University (2-3, 1-1) at Arlington Seguin (0-6, 0-4)
Players to watch: University: WR Corey Sandolph, RB Obie Cooper, FS Amari Gibson; Seguin: QB Xavier Gordon, RB Jalen March, WR Kevante Simmons
Key matchup: University receivers Corey Sandolph and Michael Lambert vs. Seguin secondary
Breakdown: After snapping the state’s longest losing streak at 47 games earlier this season, University broke through with its second win last week by taking a 48-34 decision over Joshua.
Corey Sandolph and Michael Lambert each caught a pair of touchdown passes while Obie Cooper broke away for a pair of scoring runs.
“I really think we’ve been on the brink, and week by week we’ve been getting better and better,” said University coach Rodney Smith. “We were able to make some offensive plays early in the game and the defense put up a goal-line stand that turned the game for us in the fourth quarter.”
The Trojans will try to even their record at 3-3 against a winless Arlington Seguin squad that’s led by quarterback Xavier Gordon, who has passed for 913 yards and four scores.
“Seguin’s record doesn’t speak for what their coach is doing,” Smith said. “They’ve got a lot of real good athletes and they throw it a lot. I think they’ve got a real good team, but they’re just coming up on the wrong end of games.”
Teague (1-4, 0-1) at Groesbeck (5-1, 1-1)
Players to watch: Teague: QB Zack Satterwhite, RB Gelico Green, WR Tanner Smith; Groesbeck: QB Ty Hale, RB Ameer Lee, WR Brandyn Canady
Key matchup: Groesbeck QB Ty Hale vs. Teague secondary
“We understand the mistakes we made and we know we’ve got to correct them and not give up big plays,” said Groesbeck coach Steve Hale.
This game will feature a pair of talented quarterbacks with Teague’s Zack Satterwhite pitted against Groesbeck’s Ty Hale.
Hale has completed over 70 percent of his passes for 1,141 yards and 20 touchdowns while Satterwhite has passed for 652 yards and five scores and has rushed for 420 yards and two touchdowns.
“Teague is a tough football team with a dual-threat quarterback and a good defense,” Hale said. “They’re more multiple this year and have moved the ball on a lot of people.”
China Spring (4-2) at Stephenville (3-2)
Players to watch: China Spring: RB Erik Hart, QB Brayden Faulkner, WR Peyton Hofferichter; Stephenville: RB Krece Nowak, WR Kyle Lindsey, QB Kade Renfro
Players to watch: China Spring RB Erik Hart vs. Stephenville defensive line
Breakdown: Erik Hart was unstoppable in China Spring’s 53-35 romp over Houston St. Thomas last week as he exploded for a school-record 305 yards rushing and five touchdowns.
Freshman quarterback Brayden Faulkner also had a big day as he hit 15 of 17 for 290 yards and three scores. But the Cougars know they’ll face a much stiffer test against traditional power Stephenville in the District 5-4A Division I opener.
“Stephenville is obviously well coached, they do the little things right, and they’ve got a swagger about them,” said China Spring coach Brian Bell.
Playing a tough non-district schedule, Stephenville is coming off a 48-8 thrashing of Georgetown. Hayden Monk hit 17 of 21 passes for 229 yards and three touchdowns while Krece Nowak rushed for 67 yards and made five catches for 76 yards and a score.
Copperas Cove (4-2, 2-2) at Midway (3-1, 3-0)
Players to watch: Copperas Cove: RB Micah Cox, RB Shontez Simmons, QB Easton Simpson; Midway: QB Nick Jimenez, RB James Fullbright III, LB Marcus Johnson
Key matchup: Cove double-threat rush attack vs. Midway’s front seven
Breakdown: Jeff Hulme mentioned it toward the beginning of the season, at least a week before quarterback Nick Jimenez found his groove in the pocket and has since provided the passing threat that is the perfect complement for what James Fullbright III can do on the ground.
While Panther teams of old have been known for putting up a ridiculous amount of points on the board, this year’s team has rooted its identity in its defense. Not saying that the older teams didn’t have good defense. It’s just that this year’s team has something special brewing on the defensive side of the football.
For example, the Panthers held Waco High to 157 yards of total offense in addition to forcing four turnovers in their last outing two weeks ago before taking a bye week last Friday.
