Bryan (2-3, 0-1 in 18-5A) at University (0-6, 0-2)
Players to watch: Bryan QB Kerry Brooks; Bryan RB/KR Jalen Davis; University RB Jeremiah Stroupe; University DB Korey Moore
Key matchup: University kick coverage versus Bryan returners
Breakdown: What the Trojans wouldn’t give to experience a feeling like the Vikings encountered last week.
Bryan pulled out a 38-37 overtime win over Navasota when Vikings cornerback Xavier Johnston tipped away a Rattler pass at the end. The Vikings will be favored to taste victory again versus a University team that has struggled to even keep things competitive. The closest University has come to its opponent was a 38-13 loss to Georgetown East View back in Week 2.
Rodney Smith has juggled quarterbacks as he looks to try to generate some positive offensive momentum for University. One bright spot has been the running of Jeremiah Stroupe, who averaged six yards per carry last week against College Station, including a long of 57.
No. 4 La Vega (5-0) at Liberty Hill (3-1)
Players to watch: La Vega: Kemoche Hobbs, John Richards, Cam Henry; Liberty Hill:
Key matchup: La Vega run game vs. Liberty Hill front seven
Breakdown: La Vega’s defense has been stellar so far. Through non-district contests, the Pirates have given up an average of only 5.6 points. Donta Stuart leads Central Texas with five interceptions for 235 yards and a touchdown.
Jared Rogers leads the unit with 51 tackles. Chris Judie and Braylon Watkins add 28 and 24 tackles a piece. That defense will have its hands full with a Liberty Hill team that runs a slot-T.
On offense, the three-headed monster of Kemoche Hobbs, John Richards and Cam Henry have been dominant. The trio of backs combine for 1,285 yards and 24 TDs.
China Spring (4-1, 0-0) at Burnet (4-1, 0-0)
Players to watch: China Spring LB Brayden Mathis; China Spring DB Trae Cherry; China Spring TE Tyrick James; Burnet QB Chandler Galban; Burnet LB Silver Hinson
Key matchup: China Spring secondary vs. Burnet receivers
Breakdown: China Spring used its off week to do a little self-evaluation.
“We tried to assess the talent of each kid – should we throw more to this kid, if they’ve proven they can do some things,” Cougars coach Mark Bell said. “Should we run behind this guy in short yardage. Just kind of running the gauntlet.”
Now the Cougars will turn their attention back outward, to a tough Burnet team that has matched China Spring with four wins in its first five games. It’s the start of district play in 13-4A, and Bell wants his team to start off right in more ways than one.
Mexia (2-3) at Lorena (1-4)
Players to watch: Mexia: Travion Carter; Lorena: Thor Hoffmann
Key matchup: Carter vs. Lorena secondary
Breakdown: It’s on.
District play kicks off this weekend, and the Leopards look to defend their crown.
“For everybody, we’re all 0-0 right now,” Lorena coach Ray Biles said. “It doesn’t matter what happened the first five ball games. These games declare the district champion, playoffs and all those things. These are the ones that count.”
Lorena opens district play against Mexia.
The Leopards are coming off a bye week that helped get players healthy. It also gave them plenty of time to work on fundamentals. With the work his Lorena team put in last week, Biles hopes to see more consistency.
Gatesville (5-0, 0-0) at Lampasas (1-4, 0-0)
Players to watch: Gatesville QB Jett Truss; RB Zach Mueller; WR Derrick Bayer; Lampasas QB Ace Whitehead
Key matchup: QB Truss vs. Lampasas secondary
Breakdown: Can anyone stop Gatesville?
At 5-0 and off to their best start in years, the Hornets’ offense has been near perfect in dominating wins over Robinson, Hillsboro, Connally and University. Only against perennial power Cameron Yoe were the Hornets tested, but the Hornets still dropped 31 on the Yoemen.
It has started with Jett Truss, who ranks third among quarterbacks in Central Texas in the Trib’s StatsPlus leaders with 889 passing yards this season. Zach Mueller has done a bit of everything, rushing for 191 yards while snagging 15o through the air. Derrick Bayer has been the main wideout, catching 18 balls for 387 yards and five scores.
Connally (1-4) at Robinson (2-3)
Players to watch: Robinson: QB Mason Cooper, RB Isaiah Houston, WR Noah Richard; Connally: QB Gaylon Glynn, RB Javeon Sunday, NG Tylon Johnson.
Key matchup: Robinson QB Mason Cooper vs. Connally secondary
Breakdown: After a bye week, Connally and Robinson will plunge into District 9-4A Division II play.
The Rockets’ offense has been strong as usual as quarterback Mason Cooper has passed for 1,160 yards and nine touchdowns. Noah Richard is one of the top receivers in Central Texas with 20 catches for 465 yards and seven touchdowns while Isaiah Houston has rushed for 739 yards and nine scores.
But the Rockets are still looking to improve their defense as they’ve allowed 194 points through five non-district games.
