Jasper (1-2) at Little Cypress-Mauriceville (3-1): A solid added game to the schedule in the Golden Triangle will close out the non-district slate for both of these teams this week. Jasper had their Week 2 and 3 games canceled due to Covid issues, and since the Bulldogs returned to the field two weeks ago the performance has had mixed results, a 33-3 win over Hardin-Jefferson, but last week the Bulldogs offense simply couldn’t get going in an 8-7 loss to Vidor and the defense finally allowed a Vidor score with less than a minute remaining. LCM has made big steps forward under first year head coach Eric Peevey as the Bears rolled past a good private school team in Houston Kinkaid with a 49-20 victory. The key for the Bears in the win was a dominant second half showing as LCM outscored Kinkaid 21-0 in the final two quarters. I don’t expect Jasper to put out another shaky offensive performance this week, look for the Bulldogs to break a couple of big plays late and escape with a close victory. Stepp’s Pick: Jasper by 6
Midland Greenwood (2-2) at Graham (1-3): Two teams who have been contenders in Region I the past few years in 4A-Division II have gotten off to sluggish starts in 2021 and both will look to close out the non-district slate on a positive note. Greenwood saw their two-game winning streak come to a disappointing end last week as the Rangers were knocked off at home by Canyon 38-19. Four turnovers proved to be too much for Midland Greenwood to overcome at home. Graham took one on the chin last week as the Steers were no match for speedy Wichita Falls Hirschi in a 43-9 loss, Graham’s third straight defeat. The Steers are very young, and they are going to be desperate for a win at home just to try and secure a bit of momentum before district play ramps up. Look for Graham to take advantage early as Greenwood may be a bit sluggish coming off the bus from the long road trip. Stepp’s Pick: Graham by 10
Van (5-0) at Texarkana Liberty-Eylau (3-1): Unbeaten Van has crept into the state rankings, but there are still some questions about the Vandals schedule. Those questions could be answered this week as Van hits the road to take on a very good Texarkana Liberty-Eylau squad. Van comes into this one averaging nearly 43 points per game after last week’s 52-35 win over Center, the Vandals defense has been decent, but at times they have had a few issues especially against teams who bring a lot of speed at the skill spots, which is exactly what Liberty-Eyalu has. Liberty-Eylau rolled past Waxahachie Life last week with a big 55-17 road win. Liberty-Eyalu’s swarming secondary got two interception returns for touchdowns in the first quarter and their offense balance overwhelmed an overmatched team. Van’s big game experience will serve them well in a tough road environment. The Vandals get pushed up in Northeast Texas but escape with the win. Stepp’s Pick: Van by 3
Bushland (3-2) at Lubbock Estacado (2-3): It’s hard to get a read on either of these two teams as at times they’ve looked like real contenders in their respective classes, but other times they’ve had some major struggles. Bushland owns an incredible comeback win over Canadian during non-district and they’ve won three in a row after a tough 0-2 start that included a mystifying loss to Hereford. Last week the Falcons had no troubles with a district rival of this week’s opponent as they blasted Perryton 31-6. Lubbock Estacado has one of the top defensive units in the state in 4A-Division II as they are allowing just over thirteen points per game, but offensively they’ve also struggled as in their three losses the Matadors have scored just 47 points. The bottom line here is if Lubbock Estacado can score twenty points or more, they probably win this game but if the Mats stay in the teens, Bushland has the offense to make them pay late. Stepp’s Pick: Lubbock Estacado by 4
Wall (2-1) vs Shiner (5-0) at Fredericksburg: It's a neutral site game at Fredericksburg as 3A Division-I Wall takes on defending 2A-Division I state champion Shiner, currently ranked number two in 2A-D1. Wall hasn’t been able to get on a roll lately. Their game against Cisco ended in a double overtime loss. But Wall has finally found its footing in their 20-14 win over 2A-Division I power Mason. Fullback Dominic Garcia was the star on the ground as ran for 153 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries. Quarterback Gabe Haskins had a rushing touchdown as well. Wall forced a turnover on a punt and Weston Sims led the Wall defense with nine tackles. Shiner has had a very strong start to the season with wins over Hallettsville and San Antonio Davenport. Doug Brooks ran all over Burton in their 43-0 win a week ago, Brooks had 14 carries for 193 yards and two touchdowns as a part of Shiner’s 308-yard game. The Shiner defense forced four fumbles and is absolutely rounding into form. Shiner has got it rolling and has more games under their belt compared to Wall. This will be a learning experience for Wall and their young team going against the veteran championship experience of Shiner. DCTF Intern Joshua Price’s Pick: Shiner by 14
Crawford (4-0, 0-0) at Tolar (4-1, 1-0): The district title in 7-2A Division I could be decided early on in the race as district favorite Crawford visits Tolar in a key showdown. Crawford has had two weeks to gear up for this one as the Pirates were off last week after closing out the non-district slate with a 31-6 win over Holland. QB Luke Torbert ran for a touchdown and threw for another score, while RB Breck Chambers ran for a score and chipped in a field goal as the Pirates ground oriented attack controlled the tempo and kept their defense plenty fresh. Tolar’s won three straight games and the Rattlers offense is just firing on all cylinders, averaging nearly 58 points per game the last three weeks. DB Cade Mooney led the Tolar defense picking off two passes and returning one for a score, while RB’s Joseph Arce and Peyton Brown churned out the yardage on the ground, most notably in the second half when Tolar pulled away for the easy win. This game will come down to pace. Crawford wants to keep this game at a slower tempo and keep their tough defense fresh, while Tolar will want to turn this into a shootout. Being in Tolar, this game will be close; the Rattlers have had this one circled on the schedule, but Crawford is still the class of the district and possibly all of Region II. Stepp’s Pick: Crawford by 9
Clarendon (5-0) at Vega (4-1): It’s a fascinating matchup in the Panhandle as unbeaten Clarendon heads north on 287 to take on 4-1 Vega in a big 2A-Division II measuring stick type game. Clarendon took down Quanah, 49-27. The Broncos’ Jmaury Davis showed exactly why he’s got college scouts flocking to tiny Clarendon as he ran for 138 yards and two touchdowns on just nine carries; he added a Pick Six on defense and tallied a couple of sacks. Vega blasted overmatched Bovina 62-13 last week as QB Ryan Grawunder accounted for five total touchdowns and two RBs had over 100 yards rushing. It’s a long road trip for Clarendon up into a tough environment in Vega and if the Broncos can get their speedsters in space, they’ll make life tough on Vega. But the Longhorns are battle tested and they have the playmaker calling the offense. The QB play is the difference in this one. Stepp’s Pick: Vega by 7
Andrews (2-3) at Hereford (3-2) Stepp’s Pick: Andrews by 3
Tyler Chapel Hill (5-0, 1-0) at Lindale (2-3, 1-0) Stepp’s Pick: Tyler Chapel Hill by 10
Monahans (5-0) at Seminole (2-3) Stepp’s Pick: Monahans by 13
Mineola (2-2, 1-0) at Bonham (2-2, 1-0) Stepp’s Pick: Mineola by 21
Universal City Randolph (2-2, 0-0) at San Antonio Cole (3-2, 0-1) Stepp’s Pick: Universal City Randolph by 13
Riesel (3-1, 1-0) at Franklin (5-0, 1-0) Stepp’s Pick: Frankllin by 34
Stockdale (2-3, 1-0) at Natalia (4-1, 1-0) Stepp’s Pick: Natalia by 14
Colmesneil (3-0, 1-0) at Tenaha (3-2, 1-0) Stepp’s Pick: Tenaha by 24
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