Week 9 Mega Preview: Breaking down & predicting the biggest Texas high school football games

By Samuel De Leon

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Cypress Bridgeland (4-0, 2-0) vs Cypress Ranch (2-1, 1-0): New Cy-Fair ISD power Bridgeland is looking to put their stamp on the 16-6A race this week if they can knock off a tough Cy Ranch squad. Bridgeland got pushed last week but found a way to escape in a 35-28 win over Cy Woods. QB Conner Weigman scored on a 28-yard run with 19 seconds left on the clock to keep Bridgeland unbeaten. Before the game winning touchdown run, Weigman had tossed four touchdown passes to four different receivers. Cy Ranch had their game against Cy Falls postponed last week to Thanksgiving weekend. But the Mustangs had been playing excellent football the previous two weeks, outscoring their last two opponents 111-7 as QB DJ Ciers and that up-tempo offense have been hitting on all cylinders since the season opening loss to Cy-Fair. Both offensive units are capable of putting up big numbers. Defense will determine this one, and in key moments against tough competition, Bridgeland’s defense has shown the ability to get stops and make big plays, which will be the difference. Stepp’s Pick: Cypress Bridgeland by 11

San Antonio Brandeis (3-0, 2-0) vs San Antonio Johnson (3-0, 2-0): The top matchup in the Alamo City this week could have the 28-6A title on the line as state-ranked Brandeis will have their hands full with unbeaten Johnson. The Broncos, after a tough season opening win over Harlan, have dominated the last two weeks, including a 39-6 win over San Antonio Clark. QB Nico Garcia ran for two touchdowns and threw another touchdown for the Broncos, while the Brandeis defense was dominant holding Clark to 161 yards of offense and netting a pair of safeties. Johnson is off to a hot start under new head coach Mark Soto. Last week the Jaguars drilled San Antonio MacArthur, 49-7, as Shane Johnson returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and CTJ never looked back. QB Ty Reasoner only put the ball in the air 13 times in the game, but he was efficient throwing a pair of touchdowns and spreading the football around. Brandeis is battle tested from the previous two playoff runs and this may be David Branscom’s best team yet. he Broncos defense is the tone setter in this Thursday night showdown. Stepp’s Pick: San Antonio Brandeis by 8

Mansfield Summit (1-1) at Ennis (2-0): It’s a juicy matchup thrown together late last week as both teams lost district games due to Covid-19. Mansfield Summit has the look of a team that can make some big noise in 5A-Division I, but the Jaguars stumbled in their last outing two weeks ago, falling to 6A rival Mansfield High, 27-20. The key in the loss was the Jaguars’ struggles in the red zone; three times Summit moved inside the Mansfield 20 yard-line and came away with zero points. Mansfield Summit can’t afford to be that inefficient in the red zone this week against the top team in 5A-Division II as opportunities could be limited against that stout Ennis defense. It’s been more than two weeks since Ennis has taken the field as the Lions have had zero luck with their opponents as three games, including two district games have been lost due to Covid-19. Ennis will be making up at least one of those district games, but the focus for the Lions is one more tune-up before a big game in two weeks against North Forney. The Ennis offense has the dynamic QB in Collin Drake and the solid offensive line, but the key for a state title run for the Lions will be the Lions young skill players making an impact. This may be the week that Ennis has that breakout against a really tough opponent. Stepp’s Pick: Ennis by 10

Lubbock Cooper (3-1) at Canyon Randall (2-2): District 3-5A Division II moved up the start of district one week and a game that was supposed to be Thanksgiving weekend is now the district opener. Lubbock Cooper boasts one of the top defenses in the state as the Pirates have allowed just 50 total points through four games, with 28 coming in their loss to Lubbock Coronado. Last week, Cooper got their offense going in a major way in an easy 49-8 win over Lubbock Monterey. RB’s Judge Thompson and Kaleb Stripling combined for 161 yards on the ground and two touchdowns each, while the Pirates defense again held strong in the big win to close out non-district. Cooper cornerback Kyle Lewis set the tone for the Pirates defense with a 38-yard pick six to open the game. Don’t let Canyon Randall’s 2-2 record fool you; the Raiders two losses are by a combined four points to Amarillo and Amarillo Caprock. The Raiders got things going last week by routing Lubbock High, 59-0, as the backfield trio of Braden Beck, Nathan Baker and Stephen Rodriguez combined for nearly 200 yards rushing and five touchdowns; Randall totaled 509 yards of offense. Cooper’s defense has the headliner in Oklahoma commit LB Kobie McKenzie, but this is an elite unit top to bottom. With the Pirates offense finding their stride last week, it makes them a big favorite in this one. Stepp’s Pick: Lubbock Cooper by 14

