Midway (6-3, 6-1) at Belton (3-6, 3-4)
Radio: 7 p.m., 92.9 FM (online stream)
Last week: Midway defeated Temple, 52-28; Belton lost to Waco High, 24-21
What’s at stake: Midway can keep its district championship streak alive with a victory. Belton can get in the playoffs with a win and a Harker Heights loss to Shoemaker.
Breakdown: Midway has finished in at least a tie for its district title for the last nine seasons and can keep that going by defeating Belton. If the Panthers come through, they will be the top seed from 12-6A in the 6A Division II playoffs.
Midway took the ball away from Temple six times last week and converted most of those opportunities into points on the way to the Panthers’ biggest win of the year.
“The kids were really focused all week in practice and then things went our way,” Midway coach Jeff Hulme said. “We created some turnovers and then we took advantage of them. It was satisfying as a coach to see that. You could really tell our kids were playing for each other.”
The Panthers also had excellent quarterback play as QB Jared Moore passed for 195 yards and rushed for 94.
“A lot of it is confidence in himself,” Hulme said. “(Moore has) gotten a lot of that really the last two weeks. The week before against Shoemaker, he really managed the game well in the weather. He’s gotten better and better as the year has gone on and we’ve got to keep building on that.”
Hulme believes the Panthers will need to be just as honed in this week against Belton as they were versus Temple last week.
Although Waco High picked up its first win of the season by beating BElton, Hulme said it’s no time to let up.
“Everybody has bad games,” Hulme said. “We expect Belton’s very best game Friday night. We’ve got to play like we did the other night.”
Midlothian (7-2, 5-2) at University (4-5, 2-5)
Last week: University lost to Everman, 65-7; Midlothian defeated Cleburne, 19-14
What’s at stake: University is trying to finish .500 for the first time since 2012 when the Trojans went 5-5. Midlothian has locked up the third-place playoff berth from 5-5A D-II.
Breakdown: University is out of the playoff hunt, but there’s still a lot of meaning in the Trojans’ finale at Waco ISD Stadium.
University’s seniors helped the program end a long losing streak last fall and have built on that by posting seven wins in the last two seasons.
The Trojans have a 1,000-yard rusher in senior running back Jeremiah Stroupe (1,087 rushing yards and 10 TDs) and a 1,000-yard passer in senior quarterback Jacob Bryant (1,158 yards, 8 TDs).
But University faces a steep challenge against Midlothian, which is currently in third place in 5-5A D-II. The Panthers have won three straight since they lost to Aledo in overtime in early October.
Gatesville (0-9, 0-3) at No. 3 La Vega (8-1, 3-0)
Radio: 6:30 p.m., 94.5 FM, centexbeat.com
Last week: Gatesville lost to Stephenville, 49-24; La Vega defeated Brownwood, 31-14
What’s at stake: La Vega has clinched the 5-4A D-I championship but can finish off an undefeated run through district. Gatesville will be trying to pull off a huge road upset to earn its first win of the season.
Breakdown: La Vega has had a bit of a roller-coaster season, but the Pirates are right where they expected to be going into the playoffs.
La Vega will enter the postseason as the No. 1 seed in 5-4A D-I. A win over Gatesville would send the Pirates into the playoffs on an eight-game winning streak as they try to defend their state title.
Pirates LB La’Travius Johnson is tied for the Central Texas lead in tackles with 108. He and fellow LB DeMarrquese Hayes spearhead a defense that has given up less than two touchdowns per game against the district’s other three playoff teams.
Gatesville will be trying to snap an 11-game losing streak that dates back to the last two games of 2018. But the Hornets face a tough task to do that against the third-ranked team in 4A D-I.
No. 9 Brownwood (8-1, 2-1) at China Spring (3-6, 1-2)
Last week: Brownwood lost to La Vega, 31-14; China Spring had a bye
What’s at stake: Both teams are going to the playoffs. China Spring could potentially move up as high as the No. 2 playoff seed from 5-4A D-I. Brownwood could clinch the second-place playoff berth with a win.
Breakdown: China Spring coach Brian Bell had an extra week to prepare for Brownwood as the Cougars were off last Friday.
“The bye week is kind of different being late in the season. It’s kind of awkward, but I think it ended up being good,” Bell said. “It gives us a little boost of energy going into this last push and hopefully we can make a run. I think we’re exactly where we want to be mentally.”
China Spring will try to contain Brownwood RB Reece Rodgers, who has run for 1,264 yards and 18 touchdowns so far this season.
