Temple (4-2, 3-0) at Belton (3-3, 2-1): One of them more intense big school rivalries in Central Texas gets renewed this week as Temple heads a few miles south on I-35 to take on Belton in a key 12-6A matchup as the Wildcats look to continue their stranglehold on the top spot in the district, while Belton is looking for a buffer win in their quest for a spot in the playoffs. Temple rolled past Killeen Ellison 56-27 on Thursday night to get their fourth straight win. RB Samari Howard led the way for Temple with 207 yards on the ground and three touchdowns, while WR’s Mikal Harrison-Pilot and Devan Williams each hauled in a touchdown catch. Temple raced out to a 29-7 lead, but Ellison rallied to cut the lead to eight by halftime, before Temple pulled away in the second half. Belton had opened up district play strongly with back-to-back wins over Copperas Cove and Bryan, but last week the Tigers simply had no answers for the speed of Harker Heights in a lopsided 57-21 loss. Belton will be competitive in this game, this one almost always is, but Temple’s got too many playmakers and the Wildcats will pull away in the second half. Stepp’s Pick: Temple by 16
Cypress Bridgeland (5-1, 2-1) vs Cypress Park (6-0, 3-0): It's a district 16-6A matchup as the Bridgeland Bears take on the number nineteen ranked Cypress Park. Bridgeland was without their star quarterback last week as they were upset by Cy Ranch 38-28 and fell from the state rankings. Bridgeland fell behind 28-0 and rallied late to tie the game up but a pick six. The Bears let up 28 straight points for most of the game until they were able to respond in the fourth quarter. The Bears were able to battle back to tie the game with four touchdowns by junior wide receiver Jonathan Nelson and back-up quarterback Joshua Stephens. Bridgeland’s comeback was thwarted by a field goal and pick six. Cy Park continued their undefeated run as they defeated Cy Falls 51-7. Quarterback Edward Dixon completed four of nine passes for 116 yards and a touchdown. Linebacker Harold Perkins was asked to contribute on the offensive side of the ball as he ran for 135 yards and two touchdowns, but still contributed on the defensive side of the ball with a forced fumble. Wide receiver Nathan Livingston had three receptions for 100 yards and a touchdown. The Cy Park defense forced six turnovers with three interceptions and three fumbles. This is a game that will hinge on star players with Conner Weigman for Bridgeland and Harold Perkins for Cy Park. Weigman is hopeful to play in this matchup if he plays this week then the Bears will be right in the mix. The Bears showed that they can fight but Cy Park might not let them back into this one if they start out slow like last week. DCTF Intern Joshua Price’s Pick: Cy Park by 7
San Antonio Veterans Memorial (3-3, 1-1) at Dripping Springs (6-0, 3-0): Despite having a Division II enrollment, San Antonio Veterans Memorial has proven to be more than competitive in 12-5A Division I, but they’ll have their biggest test of the year this week taking on an unbeaten Dripping Springs squad who is likely in their swan song as a Class 5A program as UIL realignment likely pushes the Tigers to Class 6A. It’s the second straight week that Vets has battled an undefeated team as last week the Patriots fell to Buda Johnson 45-28. RB JC Solitaire was a bright spot for Vets as he ran for 131 yards and three touchdowns, but the Patriots defense had no answers for the explosive Jaguars offense. They’ll face another dynamic attack this week with a Dripping Springs offense that comes in averaging 55.5 points per game. Junior QB Austin Novosad is the headliner and top recruit, but this Tigers squad has plenty of weapons is balanced across the board. San Antonio Vets will try and lean on the running game to keep the ball away from DSHS, but that strategy will only work if they are perfect on offense and I don’t see Vets putting out a flawless offensive game this week. Stepp’s Pick: Dripping Springs by 18
Lubbock Cooper (5-1, 1-0) at Wichita Falls Rider (6-0, 1-0): In the past three years these two teams have played a total of six times, three times in the regular season and three times in the regional finals, with Cooper holding an overall series lead of 4-2. However, Rider holds the edge when it comes to the playoffs as the Raiders have taken two of three from the Pirates, including a 21-13 win in the quarter-finals a year ago. Lubbock Cooper opened district play with a dominant 55-27 win over Plainview last week, the Pirates defense has been sensational all year but they finally got the offense rolling a week ago in the win over Plainview. QB Holt Gibson tossed a pair of touchdown passes, while RB Kaleb Stripling also ran for a pair of touchdowns to lead the balanced effort. Rider got pushed for a while against Abilene Wylie but the Raiders pulled away for a 34-19 win as RB Anquan Willis ran for 209 yards and four touchdowns for the Raiders. Lubbock Cooper will key their efforts to slow down Willis and try to force Rider to go to the air, but can the Pirates put up enough points to get a win on the road in what should be a tough road environment in Wichita Falls. I think Cooper finds a way through, but this will be an absolute thriller. Stepp’s Pick: Lubbock Cooper by 2
Garland (6-0, 3-0) at Sachse (4-2, 3-0) Stepp’s Pick: Garland by 10
Cedar Hill (4-2, 3-0) at DeSoto (4-2, 2-1) Stepp’s Pick: DeSoto by 6
Katy (7-0, 3-0) vs Katy Cinco Ranch (4-2, 1-1) Stepp’s Pick: Katy by 30
Houston King (6-0 ,2-0) at Humble Atascocita (6-1, 3-0) Stepp’s Pick: Humble Atascocita by 7
Austin Vandegrift (6-0, 3-0) at Round Rock Cedar Ridge (5-1, 3-0) Stepp’s Pick: Austin Vandegrift by 13 San Antonio Johnson (7-0, 5-0) vs San Antonio Madison (3-3, 2-2) Stepp’s Pick: San Antonio Johnson by 12
Harlingen (4-2, 2-1) at San Benito (5-1, 2-1) Stepp’s Pick: Harlingen by 2
Lubbock Coronado (3-3, 2-0) at Amarillo (5-2, 2-1) Stepp’s Pick: Amarillo by 3
Mansfield Summit (4-2, 3-0) at Colleyville Heritage (5-1, 3-0) Stepp’s Pick: Mansfield Summit by 6
Magnolia West (6-0, 4-0) at Magnolia (5-2, 4-1) Stepp’s Pick: Magnolia West by 8
Richmond Foster (4-3, 3-2) at Manvel (4-2, 3-1) Stepp’s Pick: Manvel by 14
McAllen Rowe (4-2, 4-1) at Brownsville Veterans Memorial (4-2, 4-1) Stepp’s Pick: McAllen Rowe by 5
El Paso Andress (5-1, 2-0) at El Paso Burges (4-3, 2-1) Stepp’s Pick: El Paso Andress by 13
Montgomery (6-0, 2-0) at College Station A&M Consolidated (6-1, 3-0) Stepp’s Pick: College Station A&M Consolidated by 11
Mission Sharyland (4-2, 3-1) vs Mission Pioneer (4-2, 3-1) Stepp’s Pick: Mission Pioneer by 3
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