Week 8 Mega Preview: Breaking down & predicting the biggest Texas high school football games

By Darrell Gest

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Cedar Hill (1-0) at Aledo (2-0): This game was scheduled late last week as both teams are coming off a bye week. Aledo’s was expected as they were looking to start district play up this week, while Cedar Hill had their game against Allen canceled. That created an opportunity to get these two together in a fascinating 6A/5A matchup. Cedar Hill got a strong push from Arlington in their last outing two weeks ago, but held off the Colts, 28-21. After struggling on offense in the first half, Cedar Hill’s offense got rolling in the second half behind Tennessee commit QB Kaidon Salter, who finished the night with 248 yards passing and a touchdown through the air and on the ground. Cedar Hill’s defense, which many believe will be improved in 2020, held Arlington to just seven points in the second half. After blowing Weatherford out in the season opener, Aledo got a big test in their last outing but held off a strong Frisco Lone Star squad at home, 34-32. LSU commit Jojo Earle did a little bit of everything for the Bearcats with 20 carries, catching six passes and also lining up at QB, finishing with 153 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns. RB DeMarco Roberts, after rushing for 130 yards and three touchdowns in the first half, left the game with an injury and his status this week is unknown. Aledo’s defense looks to be outstanding as the Bearcats have elite level playmakers in all three levels, but the sheer speed that Cedar Hill puts on the field, along with the Longhorns depth, gives them the edge in what should be an entertaining and high-scoring game. Stepp’s Pick: Cedar Hill by 7

Spring (2-0, 1-0) vs Spring Westfield (2-0, 1-0): One of the most underrated rivalries in the Houston area has major district title implications as unbeaten Spring takes on unbeaten Westfield in a game that likely decides the 14-6A title. Spring, behind another monster game from QB Bishop Davenport, rolled past Spring Dekaney, 55-17, last week. Davenport accounted for 478 yards of total offense and five touchdowns.The Lions offense, which is averaging 43-points per game, will get their biggest test of the young season going against that stout Westfield defense, which totally stifled Aldine Davis in a 33-6 win. QB Cardell Williams tossed three touchdown passes on the night, including two in the first half, as the Mustangs raced out to a 24-0 lead at the half and cruised to the easy victory. Westfield has typically dominated this series, but this Spring offense is clicking at such a high level. It’ll be a real test for the Mustangs; add in the rivalry game aspect at the brand new stadium in Spring ISD and this one will have plenty of electricity. Spring pushes Westfield to the brink, but the Mustangs big game experience pays big dividends this week. Stepp’s Pick: Spring Westfield by 8

Katy (3-0, 1-0) vs Katy Tompkins (3-0, 1-0): It’s been a banner start to the 2020 season in Katy ISD as the district has three teams ranked in the Top 25 in Class 6A, and the two highest rated teams meet up with the winner getting the inside track to the district title. Katy has found their groove in a major way the last two weeks with back to back dominant performances; last week the Tigers blasted past Katy Seven Lakes, 59-3, as the Tigers scored on their first seven drives. It was Katy’s sophomores on offense that did plenty of damage with RB Seth Davis ran for 217 yards and four touchdowns, while QB Caleb Koger tossed four touchdown passes for the Tigers. Katy’s senior laden defense was dominating as well as they are forcing turnovers and giving the ball back to their offense. Tompkins has been getting it done with defense as the Falcons the last two weeks have allowed just seven points and that came via special teams. Last week Tompkins drilled Katy Cinco Ranch to the tune of 55-0 as Alabama commit QB Jalen Milroe and his versatile backfield duo of Sherman Smith and Marquis Shoulders dominated with 49 first half points. Smith ran for two scores and had a touchdown catch, while Shoulders ran for two scores and also had a receiving touchdown also. Katy’s got a long and well-noted winning streak against fellow Katy ISD schools; the Tigers have won 73 straight district games with the last loss coming in 2008 to Cinco Ranch. But last year Tompkins pushed the Tigers in a five-point loss. One thing we do know is Katy Tompkins won’t be intimidated by the Katy mystique, but the question is can their offense crack the code of that state title level Katy High defense? Until proven otherwise, Katy continues to get the benefit of the doubt. Stepp’s Pick: Katy by 9

Lubbock Coronado (3-0) at Wichita Falls Rider (3-0): It’s a battle of unbeatens at the 5A level as Lubbock Coronado travels east on Highway 114 to take on Wichita Falls Rider. Coronado’s offense, led by Mississippi State commit QB Sawyer Robertson, rolled past Odessa High, 49-0, as Robertson threw five touchdown passes and ran for another touchdown. Often known as an offense first team, it’s Coronado’s defense that’s turned heads early in the year as the Mustangs have pitched back to back shutouts and have allowed just 14 points through three games. Wichita Falls Rider was originally scheduled to play Midlothian on Thursday last week, but instead took on WFISD rival Hirschi in a quickly setup showdown that generated plenty of buzz in town as it was the first time since 2005 that the two programs met. Rider took full advantage of Hirschi miscues in a 48-10 win. The Raiders forced nine Hirschi turnovers, while QB Jacob Rodriguez tossed two touchdowns in the first half before the Virginia commit left the game with a leg injury. Rodriguez could have returned to the game Friday but was held out with Rider holding a big lead, and he’s expected to play this week. Both offenses are incredibly dynamic and this one is going to come down to which defense can make plays at key moments. Despite the hot start from Coronado, we give the edge to Rider at home in this one. Stepp’s Pick: Wichita Falls Rider by 6

