Small School Mega Preview: Big Spring vs. Pampa, Stephenville vs. Waco La Vega and more!

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Big Spring (5-1) at Pampa (5-1): Two of the most explosive offensive units in West Texas meet up as a marathon non-district slate closes out for both of these programs in four-team districts. Big Spring has won three straight since their loss to Monahans and a big part of that streak has been the Steers explosive offense led by QB Gabriel Baeza. In last week’s 47-29 win over Littlefield, the senior QB had a monster game throwing for 325 yards and four touchdowns, while also rushing for 207 yards and three touchdowns. Pampa has won five straight since dropping their season opener, but the Harvesters got pushed last week slipping past Perryton 44-41. QB Sam Anguiano led the explosive Pampa offense with 263 yards passing and two touchdowns, while RB Cornelius Landers again showed why he’s one of the most consistent backs in the Texas Panhandle rushing for 139 yards and a touchdown. Expect a lot of offense in this one, Pampa’s played the tougher schedule and appears to be slightly ahead of Big Spring on defense as well, so give the Harvesters the edge. Stepp’s Pick: Pampa by 9

Stephenville (5-0) at Waco La Vega (3-2): It’s a state ranked showdown in North Waco as District 5-4A Division I opens with a bang as unbeaten and second ranked Stephenville takes on Waco La Vega who comes into this one ranked sixth and rapidly improving. Both teams are coming off a bye week and this one will be a fascinating matchup of an explosive Stephenville offense that comes in averaging 49 points per game, going up against a tough La Vega defense that in their last outing held one of the state’s most dynamic offensive units to just thirteen points in a 48-13 road win over Corpus Christi Miller. There’s lots of playmakers in this game, but this one is very simple, can La Vega’s defense turn this game into a street fight? Can they be physical with Stephenville, get some early stops and slow down this dynamic offense? If they can set the tone early with a big home crowd, La Vega will win this game, but if Stephenville’s offense comes out and throws up 14 first quarter points and turns this into a track meet, that’s not the game La Vega wants. I lean to La Vega pulling the “upset” at home as a slight underdog and getting district play off to a strong start. Stepp’s Pick: Waco La Vega by 3

Terrell (4-1, 1-0) at Kaufman (6-0, 2-0): District 7-4A Division I is shaping up to be an all-out brawl as this district goes six deep. There will be not one, but two good teams who miss the playoffs. This game should be no different as the Terrell Tigers take on the undefeated and newly state ranked Kaufman Lions in a renewal of their old Highway 34 rivalry. Terrell comes off a big win two weeks ago after stomping on Carrollton Ranchview, 68-0. The Tigers put up 409 yards on the ground. They were led by sophomore running back Chase Bingmon, who had 12 carries for 126 yards and two touchdowns. Senior Ta’nyrious Baker also broke the 100-yard mark and contributed a touchdown. The Terrell defense also made it a no-fly zone as they forced eight interceptions with junior Phillip Nickerson having two. They’ve had two full weeks to prep for this massive matchup. Kaufman also played Ranchview in their last game, winning 60-16 a week ago. Kaufman hasn’t had the easiest road to their perfect season. Every game until Ranchview has been a dogfight against a brutally tough schedule that has hardened this Lions team. This will be a tough district matchup for both teams. It will go down to the wire. When that happens, I'll be looking at the team that has been in close situations before and come away with wins and that pedigree goes with Kaufman. DCTF Intern Joshua Price’s Pick: Kaufman by 3

Little Cypress-Mauriceville (4-1) at Huffman-Hargrave (5-0): It's the first week of action for District 10-4A Division I as surprising Little Cypress-Mauriceville takes on undefeated and state ranked Huffman-Hargrave. Little Cypress-Mauriceville is 4-1 on the season under first-year head coach Eric Peevey as the Bears are one of the most pleasant surprises in all of the Golden Triangle. Last week LCM flexed their muscles by shutting out Jasper 13-0, earning their first win over the Bulldogs since 1979! The Bears have their fans excited and thinking playoffs in 2021. Huffman-Hargrave has had a dominant undefeated season so far. They have shut out opponents twice this season. They’ve also won all of their games by a good margin. The closest would be their 37-20 win over Navasota with a 17-point spread. Last year, Hargrave was able to pull out the win against LCM 14-10 in a defensive struggle. We could see a similar score if LCM continues with their grindy play. If Hargrave wants to continue their unbeaten run, they will need to come out quick and establish the lead and make LCM play from behind. DCTF Intern Joshua Price’s Pick: Huffman-Hargrave by 7

Aubrey (6-0) at Celina (4-1): A year ago Aubrey announced themselves to the 4A world in a big way stunning Celina to open 4-4A Division II play. That win was the catalyst for the Chaparrals district title run in 2020. Aubrey comes into this one undefeated, but they are again playing the role of underdog against powerful Celina who boasts wins over Paris and Melissa among others. Last week Aubrey closed out the non-district slate in style by pummeling Godley 52-24 as the AHS defense forced four turnovers and the Aubrey Wing-T offense mowed down yards and clock in the victory. Braylon Colgrove led the Chaps with 114 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns, while Bryson Bohannon added 96 rushing yards and a touchdown as well. Celina was anticipating one final non-district test against a good Boerne squad, but the game ended up being postponed, which has left the Bobcats with two full weeks to prep for this one. Will Celina come out flat or do they come out with a point to prove against their upstart rivals from down the road? This will be a big one but give the edge to Celina at home as the Bobcats start district play on the right foot in 2021. Stepp’s Pick: Celina by 8

