Crowley (4-0, 1-0) at Hurst Bell (4-0, 1-0): If you had Crowley and Bell as a matchup of unbeatens heading into Week 5 on your DFW Bingo Card, you probably need to go Vegas at some point! Two of the area’s most pleasant surprises meet up at Pennington Field in a key 3-6A showdown Friday night.
Crowley opened district play last week with an impressive 50-29 road win at Weatherford as QB Caleb Williams tossed four touchdown passes to pace an explosive Crowley attack.
Up until last week, Bell leaned heavily on its stout defense to get off to a 3-0 start by allowing just 17 points. But the Blue Raiders offense woke up in a bug way last week in a 73-15 win over Sagianw Chisholm Trial. That may be more of an indication on how bad things are for Chisholm Trail at the moment.
Crowley has impressed time and time again early in the year. This team is undersized, but the Eagles team speed is a real problem for Bell in this one.
Stepp’s Pick: Crowley by 8
Pflugerville Weiss (4-0) at Killeen Harker Heights (2-2): District 12-6A play starts off with a bang in Central Texas as unbeaten Pflugerville Weiss makes the trip north into Killeen to take on a dangerous Harker Heights squad that is battle tested.
Weiss escaped an upset bid from a scrappy New Braunfels squad last week in a 52-50 nail bitter. Weiss raced out to a 35-16 lead and held on down the stretch as New Braunfels nearly came all the way back.
Harker Heights hosted Odessa Permian and ended its two-game losing streak with a hard fought 27-25 win as WR Kai McMillan was nearly unstoppable with over 200 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns.
QB Dylan Plake was outstanding as well with 341 yards through the air and three touchdown passes.
Expect a high-flying game in this one. Both teams are loaded with talent at the skill spots. Although Harker Heights has the big game experience, the edge in this one goes to Weiss, which has a few too many weapons for Heights to keep up with.
Stepp’s Pick: Pflugerville Weiss by 6
San Antonio Harlan (4-0, 2-0) vs San Antonio Warren (3-1, 1-1): Major 29-6A playoff implications are at stake in this Saturday night showdown in the Alamo City as unbeaten Harlan looks to take another step towards its first district title in school history.
The Hawks rolled past San Antonio O’Connor last Thursday, 49-12, as QB Noah Farris threw for 213 yards and a pair of touchdowns and RB Trevion Ford added 132 yards rushing and three scores to lead a potent offensive attack.
Warren had a tough outing last Saturday as the Warriors were knocked off by upstart San Antonio Jay, 30-14. Turnovers were the story in this one as Warren turned it over five times, including an interception return for a touchdown late in the game that all but sealed the win for Jay.
If Warren wants to have any chance of hanging around in this one, it must take better care of the football and that starts with establishing more of a running game. But Harlan is typically stingy against the run, which doesn’t bode well for WHS.
Stepp’s Pick: San Antonio Harlan by 10
Abilene (2-2) at Lubbock Monterey (2-2): District 2-5A Division I appears to be more than wide open heading into the start of district play and two teams who have eyes on a playoff spot hook up at Lowrey Field in a key opener.
After starting the season with a pair of impressive wins, Abilene has stumbled the last two weeks with back-to-back losses. Last week’s 17-12 loss to Wolfforth Frenship had to be frustrating for the Eagles considering their defense held an elite 6A offense to just 17 points.
Sophomore Brayden Henry ran for 83 yards and a touchdown, but not having RB Antoine “Bam” Rashaw and a lack of a consistent passing attack doomed the Eagles.
Monterey has rebounded nicely in 2023 after an 0-10 2022 season. Second year head coach Judd Thrash has Plainsmen fans thinking they can challenge for a playoff spot.
MHS took one on the chin last week in a 36-8 loss to a vastly improved Midland High squad. Monterey’s defense had no answers for the option attack of Midland and the offense, which had been dynamic, was held in check and unable to get into a rhythm.
Monterey will have the skill talent to challenge Abilene High, but the defense has been a concern the last couple of weeks and one thing about Abilene High is the vast majority of the time this team is solid on that side, so give the edge to the Eagles and that stingy defense.
Stepp’s Pick: Abilene by 7
Forney (4-0, 1-0) at Lufkin (3-1, 0-1): Unbeaten Forney has blitzed through overmatched opponents the first four weeks of the season, but the Jackrabbits face their biggest of the year by far this week as they make the long road trip to the woods of deep East Texas to take on Lufkin.
Forney has won its first four games by a staggering 59.5 point average margin of victory, including last week’s 69-0 rout of West Mesquite to open district play. Sophmore RB Javian Osborne ran for 70 yards and two touchdowns on just five carries as Forney got most of its starters out of the game in the second quarter when the game was already out of hand.
Lufkin came into its showdown with Longview with some high hopes, but powerful Longview sent a message to 7-5A Division with a convincing 42-0 win over the Panthers. The biggest issue for Lufkin on the night was they simply couldn’t get Notre Dame commit RB Kedren Young going against that tough Longview defense, as Young finished with just 64 yards rushing on 22 carries.
