Belton (7-2, 6-1) at Midway (7-1, 7-0)

Players to watch: Belton: QB Ruben Jimenez, WR Anthony Brown; Midway: QB Nick Jimenez, RB James Fullbright III

Key matchup: Belton offense vs. Midway defense

Breakdown: The Belton offense is averaging 52 points per game in district play. The Tigers have scored 86 and 63 points their last two games. Meanwhile, Midway is giving up only 18 points per game in league play. A week ago, the Panthers held the high flying Temple offense to only seven points in the second half.

It will be the battle of the Jimenez quarterbacks as Ruben makes his second start of the year for Belton, and Nick looks to continue his confident play. Last week, Ruben Jimenez made his first start for the injured Connor Carothers. Also, Belton receiver Anthony Brown became the all-team leader in school history with 20 career touchdowns.

Midway, with its win over Temple a week ago, clinched at least a share of the district title. Belton, with a win on Friday, could also clinch a share of the district championship. It would be the Tigers first title since 2009 and their first win over Midway in the last six years.

China Spring (4-5, 0-3) at Brownwood (4-4, 1-2)

Players to watch: China Spring: RB Erik Hart, DB Payton Spell; Brownwood: QB Tommy Bowden, AJ McCarty

Key matchup: China Spring defensive front vs. Tommy Bowden

Breakdown: If the Cougars want a chance at a playoff bid, they must win Friday night at Brownwood. That would force the points cap to be involved, if Gatesville loses , as those three teams would be tied with a 1-3 record in district play.

For China Spring to take care of business, the defense must contain a true dual-threat quarterback in Brownwood’s Tommy Bowden. The senior has completed 55.7 percent of his passes for 1,776 yards and 10 touchdowns. He’s also ran the ball for 741 yards and 14 scores.

Brownwood isn’t the only team in this matchup with a few threats, though. The Lions will have to figure out how to contain China Spring’s Erik Hart who has put together a splendid senior season with what he’s able to do as a running back.

La Vega (7-2, 3-0) at Gatesville (3-6, 1-2)

Players to watch: La Vega: RB Jar’Quae Walson, LB Jared Rogers; Gatesville; ATH Zach Mueller, Def Braden Luensmann

Key matchup: La Vega run game vs. Gatesville defense

Breakdown: Jar’Quae Walton lost his mind a week ago for La Vega. The Pirate running back finished with five touchdowns as La Vega locked up the District 5-4A Div. I title.

The scary thing about this La Vega offense, though, is that Walton — who has 1,094 yards and 10 scores on the season — isn’t the only threat. The Pirates have guys like Elisha Cummings (671 yards, 10 touchdowns), Ara Rauls (459 yards, six touchdowns) and Josh Hamilton (378 yards, five touchdowns).

While La Vega has a lock on first place, Gatesville currently has the final playoff spot for the five-team district. The Hornets enter their home finale coming off a 31-3 loss against Stephenville a week ago.

Lorena (8-1, 4-1) at Mexia (2-7, 0-5)

Players to watch: Lorena: QB Bradey Lina, ATH Ty Moore, Mexia: QB Jaden Proctor, WR Joshua Beachum

Key matchup: Lorena pass game vs. Mexia secondary

Breakdown: Since Lorena began preseason practice, the Leopards have broken every huddle to “DC” for district champs. A win on Friday night against Mexia would make that statement a goal hoped for a goal achieved.

While a win would bring more hardware for the Leopards, it would also keep them out of the mess of what could be with a district that has been so back and forth all season. For example, the team that was in fifth place last week is now second and tied with two others.

Lorena has the pieces to finish out atop the district with a balanced offensive attack led by quarterback Bradley Lina. And then on the defensive end, there’s no one area for opposing offenses to avoid. They’ve got to consider where Daylon Bartosh is, and Greg Martinez and Zane Grimm and Cade Michna and Ty Moore and so on.

Killeen (4-5, 3-4) at Waco High (1-8, 0-7)

Players to watch: Killeen: QB James Terry, RB Kadarius Marshall, WR Djhavon Dormeus; Waco High: RB Randy Carpenter, SS Rodney Ratliff, DE Cory Ebron

Key matchup: Killeen RB Kadarius Marshall vs. Waco High defensive line

Breakdown: Waco High would like to bookend its season with a win after dropping eight straight games following its season-opening 29-22 win over University.

The Lions have had difficulty sticking with opposing teams on both sides of the ball in District 12-6A play as they haven’t scored more than two touchdowns in any of their seven league games while allowing more than 50 points four times.

Killeen can even its record with a win after losing the last three games to Temple, Belton and Killeen Ellison.

Kangaroos quarterback James Terry has enjoyed a solid season by completing 57.1 percent of his passes for 1,305 yards and 11 touchdowns with just two interceptions. But the key for the Lions will be containing Kadarius Marshall, who has delivered a tremendous season by rushing for 1,237 yards and 11 scores.

