Killeen (0-2) at Midway (0-2)

Radio: 7:15 p.m., 1660 AM/92.3 FM, online stream

Last week: Killeen lost to Cedar Park Vista Ridge, 51-29; Midway lost to Mansfield Lake Ridge, 43-35

What’s at stake: Both teams are starving for a victory after striking out the first two weeks, plus it’s the District 12-6A opener, so the winner gains some early control in the hunt for a district title.

Breakdown: It’s only Week 3, but it’s a chance to hit the reset button. District play is here for Midway, and that’s been a good sign for the Panthers in recent years, as they are riding a 34-game district winning streak that stretches back to 2013.

Midway put itself in position to win both of its nondistrict games against Euless Trinity and Mansfield Lake Ridge, only to come up on the short end of the stick. So, what did the Panthers learn from taking those lumps?

“To me, you schedule who you schedule to find a lot about who you are,” Midway coach Jeff Hulme said. “We faced some stiff competition from the DFW area, but that’s the reason we scheduled good teams. We’re in both games, to be honest with you, you lose by a touchdown in both, so a play here or a play there, and you’re sitting at 2-0. But it allowed us to see who we are both offensively and defensively, and when you tweak and make some minor changes, hopefully those will pay off (Friday) night.”

Midway’s defense will need to bottle up the running lanes for Killeen’s Kadarius Marshall, a dangerous back who has averaged 7.8 yards per carry and 117.5 yards per game through the Kangaroos’ first two games. “He’s a heck of a running back,” Hulme said. “The biggest thing, there’s no quit in those guys. They’re well-coached, and we’re going to have to be ready to go.”

Midway’s playmakers are coming into their own as well, led by RB Will Nixon, who went for 261 yards in the Lake Ridge game. QB Jared Moore (180 passing yards) and WR Jaylon Gibson (100 yards) seem to be stepping to the forefront, too.

Midway will debut new blue helmets for the game, which Hulme said the coaches kept under wraps until this week, much to the delight of the Panther players.

Killeen Ellison (0-2) at Waco High (0-2)

Radio: 7:15 p.m., 101.3 FM, online stream

Last week: Georgetown defeated Waco High, 35-7; Austin Vandegrift shut out Ellison, 14-0

What’s at stake: Both teams are seeking their first win of season in District 12-6A opener.

Breakdown: After opening the season with losses to University and Georgetown, the Lions hope their fortunes change against an Ellison team that’s also looking for its first win.

The Lions’ offense showed some potential in a 36-35 loss to the Trojans, but they could produce just one touchdown against Georgetown as Jaydon Ridge ran for a 22-yard score in the third quarter of a lopsided loss.

“We’ve played some good quality opponents, but we’ve got to get better at all three phases of the game,” said Waco High coach Kwame Cavil. “We need to improve our tackling and eliminate mental busts and penalties. Penalties before the snap have been a killer.”

Ellison’s biggest offensive threat is versatile quarterback Breezion Spiller, who has great speed but needs to get the ball to the skill players surrounding him after failing to score last week in a 14-0 loss to Austin Vandegrift.

“They have a fast, dynamic quarterback in Spiller,” Cavil said. “They’re good offensively with a lot of good skill people.”

University (2-0) at Burleson (2-0)

Last week: University defeated Austin Travis, 54-7. Burleson defeated Braswell, 42-30

What’s at stake: The start of 5-5A Division II play means that the stakes jump up for both the Trojans and Elks. Neither made the playoffs in 2018, but winning this game will be a good first step toward the postseason this time around.

Breakdown: University coach Rodney Smith called 5-5A DII one of the toughest districts in the state and the stats back him up. Aledo won the district title last season on its way to a 16-0 record and the state championship. Additionally, Burleson Centennial and Midlothian both made it to Thanksgiving weekend and Everman is a traditional DFW area power.

That’s a pretty good indication of the competition University has to unseat to get to the postseason. But the Trojans certainly can’t look past Burleson.

The Elks, who finished a game behind Everman for a playoff berth last fall, opened this season by coming from behind in the final two minutes to defeat Copperas Cove.

Smith said Burleson used explosive plays to get ahead and stay in front of Braswell last week.

The Trojans will try to counter with the dynamic offensive trio of quarterback Jacob Bryant, running back Jeremiah Stroupe and wide receiver Corey Sandolph. The latter fought through a minor ankle injury last week, but Smith said Sandolph is in good shape to start district play.

No. 4 Connally (2-0) at China Spring (2-0)

Radio: 7 p.m., 1590 AM, 99.3 FM, online stream

Last week: Connally defeated Glen Rose, 35-17; China Spring defeated Addison Trinity Christian, 34-14

What’s at stake: A big momentum boost. It would be hard to find two programs in Central Texas off to better starts than the Cadets and Cougars. So the winner of this game should be brimming with confidence.

