touchdown passes to three different receivers in a balanced offensive effort. I think this would be a one-score game if this was in Uvalde. But I think Tivy rolls since it’s in Kerrville.

Stepp’s Pick: Kerrville Tivy by 18

San Antonio Southside (4-1, 1-1) at Corpus Christi Calallen (5-0, 2-0): Before last week we were all pretty sure that this would be a battle of unbeaten teams. But last week Southside was stunned by Tuloso-Midway, 24-21. The Cardinals were plagued by mistakes and a couple of coverage breakdowns that proved to be costly. Those kind of things simply can’t happen this week as Calallen is starting to look like a monster and a team that could make a run all the way to Arlington. The Wildcats rolled up 556 yards of offense last week in an easy 49-14 win over Somerset. Four Calallen runners topped 82 yards on the ground as it only threw one pass in the win. That dominance, especially in the trenches, is what makes Calallen a real contender this year as many feel like this is the best team Coach Danaher has had. Could that mean an elusive state title in 2019? 

Stepp’s Pick: Corpus Christi Calallen by 21

Canyon (6-0) at Andrews (5-1): If you like games with lots of points, this could be the matchup for you as both Canyon and Andrews are among the most explosive offenses in West Texas. Canyon remained unbeaten last week as it blasted Big Spring, 62-0, behind an offense that rolled up 41 first half points. Quarterback Jay Defoor continued his outstanding season throwing for 179 yards and three touchdowns. Andrews went on the road to Hereford and got a major test trailing most of the game before finding a way late to escape with a 27-24 win. QB Brett Leach and WR Markeese Lawrence are as dangerous as it gets as Lawrence has elite sprinter speed and has torched DB’s out west for the past three years. Canyon’s offense has the look of a team that has a bit more balance and they’ve been more consistent early in the year. Look for the Eagles to close non-district play this week with a big road win. 

Stepp’s Pick: Canyon by 7

Paris (4-2, 1-1) at Celina (4-2, 2-0): Paris bounced back nicely last week from its upset loss at the hands of Melissa, but now the Wildcats will look to go back on the road and keep themselves in the race for a share of the district title as the visit resurgent Celina. Last week the Wildcats took some frustration out on Anna in a lopsided 59-7 win. RB Zy’kius Jackson had a pair of touchdown runs and Paris got touchdowns from the defense and special teams. Celina made quick work of Paris North Lamar on the road last week in a 58-6 victory. The Bobcats offense had plenty of balance on the night as QB Hunter Watson threw for 226 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while Logan Point ran for 148 yards and four touchdowns. Last year Paris absolutely drilled Celina and sent the Bobcats into a bit of a tailspin. The Bobcats haven’t forgotten that loss and will be motivated at home to send a message. This one will be a tough, physical matchup with the edge going to Paris. But this one will be in doubt until the final five minutes. 

Stepp’s Pick: Paris by 6

West Columbia (5-0, 1-0) at Needville (5-1, 2-0): 13-4A Division I has the makings of one of the best districts in the state and we get a showdown between two of the unbeaten teams in the loop, who both are now in the state’s Top 10. Columbia rolled past Bay City, 50-6, two weeks ago. The Roughnecks, who have one of the state’s most experienced squads, are averaging over 44 points per game. Needville struggled for three quarters against Bay City last week before pulling away for a 48-27 victory. RB Ashton Stredick ran for 269 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Needville offense. Expect a shootout in this one as the game will come down to which defense can rise up. So far this season, Columbia’s defense has been the better group. 

Stepp’s Pick: West Columbia by 8

Beeville Jones (6-0) at La Vernia (4-2): A district title could be on the line in 15-4A Division I as unbeaten Beeville visits a La Vernia squad that was a regional finalist a year ago and isn’t too keen on giving up its crown. Beeville rolled past San Antonio Central Catholic a week ago, 50-34 as QB Seth Gomez ran for 119 yards and two touchdowns and threw for 167 yards and two touchdowns. LaVernia had no problem with Pearsall last week in an easy 56-0 win as QB Gage Lowrey threw for 290 yards and three touchdowns and ran for two scores as well. Beeville Jones has the look of a real force in Region IV under new/old head coach Chris Soza and the Trojans have the best player on the field. That gives them the edge in this matchup.

Stepp’s Pick: Beeville Jones by 4

Graham (2-3) at Iowa Park (4-1): After a strong start to the season, Graham has lost three straight games to strong 4A-Division I programs, all of whom are ranked in the Top 10. The Steers are hoping that stepping down into their own division will do them some good, especially coming off the bye week. Iowa Park, after their surprise run to the regional finals a year ago, has kept the momentum going with four wins in five non-district contests. The last two weeks have been especially impressive as the Hawks have outscored opponents 93-3. Iowa Park QB Trent Green is one of the top players in the Wichita Falls area, but Graham’s balance and ability to keep defenses off-balance is the difference. They are battle-tested with those non-district battles under their belts. 

