Waco Connally (3-1) at Brownwood (4-0): Waco Connally is still smarting after its defense was shredded last week in a 61-41 defeat to the back-to-back state champions in China Spring.
The Cadets offense, which had been outstanding through the first three weeks of the season, just couldn’t keep pace with China Spring. Much of the damage was done late in the game when the result was no longer in doubt.
Brownwood has struggled the past two weeks with much closer than anticipated wins against seemingly over-matched opponents. The Lions were able to get QB Ike Hall back in a 46-34 win over Glen Rose last week. Hall threw for 286 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 178 yards and a touchdown to lead the Brownwood effort.
The Lions defense, which had been good up to this point, allowed over 400 yards of offense in last week’s win and that’s a big concern with the likes of Kiefer Sibley, Kobe Black and Jamarion Vincent coming into town.
The edge goes to Brownwood at home, but this is a real toss-up type game between two good 4A programs trying to take the next step to become elite.
Stepp’s Pick: Brownwood by 4
Cuero (4-0) at Beeville Jones (4-0): Surprising Beeville Jones will look to knock off a state ranked opponent for the second straight week as the Trojans host unbeaten Cuero.
Cuero led Corpus Christi Calallen 22-14 at halftime last week before storms hit South Texas and caused the game to be stopped. Cuero is declaring itself the winner, so since the game got to halftime we’ll default to that result.
Daylon Gibbs broke off a 61-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter that gave the Gobblers their lead right before the game was stopped.
Beeville went on the road and took down state ranked Somerset in an absolute slugfest, 24-21. QB Elijah Sustadia ran for two first half scores to stake Jones out to an early 14-0 lead, but the game changer for the Trojans was a 78-yard fumble return touchdown by Davyn Perez late in the third quarter that turned the tide to Beeville.
Stepp’s Pick: Cuero by 13
Canyon West Plains (3-1) at Lubbock Estacado (4-0): After dropping its season opener in a shootout to Bushland, West Plains has played much better football by rattling off two straight wins before last week’s lightning shortened win over 5A Amarillo Palo Duro, 14-7. The game was stopped late in the third quarter.
RB Jordi Hernandez led the Wolves with 159 yards on the ground and a touchdown, while dynamic playmaker King Tallant added a touchdown on the ground.
West Plains defense will get its biggest test of the year on the road in a Thursday night showdown with unbeaten and state ranked Estacado.
The Matadors rolled to an easy 62-9 homecoming win last week over Levelland as it was a complete effort in all three phases. The Matadors held Levelland to just 70 yards of offense; they had a punt return for a touchdown, while QB D.J. Johnson added 176 yards and two touchdowns through the air to pace EHS. Junior RB Bobby Ross led a stable of backs for the Matadors with 142 yards rushing and two scores.
Estacado’s speed and physicality will be a major test for a West Plains team that has hopes of making a run in Division II but expect a heavy dose of Estacado RB Ross to control the clock and keep the Wolves offense on the sidelines.
Stepp’s Pick: Lubbock Estacado by 9
Lytle (4-0) at Persall (3-1): One of the best stories in the state is brewing just south of San Antonio where first-year head coach Mike Trevino has long-struggling Lytle off to a 4-0 start for the first time since 1975.
The Pirates haven’t always won pretty, but they’ve been plenty effective and last week may have been their biggest win to date knocking off favored Natalia, 23-14.
They’ll take a short trip south on I-35 to take on Class 4A Pearsall who is also off to a strong start as the Mavericks come into this one fresh off a slugfest 6-0 win over Poteet last week.
The lone score of the game came on a two-yard Elijah Luna touchdown run right before halftime that proved to be all Pearsall would need as their defense was absolutely sensational.
Lytle plays good defense of their own as the Pirates have allowed just 21 points in four games, so points will be at a premium in this one with two outstanding defensive units. The slightest of edges goes to Pearsall in this one, the Mavs are the larger school and at home, but this is a total toss-up.
Stepp’s Pick: Pearsall by 2
Coahoma (3-1) at Merkel (3-1): It’s a Permian Basin vs. Big Country matchup as Coahoma heads east on I-20 to Merkel to take on a much-improved Merkel squad off to a 3-1 start under second year head coach Will Kates.