Breakdown: The Cadets and Cougars have met in plenty of district battles in the past. This is not one of those since China Spring is in 5-4A DI and Connally plays in 8-4A DII. So there’s no championships or playoff races on the line.

Even so, don’t underrate the matchup’s significance.

“We sold it to our kids as a playoff-type game,” Connally coach Shane Anderson said. “Our word of the week is ‘Respect.’ You’ve got to earn it and you have a chance to do that against a tradition-rich team like China Spring. It’ll definitely be a test and it’s coming at the right time.”

Fans at Cougar Stadium will see some of Central Texas’ brightest high school football stars, including Connally running back Jay’Veon Sunday and China Spring quarterback Brayden Faulkner and wide receiver K.J. Peoples at the top of the marquee.

“Athlete-wise and team-wise, it’s a playoff-type game and something to take serious,” China Spring coach Brian Bell said. “In the grand scheme of things, it’s a nondistrict game and we’re just trying to get better.”

While it will be intriguing to see how well China Spring stands up to Sunday – he rushed for 203 yards and three touchdowns in a win against the Cougars last season – the game-deciding matchup might be China Spring’s receivers versus the Connally secondary.

Austin LBJ (2-0) at No. 3 La Vega (1-1)

Radio: 6:45 p.m., 94.5 FM,

Last week: LBJ defeated Los Fresnos, 14-6; La Vega lost to Argyle, 49-35

What’s at stake: The Pirates would like nothing more than to gain a measure of redemption for last year’s three-point loss to LBJ on the road.

Breakdown: La Vega coach Don Hyde said that last week’s loss to Argyle “meant nothing,” in the grand scheme of things. The Pirates, of course, lost to Argyle last year in the regular season, too, only to turn the tables when the teams reunited in the playoffs.

The only other team to beat La Vega last year was Austin LBJ, this week’s opponent. That game marked the Pirates’ low-water mark, as they struggled with three turnovers and completed only one pass in the 20-17 loss in Austin.

They’ll look to be sharper this time. Behind Landry Kinne, the Pirates’ passing game appears to be rounding into shape. Kinne hit just 7 of 17 attempts against Argyle, but the connections went for 250 yards and four TDs.

La Vega’s running game appears as powerful as ever, behind Jar’Quae Walton and Elisha Cummings. They could be tested against an LBJ defense that yielded only a pair of field goals in a road win over Los Fresnos last week.

Lorena (1-1) at Lampasas (2-0)

Radio: 7:15 p.m.,

Last week: Lorena defeated Franklin, 42-21; Lampasas defeated Lago Vista, 66-27

What’s at stake: Both teams have some momentum on their side, so it’s an opportunity for the victor to build even more, with district play looming around the corner.

Breakdown: This sets up as one of the more intriguing matchups of the week. The Badgers haven’t been threatened in the first two weeks, putting up better than 60 points in both games. Lorena, meanwhile, locked down a nice bounce-back win over a solid Franklin team in Week 2 after falling to China Spring in its opener.

RB AJ Brem is coming off a career game for the Leopards in which he rushed for five TDs. He spearheads the Lorena running game, while QB Bradley Lina (10-of-12, 163 yards vs. Franklin) is an experienced and efficient field general.

The Badgers are averaging 352 rushing yards a night, and nearly 11 yards per carry. Four different players have already topped 100 rushing yards on the season, including QB Ace Whitehead, who can also make teams pay through the air. Whitehead has thrown for eight TDs this year against only one interception.

Lorena safety Zane Grimm has an internal radar for the ball, and the Leopards will count on him to help slow down the Badgers’ progress. Grimm leads Central Texas with 36 tackles through two weeks.

No. 10 Robinson (2-0) at Troy (2-0)

Radio: 7 p.m., 104.9 FM, online stream

Last week: Robinson defeated Gatesville, 55-3; Troy defeated Lexington, 28-6

What’s at stake: A place in the state rankings perhaps. Robinson moved into the Top 10 in 4A Division II this week. But Troy could just as easily earn a slot in the 3A Division I rankings next week by defeating the Rockets.

Breakdown: The Rockets and Trojans have produced nondistrict thrillers the last two seasons as Robinson won in overtime on Troy’s home field in 2017 and the Trojans returned the favor last season.

It figures to be another toss-up type of game this time around.

Robinson, which features 30 seniors and 15 returning starters, has been fantastic so far this season in blowout wins over Taylor and Gatesville. But Troy counters with 15 returning starters of its own and 24 lettermen back.

Robinson coach Tommy Allison said this will be a measuring stick for both schools.

“Troy has an elite running back (Zach Hrbacek) and really good skill guys,” Allison said. “If you try to be one-dimensional, you’re going to get hit.”