Robinson (5-4, 3-2) at Connally (6-3, 3-2)

Players to watch: Robinson QB Jordan Rogers, WR Noah Richard, FS Easton Slovacek; Connally RB Jay’Veon Sunday, LB De’Aaron Henley, DB Kavian Gaither

Key matchup: Connally pass rush vs. Robinson QB Jordan Rogers

Breakdown: Robinson has already sealed its playoff fate, and is safely in the postseason, while Connally can advance either with a win over the Rockets or a Salado loss to Fairfield.

Naturally, both coaches would love to close their run through the district in victory, but they also know it won’t be easy.

“We’ve got to contain their quarterback, the (Jordan) Rogers kid, he’s very good, probably the best dual-threat guy we’ve seen along with the kid from Glen Rose,” Connally coach Shane Anderson said.

Meanwhile, Robinson coach Tommy Allison said that limiting the Cadets’ big plays — especially those by the area’s leading rusher, Jay’Veon Sunday (1,821 yards, 27 TDs) — will be key.

“He’s a really good player, but they’ve got a lot of weapons who can take it to the house,” Allison said. “For us, we’ve just got to do a better job of playing ahead of the chains, getting some positive plays on first and second down.”

After the grind of 8-4A play, both the Rockets and Cadets should be battle-tested for the postseason.

“Man, you’d better come ready to play in this district,” Allison said. “Three really good teams are going to sit at home, but that’s Texas high school football, and especially football in Central Texas.”

Groesbeck (6-3, 2-3) at Whitney (5-4, 3-2)

Players to watch: Groesbeck QB Ty Hale, RB/RS Ameer Lee, LB Jessie Salinas; Whitney QB Devin Wilson, WR Kolby Tanner, LB Juan Saucedo

Key matchup: Whitney kick coverage vs. Groesbeck RS Ameer Lee

Breakdown: The playoffs will start a week early for these two 9-3A rivals — and then they’ll end just as abruptly for one.

This is essentially a play-in game, as the winner will claim the fourth and final playoff spot from the district. So, as regular-season finales go, they don’t get much bigger.

The Goats went undefeated through nondistrict play, but have had an up-and-down run through district. However, they’re coming off a 55-point outing last week against McGregor, and feature one of the district’s most dynamic players in RB/RS Ameer Lee (2,018 all-purpose yards, 19 TDs), who is a threat to take it to the house whenever he touches the ball.

The Wildcats are no less explosive, and they own the area’s top pass catcher in Kolby Tanner, who leads Central Texas with 1,132 yards and 13 touchdowns. Whitney will be looking for its first win since Week 8, as it has dropped back-to-back games to Teague and Grandview.

Teague (5-4, 4-1) at West (6-3, 4-1)

Players to watch: Teague QB Zack Satterwhite, WR Dayveon Dixon; West RB/LB Preston Johnson, West LB Toby Cook

Key matchup: West defensive secondary vs. Teague receivers

Breakdown: Teague, West and Grandview all enter Week 11 with identical 4-1 district records, so the winner of this game will earn no less than a share of a district championship. And if it’s West, the Trojans will also wrap up the No. 1 seed, as they have the tiebreaker over Grandview, with a 42-41 overtime win earlier in the year.

“That’s been our goal since Day One when we first reported, to compete for a district championship,” West coach David Woodard said. “To come into the last week and have a chance for it, the kids are excited.”

Woodard expects Teague to be tough to beat, as he said the Lions are “playing well, with a lot of confidence right now.”

If there’s a trend in 9-3A, it’s this: The teams are evenly matched, they have the ability to score a lot of points, and plenty of games come right down to the wire.

“We’ve been tested, we’ve had to fight through injuries, we’ve won in overtime,” Woodard said. “Our guys know what it takes Monday through Thursday to come out on top in those situations, and hopefully that experience will pay off.”

Bosqueville (6-3, 5-0) at Axtell (6-3, 3-2)

Players to watch: Bosqueville S Tanner Sepulveda, LB Jacob Bravo, QB Tyler Webb; Axtell QB/S Hayden Sheffield, FB/LB Denton Sharp

Key matchup: Axtell ball-control offense vs. Bosqueville third-down defense

Breakdown: With last year’s Super Centex Newcomer of the Year at quarterback (Tyler Webb) and one of the fastest home-run threats (Marcell Estell) back this season, everyone figured the Bulldogs would be able to score.

But they’ve been some junkyard dogs defensively, too.

“We’ve been executing well defensively, and that’s been the key to our last five victories,” said Bosqueville coach Clint Zander. “We hoped we’d be good on that side of the ball this year, we changed to a 3-4, and it took us some time both as coaches and players, but I think we’ve adjusted.”

Bosqueville already has the district title wrapped up, while Axtell, in its second season under Eric Blenden, has clinched a postseason spot for the first time since 2015.

