Setting the stage for six-man district play: Who are the favorites?

By Russell Huffman

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It's Week 7, which means we get our first taste of district competition for many UIL teams.

With that in mind I will take a quick look at a few districts that look to be exciting.

 

DIVISION 1

Let’s start out west with District 1, which has been the domain of the McLean Tigers for the past few years. This time around, we have Happy (5-1), Valley (4-0) and White Deer (4-2).  If you would’ve asked me a few weeks ago, I’d have said White Deer would been a shoe-in. But as of today, I feel as though Happy and Valley are the teams showing they can make a run.

None of the three face each other this weekend but McLean does travel to Valley.

In District 2 we have four teams at .500 (Nazareth, Springlake Earth, Petersburg and Kress), and another at 0-5 (Lorenzo). Nazareth, who appears to be gaining some traction, travels to Petersburg.

You have to give the edge to Nazareth and Springlake Earth initially, but I am not willing to count out Petersburg, who has made the playoffs in each of the past four seasons. That puts a lot of importance on the Swifts-Buffaloes matchup on Friday.

District 7 looks to be quite a race. It may be the only district in the state where every team is at .500 or better heading into the weekend. Ira (4-2), Hermleigh (6-0) and Aspermont (3-3) are the early favorites, but Roby (4-2) and Rotan (5-0) aren’t out of the picture.

Early district wins are crucial and this week pits Aspermont at Hermleigh and Roby at Ira.

As we head East of I-35, we visit District 11, where the defending state champions, Blum, are 2-3 and perennial playoff contender Milford is 0-4. The interesting thing here is the only team above .500, Bynum at 3-2, is also the lowest-ranked team in the district.

I am honestly perplexed when I look at this one. Who wakes up and wins this one? I still like Blum to walk away with the title, but something tells me not to count out Milford, a team that has reached the playoffs 10-straight years, including a pair of Finals and Semifinals appearances during that span.

We can probably eliminate a few teams this weekend after Milford travels to Bynum and Avalon heads to Covington.

The final district in Division 1 I want to take a look at is District 15 with Jonesboro, Evant, Lometa and Zephyr. Jonesboro is the obvious choice to claim the championship, but who else can lay claim to a playoff berth?

Evant looks good but has been limited to playing only three games. Lometa was undefeated until they ran into a tough Cedar Park Summit team on a substitute game last weekend. We have another weekend to dwell on this as they don’t start play until week eight.

 

DIVISION 2

Beginning out West again, let’s look at District 3. Whitharral (4-2) is the highest-rated team heading into district play, but Anton (5-0) and Lazbuddie (6-0) are both undefeated. Of course, you cannot forget about Amherst at 4-2.

This week will be important as all four teams are in action, as Amherst travels to Lazbuddie and Whitharral is at Anton.

One district not starting this week, but will be curios to watch is District 8. Benjamin (3-1), Chillicothe (2-2) and Rule (4-2) will be trying to determine who gets the two spots. Benjamin is the highest-rated team but is going into COVID lockdown for the next two weeks. With Harrold (0-1) potentially being a no-show, the Mustangs may have only two more games this season prior to a potential playoff run.

District 10 is another four-team district that doesn’t begin this week, but is a bit confusing to handicap. Tenth-ranked Fannindel (5-0) is the obvious pick out front, but who comes next may be a crapshoot. Trinidad (1-5), Forestburg (1-5) and Gold-Burg (4-2) will all take their shot. 

Gold-Burg actually beat Forestburg in a non-district game last week that was scheduled to replace opponents that canceled at the last minute. Honestly, any of these three could claim a spot. Interestingly, these two teams also played twice last season.

District 15 should be a fun one. The only team looking in from the outside seems to be Panther Creek. Each of the others (Sidney, Blanket ,Brookesmith and Rising Star) should be in the hunt. Three of the teams Sidney, Blanket and Brookesmith are each ranked 20th, 21st and 23rd, respectively in the current rankings.

The biggest game this week here will be Blanket at Rising Star, with Sidney also traveling to Panther Creek.

Obviously, there are other districts that could be interesting, but I’ll save that for another week.

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