While the Cougars could use the momentum of a win going into the playoffs, they face a difficult task in moving up from the fourth seed from 5-4A D-I. China Spring needs to win by 14 or more points, which would throw the district into a three-way tie for second place. That would mean that Bell meets up with the Brownwood and Stephenville coaches for a coin flip to decide the playoff seeding.
The Cougars’ offense clicked on their home field when they opened the season with a victory over Lorena. China Spring would like to finish the regular season the same way.
Mexia (5-3, 4-1) at Lorena (5-4, 2-3)
Radio: 7 p.m., lorenaleopards.com
Last week: Mexia defeated Salado, 21-6; Lorena defeated Madisonville, 41-16.
What’s at stake: A Mexia win and Connally loss to Robinson would give Blackcats share of District 8-4A Division II title.
Breakdown: With its loss to Connally, Mexia will be the No. 2 playoff seed out of the district regardless of the outcome of Friday’s games. Meanwhile, Lorena is out of the playoff picture.
But the Blackcats would like to gather some momentum heading into the playoffs while the Leopards can clinch a winning season.
“Absolutely, we’ve already talked about the importance of the game to our seniors,” said Lorena coach Ray Biles. “The way we finish is what you remember, plus it would be important for the younger guys for next year.”
Mexia is coming off an impressive win over Salado that was keyed by running back Jarrell Wiley and a swarming defense. Lorena is hoping its offense can be as effective as it was last week against Madisonville.
“Mexia is a very balanced offensive football team,” Biles said. “Their quarterback (Jaden Proctor) has a good arm, quickness and speed. Their running back (Wiley) is a heck of a football player too and they do a good job up front offensively.”
No. 2 Connally (9-0, 5-0) at Robinson (5-4, 1-4)
Radio: 7 p.m., 99.3 FM, 104.9 FM (online stream)
Last week: Fairfield defeated Robinson, 26-20, in OT; Connally bye week.
What’s at stake: Connally can clinch first unbeaten regular season since 1990.
Breakdown: Behind versatile quarterback Kavian Gaither and powerful running back Jay’Veon Sunday, the Cadets have a chance to clinch the outright District 8-4A Division II title and their first unbeaten regular season in nearly three decades.
“It hasn’t been done in a long time, so it’s a big deal for our program and our senior class,” said Connally coach Shane Anderson. “We want to win it for them bad. We’re locking into going 10-0 and we’ve had a great week of practice.”
Despite their tremendous season, the Cadets are wary of the Rockets, who opened the season strong but have struggled to pull out close games in district play.
“There’s no doubt they’re a very good football team that hasn’t gotten the breaks,” Anderson said. “They’ve been in every game except against Lorena.”
West (3-6, 3-2) at Teague (4-5, 3-2)
Last week: Teague defeated Maypearl, 41-9; West bye week.
What’s at stake: No. 3 and 4 playoff spots out of District 9-3A Division I.
Breakdown: Both West and Teague have clinched playoff spots, so this regular season finale is all about building momentum for next week’s bi-district playoffs.
After losing their four non-district games, the Trojans have pulled things together behind 1,000-yard rusher Trey Janek and quarterback Landon Edwards and an improved defense.
Teague has won three of its last four games as its offense surpassed more than 40 points in wins over Groesbeck, McGregor and Maypearl.
“Teague is a team that’s gotten better each and every week, and they’re similar to us in that they start a lot of young kids and played a tough non-district schedule,” said West coach David Woodard. “We’ve become a lot more consistent. We don’t make mental mistakes and commit penalties, and we don’t beat ourselves. A win going into the first round of the playoffs will give us confidence and momentum, and I’m sure they feel the same.”
Clifton (6-3, 2-1) at No. 4 Rogers (9-0, 3-0)
Last week: Clifton idle; Rogers hammered Florence, 65-14
What’s at stake: The Eagles are aiming to cap off an undefeated district title, while the Cubs can create a three-way logjam at the top with themselves, Rogers and Lexington.
Breakdown: Clifton would like nothing more than to spoil Rogers’ undefeated season, and add a little more bling to its own trophy case. A Cub victory would push District 8-3A Div. II into a three-way tie at the top between the Cubs, Rogers and Lexington.
“Which would be four (district titles) in a row for us, so there’s a lot to play for there,” Clifton coach Chuck Caniford said. “Because of tiebreakers, the highest playoff seed we can get is second, so it doesn’t really affect much from seeding, we’re either going in second or third. So we literally have nothing to lose – let’s cut it loose and go fly around.”