Hrbacek rushed for more than 2,000 yards last season, including 209 yards and the game-winning TD against Robinson a year ago.

But Robinson has shown plenty of offensive prowess so far as Joseph McHenry has taken over at quarterback. McHenry leads Central Texas in passing with 506 yards and five touchdowns in a pair of wins.

Gatesville (0-2) at No. 3 Cameron Yoe (1-0)

Radio: 7:15 p.m.,

Last week: Robinson defeated Gatesville, 55-3; Cameron Yoe had bye

What’s at stake: Gatesville tries to win first game of season after two blowout losses while Cameron hopes to keep rolling after opening win.

Breakdown: The Hornets have a lot to do on both sides of the ball after a 55-3 loss to Robinson last week. Breaking into the win column won’t be easy against No. 3-ranked Cameron Yoe, which has put another dynamic team on the field.

First-year Gatesville coach Luke Howard knew an adjustment period was coming after former Gatesville coach Kyle Cooper took a position on Art Briles’ staff at Mount Vernon. Howard had only been on Cooper’s staff a few weeks before he was promoted to head coach.

“There are a lot of daily details we have to get better at with us being an inexperienced, young team,” Howard said. “It obviously makes it difficult when you’re going against a top 10-level team. They’re a tradition rich program that their community takes a lot of pride in. We have to be ready once district hits to have a chance to make the playoffs.”

Cameron rallied from a 14-0 deficit to knock off Mexia, 34-21, in the season opener before a bye week. Quarterback Braden Brashear passed for 211 yards and a touchdown while James Debose rushed for 173 yards on just six carries, including an 87-yarder for a score.

McGregor (2-0) at No. 8 Rogers (2-0)

Last week: McGregor defeated Bosqueville, 56-14; Rogers defeated Bruceville-Eddy, 63-27

What’s at stake: The Bulldogs and Eagles both step up in weight class after beating smaller schools last week. The winner keeps its perfect record.

Breakdown: Bulldogs and Eagles fans will see an interesting contrast of styles as McGregor’s spread offense goes against Rogers’ triple option out of a shotgun formation.

McGregor coach Mike Shields called the Eagles look an “Air Force option” and he said it’s been awesome. Rogers has scored 118 points in two games.

Bulldogs junior quarterback/safety VeAndre McDaniel said he remembers going against the Eagles a year ago and knows that McGregor will have to find a way to slow down the ball-control attack.

On the offensive side, McDaniel is leading a balanced attack as he and running back Dayton Threadgill have each rushed for more than 100 yards in a game this season and Bulldogs receivers Caleb Carmichael and Jhobe Smith are making plays too.

McGregor has started a little slow in each of its first two games, then finished strong. The Bulldogs might need to be on point from the beginning this week to knock off the ranked Eagles.

Maypearl (2-0) at Clifton (1-1)

Last week: Maypearl defeated Dallas Gateway, 57-12; Clifton lost to Crawford, 16-12

What’s at stake: Clifton saw its 17-game regular-season winning streak evaporate with the loss to Crawford last week. The Cubs will try to start a new one against Maypearl.

Breakdown: Clifton coach Chuck Caniford said his team actually gained more yards in its loss against Crawford than the Cubs managed last season in a victory over the Pirates.

The difference was that mistakes kept Clifton from finishing key drives.

“(The Cubs players) were pretty frustrated with themselves, but that can be a good experience,” Caniford said. “We’ve had a really good week of practice.”

Clifton will find out how well it bounces back against a Maypearl team that’s off to a much better start than a year ago. The Panthers had a loss and a canceled game when they hosted Clifton in 2018. This time around, Maypearl travels to Clifton with the momentum of a pair of wins behind it.

The Cubs begin a four-week run of playing bigger schools. After facing 3A DI Maypearl and McGregor the next two games, Clifton will finish nondistrict against 4A foes Godley and Venus.

Rice (2-0) at Crawford (2-0)

Last week: Crawford defeated Clifton, 16-12; Rice defeated Rio Vista, 52-12

What’s at stake: Crawford tries to build on last week’s big win over Clifton against a dynamic Rice offense

Breakdown: Not many people expected Crawford to knock off Clifton, then the No. 5 ranked team in Class 3A Division II. But with quarterback Tate Abel scoring on a four-yard touchdown run with 6:09 remaining, the Pirates overcame the Cubs.

With linebackers Jed Whitney and Trey Lacina leading the way, the Pirates played strong defense as usual as they shut down Clifton’s powerful offense and recorded a safety. They’ll face another explosive offense this week against Rice, which is coming off a 52-12 win over Rio Vista.

Rice’s Elizhah Nezar returned a kickoff for an 80-yard touchdown and also caught a pair of scoring pass of more than 70 yards from Tanner Carlisle.