“Axtell is playing well, with a lot of confidence. They’re in the playoffs for the first time in a few years, so that’s something to hang their hat on,” Zander said. “Offensively, we know they like to spread you out, defensively they like to pack the box, so that’s what we’ve been working on this week.”

Abbott (4-4, 1-2) at Aquilla (4-5, 2-1)

Players to watch: Abbott: RB/DB Isaac Terrazas; QB/DB Paxton Miller; Aquilla: QB Connor McCurdy, RB/DB Mason Collins

Key matchup: Abbott offense vs. Aquilla defense

Breakdown: As the season nears its end, each game becomes more critical for six-man, since only two teams advance to the playoffs. Both the Panthers and the Cougars are in the hunt for a spot. Blum has wrapped up the district at 4-0, so the battle for the last spot is between Abbott, Aquilla and Gholson. Aquilla has the edge, having defeated Gholson and Covington. Abbott has to beat Aquilla to keep its hopes alive.

Abbott enters the game with solid wins in district, handing Gholson only their second loss of the season. The Panthers will seek to control the clock and the ball, while looking to create turnovers and slow Aquilla down.

Aquilla will rely on their defense to slow the Panthers down, while looking to score quickly and often. The Cougars hope the hometown support will act as a bonus in deciding the outcome of the game.

Vanguard (7-1, 4-0) at Austin Veritas (7-2, 4-0)

Players to watch: Vanguard: QB Luke Wilson, ATH Carter Klepper; Veritas: QB JD Carter, LB Ben Hallum

Key matchup: Vanguard QB Wilson vs. Veritas DBs

Breakdown: It’s not uncommon for teams to run up a lot of points in six-man football. It’s another thing for a team to keep their opponents out of the end zone. Since the month of October, both the Vikings and the Defenders have been adept at scoring and clamping down on the other team’s points. Over the last four games, Vanguard has scored an average of 39.5 points, while limiting the other teams to 11 points/game. Veritas has averaged 29 points/game and holding opponents to 12 points/game.

Vanguard has had strong showing over the season, the sole loss to Giddings State (7-1), a team that has only lost to undefeated Bulverde Bracken Christian. Even in the loss, the Vikings scored 42 points.

Veritas also comes into the game with a strong showing throughout the season. The team has demonstrated the ability to score at will and hold opponents down.

The battle for the district crown will come down to which team’s defense can step up to the challenge. Both have proven they have the defense, but both are facing the best their district has to offer.

Week 11: Trib staff high school football picks

Belton at Midway Midway Midway Midway
Killeen at Waco High Killeen Killeen Killeen
Temple at Copperas Cove Temple Temple Temple
University at Midlothian Midlothian Midlothian Midlothian
La Vega at Gatesville (7 p.m.) La Vega La Vega La Vega
China Spring at Brownwood (7 p.m.) Brownwood Brownwood Brownwood
Hillsboro at Godley Hillsboro Hillsboro Hillsboro
Robinson at Connally Connally Connally Connally
Lorena at Mexia Lorena Lorena Lorena
Salado at Fairfield Fairfield Fairfield Fairfield
Groesbeck at Whitney Whitney Groesbeck Whitney
Teague at West West West Teague
Lago Vista at Cameron Yoe Yoe Yoe Yoe
Rogers at Clifton Clifton Clifton Clifton
Hamilton at Florence Hamilton Hamilton Hamilton
Crawford at Hico Crawford Hico Crawford
Valley Mills at Goldthwaite V. Mills V. Mills V. Mills
Bosqueville at Axtell Bosqueville Bosqueville Bosqueville
Moody at Itasca Moody Itasca Itasca
Riesel at Italy Riesel Riesel Riesel
Marlin at Thorndale Thorndale Thorndale Thorndale
Rosebud-Lott at Hearne Hearne R-Lott Hearne
Frost at Mart Mart Mart Mart
Hubbard at Meridian Hubbard Meridian Hubbard
Dawson at Wortham Dawson Dawson Dawson
Chilton at Granger (7 p.m.) Chilton Chilton Granger
Boerne Geneva at Reicher Reicher Reicher Geneva
Texas Wind at SA Brooks Acad. (7 p.m.) Wind Wind Wind
Abbott at Aquilla Aquilla Aquilla Aquilla
Gholson at Covington Gholson Gholson Gholson
Coolidge at Penelope Coolidge Penelope Coolidge
Jonesboro at Evant Evant Evant Jonesboro
Cranfills Gap at Walnut Spr. (7 p.m.) Gap Gap Gap
Morgan at Kopperl Kopperl Kopperl Kopperl
Mount Calm at Bynum Mt. Calm Bynum Bynum
Oglesby at Buckholts Buckholts Oglesby Buckholts
Vanguard at Austin Veritas Vanguard Vanguard Veritas
Kerrville Our Lady of Hills at Live Oak Live Oak Live Oak Live Oak
Haslet Legacy Classical at Parkview Parkview Parkview Parkview
Last week 32-10 31-11 37-5
Season to date 276-113 253-136 292-97

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