In working on playoff preview capsules for the newspaper, I get to spend 10-15 minutes with every area coach discussing the opposition and keys to the game.
While this is mostly good, it can also be a little bad. The good: I get sound insight and find out some strategies and opponent weaknesses.
The only downside is that every coach thinks they are going to win, which they absolutely should. No problem with that. Only sometimes I can get persuaded about how “good” an area team’s chances can be when in reality they aren’t as strong.
So when I make these predictions, I have to balance all the insight and maybe exclude some of the optimism, no matter how well-intended it is.
Having said that, I think of our four 3A/2A schools left – Graham, Vernon, Nocona and Jacksboro – all could win or lose. Nothing there would surprise me either way.
However it plays out, we should have more competitive games this week. Have a good Thanksgiving, and I hope these predictions can get you through the turkey until the football playoffs return on Friday:
FW Southwest at Rider – Southwest has a WR in Robbie Rhodes who is a Baylor commit and could cause the Raiders a little trouble.
And while this is a game Rider can lose if it doesn’t play well, I just don’t see the Raiders falling at home. I think Rider will be able to run the ball on Southwest, which like Rider has had some injuries at quarterback.
This Rider team has done a terrific job of overcoming adversity all year and I don’t think its season will end on Friday at Memorial. Rider by 10-14.
Graham vs. Glen Rose – If you look at a bunch of regional/state publications, a lot of people have Glen Rose winning Region I-3A. And the Tigers just might. These teams are a combined 20-2 (with losses to Abilene Wylie and Brownwood) and one really good team is going home Friday.
Graham should get to know QB Colton Bretton, RB Cody Burtscher and WR Justin Weatherly, because those guys sound like studs. But Graham’s defense is really strong and at least it knows who it has to stop.
If you’re Glen Rose, who do you key on? Obviously Bryce Reeves and Dillon Gonzales come to mind, but the Steers have so many weapons. Hunter Jones had five catches for 84 yards and a TD last week. Hagen Hughes offers another dimension in the backfield. Ben Davis has a ton of options.
I’m not putting a lot of stock in Graham beating Brownwood more than Glen Rose did last week. But I am putting a lot of stock in the Steers, who can definitely win this game. In a little bit of an upset, Graham by 3.
Vernon vs. Gatesville – These teams have a couple things in common. First, they’re playing really well and had solid bi-district wins. Second, it’s a little bit of a surprise they are here.
Last year, they went a combined 6-14. Now they are 20-2. Both play a lot of seniors. Neither team has one of those D-I studs, but both have lots of weapons.
This is a game Vernon can win – and I was dead wrong picking against them last week. But I think Gatesville will make it tougher for the Lions to run the ball and squeeze out a victory.
Nocona vs. Edgewood – Edgewood scored 75 points last week, and all of those were on offensive touchdowns. The Nocona coaches were scouting the game and know what they are up against – a fast East Texas team that can make plays.
But I think the Indians’ defense will be up to the task. They are one of the most physical defenses I’ve seen this year. Nocona isn’t slow by any means, and I think it’ll be able to disrupt some of Edgewood’s timing.
I think Nocona will be able to move the ball well enough with Tate Fenoglio and Hayden Hill to score some points. If the Indians hit a couple big pass plays, then all the better.
Edgewood is capable of some big plays. If it gets only 2-3 40+ yard gains, Nocona will win. More than that, and I think Edgewood comes out on top. But I’ll pick the Indians in a potential high-scoring game.
Jacksboro vs. Clarksville – While any playoff win is a good win, it sounded like Jacksboro didn’t play its best game last week versus Blooming Grove.
That will have to change this week. Clarksville, which won the Class A hoops title last year and beat Munday in the 4×100 relay at state, has an abundance of speed and a 6-6 receiver who can cause some problems.
After a 1-3 start, Clarksville has won six in a row and has been in a lot of close games. Jacksboro is going to try to be real physical with them, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see more running than usual from the Tigers.
Again, I think Jacksboro will have chances to win this one. But I’ll trust my gut and choose Clarksville.
Quanah vs. Sundown – Now we’re down to the Class A games, which I don’t believe will be as competitive. Although if there’s one that could be, it’s this one.
The Indians lost by 43 points to Sundown a year ago, but they are a lot different now with a tougher run defense and Craig Miles in the backfield. And Sundown’s stud power RB is gone, too.
I can see Quanah striking early and putting Sundown, a team that only throws the ball six times a game, in a spot it doesn’t like being in. If the Indians don’t play well, they could lose, but I think they’ll get the job done.
Seymour vs. Panhandle – Seymour may be a little rusty in this one, but I don’t think that will matter. Panhandle is allowing 28 points per game on defense and Seymour should have some success moving the ball, whether it’s John Mitchelle running or Zach Barton hitting Cody Adams for big plays.
And Seymour’s defense is pretty good. Panhandle throws a bunch, but the Panthers are strong in the secondary. A couple picks wouldn’t surprise me at all. Seymour by 14.
Munday vs. Wink – Not too much to write here. Munday will win this one by as many as they want. Anything less than 40 will be real surprising. Wake me up in two weeks when the Moguls face Albany or Muenster – and even then, those games shouldn’t be close. Just more competitive.