They’ll have to fly pretty high to get past the soaring Eagles. Clifton has had two weeks to prepare for this one, and that’s what the Cubs have done, trying to introduce plays and concepts that will help in both this game and in the playoffs.
Essentially, that’s how Caniford views this game – as a playoff preview.
“They’re exactly what you’d expect from a 9-0 team – solid in all three phases,” he said. “In the playoffs, it’s usually the team that makes the fewest mistakes that gives itself the most chance to win. So to us, this is a great opportunity to prepare for a playoff-type atmosphere.”
Rogers QB Heath Schiller, at 6-2 and 205 pounds, is a load to handle, and has thrown for 1,104 yards and 17 touchdowns on the year. The Eagles are renowned for their pop-you-in-the-facemask running attack, so the Cubs will have to be keyed up defensively.
RB/LB Riley Perry tops Clifton with 74 tackles and is also the Cubs’ most punishing rusher, with 854 yards and 16 TDs. And when QB Mason Brandenberger (1,636 yards, 21 TDs) gets clicking, the Cubs can be tough to stop.
Hico (0-9, 0-4) at Crawford (6-3, 3-1)
Last week: Hico lost to Valley Mills, 45-6; Crawford fell at San Saba, 48-28
What’s at stake: Crawford could nab a share of a district title with a win and a San Saba loss, but the Pirates are locked in at the district’s No. 2 seed no matter how this week plays out.
Breakdown: Winning is important, of course. For Crawford coach Delbert Kelm, it’s not nearly as important as playing well.
“I definitely don’t want to see us go limping into the playoffs,” Kelm said. “How we bounce back (from losing to San Saba) is important, and I dang sure would rather have some momentum.”
Kelm called Hico “a very young team,” but one that plays hard, so the Pirates can’t afford to overlook the Tigers. One area Kelm will be fixated on this week is how well his offensive line protects QB Tate Abel.
“We’re still a work in progress, no matter what time of season it is,” Kelm said. “We can work on tackling better – (San Saba) exposed that some. … And our protection of our quarterback wasn’t good in that game. So we want to work to get better each week.”
Crawford will either play Riesel or Bosqueville in the bi-district playoffs. If it’s Riesel, that game would be Nov. 14 in McGregor, while a Bosqueville matchup could come down to a coin flip for sites.
Axtell (1-8, 0-5) at Bosqueville (4-5, 3-2)
Last week: Axtell lost to Moody, 35-21; Bosqueville lost to Bruceville-Eddy, 46-39
What’s at stake: The Bulldogs still have some playoff seeding implications to shoot for – as a win and an Italy loss would make them second in the district.
Breakdown: After last week’s big district showdown with Bruceville-Eddy, this week doesn’t have quite the same feel for Bosqueville.
“It’s a little more relaxed, there’s not as much tension,” Bosqueville coach Clint Zander said. “That worries me a little for Friday night, to be honest.”
Axtell-Bosqueville is an underrated Centex rivalry, and each always wants to beat the other.
“They’ve got nothing to lose honestly, absolutely nothing to lose,” Zander said. “So they’re going to go for broke. You never know what kind of trick plays you might see, so you’ve got to play well and be prepared.”
Playing well is the key. Bosqueville doesn’t want to stub its toe right before the most important part of the season unfolds.
“At this point of the year, you want to be fine-tuning things, not correcting things,” Zander said.
Blaine Reynolds looks pretty fine-tuned for the Bulldogs. The running back is coming off a five-touchdown effort in last week’s hard-fought loss to Bruceville-Eddy.
Aquilla (3-6, 2-1) at Abbott (3-6, 1-2)
Last week: Blum defeated Abbott, 48-0; Aquilla defeated Gholson, 51-6
What’s at stake: It’s a rivalry game and a play-in game all at once. Aquilla will make the playoffs with a victory, while Abbott needs a win and some help.
Breakdown: What cranks the volume on a rivalry game up to 11? When a playoff spot is on the line.
That’ll be the case in this one. Blum has already wrapped up the District 10-1A title, but Abbott and Aquilla both are still in contention for the No. 2 spot. The Cougars can seize that spot outright with a win, while the Panthers need a win and an assist from Gholson, as they need the Wildcats to defeat Covington.
Aquilla has won the past two meetings in this longtime six-man series, including a 46-0 victory last year.
“Those guys have put it on us the past couple of years, and I think our kids are focused and wanting to change that,” Abbott coach Terry Crawford said.
