Week Zero predictions

I’ll be honest. I’ve never had as bad a week picking high school football games for the TRN as I did in Week 0 last year.

I picked what ended up being a 1-9 Whitewright team to beat 12-1 Nocona. Van Alstyne, which only won once, was chosen by me over Holliday.

There were others that in hindsight you look back and wonder, “What was I thinking?” But that’s the deal. When picking the season’s first week of games (especially when it involves a new realignment and schools you’re not very familiar with), it can be a total crapshoot.

The good news is that football season is finally here! It doesn’t seem that long ago I was covering Munday’s third state championship run.

Tonight, you can venture to Memorial Stadium for Danny Russell’s debut as WFHS coach. Or you can check out Iowa Park as it plays Pampa in Holliday. There’s also some area 6-man games going on, although none that are close to here.

As I will every Thursday, here are my weekly picks. Let’s hope they go better than last year’s opening week:

Granbury at WFHS – Expect a lot more running from WFHS tonight. Old High won this game a year ago, and Granbury ended up with seven victories. I’m choosing the Pirates, who have a pretty good QB in Ryan Suitt. Should be a close one.

Pampa vs. Iowa Park – The Hawks lost their last nine games a year ago, but they managed to beat Pampa 37-10 in the 2012 opener. Iowa Park will be better this year so there’s no way I expect tonight to be a loss.

Abilene Cooper at Rider – Probably the most exciting game of the week. First team to 40 points wins, which is what a defensive-minded guy like Jim Garfield won’t want to hear. The Raiders are going to be really good offensively, but I think Cooper, led by UT commit Lorenzo Joe, will be able to match them in touchdowns, too. If Rider can fix some of its defensive breakdowns against Denison, then I can definitely see a Raider win. I just think the Cougars will have some big plays of their own and take a shootout.

Hirschi at Bowie – Hirschi’s four wins in the Cody Slater era: 5-5 Ponder (2A), 2-8 Vernon, 2-8 Carrolton Ranchview and 1-9 Iowa Park. So what I’m saying is the Huskies need a momentum-building victory against a potential playoff-bound squad. And while I expect Bowie to move the ball Friday, I keep thinking this is the year the Huskies put it all together with a lot of experienced seniors. Hirschi in a close one.

Munday at Windthorst – I’m pretty sure I’ve never picked a team that lost by 61 points the year before to win the next year. I still hold the Moguls in high regard. They have a great coaching staff, one of the few D-I players in Class A and some kids who got lots of mop-up duty last year. The reason I’m picking Windthorst is because I liked how the Trojans finished in close losses to Quanah and Anson in 2012. Should be a low-scoring, hard-hitting game.

Burkburnett at Gainesville – The Leopards return a lot of players off last year’s 12-1 team. So does Burkburnett – and I expect the Bulldogs to be improved – but not enough to make this competitive for four quarters.

Graham at Mineral Wells – This game has been close in a few recent years, but last year the Steers crushed the Rams, 53-7. Expect another Graham rout, the first of many for the Steers.

Vernon at Altus – My Oklahoma HS football knowledge lacks, but I do know the Lions won by 39 points last year and that Altus wouldn’t even be able to start its season yet (Oklahoma is a week behind) if not for a waiver. I like Vernon to win big.

Olney at City View – This is a battle of teams that both switched from the wishbone to the spread this year. I like the Mustangs, who have the big-play threats of D.J. Coursey and Dalton Jackson to score a lot of points.

Holliday at Van Alstyne – It’s hard to peg both teams. I’m not sure what to expect from the Eagles this season, but Van Alstyne is coming off a 1-9 season 2012, which was a surprise since it had lots of success in 3A the year before. Let’s go with Holliday, which won last year’s meeting 38-7.

Callisburg at Henrietta – This game intrigues me because I believe the Bearcats will be better and Callisburg, which won nine games a year ago, won’t be quite as tough. This could be a very, very big confidence booster for Henrietta, but I’m going to choose the Wildcats.

Jacksboro at Jim Ned – It’s a battle of former Graham assistants (Brian Hodnett vs. Jeff Williamson). There’s a good chance their former boss – ex-Graham coach Brad McCoy – will be there. And an even better chance the Tigers roll to a solid opening victory.

Whitewright at Nocona – The Indians lost a bunch of guys, but it’s hard to pick Whitewright after it struggled so much, has a new coach and returns even less experience than Nocona. Indians get the win.

Archer City at Haskell – Maybe my upset pick this week? Archer City is going to be better this year and Haskell (3-7 a year ago) isn’t a powerhouse. My gut says the Wildcats, although my gut has been wrong before.

Memphis at Seymour – I previewed Memphis, led by former Vernon coach Andy Correll, for The Old Coach’s magazine in the spring and I expect the Cyclones to be a lot better after 2-8 a year ago. Just not good enough to beat the Panthers, who are always tough at home.

Quanah at Wheeler – The Indians have a bunch of tough teams on their schedule. Wheeler isn’t quite in that category. I like Quanah comfortably.

Electra at Gorman – Tigers won by 39 points last year and I think Michael Bishop and company look good again in this opener.