“We had a big win against Clifton, but we’ve got to be careful because we don’t want it to be the defining moment of our season,” said Crawford coach Delbert Kelm. “Rice is very explosive. They’re a much more diverse offense this year with a good quarterback and receivers and good backs. They’re spreading it out and present a lot of problems. They’re 2-0 for a reason.”

Bosqueville (0-2) at Reicher (1-1)

Last week: Bosqueville lost to McGregor, 56-14; Reicher lost to McKinney Christian, 44-6

What’s at stake: In any crosstown rivalry game, bragging rights provide at least a year’s worth of bankable material.

Breakdown: To say first-year Reicher coach Tyler Holcomb is familiar with Bosqueville would be an understatement. Holcomb served as the Bulldogs’ offensive coordinator (and head basketball coach) before taking the Cougars’ head job earlier this year.

Reicher is relying on a lot of youth, but there are some budding stars in that group. QB Jake Boozer (172 yards rushing, 5 TDs; 280 passing, 2 TDs) is rapidly proving his worth as a playmaker. OL Noah Plsek is one of the best linemen in the area, as a two-time Super Centex honoree.

Bosqueville has tested itself against a pair of formidable foes in Mart and Class 3A’s McGregor. If nothing else, the Bulldogs’ lopsided losses should have exposed where they need to get better.

Luke Bradshaw and Ian Guerrero, the latter a transfer from Parkview Christian, have both seen action at quarterback for Bosqueville in the early going. WR Ryan Roark is a capable downfield target with a knack for the big play.

Last year, Bosqueville rolled over Reicher, 68-14, in this matchup, but this year’s rendition figures to be closer.

Week 3: Trib staff high school football picks

See what Trib staffers Chad Conine, Brice Cherry and Glynn Beaty think about this week's games.

Killeen at Midway Midway Midway Midway
Ellison at Waco High Waco Ellison Waco
Belton at Copperas Cove Belton Cove Belton
Temple at Harker Heights Temple Temple Temple
University at Burleson Burleson Burleson Burleson
Austin LBJ at La Vega (7 p.m.) La Vega La Vega La Vega
Connally at China Spring Connally China Spring China Spring
Gatesville at Cameron Yoe Yoe Yoe Yoe
Lorena at Lampasas Lorena Lampasas Lorena
Robinson at Troy Robinson Robinson Robinson
Athens at Fairfield Fairfield Fairfield Fairfield
Malakoff at Mexia Mexia Mexia Mexia
Hillsboro at Whitney Whitney Whitney Whitney
McGregor at Rogers McGregor Rogers Rogers
West at Godley Godley Godley Godley
Groesbeck at Marlin Groesbeck Groesbeck Groesbeck
Maypearl at Clifton Clifton Clifton Clifton
Hamilton at Moody Hamilton Hamilton Hamilton
Rice at Crawford Crawford Crawford Crawford
Dawson at Valley Mills Valley Mills Valley Mills Dawson
Bosqueville at Reicher Bosqueville Bosqueville Reicher
Axtell at Thorndale Thorndale Thorndale Axtell
Bruceville-Eddy at Chilton B-Eddy B-Eddy B-Eddy
Frost at Itasca Frost Itasca Itasca
Jarrell at Riesel Riesel Jarrell Riesel
Rio Vista at Rosebud-Lott R-Lott Rio Vista R-Lott
Mart at Franklin Franklin Franklin Mart
Malakoff Cross Roads at Hubbard Hubbard Hubbard Cross Roads
Meridian at Granger (7 p.m.) Granger Granger Granger
Bartlett at Wortham Wortham Wortham Wortham
Bremond at Milano Bremond Bremond Bremond
Texas Wind at Snook (7 p.m.) Snook Snook Wind
Abbott at Penelope Abbott Abbott Abbott
Richland Springs at Aquilla RS RS RS
Iredell at Blum Blum Blum Blum
Mount Calm at Gholson Gholson Gholson Gholson
Covington at Oglesby Covington Covington Covington
Coolidge at Weatherford Christian Coolidge Weatherford Coolidge
Evant at Brookesmith Brookesmith Evant Evant
Walnut Springs at Gordon (7 p.m.) Gordon Gordon WS
Mullin at Cranfills Gap Gap Gap Gap
Morgan at Three Way Morgan Morgan Morgan
Rochelle at Kopperl (6:30 p.m.) Kopperl Kopperl Kopperl
Bynum at Perrin-Whitt Bynum Perrin-Whitt Bynum
Vanguard vs. Eagle Christian Vanguard Vanguard Vanguard
Live Oak at Jonesboro (7 p.m.) Jonesboro Jonesboro Jonesboro
Parkview Christian at Granbury North Central Texas Parkview Granbury Parkview
Trinidad at Methodist Home MCH MCH MCH
Last week 33-15 29-19 25-23
Season to date 71-27 63-35 56-42

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