Midway has plenty of talent on both sides of the ball to defend its district title this season. Tanner Mordecai returns for his second year starting under center behind a stout offensive line led by Hakeem White. Jaxon Player leads the defense after earning the district’s defensive MVP award a year ago.

While the Panthers look to keep the same mojo going, Belton is shaking things up a bit. With Bob Shipley’s departure to Texas, the reins have been handed over to the Tigers’ offensive coordinator, Sam Skidmore. The running game, Skidmore expects, will be the strength of this year’s Belton team.

Killeen will do its best to trip up those two teams with one of the most experienced defenses in the district as seven starters return. The Kangaroos’ front seven will be strong this year. Vying for the fourth playoff spot in this district are Harker Heights and Copperas Cove. Both teams are likely to break in new quarterbacks but have plenty of experience at receiver.

Midway Panthers

  • LAST SEASON — 8-3 (6-0)
  • RETURNING STARTERS — 7 offensive, 5 defensive
  • COACH JEFF HULME — 8-3 at Midway

Midway has high expectations for this football season, especially with what the Panthers have lining up on the offensive side of the field.

Tanner Mordecai returns under center after throwing for 1,800 yards and rushing for 700 yards.

“He’s good,” Midway coach Jeff Hulme said. “He’s doing exactly what he did in the summer. He did great in 7-on-7. He’s a great leader for us in the weight room and running. He picked up today where he’s been all year.”

Mordecai has big-yard targets in tight end David Priebe and C.J. Williams. And whatever numbers Mordecai puts up this season will be largely due to the protection he gets behind a solid offensive line, led by Kaitori Leveston and Hakeem White.

“I want us to move the ball, get a lot of fi rst downs and eat up the clock a little bit to give our defense a break,” Hulme said. “And then when the opportune time comes we’ll score some touchdowns and put some pressure on the other team. I think we’ve got enough manpower to do it. We’ve just got to put it together and make sure it happens.”

With so many good players on offense, Hulme feels that his defense is getting overlooked. And he’s just fi ne with that.

The Midway defense is led up front by Jaxon Player and a pair of linebackers in Matt Barnhill and Grant Graves. While fi ve starters return on the defensive side of the ball, Midway sports seven returning starters offensively, including QB Mordecai.

Schedule

9/1 at Cedar Park 7:30

9/8 RR Cedar Ridge 7:30

9/15 at Temple 7:30

9/22 Waco High 7:30

9/29 at Copperas Cove 7:30*

10/6 Harker Heights 7:30*

10/12 at Killeen 7:00*

10/20 Belton 7:30*

11/3 at Shoemaker 7:30*

11/9 Ellison 7:00*

Belton Tigers

  • LAST SEASON — 8-4 (4-2)
  • RETURNING STARTERS — 4 offensive, 4 defensive
  • COACH SAM SKIDMORE — 0-0 at Belton

It’s been a smooth transition for Sam Skidmore. A year ago, he was the offensive coordinator at Belton under Bob Shipley. Now, he’s the head coach.

Skidmore takes the helm of a program that returns 23 lettermen and four starters on both sides of the ball after an 8-4 season that ended in the area round a year ago. Offensively, he expects Belton’s strength to center around the running game.

“Our running game is going to be good,” Skidmore said. “Bryce Julian is coming back. He was named second-team all-district last year. Another senior running back we have is Darren Rector. We’re going to have a good one-two punch in the backfield.”

Defensively, the Tigers could be much improved. Garrison Vaughn leads the defense after racking up 97 tackles and four interceptions last season in the secondary. Logan Hall and Justin Buuck are also back to anchor a strong front seven.

Schedule

9/1 at Temple 7:30

9/8 Pflugerville Hendrickson 7:30

9/15 at RR Stony Point 7:00

9/22 Round Rock 7:30

9/28 at Harker Heights 7:00*

10/6 Killeen 7:30*

10/20 at Midway 7:30*

10/27 Shoemaker 7:30*

11/2 at Ellison 7:00*

11/10 Copperas Cove 7:30*

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