#4 La Vega (7-0, 2-0) vs. Lampasas (1-6, 0-2)
Players to watch: La Vega: Cameron Henry, Kemoche Hobbs; Lampasas: Sean Williams, Brandon Pierino
Key matchup: Lampasas run game vs. La Vega front seven
Breakdown: La Vega looks to keep rolling with an away contest at Lampasas Friday night. The Pirate defense has been superb so far this season, giving up an average of eight points per contest. Offensively, the La Vega offensive line has paved the way for a running attack led by Cameron Henry.
Lampasas also features a solid rushing game, led by Sean Williams. The senior running back has carried the all 147 times for 1,045 yards and eight touchdowns. Meanwhile, Ace Whitehead has balanced that ground game with his arm as the quarterback has completed 154 of 242 passes for 1,916 yards and 16 scores.
China Spring (5-2, 1-1) vs. Gatesville (7-0, 2-0)
Players to watch: China Spring: Tyrick James, Brayden Mathis; Gatesville: Jett Truss, Zach Mueller
Key matchup: China Spring secondary vs. Gatesville passing game
Breakdown: The China Spring secondary proved itself early in the season when Cameron Yoe came to town. The Cougars limited the Yoemen’s offense and came out with the win. Friday night, that secondary will need to make big stops in order to hand Gatesville its first loss of the season.
The Hornets come into Friday’s contest with a balanced offensive attack led by quarterback Jett Truss. He has a slew of different receivers to sling the ball to across the field. It will be a starkly different challenge for a China Spring defense that loaded the box for most of the night against a Pirate offense that runs the ball so well.
Connally (3-4, 2-0) vs. Fairfield (4-3, 2-0)
Players to watch: Fairfield: Kadarius Walker, Chad Rushin
Key matchup: Connally run game vs. Fairfield defense
Breakdown: Connally showed plenty of fight in last week’s come from behind win over Mexia to move to 2-0 on the season. The defense stepped up for Connally as a safety got things going for the Cadets before touchdowns by Kaine Holloway and Kavian Gaither gave Connally the lead. On Friday, the Cadets take on a Fairfield team that is also 2-0 in district play.
The Eagles come into the game after putting up 28 second half points to defeat Robinson. Fairfield quarterback Chad Rushin led the way as he went 13 of 24 through the air for 213 yards and two touchdowns in addition to running the all three times for 79 yards.
Robinson (2-5, 0-2) vs. Lorena (1-6, 0-2)
Players to watch: Robinson: Mason Cooper, Isaiah Montgomery; Lorena: Thor Hoffmann, Ben Craig
Key matchup: Lorena run game vs. Robinson defense
Breakdown: Last week, Fairfield finished with 301 rushing yards in its win over Robinson. The Rocket front seven won’t get much of a breather with Thor Hoffmann and Lorena next on the slate.
So far, Hoffmann has run the ball 75 times for 465 yards and seven touchdowns.
Lorena also struggled last week to stop the run as Salado piled up 416 rushing yards. The Leopards will have to force Mason Cooper to throw the ball instead of carrying it himself or handing it off to the likes of Isaiah Montgomery.
Mexia (3-4, 1-1) at Salado (6-1, 1-1)
Players to watch: Mexia QB Travion Carter; Mexia DB Ty Gamble; Salado RB Cade DePoy; Salado RB Aaron Torczynski
Key matchup: Mexia defensive line vs. Salado offensive line
Breakdown: Mexia has yielded only 38 points over its last three games, and first-year coach Frank Sandoval is pleased with the way that his defense has performed.
But don’t sleep on the special teams and offensive units, he said.
“Defensively, we’re doing some good stuff, running around and try to let them play super-fast,” Sandoval said. “But we’re also making some big plays on special teams, and our offense is doing a good job of maintaining possession and extending drives. We just had some freak things happen last week (in a 16-8 loss to Connally).”
The Blackcats will have to be sharp against a “hard-nosed” Salado team, Sandoval said. The Eagles’ straightforward running scheme produced three 100-yard rushers in last week’s blowout win over Lorena.
“For (Salado), a three to four-yard gain is a huge deal,” Sandoval said. “We’ve got to put them in situations where they’re behind the sticks, which is hard to do with their style of offense.”
West (6-1, 4-0) vs. Malakoff (7-0, 4-0)
Players to watch: West: QB Nathan Gerik, WR-DB Romeo Hernandez, RB Kain Klish; Malakoff: QB Judd Miller, RB Zee Bailey, WR Andreas Garrett
Key matchup: Malakoff QB Judd Miller vs. West secondary
Breakdown: With the regular season heading toward the home stretch, this high profile matchup between West and Malakoff is shaping up as the District 9-3A Division I game of the year.
The Trojans and Tigers are tied for the district lead with three games remaining, and both feature explosive offenses and solid defenses.
West will try to slow down a Malakoff offense that is averaging 52.5 points in four district games behind the skills of quarterback Judd Miller, receiver Andreas Garrett and running backs Zee Bailey and R.J. Carr among other talented players.
“They play with a lot of confidence and use a spread offense in which they can run and throw equally well,” said West coach David Woodard.
West will be without leading rusher Paeton McFarland who suffered an injury in the early minutes of last week’s 21-19 win over Groesbeck. But Kain Klish stepped in and rushed for 149 yards and two touchdowns.
“Kain came in and did what we asked him to do,” Woodard said. “He and some other people will have to step up and take new roles and play against a big-time football team.”