If you like running backs this is your game as Osborne is one of the nations top 2026 running back prospects, while Young is a four-star. Both defenses will be locked in to contain the ground game. Lufkin’s got a big edge being at home, but Forney is the more talented team across the board.
The only question is how Forney responds to adversity when it hits, because this is likely the week the Jackrabbits get pushed. As long as they weather the inevitable Lufkin storm at Abe Martin Stadium, Forney should come away with their fifth straight win going into a bye week before the showdown with Longview on October 6.
Stepp’s Pick: Forney by 10
Smithson Valley (3-1, 1-0) at New Braunfels Canyon (2-2, 0-1): Smithson Valley can seize total control of the 12-5A Division I race with a win on the road this week against a scrappy and dangerous New Braunfels Canyon squad.
SVHS gave head coach Larry Hill his 300th win a week ago as the Rangers knocked off San Antonio Wagner, 24-7. They allowed just 233 yards of offense and forced a pair of key turnovers in the win. WR Jackson Duffey was the key offensive spark as he had a nine-yard touchdown catch and returned the second-half kickoff 84 yards for a touchdown.
Canyon stumbled out of the gate to open up district play as the Cougars went on the road and fell 34-31 to Boerne Champion. The Cougars led 31-14 midway through the third quarter before a furious Champion rally where the Chargers made a game winning field goal as time expired to stun Canyon.
The Cougars will have to pull themselves off the mat this week because an 0-2 start in district play leaves little room for error the rest of the year. Expect a spirited effort from CHS, but Smithson Valley’s unflashy style and brutal efficiency wins out in this big game in the San Antonio metro area.
Stepp’s Pick: Smithson Valley by 11
Denison (3-1, 1-0) at Lovejoy (3-1, 1-0): Denison is quietly off to a strong 3-1 start, but the Yellow Jackets will have their hands full this week with a dynamic Lovejoy squad.
Denison opened district play a week ago with an explosive offensive showcase beating Greenville 59-31. Denison led by just seven going into the fourth quarter but outscored the Lions 21-0 in the final frame.
Jack Aleman ran for two scores and UTSA commit Kenyan Kelly returned a kickoff for a touchdown to leads the ‘Jackets attack.
Lovejoy opened their district slate with a solid 34-20 win over previously unbeaten Terrell last week. With injuries gutting the receiving corps, WR Daylan McCutcheon had a monster night for the Leopards with nine catches for 213 yards and three scores to lead Lovejoy.
Ohio State commit LB Payton Pierce doubles for Lovejoy as a short yardage back and he ran for 21 yards and a touchdown as well.
Denison’s defense is a big concern going into this one the ‘Jackets aren’t equipped to keep pace with Lovejoy in a shootout.
Stepp’s Pick: Lovejoy by 17
Fort Bend Marshall (3-0) at Port Neches-Groves (2-1): These two powers in Region III met up twice a year ago. Marshall won the regular season matchup and the district title, but PNG returned the favor in the regional final with a win as the Indians ended up playing in the state title game.
Marshall’s defense has been the story early in the year as the Buffaloes allowed just over nine points per game during non-district. The offense has been big play oriented and the key for the Port Neches-Groves defensive strategy will be limiting Marshall’s big plays and making them drive the ball the length of the field.
PNG’s defense has been good as well, while the offense hasn’t exploded, they’ve been efficient the past two weeks after a slow start in the season opening loss to Port Arthur Memorial.
Port Neches-Groves gets a big edge with the game at home, but Marshall’s big play ability and new and improved defense gets the Buffs a huge road win in a game that’s a possible playoff preview.
Stepp’s Pick: Fort Bend Marshall by 4
Richardson Berkner (2-2, 2-0) at Richardson Lake Highlands (3-1, 2-0) Stepp’s Pick: Richardson Lake Highlands by 7
DeSoto (3-0, 1-0) at Waxahachie (4-0, 1-0) Stepp’s Pick: DeSoto by 21
Klein Collins (2-1) vs Klein Oak (2-1) Stepp’s Pick: Klein Collins by 11
Pearland (2-1) at Alvin Shadow Creek (3-0) Stepp’s Pick: Alvin Shadow Creek by 10
Dickinson (3-1) at Clear Springs (2-2) Stepp’s Pick: Clear Springs by 3
El Paso Chapin (2-1) at El Paso Del Valle (3-1) Stepp’s Pick: El Paso Del Valle by 7
Mansfield Timberview (4-0, 2-0) at Carrollton Smith (3-0, 1-0) Stepp’s Pick: Mansfield Timberview by 31
Victoria East (1-2) at Corpus Christi Carroll (2-1) Stepp’s Pick: Corpus Christi Carroll by 3
Ennis (1-3, 1-0) at Everman (3-1, 1-0) Stepp’s Pick: Everman by 4
Richmond Randle (4-0) at Montgomery Lake Creek (4-0) Stepp’s Pick: Montgomery Lake Creek by 13
Last Week Record: 16-4 80.0%
Season Record: 53-27 66.3%
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