Corpus Christi Calallen (4-2, 1-0) at Corpus Christi Miller (4-2, 1-0): The showdown that many have been waiting for on the Coastal Bend is finally here at Calallen and Miller hook up in a game that will go a long way in deciding the 15-4A Division I district title. Despite social distancing protocols, expect a big crowd to be on hand for this one at Buccaneer Stadium and the big question here is who gets the edge? Calallen and their old school run-based attack or Miller and their high-flying spread offense? Calallen last week opened up district play with their 38th straight win over Tuloso-Midway as the Wildcats dominated in a 52-13 win. Calallen QB Terik Hickmon ran for 129 yards and two touchdowns while throwing for another. RB Jeremiah Earls returned to the field after suffering an injury against Waco La Vega to run for 70 yards and two touchdowns, while Marvin Beasley and Epi Hinojosa each ran for a touchdown each as the Wildcats totaled 357 yards of offense. Miller got their offense rolling last week as well as the Buccaneers rolled past Alice, 73-42. The Bucs offense got the ground attack rolling as Ethan Greenwood ran for 127 yards and five touchdowns in the win. Quarterback Andrew Body was solid throwing for 229 yards and four touchdown passes, while the Miller defense forced six turnovers. The key to this game is can Miller’s defense win early downs and force the Wildcats to throw the ball more than they want. If Miller can do that they have a chance to pull the upset because the offense will score points. However, these are the type of games that Calallen has made a major statement in traditionally under Phil Danaher. Miller is the latest local team to rise up and be named as the next challenger to the Wildcats dominance in the 361, so I’m expecting a big Calallen statement type win in this one. Stepp’s Pick: Corpus Christi Calallen by 16

Graham (4-1, 1-0) at Iowa Park (5-1, 1-0): The District 3-3A Division II crown is on the line this week as the two clear front-runners renew their rivalry Friday night. Neither team was tested in their district opener last week as Graham raced past Bridgeport 63-7, while Iowa Park dominated Mineral Wells 42-14. Graham was led by Daniel Gilbertson, who ran for 91 yards and two scores. QB Hunter Lanham threw for three touchdowns along with 189 yards, while Graham’s defense held Bridgeport to just 91 yards of offense on the night. Iowa Park raced out to a 21-0 lead on Mineral Wells and then after the Rams cut the lead to seven, the Hawks turned the jets on in the second half to cruise to the win. QB Cirby Coheley led Iowa Park with 272 yards and four touchdowns to four different receivers. He also rushed for 57 yards and two scores. What’s made Iowa Park so tough to deal with is their ability to throw the ball consistently; the Hawks are big and physical. With the ability of Coheley to threaten defenses with the passing game, Iowa Park squad is definitely a favorite in this one and in Region I as a whole. Stepp’s Pick: Iowa Park by 10

Wall (4-2, 1-0) at Tuscola Jim Ned (4-1, 1-0): It’s another small school game with district title implications as Wall visits a surging Jim Ned squad in a key District 3-3A Division I showdown. Wall had zero troubles last week in an easy 72-0 win over San Angelo TLC. The Hawks rotated a dozen ball carriers with eight different players scoring touchdowns. Wall led 44-0 at the half. Jim Ned rolled up nearly 500 yards of offense with near perfect balance in an easy 46-14 win over Early. Tate Yardley was 19 of 26 for 221 yards and three scores and Xavier Wishert rushed 15 times for 134 yards and three scores to lead the Indians attack. Jim Ned and their offensive firepower will be a big challenge for Wall and their long district winning streak, but can the Indians in the trenches hold up against the power of Wall? I don’t believe Jim Ned holds up and Wall in the second half wears JNHS down. Stepp’s Pick: Wall by 14

Eastland (3-3, 1-0) at Comanche (6-0, 1-0): It’s a classic offense vs. defense matchup as Eastland and their high-powered offense visits Comanche, who has one of the top defensive units in the state of Texas regardless of classification. Eastland has ripped off three straight wins since getting back to full strength after dealing with health and discipline issues. The Mavericks were pushed last week by a solid Millsap squad but pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 50-23 win. Texas Tech commit QB Behren Morton led the Mavericks attack, but there was plenty of balance with tough running Brandon Fielding and excellent WR play from Cooper Wright and Bryan Fielding. The much-maligned Eastland defense stepped up as well forcing three turnovers, including a pick six to seal the game in the fourth quarter. Comanche has allowed just 33 total points in six games and they kept that trend rolling again last week in a 38-6 win over Dublin. The Indians offense had maybe their best game of the year with 323 yards on the ground with six different players toting the mail. Eastland’s offense is easily the toughest challenge of the season for Comanche, and with a Division I QB leading the way and several dynamic playmakers, if Eastland can set the pace they should be able to seize control of the district race with a big road win. Stepp’s Pick: Eastland by 8