Waco La Vega (5-1, 2-0) at Midlothian Heritage (6-2, 2-0): This matchup is full of district title implications in 5-4A Division I as La Vega travels to a stadium they are quite familiar with as they look to take down Midlothian Heritage. The Pirates were idle last week, but two weeks ago they went on the road and earned a tough win at Stephenville, 42-24. Converted LB Jordan Rogers continues to find his groove on offense amassing 322 yards and five touchdowns. The biggest key was Rogers throwing for 122 yards and two scores as La Vega has to get the passing game going if they want to contend for a regional title. RB Jar’Que Walton was able to find running lanes as well for the Pirates picking up 175 yards rushing and a touchdown in the win. La Vega’s defense, which has been dynamic all season, continues to play well as they held a potent Stephenville offense in check for the most part. Midlothian Heritage had no trouble last week in an easy 45-6 win over Waxahachie Life as the Jaguars exploded for 28 third quarter points to turn a 10-0 game at the half into a rout. Latray Miller ran for 114 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Heritage attack, while QB Daelin Rader chipped in 228 yards of offense and two touchdowns. If La Vega’s offense continues to find their groove it’s a scary proposition for the rest of the district and the region and this is the time of year Don Hyde’s squad really gets it going. Look for another dominant effort from the Pirates this week as they have the formula to contain the dynamic Midlothian Heritage attack. Stepp’s Pick: Waco La Vega by 13

Wimberley (7-1, 2-0) at Geronimo Navarro (5-2, 2-0): District 14-4A Division II has had a unique setup to this year, but one that’s been a constant is Wimberley and Navarro are head and shoulders above the field. The two teams have not been challenged in district play, winning games as each has topped the 80-point mark in games played on the field. Wimberley’s game with Austin Eastside Memorial last week was canceled due to non-Covid reasons, while Navarro blasted Austin Achieve, 82-7. We’ll find out a lot about these two in this one as this is likely the final playoff tune-up for both teams. They met twice last year, with Navarro winning the regular season game and Wimberley earning the win in the regional finals. The key in this one is tempo; can Wimberley’s defense dictate the pace by forcing Navarro and their Slot-T offense into obvious passing downs? If the Texans can do that, their offense is powerful enough to jump on Navarro early and get the Panthers out of their game. Stepp’s Pick: Wimberley by 10

Brock (7-0, 4-0) at Boyd (7-0, 4-0): The chance for unbeaten Boyd to prove themselves has arrived as the Yellow Jackets have run up an impressive 7-0 record, though they’ve come against subpar teams; their best win is a five-point win in non-district over a solid 3A-Division II squad in Jacksboro. Now they’ll get to test themselves against the No. 1 team in the state in unbeaten Brock. Last week, Boyd took care of business in setting up the showdown with Brock with an easy 46-6 rout of Peaster. Brock was also dominant last week as the Eagles routed Ponder, 56-19, on the strength of 176 rushing yards and three touchdowns from Cash Jones. Boyd’s skill players will matchup with Brock, but the difference is up front on both sides of the ball where Brock has a massive edge. Boyd keeps it close for a quarter and a half, but Brock gets it going before halftime and rolls in the second half. Stepp’s Pick: Brock by 24

Buffalo (7-0, 3-0) at Franklin (5-2, 4-0): There have been few teams that start the season at 7-0 in more quiet fashion than Buffalo, but the next two weeks the Bison get to test themselves as they gear up for what they hope is a deep playoff run. The Bison offense, directed by QB Brett Hoffman, has been sensational all year as only twice have they been held under 40 points. The test is big this week as Buffalo deals with the size, speed and physical style that Franklin brings to the table. The Lions have ripped off five straight wins; they’ve been mowing teams down since district play started with brutal efficiency with an average margin of victory of 38 points. Last week, FHS made short work of an overmatched Florence squad, rolling to a 63-6 win. The Lions returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and that sparked a 34-point first quarter. Talented QB Marcus Wade tossed two touchdowns and a bevy of backs carried the ground game in the victory. Franklin’s defense will key in on Hoffman, make someone else from Buffalo beat them, and their offensive line and potent rushing attack controls the tempo and FHS all but locks up the 13-3A Division II crown this week. Stepp’s Pick: Franklin by 16