Coahoma rolled past Colorado City last week, 48-20, behind a big game from QB Boyd Cox, who threw for 184 yards and four touchdowns to pace the Bulldogs attack.
Merkel’s running game was key last week as the Badgers rolled past Bangs, 54-37. The score isn’t real reflective of Merkel’s dominance in this one as they led 40-7 in the third quarter before emptying the bench. Merkel was led by Connor Willyerd who ran for 171 yards and a touchdown along with Maddox O’Malley who rushed for 164 yards and four touchdowns.
Both offenses are potent. Merkel’s defense is a little stronger than Coahoma, so we give the edge to home-standing Merkel in this one.
Stepp’s Pick: Merkel by 8
Albany (4-0) at Comanche (3-1): Albany validated its No. 1 state ranking in a major way last week as the Lions took out 2A-Division I state champion Hawley, 27-14, in a battle of defending state champions.
QB Chip Chambers stole the show for the Lions throwing three touchdown passes, while Adam Hill added a long touchdown run. This game had an odd flow to it neither Albany or Hawley scored a point in the second half, the halftime score of 27-14 held up in the final two quarters.
Comanche fell from the 3A-Division II state rankings with a disappointing 41-18 loss to Tolar a week ago. The Indians high-powered offense was held to just 232 yards on the night and the defense, which had been much improved, was shredded for 341 yards on the ground against a Tolar squad missing its star player.
Comanche was also missing its key offensive cog in RB Sawyer Wilkerson and his status for this week is unknown. Even though Albany is a much smaller school that lacks depth, its front-line talent is elite, Albany goes on the road and escapes in a barnburner.
Stepp’s Pick: Albany by 3
Wellington survived an upset bid from Spearman last week as QB Carson Tarver ran for a touchdown and threw for another score as the Skyrockets escaped with a 12-6 win. Wellington’s defense was sensational allowing just 153 yards of offense.
Panhandle is a much more explosive offense and will be challenge for WHS as the Panthers rolled past Amarillo River Road, 65-31. QB Broxton Robinson ran for 157 yards and four touchdowns and threw for 137 yards as well. RB Brayson Choate ran for 139 yards and four touchdowns, and he ran a kickoff back for a score of 60 yards.
Panhandle’s explosive offense may be a bit too much for Wellington keep pace with. Look for a mild upset with the Division I team getting the win over the state ranked Division II squad.
Stepp’s Pick: Panhandle by 4
Roscoe (3-0) at New Home (4-0): Upstart Roscoe heads up to the South Plains where it will tangle with unbeaten New Home, who seems to be flying under the radar a bit despite making the state semifinals a year ago.
Roscoe knocked off Sterling City, 27-14, last week in a battle of unbeaten teams as Seth Wilcox ran for 143 yards and two scores and Ivan McCann ran for 129 yards and a score to lead the Plowboys.
New Home has outscored opponents 176-26 in four games. The Leopard rolled past previously unbeaten Floydada, 38-7, a week ago behind two rushing touchdowns from Nevin Mojica and a stellar performance from their defense, which is missing their star LB Logan Addison, a Texas Tech baseball commit.
New Home is starting to round into regional contender form after a bit of a slow start on offense. If they can stay healthy this is a legit state title contender in 2A-Division II.
Stepp’s Pick: New Home by 20
Plainview (4-0) at Hereford (4-0) Stepp’s Pick: Hereford by 9
Carthage (4-0) at Bullard (4-0) Stepp’s Pick: Carthage by 34
Silsbee (4-0) at West Orange-Stark (2-2) Stepp’s Pick: Silsbee by 10
Muleshoe (4-0) at Abernathy (2-2) Stepp’s Pick: Muleshoe by 17
Diboll (2-2) at Woodville (2-2) Stepp’s Pick: Woodville by 4
Luling (2-2) at Blanco (3-1) Stepp’s Pick: Blanco by 18
Vanderbilt Industrial (2-1) at Goliad (2-2) Stepp’s Pick: Vanderbilt Industrial by 6
Callisburg (3-1) at Bells (3-0) Stepp’s Pick: Bells by 15
Dilley (2-1) at Poth (3-1) Stepp’s Pick: Poth by 23
Wolfe City (4-0) at Cooper (3-1) Stepp’s Pick: Cooper by 14
Last Week Record: 14-6 70.0%
Season Record: 58-22 72.5%
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