Ganado (3-3, 2-0) at Shiner (6-0, 2-0): Powerful Shiner faces their last real test of the regular season as they host a solid Ganado squad that’s found their footing after starting the season 0-3. Last week Ganado knocked off Schulenberg, 28-21, as RB Kyle Bures-Guerrero ran for 124 yards and three touchdowns, including the game winner with 2:09 left in the game. They are facing a major uphill battle this week against a loaded Shiner bunch that demolished Weimar, 57-14, last week. Doug Brooks ran for 91 yards and two touchdowns to lead a balanced Shiner attack that rolled up 497 yards of offense in the win. Shiner hasn’t been tested by a 2A team this year and until they play Refugio they likely won’t get tested. The Comanches roll in another impressive win. Stepp’s Pick: Shiner by 24

Wink (7-0, 1-0) at McCamey (4-1, 0-0): It’s a big time district 1-2A Division II showdown in the Permian Basin as Wink and McCamey battle in what should be an intense battle with lots of storylines. Wink has dominated all year en route to a 7-0 record and Coach Brian Gibson’s squad feels they can bring home a regional title after getting all the way to the regional finals a year ago. Last week, Wink had no issues in a 37-14 win over Seagraves as the Wildcats put the game away early with 37 points in the first half and putting things on cruise control as they wanted to keep their guys healthy for this showdown. McCamey had the week off and the Badgers have had to scramble in the last two weeks to find games to fill their schedule, but the Badgers have dominated as two weeks ago they rolled past Petrolia 40-12 behind an offense that rolled up 480 yards of offense as QB Ivan Rubio was absolutely dealing in the Badgers big win. There’s a bit of bad blood here with these two as two key members of McCamey’s team transferred in from Wink in the off-season and depending on who you talk to, there’s some bad feelings for sure. This will be chippy and will be an absolute battle as both teams are real contenders in Region I this year. Stepp’s Pick: Wink by 6


Quick Picks

Midland Lee (3-0) at Odessa Permian (2-1) Stepp’s Pick: Midland Lee by 11

Arlington (2-1) vs Arlington Martin (2-1) Stepp’s Pick: Arlington Martin by 3

Austin Vandegrift (1-1, 0-0) at Cedar Park Vista Ridge (3-0, 1-0) Stepp’s Pick: Cedar Park Vista Ridge by 4

Schertz Clemens (1-1, 0-0) at Converse Judson (2-1, 2-0) Stepp’s Pick: Converse Judson by 2

Highland Park (1-0) at Rockwall (3-0) Stepp’s Pick: Rockwall by 7

Rio Grande City (0-0) at Zapata (1-1) Stepp’s Pick: Rio Grande City by 10

Brenham (1-2, 1-0) at Georgetown East View (1-2, 1-0) Stepp’s Pick: Brenham by 13

Mission Veterans Memorial (0-0) at Raymondville (1-0) Stepp’s Pick: Mission Veterans Memorial by 14

Austin LBJ (2-1, 1-0) at Fredericksburg (4-2, 0-1) Stepp’s Pick: Austin LBJ by 9

Andrews (5-2) at Big Spring (3-1) Stepp’s Pick: Andrews by 35

Aubrey (6-1, 1-0) at Sanger (6-0, 0-0) Stepp’s Pick: Aubrey by 13

Carthage (4-0, 1-0) at Jasper (6-0, 1-0) Stepp’s Pick: Carthage by 17

Shallowater (5-0, 2-0) at Denver City (4-3, 2-0) Stepp’s Pick: Shallowater by 20

Gladewater (5-2, 3-0) at Jefferson (3-3, 1-1) Stepp’s Pick: Gladewater by 17

Friona (5-1, 2-0) at Childress (5-1, 2-1) Stepp’s Pick: Childress by 7

Waskom (5-0, 2-0) at Queen City (5-1, 2-1) Stepp’s Pick: Waskom by 42

New Deal (3-1, 1-0) at Post (6-0, 1-0) Stepp’s Pick: Post by 17

Normangee (6-0, 2-0) at Grapeland (6-1, 2-0) Stepp’s Pick: Grapeland by 4

Muenster (5-2, 1-0) at Windthorst (5-1, 0-0) Stepp’s Pick: Windthorst by 10

Evadale (2-2, 0-0) vs Hull-Daisetta (2-3, 0-1) Stepp’s Pick: Evadale by 22

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