Hawley (5-2, 2-0) at Anson (5-1, 2-0): The 3-2A Division I title is on the line in Anson as two teams pushing to move into the top 10 in 2A-Division I meet up in what looks to be the top game in the Big Country this week. Anson was sloppy last week in their 27-23 win over Forsan as the Tigers turned the ball over three times and trailed 20-13 at the half. But the Tigers found their stride in the second half and held on to the football to get the win. Hawley was the beneficiary of turnovers last week in their 31-16 win over Stamford. The Bearcats forced three turnovers and the offense was clicking on all cylinders in the win. Austin Cumpton rushed for 320 yards and two touchdowns, while QB Xavier Rodela had 146 yards of offense and accounted for two scores. This is a pick em game as these two are about as evenly matched as you can get. The edge goes to Anson being at home in a coin-flip. Stepp’s Pick: Anson by 2

Wellington (7-0, 2-0) at Clarendon (6-1, 1-0): Wellington looks to take another step towards locking up the 4-2A Division II title as they face a tough road test in Clarendon. The Skyrockets had no trouble with Memphis in an easy 52-16 win last week. Marc Ramirez was again the catalyst of a balanced attack, rushing for 74 yards and three touchdowns, while John Ramirez scored two touchdowns. It was Wellington’s first home game since Labor Day weekend. Clarendon had the week off after they knocked off Memphis 14-6 two weeks ago. The Broncos, much like Wellington, rely heavily on their rushing attack, but the Broncos are a bit young and they may have issues matching up in the trenches with Wellington. Stepp’s Pick: Wellington by 20

Quick Picks

El Paso Americas (1-0) vs El Paso Pebble Hills (1-0) Stepp’s Pick: El Paso Americas by 9

McKinney (3-1) at Denton Guyer (2-1) Stepp’s Pick: Denton Guyer by 21

Katy Taylor (4-0, 2-0) vs Katy Tompkins (3-0, 1-0) Stepp’s Pick: Katy Tompkins by 11

Austin High (3-0, 2-0) at Lake Travis (3-0, 2-0) Stepp’s Pick: Lake Travis by 27

Richmond Foster (2-0) at Fort Bend Hightower (1-1) Stepp’s Pick: Richmond Foster by 3

Eagle Pass Winn (0-0) at San Antonio Southside (3-0) Stepp’s Pick: San Antonio Southside by 19

Victoria East (2-2, 1-2) vs Victoria West (1-1, 1-0) Stepp’s Pick: Victoria East by 4

McAllen Memorial (0-0) at Mission Pioneer (1-0) Stepp’s Pick: Mission Pioneer by 6

Texarkana Texas (3-0) at Mount Pleasant (2-1) Stepp’s Pick: Texarkana Texas by 18

Springtown (7-1, 3-0) at Decatur (4-4, 3-0) Stepp’s Pick: Springtown by 10

Bay City (5-2, 1-1) at El Campo (5-1, 2-0) Stepp’s Pick: El Campo by 13

Austin LBJ (3-1, 2-0) at Lampasas (5-0, 2-0) Stepp’s Pick: Lampasas by 9

Ferris (3-3, 0-1) at Hillsboro (4-3, 1-1) Stepp’s Pick: Hillsboro by 7

Ingleside (6-1, 1-0) at Sinton (4-3, 2-0) Stepp’s Pick: Sinton by 12

Dalhart (5-2, 1-0) at Bushland (5-2, 2-0) Stepp’s Pick: Bushland by 11

Lorena (4-2, 2-1) at Cameron Yoe (4-3, 2-2) Stepp’s Pick: Cameron Yoe by 4

Blanco (6-1, 1-0) at Llano (7-0, 2-0) Stepp’s Pick: Llano by 14

Jacksboro (5-2, 2-0) at Eastland (4-3, 2-0) Stepp’s Pick: Eastland by 8

Palmer (7-1, 3-1) at Blooming Grove (5-2, 3-0) Stepp’s Pick: Blooming Grove by 2

Coleman (6-1, 2-0) at Cisco (4-3, 2-0) Stepp’s Pick: Cisco by 18

Como-Pickton (3-2, 2-2) at Cooper (4-1, 3-0) Stepp’s Pick: Cooper by 12

Crawford (7-0, 3-0) at Bosqueville (4-2, 3-0) Stepp’s Pick: Crawford by 15

Cushing (5-1, 2-1) at Tenaha (5-2, 4-0) Stepp’s Pick: Tenaha by 24

Christoval (6-1, 2-0) at Eldorado (3-4, 2-0) Stepp’s Pick: Christoval by 16

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