This Midway defense will be needed to slow down a hot Copperas Cove team that comes to Panther stadium riding a three-game win streak. The Bulldawgs are also coming off a big game against the Lions, one in which they exploded for 714 yards of total offense.
More than 500 of those yards came on the ground as Copperas Cove has a pair of running backs that bring their own flair to the backfield. A week ago, Micah Cox led the way with 173 yards, but Shontez Simmons wasn’t that far behind with 165 yards.
Robinson (3-2, 1-0) at Lorena (5-1, 1-1)
Players to watch: Robinson: QB Jordan Rogers, RB Brady Kay, Def Easton Slovacek; Lorena: QB Bradley Lina, Def Daylon Bartosh, Def Cade Michna
Key matchup: Defense, defense, defense
Breakdown: Lorena is looking to bounce back from its first loss of the season, a last-minute three-point defeat at the hands of the Cadets a few miles north at Connally. Robinson, meanwhile, hopes to carry over the momentum from what Tommy Allison called the best defensive effort in the last couple of years in a 20-point win over Salado.
How will that defense do against a balanced Leopard offense? How will the Lorena defense with playmakers at every spot bounce back at home? That will be the key Friday night as this district race is still wide open.
Yes, it’s only the third week into district play, but 8-4A Div. II is as wide open as any right now. No one has solidified anything. So this rivalry game on Friday has huge playoff seeding and potential district title implications on the line.
Both teams have solid quarterbacks with Lorena’s Bradley Lina and Robinson’s Jordan Rogers. They have plenty of targets to throw the ball to in addition to having a potent rusher beside them in the backfield like Lorena’s A.J. Brem (or Bell) and Robinson’s Brady Kay.
West (4-2, 2-0) at McGregor (4-2, 1-1)
Players to watch: West: QB Nathan Gerik, RB Preston Johnson, Def Hayden Sembera; McGregor: ATH Jhobe Smith, QB VeAndre McDaniel, Def Noah Jenkins
Key matchup: McGregor front seven vs. West backfield duo of Gerik and Johnson
Breakdown: Before the show lit up the sky following the game, Nathan Gerik and Preston Johnson brought the fireworks to the gridiron as West handed Groesbeck its first loss of the season. Gerik, in his second game back from injury, looked like his old self, maybe even a little bit better as he was able to do damage with his feet and his arm.
Johnson earned Built Ford Tough Player of the Week honors for Class 3A after his dominant play. Once he broke through the middle of the line of scrimmage, it seemed he couldn’t be stopped.
If McGregor wants a chance to top these Trojans, the Bulldogs have to step things up defensively. Their offense is plenty capable with guys like VeAndre McDaniel, Tanner Ledesma and Jhobe Smith, to name a few.
However, McGregor’s defense will need to find a different level to stifle West’s explosive offense.
Noah Jenkins leads the Bulldogs with 51 tackles and five sacks on the season. His effort will be key in breaking things up in the backfield. Cade Zacharias has also reached the 50-tackle mark for McGregor.
Fairfield (4-2, 0-2) at Mexia (2-3, 0-1)
Players to watch: Fairfield: RB Kameron Ransom, ATH Kadarius Walker; Mexia: RB Jadrian Smith, S Gary McQuirter
Key to game: Turnover battle
Breakdown: The Fairfield-Mexia rivalry dates back many decades, and has produced more classics than anyone can remember. Given how badly both squads could use a district win, this matchup could yield another.
“I see a mirror image of our team when I look at Fairfield,” Mexia coach Frank Sandoval said. “We’re very similar in a lot of ways, kid-wise. Coach (Bachtel) is a much better coach, though, a hell of a coach.”
Added Bachtel: “A lot of our kids are related to each other. I think they’re bigger up front, but we’ve both got some good, athletic kids.”
Mexia essentially has had two weeks to prepare for this one, as it’s coming off its open week. However, Sandoval partially used that down time to let his kids be kids, even breaking out the board games at one point.
Fairfield’s Bachtel doesn’t want the Blackcats to pass go (Monopoly reference), because he knows they can do it in a hurry.
“Those kids have a lot of energy, a lot of swag, and if you let them get going, they sure can make some big plays,” Bachtel said.