West (4-1, 2-0) at Whitney (4-1, 1-1)
Players to watch: West: Nathan Gerik, Paeton McFarlin, Romeo Hernandez; Whitney: Devin Wilson, Clay Richters, Dez Garner
Key matchup: West run game vs. Whitney defensive line
Breakdown: On paper, this contest is as even as it gets. West coach David Woodard expects the game to go down to the wire.
“Whitney is a really good football team,” Woodard said. “They’re well coached. Their kids play really hard. It’s going to be a tough game. We have to make sure we play hard for 48 minutes. We need to play as clean as we can and take care of business.”
West and Whitney dominated the weekly Honor Roll. West’s Nathan Gerik and Clayton Wilson won offensive and defensive honors respectively. In total, the Trojans had six nominees, while the Wildcats had five, including Sam Saucedo who led every defensive nominee with 18 tackles.
McGregor (3-2, 1-0) at Franklin (4-2, 2-0)
Players to watch: McGregor: QB Jared Lorenz; RB Johnathan Phenix, WR Michael Irons; Franklin: WR Jared Peraza, QB Kyle Ortner, RB Clayton Rosprim
Key matchup: McGregor RB Johnathan Phenix vs. Franklin defensive line
Breakdown: After losing its final non-district game to Connally, Franklin has stormed back with wins over Troy and Cameron to open District 10-3A Division I play.
The Lions knocked off the Yoemen, 38-34, when Jared Peraza caught a 29-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Ortner with six seconds remaining. But the Lions bread and butter is their ground attack.
Itasca (0-5, 0-0) at #4 Mart (4-1, 0-0)
Players to watch: Itasca OT/DT Rick Ortega; Mart RB Tyrek Horne; Mart QB Jace Terry; Mart WR Zamar Kirven
Key matchup: Mart defensive line vs. Itasca offensive front
Breakdown: The fourth-ranked Panthers spent the bye week scouting themselves. “We went back to the first scrimmage all the way up to our game against Centerville,” Mart coach Kevin Hoffman said. “We tried to pick apart our offense and defense, continue to work on things that work and the things that don’t make a conscious effort to scrap them from the playbook.”
Bosqueville (1-4) at Axtell (2-3)
Players to watch: Bosqueville RB Marcell Estell; Axtell FB/LB Dominic Rosales
Key matchup: Axtell running game vs. Bosqueville front seven
Breakdown: As District 8-2A Div. 1 play gets started, expect a good one in Axtell.
Records don’t really matter when district rolls around, and both the Bulldogs and Longhorns should feel fine about that. Bosqueville has had a rough go at it thus far, but in all fairness, the Bulldogs have lost to a few good teams and have been banged up a bit. A few weeks off should help with that.
Valley Mills (0-6) at Crawford (4-2)
Players to watch: Crawford QB Gage Pearson; LB Koby Smith; Valley Mills LB Ramon Medina
Key Matchup: Valley Mills front seven vs. Crawford running game
Breakdown: Can the Eagles stop Crawford’s rushing attack? It’s undoubtedly the million dollar question as these two long-time rivals crack helmets Friday night.
The Pirates bounced back last week with a big win over Hamilton, a week after a tough home loss to De Leon to start District 7-2A Div. I play. At 1-1, Crawford can realistically still win the district, but needs to take care of games like these to reach that goal.
The Eagles have fallen on hard times in 2017, as the transition to new head coach Sam Moody has not gone well thus far in 2017.
Reicher (3-2) at Central Texas Christian (2-3)
Players to watch: Reicher: Ben Brittain, Bradley Bass; Central Texas Christian: Seth Shatto, Nolan Applegate
Key matchup: Reicher backfield vs. Central Texas Christian defense
Breakdown: Coming off a bye week, John Ryan feels like his team is ready for district play.
“It definitely helped us get some banged up bodies fresh again,” the Reicher coach said. “We’re able to get back to the fundamentals. We had some extra time to plan for district opponents.”
So far this season, the strength of this Reicher team has been in the backfield. Quarterback Ben Brittain and running back Bradley Bass have combined for 2,273 yards and 21 touchdowns.
That duo will be the main attack against Central Texas Christian on Friday.
Aquilla (5-1, 0-0) at Abbott (3-3, 0-0)
Players to watch: Aquilla RB Zack Winder; Aquilla RB Jacob Felan; Abbott RB/LB Matthew Urbanovsky; Abbott RB Kadyn Johnson
Key matchup: Abbott running game vs. Aquilla running game
Breakdown: As Central Texas six-man rivalries go, they don’t get much better than Abbott vs. Aquilla. Or Aquilla vs. Abbott, depending on which side of I-35 you’re from.
Last year, Abbott pulled out a 28-20 win, blocking a critical extra point kick from the Cougars late in the game and then scoring the game-icing touchdown. This year’s matchup figures to be equally gritty and tight.
“I think anytime you’re not expecting that it’ll bite you in the butt,” Abbott coach Terry Crawford said. “This should be a typical Abbott-Aquilla matchup.”
Josh Ball, a former Aquilla standout, has the Cougars playing well in his first year at the coaching helm, especially defensively. Aquilla has given up a touchdown or less in four of its wins this year. (Another win came by forfeit over Bynum). Zack Winder and Jacob Felan are rugged and resolute players on both sides of the ball.