Thursday Preview: Week 1
The 10 can't-miss high school football games across Texas tonight
It’s Thursday night, which means that the high school football weekend starts tonight! DCTF’s EJ Holland previews the 10 must-see games on Texas high school football’s second-biggest night of the week!
Ten Games Tonight You Can’t Miss
Keller at Midland Lee, 4:30 p.m. — Football is officially back! Get excited and more importantly, flood the stands and support your team on Friday night or in this case, Thursday afternoon. That’s right, the first game of the 2014 Texas high school football season is starting at a pretty weird time. But we don’t care, and you shouldn’t either. Midland Lee is a traditional powerhouse out West and returns star running back Aaron Dobbins, who rushed for over 1,000 yards a year ago. This is an opportunity for the Rebels to kick the season off with a bang as a strong Dallas-area team comes to town. While Keller isn’t exactly a DFW world-beater, the Indians boast a strong defense and highly touted offensive lineman Maea Teuhema.
EJ’s Pick: Midland Lee 27, Keller 24
Mart vs. Goldthwaite (at UMHB), 7:30 p.m. — How about this small-school clash to open up the year? Mart enters 2014 ranked No. 1 in 2A Division I and is led by linebacker Collin Nail, our preseason Defensive Player of the Year, and do-it-all quarterback DeNarian Thomas. But those two guys aren’t the only reason Mart is our favorite to win it all — the Panthers have one of the best coaches roaming the sideline in Rusty Nail and feature a slew of other playmakers. But we’ll see just how good Mart is when it meets No. 9 Goldthwaite. The Eagles run the old wishbone and love to pound the ball with running back Joseph Paddock.
EJ’s Pick: Mart 37, Goldthwaite 31
Manvel at Spring Westfield, 7 p.m. —A nice opening tilt in the Houston-area will showcase two very different squads. No. 11 Manvel is all about the flash. From quarterback D'Eriq King to wide receiver Gary Haynes to defensive back Deontay Anderson and more, the Mavericks are littered with FBS prospects and big-play potential. In fact, this might be the most talented Manvel team in recent memory. But will they be able to pull it all together and win a state title? Tonight's game against Spring Westfield will be a good measuring stick. The Mustangs are ranked No. 14 and are extremely physical up front with defensive lineman Ed Oliver and offensive linemen Toby Weathersby, a Texas commit, and Cordel Iwuagwu, a TCU commit.
EJ's Pick: Manvel 35, Spring Westfield 24
Bishop Lynch at Dallas Carter, 7 p.m. — Moving down a classification means we might just see the Dallas Carter of old. Remember, the Cowboys lost just one game last year — unfortunately, it was in the opening round of the postseason — and are still very respected when they hit the field. Sure, guys like Corey Avery and Jordan Ingram are off to college, but, at least according to alum Michael Crabtree, Dallas Carter always finds a way to reload. And so does Bishop Lynch. The Friars are always one of the most talented private school squads in the state. Getting back a fully healthy Rawleigh Williams, a workhorse running back who is committed to Arkansas, will only help.
EJ’s Pick: Dallas Carter 28, Bishop Lynch 27
Wichita Falls Rider at Abilene Cooper, 7:30 p.m. — A battle of ranked 5A teams out in West Texas makes our mouths water. Abilene Cooper is our No. 9 team and with good reason. The Cougars bring back an experienced defense led by linebacker Nick Russell and even though they have to replace Texas signee Lorenzo Joe, the offense should hum thanks to wide receiver Aaron Anderson and a monster offensive line. But as mentioned, we have high expectations for WF Rider as well. There will be no running up the gut against defensive tackle Brayden Burgess and defensive end Brett Wegmann and stopping 6-foot-5 wide receiver TJ Vasher will prove to be a difficult task for Cooper.