Connally (4-2, 1-1) at Madisonville (4-2, 2-0)
Players to watch: Connally: SS R.J. Francis, DB Kavian Gaither, RB Jay’Veon Sunday; Madisonville: QB Tyrese Brown, RB Uriel Willis
Key to game: Connally open-field tackling vs. Madisonville ball carriers
Breakdown: For Connally, last week’s comeback victory over Lorena served as a breakthrough in many ways. Cadets coach Shane Anderson was proud of his team for putting together a strong four-quarter performance and for having players outside of “our normal go-to guys” step up and make some big plays.
“That’s what we’ve been waiting for, is a win like that, over a good team like Lorena,” Anderson said.
Yet in 8-4A, the chances to beat a quality opponent never relent. Rusty Nail’s Madisonville team awaits the Cadets this week, and Anderson said his team will have to execute at a high level in order to win.
“They’re a good football team, obviously 2-0 in district, beating Mexia and Fairfield, two of the most athletic teams in our district,” Anderson said. “Rusty has done a great job of taking that program from the bottom to the top real quick.”
The matchup pits some of the top runners in the district, Central Texas’ leading rusher Jay’Veon Sunday (1,279 yards) for Connally, and the Mustangs’ tandem of QB Tyrese Brown (621) and RB Uriel Willis (592).
Riesel (4-1, 1-0) at Bosqueville (3-3, 2-0)
Key players: Bosqueville: QB Tyler Webb, UT Marcell Estell, RB/LB Jacob Bravo; Riesel: QB Steven Searcy, RB Braden Jenkins, OG/LB Dakota Robert
Key matchup: Riesel secondary vs. Bosqueville receivers
Breakdown: Riesel coach Robert Little and Bosqueville coach Clint Zander are plenty familiar with one another, going back to even before Little came to Riesel, when he was head coach at Chilton.
“They know what we want to do offensively, and we know what they want to do offensively,” Little said. “We’re both fairly talented, we just do things differently to move the chains.”
Bosqueville can flip the field in rapid-fire fashion behind the strong arm of sophomore QB Tyler Webb, who threw for 351 yards and five touchdowns in last week’s win over Italy.
Meanwhile, the Indians prefer to pound teams with a rugged running game. Braden Jenkins is a tough runner who broke plenty of tackles in Riesel’s 42-0 district win over Moody last week.
It sets up as a delicious early district matchup.
“It could come down to a play here or there, a fumble, interception, even a penalty,” Little said. “I really think it could be a pretty close game.”
Jonesboro (4-2) at Iredell (5-0)
Players to watch: Jonesboro: QB Ethan Lilljedahl, ATH Anthony Lopez, Def Keith Sanders; Iredell: RB Morgan Whitfield, Colton Fowler, Landry Proffitt
Key matchup: Jonesboro defense vs. Morgan Whitfield
Breakdown: Luis Guereca knows that a single name stands out in postgame box scores. However, the Iredell head coach wants to make sure everyone knows these Dragons are off to their most successful start since 2014 because of a balanced attack.
These Dragons don’t just go as Morgan Whitfield goes. Rather, Iredell finds its success by how the guys play together as a team. That success, thus far, means “45-ing” everybody so far this season for Iredell, the lone six-man team to do so in the state of Texas.
Friday, however, brings a whole different beast as Jonesboro comes to town. The Eagles have advanced to the state championship game the past two years, each time falling to Borden County.
Harker Heights (0-6, 0-4) at Waco High (1-4, 0-3)
Players to watch: Heights: QB Marcel Ramirez, C Devin Barnes, DB Darius Camp; Waco: LB/DL Cory Ebron, DB Damarion Lyons, WR Jaquan Wells.
Key matchup: Harker Heights’ Ramirez’ versatility vs. Waco defense
Breakdown: Both the Lions and the Knights were hoping for better starts to their seasons, but both teams can start to turn it around with Friday’s matchup.
Harker Heights is coming off a 37-13 loss to Ellison which is an improvement of sorts from other losses. They have struggled with their scoring, averaging just over 10 points per game, while giving up a little more than 22 points per game. Still, the Knights are showing improvements as they’ve held Killeen to 21 points and Ellison to 37.
The team plans to continue to work on continuity and consistency for four full quarters.
Waco High has also struggled. After their season-opening win against crosstown rival University, the Lions have been held to 44 points over their last four games. Waco is building on a new system implemented by their new head coach Kwame Cavil, and the Lions are still adapting to a step up in classification. Still, the Lions do have playoff experience from last year and have confidence that the team can still right the ship. This game is one that Waco hopes to use to see the program show it is moving in the right direction.