McGregor (4-3, 2-1) vs. Rockdale (5-2, 3-0)
Players to watch: McGregor DB/WR Michael Irons; McGregor RB/DB Johnathan Phenix; Rockdale QB Torry Locklin; Rockdale WR Tyler Lehmkuhl
Key matchup: McGregor open-field tackling vs. Rockdale skill players
Breakdown: McGregor’s defense has done a capable job of playing bomb squad this season – that is, limiting and neutralizing explosions. Discounting scores on special teams, the Bulldogs are yielding less than 12 points per game.
But now they’ll really be put to the test.
“Rockdale has a lot of explosive players, and they can really run the ball,” McGregor coach Judd Thrash said. “They’re not like Franklin, more of a spread mentality, actually a lot like Cameron. But they run the ball even better than Cameron.”
Thrash challenged his skill players to step up their own big-play ability prior to last week’s 42-10 win over Jarrell. And they delivered – as players like Tayvon Thompson, Michael Irons and Johnathan Phenix were able to get into space, make some people miss and bust long gains.
Thrash also hasn’t hesitated to let his team understand the magnitude of what a win over Rockdale would mean.
“I’ve told them the scenarios: we could be tied for first with a win, depending on what Franklin does, or we could secure second with a win,” Thrash said. “Hopefully we’ll be ready for the challenge.”
Bosqueville (3-4, 2-0)
vs. Italy (4-3, 1-1)
Players to watch: Bosqueville RB Marcell Estell, WR Tanner Sepulveda; Italy OLB Caleb Telatny
Key matchup: Bosqueville hot offense vs. Italy defense
Breakdown: After losing four of their first five games, Bosqueville has stormed back and now sees themselves tied for first place with mighty Mart in District 8-2A div. II.
Drubbings of Axtell two weeks ago and Riesel on homecoming last weekend have awakened Bosqueville’s playoff chances. The Bulldogs dropped 91 points in those two contests, allowing just 16.
#4 Mart (6-1, 2-0)
vs. Riesel (4-3, 1-1)
Players to watch: Mart WR Zamar Kirven, RB Tyrek Horne
Key matchup: Mart high-flying offense vs. Riesel defense
Breakdown: What can be said about Mart that wasn’t screamed all over Central Texas last weekend? The Panthers are special, as evidence surfaced in a 90-point hammering of Axtell. Mart ran just 14 offensive plays the entire game and continuously scored on special teams.
Zamar Kirven scored all five times he touched the ball. Tyrek Horne has been unstoppable, scoring 11 times and amassing 971 yards in seven games. If Riesel can think of a way to stop the scoring machine that is the Panthers, good on them.
Goldthwaite (4-3, 3-0) vs. Crawford (6-2, 3-1)
Players to watch: Goldthwaite: QB Drew Hermesmeyer, RB Quaid Seward, WR McKennan Jones; Crawford: QB Gage Pearson, WR Charlie Adamick, RB Trey Lacina
Key matchup: Goldthwaite RB Quaid Seward vs. Crawford defensive line
Breakdown: Following three straight wins, Crawford is setting itself up for its usual late season run.
A win over perennial power Goldthwaite would give the Pirates even more momentum. The Eagles moved into a tie with De Leon for the District 7-2A Division I lead with a 35-13 thrashing of San Saba in their last game two weeks ago.
Goldthwaite features a dynamic offense led by running back Quaid Seward who has rushed for 1,169 yards and 13 touchdowns and quarterback Drew Hermesmeyer.
“Seward has run for a ton of yards and is a great downhill runner with great vision,” said Crawford coach Delbert Kelm. “Their quarterback has thrown for a bucket of yards. They’re well coached and don’t make mistakes. It’s your typical Goldthwaite team.”
The Pirates played San Saba last week and walked away with a 26-6 win following a tremendous defensive performance.
Reicher (5-2, 2-0) vs. Brazos Christian (5-1, 2-0)
Players to watch: Reicher QB/DB Ben Brittain; Reicher LB/RB Bradley Bass; Brazos Christian RB/LB Tucker Hartis; Brazos Christian DE Garrett Fowler
Key matchup: Reicher linebackers vs. Brazos Christian RB Tucker Hartis
Breakdown: Just play like you can. That’s the message that Reicher coach John Ryan has preached to his team this week, in preparation for a big district showdown with Brazos Christian.
Last year, this encounter produced one of the games of the year, with Reicher pulling out an captivating 45-43 win.
“It was down to the wire,” Ryan said. “They’re a good team again. But it’s one of those deals where if we play to our capability we should be able to take care of them.”
Texas Wind (7-0) vs. Conroe Northside (1-5)
Players to watch: Wind RB Tanner Ledford; Wind RB Isaac Shaw; Wind WR Josiah Ibarra
Key to game: Special teams execution
Breakdown: While UIL and TAPPS teams continue to wind down the regular season, Texas Wind will kick off its postseason at 3 p.m. Saturday at Williams Field in Plano.
For the first year, the state’s four primary home-school football teams will hold a tournament to determine a state champion. Undefeated Texas Wind is the No. 1 seed and will face fourth-seeded Conroe Northside in the semifinals, a team it defeated, 35-0, on Oct. 6. Texas Wind coach Charles McCulloch said that while normally it might take a bit of creativity to get a team motivated to play an opponent it blitzed once before, that isn’t the case this time.
“Our guys are excited to play them again,” McCulloch said. “They didn’t achieve their specific goals for that game. We won 35-0 but it was 35-0 at halftime, and we didn’t move the ball in the second half. We also haven’t punted much this year, and we punted some in that game. … We’re looking for that perfect game, so to speak.”