For the rest of our area districts, the games start mattering this week. And in my opinion, there are three games that have the potential to decide favorites to win district titles on Friday.
It’s an abnormally jacked schedule. Even in 5-4A, which is two weeks in, the Lake Dallas-Rider game is a matchup of potential playoff teams. And WFHS-Denton is a must-win for both if they want the playoffs to become a reality.
I mentioned the word “potential” up above because three weeks from now when more has been decided, a couple of these showdowns could be looked back on as clunkers.
But right now I’d say there’s a pretty good chance Vernon and Graham ends up being the best two teams in 5-3A (Don’t worry Hirschi fans, I think you’re close to the top, too).
I think Muenster and Electra are the two most talented teams in 8-A II. Now the Tigers are going to have to stay healthy enough to finish in the top two.
And I could be off-base here, but I think City View and Jacksboro are two likely contenders for the 5-2A II title. I have no clue how that district will play out, but I’d be surprised if those teams weren’t in the top four at the end.
So this is an exciting week.Here are my picks:
Lake Dallas at Rider – Last week must have felt weird for Rider. No sweating out a frantic fourth quarter. Backups getting lots of playing time in the second half. Well, the Raiders will get back to what feels normal (a competitive game) against a team that I think will finish fourth in 5-4A. A win of about 14-20 points sounds right for the Raiders.
WFHS at Denton – This will be another close game for the Coyotes, like Azle was last week. But Old High has already proven it can win those kind of games and also has proven it can win on the road in district. I believe the Coyotes have the better defense and squeak out another quality win to go to 3-0.
Hirschi at Burkburnett – I discovered yesterday that Burkburnett and Hirschi are our area’s third and fourth-best rushing teams (behind Electra and Vernon). It’s not too surprising, but that’s a nice accomplishment for the Huskies, who also throw the ball a lot, too. More so than any of the other three teams mentioned. I think this will be close (closer than the other 5-3A contest), but I like Hirschi pulling it out. Overall, I think they have a little more talent.
Graham at Vernon – I think the Lions are going to have to play a perfect game this time to win. Last year’s battle had three fourth-quarter lead changes, but the Steers pulled away thanks to a couple Jerrod Mahan INTS for touchdowns. Graham’s offense is averaging more than 500 yards per game and I feel like unless Vernon forces some turnovers or plays keepaway really well, the Steers will take this game by double digits. They are just too dangerous on offense.
Bowie at Paradise – The Jackrabbits’ game against Ponder was closer than I expected, but Ponder has been playing better than Paradise. I like the Jackrabbits to win comfortably.
Holliday at Henrietta – Did you know that these two teams have the area’s two lowest offensive total yardage totals? This rivalry game is usually close when the teams’ talent is similar, which I think you could make the case it is. It’s a chance for the Bearcats to get district started off on the right foot after an 0-5 record in 5-2A last year. In this matchup of 2-3 teams, I’ll go with Holliday by 10.
City View at Jacksboro – How can I pick against a team that scored 70 last week? Well, the Mustangs did give up 41 points to a two-win Class A team. City View has the better offense and I think Jacksboro has the better defense. If I had to bet, I think this is pretty high-scoring. Not quite like it was in 2010 (49-42), but still lots of points. And in a shootout, go with the team that has the best big-play threat. That’s D.J. Coursey so Mustangs are the pick.
Nocona at Alvord – I’ll be honest. I have written some about both schools but haven’t seen them play. Two of the best running backs in district – Nocona’s John Jennings and Alvord’s Joe Randall – should be one of the keys to this showdown. The Indians have been passing the ball pretty well, too. But my gut tells me to go with the home team.
Archer City at Windthorst – This game gets me a lot more excited than the rivals’ combined 3-9 record should, which is fine because I think the loser will have a tough time making the playoffs. When I looked at the Wildcats’ body of work this week, I realized they hadn’t lost to anyone with a losing record (City View, Nocona, Petrolia, Electra, Jacksboro). Their 20-14 loss to Jacksboro last week was particularly encouraging. Granted, Windthorst beat Petrolia and Archer City lost to the Pirates, 13-12. This should be a close game and it comes down to two things – Can Archer City score enough points to win (they average 13 per game)? Can Windthorst stop turning the ball over (they’ve got to be among the area leaders)? I think the Wildcats have been more consistent this year, so I’ll take them in a nailbiter.
Seymour at Olney – The Cubs aren’t your normal 0-6 team. They’ve been scoring decently and could have a couple wins by now. But I believe Seymour should be able to score a bucket load of points in this one and win by at least three scores.
Muenster at Electra – The Tigers could really make some noise by winning this game, which would put them in the 8-A II driver’s seat. With Michael Bishop, I think it’s a given Electra gets a good amount of points. But I just have this feeling Muenster will score more against an Electra defense that is allowing 32.8 points in its last four games.
Munday at Perrin-Whitt – If basing this on records, then you’d like Perrin-Whitt. But I expect the Moguls’ tough non-district schedule to pay off. I expect L.J. Collier to be healthy enough to run the ball and Munday to earn its best win to date.
Petrolia at Era – It sounded like the Pirates are beat up and could still be missing a couple key players in this 8-A II opener. But Petrolia should still be fine and I expect them to start 1-0 in a game it must take care of business in.