Valley Mills (3-2, 0-0) at Crawford (2-3, 0-0)
Players to watch: Valley Mills: QB/DB Chase Keeton, WR/DLJayson Jones, OL/LB Dalton Martin; Crawford: RB/DB Casen Ewing, RB/DB Karson Green, OL/DL Clay Walters
Key matchup: Crawford’s passing game vs. Valley Mills defensive backs
Breakdown: Sitting just nine miles apart, Crawford and Valley Mills have developed a long-time rivalry. The Pirates have the more storied history, but Friday’s game has its own intensity. It’s a district opener for both teams after a bye week.
The Eagles are on three-game winning streak, their most recent win coming against Meridian, 51-13. According to Crawford head coach Delbert Kelm, the Eagles are one of the most improved teams in the district. “They’re playing real hard and with confidence,” he said. “They have a lot of explosiveness.”
As for the Pirates, Coach Kelm said his team used the open week to work on the things they needed to do as a team, as well as take on the task of preparing to play Valley Mills. He believes Crawford will find success if they can play more consistent football.
Week 7: Trib staff high school football picks
|Copperas Cove at Midway||Midway||Midway||Midway|
|Harker Heights at Waco High||Waco High||Waco High||Waco High|
|DISTRICT 5-5A DIV. II|
|University at Arlington Seguin||University||University||University|
|DISTRICT 8-4A DIV. I|
|China Spring at Stephenville (7 p.m.)||Stephenville||China Spring||Stephenville|
|Brownwood at Gatesville (7 p.m.)||Brownwood||Brownwood||Brownwood|
|DISTRICT 4-4A DIV. II|
|Glen Rose at Hillsboro||Glen Rose||Glen Rose||Glen Rose|
|DISTRICT 8-4A DIV. II|
|Robinson at Lorena||Lorena||Lorena||Lorena|
|Connally at Madisonville||Connally||Madisonville||Connally|
|Fairfield at Mexia||Fairfield||Fairfield||Fairfield|
|Teague at Groesbeck||Groesbeck||Groesbeck||Groesbeck|
|DISTRICT 9-3A DIV. I|
|West at McGregor||West||West||West|
|Maypearl at Whitney||Whitney||Whitney||Whitney|
|DISTRICT 10-3A DIV. I|
|Jarrell at Cameron Yoe||Yoe||Yoe||Yoe|
|Academy at Troy||Troy||Troy||Troy|
|DISTRICT 8-3A DIV. II|
|Clifton at Hamilton||Clifton||Clifton||Clifton|
|DISTRICT 7-2A DIV. I|
|Valley Mills at Crawford||Crawford||Valley Mills||Crawford|
|DISTRICT 8-2A DIV. I|
|Riesel at Bosqueville||Bosqueville||Bosqueville||Bosqueville|
|Itasca at Axtell||Axtell||Axtell||Axtell|
|DISTRICT 13-2A DIV. I|
|Marlin at Holland||Holland||Holland||Holland|
|DISTRICT 11-2A DIV. II|
|Mart at Meridian||Mart||Mart||Mart|
|Hubbard at Dawson||Hubbard||Hubbbard||Hubbard|
|Wortham at Frost||Frost||Frost||Frost|
|DISTRICT 13-2A DIV. II|
|Bartlett at Bremond (7 p.m.)||Bremond||Bremond||Bremond|
|Reicher at San Marcos Academy||Reicher||Reicher||Reicher|
|DISTRICT 10-1A DIV. I|
|Covington at Abbott||Abbott||Abbott||Abbott|
|Aquilla at Blum||Blum||Blum||Blum|
|TAPPS 6-MAN DISTRICT 2 DIV. I|
|Austin Hill Country at Vanguard||Vanguard||Vanguard||Vanguard|
|Irving The Highlands at Texas Wind||Wind||Wind||Wind|
|Penelope at Kopperl||Kopperl||Penelope||Penelope|
|Jonesboro at Iredell (7 p.m.)||Iredell||Iredell||Iredell|
|Cranfills Gap at Oglesby||Gap||Gap||Gap|
|Bynum at Lometa||Bynum||Lometa||Lometa|
|Walnut Springs at Mount Calm (7 p.m.)||WS||WS||WS|
|Season to date||158-84||141-101||167-75|