Early (5-0) at Tuscola Jim Ned (5-0): It’s a big matchup in the Big Country as district play in 3-3A Division I commences with unbeaten Early looking to prove they are legit as they tangle with defending state champion and fellow unbeaten Jim Ned. Early’s offense has carried the way this season as the Longhorns are averaging 47 points per game. The defense hasn’t gotten much fanfare, but they’ve been solid as well allowing just 11 points per game. The big question, however, is the strength of schedule. Early’s five wins are over four 3A-Division II teams who have a combined four wins. The other win is over a good 2A-Divison I squad in Tolar. There are no questions about Jim Ned’s schedule, as the Indians own a win over top 10 2A-Division I Cisco, a good 4A squad in Sweetwater and in their last meeting the Indians went on the road and knocked off 4A-Division II Snyder in a 22-15 slugfest; Snyder is sitting at 5-1. RB Xavier Wishert and QB Tate Yardley are a lethal 1-2 punch, and this Jim Ned squad is battle tested and experienced. The Indians dominate this one from start to finish. Stepp’s Pick: Tuscola Jim Ned by 20

West Rusk (5-0, 1-0) at Arp (4-2, 2-0): It’s the second straight game for West Rusk going up against a potential contender for the district title. The Raiders had a bye last week, but two weeks ago they had no issues rolling past previously unbeaten Troup, 58-20. Andon Mata and Tate Winings led the way as each ran for three touchdowns in the victory. Mata also threw a touchdown pass as the West Rusk offense rolled up 503 yards on the night. Arp fell behind 7-0 early last week against Troup but broke the game open in the third quarter to pull away for a 29-7 win. Sophomore QB Frank Smith ran for two scores and threw for another as the Tigers set up this showdown for the lead in the district. West Rusk has been sensational all year and has earned some big wins. Arp took its lumps a year ago as a young team and the Tigers are a bona-fide playoff team, but this West Rusk squad is a different type of test. Stepp’s Pick: West Rusk by 13

Marlin (3-2) at Italy (3-2): The two projected top teams in 8-2A Division meet up in a game that looks evenly matched. Marlin’s two losses are to a pair of good 3A-Division II squads, while Italy dropped games to Mart (no introduction needed) and unbeaten Chilton. Both teams have taken care of business against the teams they were supposed to beat, so this should be a true measuring stick for both teams. Marlin rolled past Wortham 54-32 in their last outing two weeks ago as the Bulldogs speed was too much to handle for Wortham. QB Desmond Woodson led the way with 383 passing yards and four touchdowns as the Bulldogs had three receivers with over 100 yards receiving. Italy pushed No. 1 Mart for a half as the game was tied 7-7, but it was all Mart in the second half as they pulled away for a 40-7 win. This is a pick’em game, but I’ve been big on the Marlin bandwagon this year so take the Bulldogs on the road in a thriller. Stepp’s Pick: Marlin by 3

Garrison (2-2) at Timpson (4-0): After a slow start dealing with injuries and Covid issues, Garrison has battled back to win their last two games, closing out the non-district schedule with a dominant 48-0 win over Groveton. The Bulldogs will get a massive test this week against third-ranked Timpson, who owns wins over state ranked 3A-Division II Waskom and last week they outlasted a state ranked team from Arkansas in Booneville with a 57-40 win. QB Terry Bussey and RB Braden Courtney each ran for three touchdowns to pace the Bears high-flying offense. Timpson won’t play an offense as sound or as good up front as Booneville until late in the playoffs. Timpson is a state title contender and the gap between them and the field in 2A-Division I in East Texas is still wide. Stepp’s Pick: Timpson by 23

Chilton (4-0) at Mart (5-0): It’s a major showdown in 2A-Division II in Central Texas as unbeaten Chilton will look to send some shockwaves across the state with an upset. Chilton owns a nice win over Italy in Week 2, and they’ve been dominant since, including their last outing when they blasted Kerens 54-2. These two have a common opponent in Italy, who Mart played a week ago. Chilton beat Italy in a 28-27 thriller, while Mart dominated in the second half to pull away from the Gladiators in a 40-7 win. Klyderion Campbell led the way in the Panthers’ win as he rushed for 85 yards on eight carries and a touchdown and he caught three passes for 57 yards, scoring a touchdown receiving as well. This will be the measuring stick for Chilton. Mart is the standard in 2A-Division II and the Pirates will quickly see where they stack up when it comes to the statewide pecking order. Stepp’s Pick: Mart by 24


Quick Picks

Springtown (4-1) at Lake Worth (5-0) Stepp’s Pick: Springtown by 14

Canyon Lake (3-2) at Austin LBJ (5-0) Stepp’s Pick: Austin LBJ by 25

Alice (2-3) at Corpus Christi Miller (3-2) Stepp’s Pick: Corpus Christi Miller by 6

Whitesboro (3-2, 2-0) at Brock (5-0, 2-0) Stepp’s Pick: Brock by 21

Mount Vernon (5-0, 2-0) at Mineola (3-2, 2-0) Stepp’s Pick: Mount Vernon by 7

Waskom (4-1, 1-0) at Hughes Springs (2-3, 2-0) Stepp’s Pick: Waskom by 16

Lexington (2-3, 0-1) at Riesel (3-2, 1-1) Stepp’s Pick: Lexington by 10

Flatonia (2-2) at Schulenburg (3-3) Stepp’s Pick: Schulenburg by 4

Shamrock (5-1) at Wellington (3-2) Stepp’s Pick: Wellington by 31

Yorktown (4-2, 2-0) at Falls City (4-1, 1-0) Stepp’s Pick: Falls City by 1

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