Stepp’s Pick: Graham by 9

Clyde (4-1) at Wall (5-0): 3-3A Division I is going to be a grind each and every week. Although state-ranked Wall is the favorite to win this district, it has a lot of work to do and it starts this week against a Clyde squad that’s won four straight. Clyde didn’t have a bye last week as they took on Stamford and rolled to an easy 61-0 win. Bo Baker rushed for 126 yards and four touchdowns and Canaan Charleston rushed for 104 and two scores. The Bulldogs will need their best game of the year to matchup with the Wall flexbone attack that comes at you from multiple angles and with multiple playmakers. Wall’s size up front is outstanding as well and that’s what has Hawks fans thinking state title. Clyde’s best chance of slowing this team down is winning the battle up front, disrupting things from the inside out to mess up the timing on the option. Easier said than done. 

Stepp’s Pick: Wall by 16

Lago Vista (5-1, 2-0) at Rockdale (5-0, 1-0): Lago Vista continued its hot start to district play last week as the Vikings rolled past Little River Academy, 41-20. But the Vikings will face their toughest test since a Week 2 loss to Lampasas as they visit Rockdale. The Tigers opened up district play in style last week doing whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted in an 80-6 rout of Manor New Tech. QB Jace Robinson completed 12 of 17 passes for 285 yards and two touchdowns, while Cam’Ron Valdez scored five rushing touchdowns on just six carries. Rockdale’s offense has been on another level this year as the Tigers are averaging over 56 points per game. It could be another big night for the Tigers as their speed could give Lago Vista a lot of trouble. 

Stepp’s Pick: Rockdale by 21

Marion (4-2, 2-0) at Jourdanton (5-0, 1-0): One of the more underrated matchups in the Greater San Antonio area could be a district title showdown as Marion tangles with upstart Jourdanton, who has the look of a regional title contender this season. Marion rolled past San Antonio Cole, 30-6, last week as QB Zach Goodwin ran for a score and threw for another score in the win. The concern was the Bulldogs’ four turnovers, which they can’t get away with this week against an explosive Jourdanton offense. The Indians raced past Karnes City 55-7 last week behind 364 yards and five touchdowns passing from Cole Andrus. Andrus is the trigger man for a Jourdanton offense that brought back all 11 starters from a year ago and has hopes of a lengthy playoff run. That Indians offense is going to be hard to stop in district. 

Stepp’s Pick: Jourdanton by 18

Idalou (3-2) at Coahoma (4-1): There’s no question Abernathy is the favorite in District 2-3A, but this matchup between Idalou and Coahoma is dripping with playoff implications as the district’s No. 2 seed may be decided in this one. Idalou has been a bit up and down during the non-district portion of its schedule. Two weeks ago they closed out non-district with a big win over Muleshoe, 45-16. Jared Jack led a balanced attack rushing for 165 yards and a touchdown on just seven carries. Coahoma bounced back from its first loss of the year with a big 48-0 win over Iraan two weeks ago. The Bulldogs were led by QB Zack Schneider, who threw for 117 yards, rushed for 91 yards, caught a pass for 26 yards and accounted for three touchdowns in the win. Coahoma has been one of the real surprise teams in West Texas. This is a chance for Chris Joslin’s squad to make a big statement with a win at home against a traditional power.

Stepp’s Pick: Coahoma by 3

Omaha Pewitt (5-0, 2-0) at New Diana (4-1, 2-0): While most of the focus on the 11-3A Division II race has been on Daingerfield, both Pewitt and New Diana are off to fast starts and are looking to get to 3-0 in a key district matchup. Omaha Pewitt drilled Ore City, 42-14, last week as the Brahmas running game got rolling in a 28-point second quarter that put the game out of reach by halftime. After a tough 2018 season, New Diana is getting back to 2017 form under second year head coach Travis Chrisman. The Eagles battled against a tough Waskom squad last week with the defense rising to the occasion in a 21-14 win. Pewitt played Waskom two weeks ago and absolutely rolled in a 60-25 win. The Brahams running game gets rolling again this week in a key road win. 

Stepp’s Pick: Omaha Pewitt by 14

Quick Picks

Katy Mayde Creek (5-0, 1-0) vs Katy Tompkins (5-1, 1-1) Stepp’s Pick: Katy Tompkins by 14

West Orange-Stark (3-1) at Silsbee (2-3) Stepp’s Pick: West Orange-Stark by 8

Hamilton (5-1) at Clifton (4-2) Stepp’s Pick: Clifton by 11 

Yoakum (2-3) at Vanderbilt Industrial (4-1) Stepp’s Pick: Vanderbilt Industrial by 1

Winters (4-2) at Hawley (6-0) Stepp’s Pick: Hawley by 22

Mason (3-2) at Brackettville (3-2) Stepp’s Pick: Mason by 27

Honey Grove (6-0) at Wolfe City (5-1) Stepp’s Pick: Wolfe City by 2

Burton (3-3) at Flatonia (5-1) Stepp’s Pick: Flatonia by 7

Bruceville-Eddy (5-1, 2-0) at Italy (4-2, 2-0) Stepp’s Pick: Italy by 3

Post (5-0) at Hale Center (3-2) Stepp’s Pick: Post by 23

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