This has been one of those years where I haven’t been as sharp picking games as I have in the past.
What’s the cause for this slippage? I might be in my 30s now, but I was last year and didn’t struggle. I’m talking to as many coaches as I usually too – that always gives me a little inside information that will help.
I’m not trusting my gut sometimes – I picked Quanah to win the past two weeks even though I knew they were playing two tough 2A schools. So maybe I need to do some more gut-trusting.
But I think the biggest reason is because we have a lot of area teams that are pretty good to average. They aren’t really great, nor are they really bad.
Last year, we had a few schools that were really good (remember, three teams advanced to the state semis) and a couple that weren’t very competitive at all.
We still have Graham and Rider in that elite category, but I don’t think anyone else is there – at least yet. And really, no one is a sure bet to get manhandled every night.
At this stage last year, Burkburnett, Hirschi, Archer City and Olney were still looking for its first wins. And not many of their games were even close.
This year, Olney is the only area 11-man winless team. And the Cubs have made some improvements.
So because of this, it’s tougher to pick games. Last year I felt like Nocona was a guarantee win almost every Friday. Now, I don’t know what to expect most Fridays. I just have a hard time getting a feel for some teams who are probably more consistent.
That makes upcoming district races a lot more fun, but it also makes me a wrong more often than I’m used to being. So with that disclaimer, here are this week’s picks:
Rider at Byron Nelson – I like the Raiders here in a game that I believe will determine second and third in 5-4A. The reasons are Rider finally has LBs Bradley Goldstein and Caleb Lovell back and I feel like the Raiders will benefit from playing a tougher non-district schedule than Nelson did. Rider by 7.
WFHS at Brewer – This is a game the Coyotes can win. In fact, it won’t surprise me if they do. But I’m going to play it safe and pick Brewer, which is 3-0 but didn’t play much of a non-district schedule.
Krum at Hirschi – I like the Huskies to win this one comfortably. This isn’t the same Krum team that went 9-2 last year in 9-3A, nor is it the same Huskies. Hirschi bounces back and wins by about 20, maybe more.
Mineral Wells at Burkburnett – This isn’t a game I have to spend a lot of time debating. 5-3A teams have beaten the Rams by an average of 57-7. So the Bulldogs should coast in this one.
Iowa Park at Decatur – What I’m anxious to see the most out of this game is how Iowa Park’s defense fares against the best offense it has faced to date (Gainesville was tough too, but didn’t have its best running back). The Eagles are averaging 34 points and about 425 yards per game. I think Iowa Park hangs tough, but comes up short just like Burkburnett and Hirschi did before them.
Graham at Springtown – I don’t think Graham will have much trouble with Springtown, although it won’t be as easy as previous contests like Brownwood and Breckenridge. The Porcupines have lost to Decatur and Gainesville, so I’d expect a Steers’ victory by at least 20.
Vernon at Pampa – I saw Pampa play Iowa Park in the season opener and wasn’t all too impressed. I can’t see the Lions having trouble here.
Bowie at Boyd – I’m going with Bowie in what I think is a must-win opener. It should be a really close game. My two reasons are 1) Bowie’s QB Garland McCoy has thrown zero INTS; Boyd’s combo has thrown six; 2) Bowie goes in having won a couple games. Boyd had a tough schedule and maybe Bowie would be 0-4 if it played that schedule, but in a close game when a play needs to be made, I’ll side with the team who knows what winning feels like.
Holliday at Munday – If the Moguls have L.J. Collier playing on offense, then they’ll have a chance. But I expect the Eagles to bounce back in the win column and head into district on a bright note.
Henrietta at S&S Consolidated – It turns out S&S Consolidated is actually pretty good this year. After a 3-17 record in past two season, the Rams (I’ll admit, I had to look up their mascot) are 4-0 right now. I’ll hesitantly pick them to beat the Bearcats at home, but Henrietta very well could win this game.
Jacksboro at Lindsay – In case you missed it, the Tigers didn’t play well at all in an 0-2 start, then blew out Olney before a bye last week. So this is Jacksboro’s first true test since a 60-0 loss to Eastland. And I’m betting the Tigers find a way to look pretty good against a Lindsay team that is still winless (although against a good schedule).
Valley View at Nocona – This is another toss-up in my book. Nocona lost pretty good last week to Ponder, which surprised me a bit. And the Eagles’ three losses are to unbeaten Callisburg, Muenster and S&S. I’ll pick Valley View, which lost to Muenster closer than Nocona did, but an Indian win would be a big momentum boost heading into the bye.
Windthorst at Petrolia – That’s an impressive 3-0 start by the Pirates, who edged Archer City last week. I still don’t think the Trojans are as bad as they’ve been playing lately. I haven’t been listening to my gut lately, and my gut says go with Windthorst. We’ll see if that works out.
Archer City at Electra – The Wildcats are improved from 2012 but just haven’t been scoring enough points (26) during their three-game losing streak. The Tigers look to be improved as well and Michael Bishop has been simply superb lately with about 650 rushing yards the past two weeks. I’ll pick the more explosive Tigers in this one.
Olney at Haskell – The Cubs, whose losing streak has reached 15 games, are going to win one of these days and I’m going out on a limb that it happens this week. Haskell was the opponent during the last Olney win. If it doesn’t happen this week though, it might be a while.
Quanah at Childress – Childress is better than it was last year and Quanah is having some growing pains breaking in a bunch of new faces on the defensive side. I’m betting the Bobcats, whose losses are to unbeatens Wellington and Vernon, win this by double digits.
Hawley at Seymour – This is a game I know the Panthers feel like they shouldn’t have lost last year when a torrential downpour came. It would be tempting for Seymour to look ahead to its matchup with No. 1 Stamford next week, but I think that what happened in 2012 will keep that from happening. The Panthers by at least a couple scores.