Both teams are blessed with guys who can throw down some special dance moves in the open field. Aquilla QB/RB Connor McCurdy is that go-to guy for the Cougars, while junior RB Kadyn Johnson (1,554 rushing yards, 21 TDs) holds that distinction for Abbott.
Crawford said that he thought whoever won the line of scrimmage battle would win the game, but expected a tussle no matter what. “I think you can throw those 3-6 records out the window on Friday,” he said.
Week 11: Trib staff high school football picks
|Midway at Belton||Midway||Midway||Midway|
|Copperas Cove at Temple||Temple||Temple||Temple|
|DISTRICT 5-5A DIV. II|
|Midlothian at University||Midlothian||Midlothian||Midlothian|
|DISTRICT 5-4A DIV. I|
|Gatesville at La Vega (7 p.m.)||La Vega||La Vega||La Vega|
|Brownwood at China Spring (7 p.m.)||Brownwood||Brownwood||Brownwood|
|DISTRICT 4-4A DIV. II|
|Godley at Hillsboro||Hillsboro||Godley||Hillsboro|
|DISTRICT 8-4A DIV. II|
|Connally at Robinson||Connally||Connally||Connally|
|Mexia at Lorena||Mexia||Mexia||Lorena|
|Fairfield at Salado||Salado||Fairfield||Fairfield|
|DISTRICT 9-3A DIV. I|
|Whitney at Groesbeck||Whitney||Whitney||Whitney|
|West at Teague||Teague||Teague||Teague|
|DISTRICT 10-3A DIV. I|
|Cameron Yoe at Lago Vista||Yoe||Yoe||Yoe|
|DISTRICT 8-3A DIV. II|
|Clifton at Rogers||Rogers||Rogers||Rogers|
|Florence at Hamilton||Hamilton||Hamilton||Hamilton|
|DISTRICT 7-2A DIV. I|
|Hico at Crawford||Crawford||Crawford||Crawford|
|Goldthwaite at Valley Mills||Valley Mills||Valley Mills||Valley Mills|
|DISTRICT 8-2A DIV. I|
|Axtell at Bosqueville||Bosqueville||Bosqueville||Bosqueville|
|Italy at Riesel||Italy||Italy||Riesel|
|Itasca at Moody||Moody||Moody||Itasca|
|DISTRICT 13-2A DIV. I|
|Hearne at Rosebud-Lott||Hearne||Hearne||Hearne|
|Thorndale at Marlin||Thorndale||Thorndale||Thorndale|
|DISTRICT 11-2A DIV. II|
|Mart at Frost||Mart||Mart||Mart|
|Wortham at Dawson||Dawson||Dawson||Dawson|
|Meridian at Hubbard||Hubbard||Hubbard||Hubbard|
|DISTRICT 13-2A DIV. II|
|Granger at Chilton (7 p.m.)||Granger||Chilton||Granger|
|TAPPS DISTRICT 3 DIV. III|
|Reicher at Boerne Geneva (7 p.m.)||Geneva||Geneva||Reicher|
|DISTRICT 10-1A DIV. I|
|Aquilla at Abbott||Abbott||Aquilla||Abbott|
|Covington at Gholson||Covington||Covington||Covington|
|DISTRICT 11-1A DIV. I|
|Penelope at Coolidge||Coolidge||Coolidge||Coolidge|
|DISTRICT 15-1A DIV. I|
|Evant at Jonebsoro||Jonesboro||Jonesboro||Jonesboro|
|DISTRICT 11-1A DIV. II|
|Walnut Springs at Cranfills Gap (7 p.m.)||Gap||Gap||Gap|
|DISTRICT 12-1A DIV. II|
|Bynum at Mount Calm||Bynum||Bynum||Bynum|
|DISTRICT 14-1A DIV. II|
|Buckholts at Oglesby||Buckholts||Buckholts||Buckholts|
|TAPPS DIST. 2 DIV. I SIX-MAN|
|Austin Veritas at Vanguard||Vanguard||Veritas||Vanguard|
|TAPPS DIST. 2 DIV. II SIX-MAN|
|Live Oak at Kerrville Our Lady of the Hills (6 p.m.)||Our Lady||Our Lady||Live Oak|
|Lewisville Lakeland at Methodist Home||MCH||MCH||MCH|
|Parkview Christian at Garland Christian||Garland Chr.||Garland Chr.||Garland Chr.|
|Eagle Christian at Red Oak Ovilla Christian (8:30 a.m. Sat. at Gholson)||ECA||ECA||ECA|
|Season to date||336-98||332-102||305-129|