Wave good-bye to the bye weeks. All those high school football teams in six-team districts that caught a breather last weekend are back at it in earnest this week.
For the six-team leagues, district play is about to kick off.
Over the final five weeks of the regular season, teams in six-team leagues will play five games to determine who will represent their districts in the UIL state playoffs. Here’s a sneak-peek into some of the races that will get rolling on Friday.
DISTRICT 13-4A DIV. I
Every team but Lampasas (1-4) will go into district play with a winning record. Willie Williams’ fourth-ranked La Vega Pirates are a powerhouse that won’t be toppled easily, led by a evenly-distributed rushing attack and a miserly defense that has not surrendered more than 12 points in any game this year.
While the La Vega-China Spring squabble of Oct. 20 will always draw a wealth of attention, a darkhorse candidate for Game of the Year in Central Texas could play out on Nov. 3, when currently-unbeaten Gatesville travels to Bellmead to take on the Pirates.
DISTRICT 9-4A DIV. II
You can’t judge this district based on their nondistrict records alone.
Yes, Salado is 5-0. Yes, everyone else in the league has a losing record at this stage. And yet 9-4A may be more wide open than it appears.
For while Salado has looked impressive — the Eagles didn’t give up a point until Week 3 — it will face its first Class 4A opponent of the year when it takes on Fairfield on Friday in the district opener. On the flip side, a team like 1-4 Lorena, the defending district champ, has challenged itself against heavyweights like La Vega and China Spring.
Expect a lot of close games in this district. Even Connally, which has fielded a roster of varsity newcomers, can’t be overlooked as a playoff contender.
DISTRICT 8-2A DIV. I
Fourth-ranked Mart has reeled off four straight wins since a season-opening two-point loss to Class 3A’s second-ranked Lexington. The Panthers could power through this district like an offensive line powers through the postgame burgers.
The real race may be for the No. 2 seed. Italy and Riesel both enter league play at 3-2, while Axtell and Bosqueville appear more dangerous than their records may indicate. The Bulldogs, for instance, have dropped four straight since a season-opening win over Santo, but against quality foes like Crawford and Reicher. Bosqueville running back Marcell Estell may be the most explosive big-play machine in the district behind Mart’s sensational Tyrek Horne (806 rushing yards, 8 TDs).
District 4-4A Div. II looks like a two-horse title race between Glen Rose and Godley, both 4-1. Joey Moss’s Hillsboro team, which made the playoffs last year, will need to raise its level of play to return to the postseason again after opening with just one win in its first five games. … Clifton (3-2, 1-0) remains a strong favorite to repeat as champions of District 11-3A Div. II, the rare six-team league that has already gotten started. … Thrall, which went 10-2 in 2016, stands tallest in 13-2A Div. I, but a pair of upstarts in Holland and Rosebud-Lott are also 4-1 entering district play. … Don’t look for the dominance of Bremond to end anytime soon in District 10-2A Div. II. … In 11-2A Div. II, Wortham aims to sustain a solid start. Last year the Bulldogs won three of their first four, only to come unraveled in district play.
Parkview’s potent pass-catch combo turning heads
Parkview Christian’s mascot is the Pacer, but the way that the team’s top offensive players are going maybe it should be the Don’t-Even-Try-To-Keep-Pacers.
Parkview quarterback Ian Guerrero and receiver Braeden Arp are racking up numbers that are staggering even in the wide-open world of six-man football. Guerrero and Arp not only lead Central Texas in passing and receiving, but they both sit No. 1 in the nation among six-man players, according to MaxPreps.com’s statistical leaders.
Guerrero has completed 71 of 120 for 1,548 yards, 23 touchdowns and four interceptions in just five games. He flings many of those tosses in the direction of Arp, who has 781 yards on 31 grabs, including 14 for touchdowns.
Parkview coach Bryce Frazier said that Guerrero and Arp share an unbreakable bond.
“For sure, they can come over to us on the sidelines and say, ‘Hey, let’s do this,’” Frazier said. “Ian is just more comfortable in Year 2 as a starter, and he knows the offense inside and out. Of course, having Braeden on the outside helps. … He’s tremendous over the top, just a big body. The confidence they have together has led to a really unique chemistry.”
At 6-foot-3, Arp is blessed with uncommon size for the six-man game. So the Pacers frequently employ a jump ball when they venture into the red zone. The thinking is, if Guerrero can lob it in the zip code of Arp, the receiver will go up and get it more often than not.
“When we get inside the 30, we’re throwing a 50-50 ball most of the time,” Frazier said. “Because Arp has such a big body, that it’s going to give him a shot to catch it every time.”
That potent offense has pushed Parkview (4-2) to the No. 2 ranking in TCAL Six-Man Division I.
“The team camaraderie that we have, the way we’re playing so well, we have every intention of playing for that state championship,” Frazier said.
HOT Soccer Complex will be running hotbed
Waco’s Heart of Texas Soccer Complex will play host to a pair of district cross country meets on Thursday.
The District 8-6A meet will feature Midway, Belton, Copperas Cove, Harker Heights, Killeen, Ellison and Shoemaker. The Midway boys have won the past two district titles and should be favored again behind the determined running of senior Cal Johnston.
Meanwhile, the District 17-2A meet will also be held, pitting Bosqueville, Chilton, Crawford, Harmony Science, Moody, Rapoport, Rosebud-Lott and Valley Mills.
The 17-2A boys race will get things started at 8:15 a.m., followed by the 8-6A girls at 8:40, the 17-2A girls at 9:05 and the 8-6A boys at 9:20.