EJ’s Pick: Abilene Cooper 30, WF Rider 23
Lexington at Teague, 7:30 p.m. — Let’s get back to talking small-school football. While the buzz surrounding Mart vs. Goldthwaite is definitely deserved, don’t forget about this monster matchup. Teague, which is ranked No. 9 in 3A Division II, features the most experienced offense in the state with all 11 starters coming back. That’s right, all 11! Don’t expect the Lions to make very many mistakes tonight and also, don’t be surprised if the scoreboard is lighting up constantly. But hey, Lexington is more than a formidable opponent. Because guess what? The Eagles also bring back 11 starters on offense! Yes, the Eagles only won two games last year, but experience will help them soar in 2014. There is a reason we named Lexington a dark horse in our summer magazine.
EJ’s Pick: Teague 56, Lexington 42
Iraan at Crane, 7:30 p.m. — Sticking with small schools, this one should be a dandy. We know West Texas is fired up about this game, and the entire state should be, too. Why? Well, I’ll tell you! First of all, pride is on the line as a 2A team (Iraan) meets a 3A team (Crane). In these games, you always expect the bigger school to have the advantage. But that might not be the case. Iraan is ranked No. 6 in Division II and returns all-purpose athlete Devan Griffin and a bevvy of other playmakers from last year’s 11-1 team. Don’t get us wrong, Crane is a tough team, and we have the Cranes finishing second in 4-3A DII, but Iraan is legit.
EJ’s Pick: Iraan 38, Crane 27
Texarkana Liberty-Eylau at Gilmer, 7:30 p.m. — Gilmer is once again a powerfu,l well-oiled machine ready to mow down any team that gets in its way. The Buckeyes are dedicating this season to Desmond Pollard, a blossoming wide receiver who passed away this offseason, and the game atmosphere is sure to be electric. We ranked Gilmer No. 4 in 4A Division II, but that was before the Buckeyes landed Troup transfer quarterback Blake Lynch, a Baylor commit. Simply put, this group is scary. Liberty-Eylau is no push over, but the Leopards have a lot of moving parts. Steve Wells is in as the new head coach, stars like Davion Hall are gone and stud running back DQ Steels was lost for the season with a torn ACL.
EJ’s Pick: Gilmer 49, Liberty-Eylau 24
Clear Falls at Humble Atascocita, 7 p.m. — Ok, back to big schools. Let’s talk about only our second Houston-area game on the list. You will be hard pressed to find a better group of receivers on one field on Thursday night. Clear Falls’ John Humphrey, an Oklahoma pledge, runs his forty in the 4.3s and is unquestionably one of the fastest players in the state. UTSA commits Furquan Shorts and Tre Hamilton can fly down the field as well and will help Humble Atascocita put up a lot of points. This one has the makings of a shootout.
EJ’s Pick: Humble Atascocita 55, Clear Falls 42
Port Arthur Memorial at Beaumont Ozen, 7 p.m. — Sliding over to the rich recruiting fields in the Golden Triangle, we have a very intriguing matchup. On one side, you have a Port Arthur Memorial squad that is simply loaded and ready to live up to the preseason hype. Running backs Corey Dauphine, a Texas Tech pledge, and Kameron Martin, a Baylor commit, give the Titans a two-headed monster in the backfield while defensive back CJ Levine headlines a defense that brings back eight starters. On the other side, you have a young Beaumont Ozen squad that loses Tony Brown and is coming off a disappointing 3-7 season. The raw talent, however, is there, but will it be enough to get back on the right track?
EJ’s Pick: PA Memorial 42, Beaumont Ozen 17
West Mesquite at Arlington Seguin, 7 p.m. — Trust us, this is the year West Mesquite puts all of its talent together and makes a deep run in the playoffs. When healthy, quarterback Chason Virgil is nearly unstoppable and wide receivers Akilian Butler and Dee Anderson are some of the best pass-catchers DFW has to offer. And no one is throwing the ball on a secondary that features Josh Butler, Speedy Miles and Bailey Phillips, all FBS-bound defensive backs. Arlington Seguin, however, will attempt to run the ball with running back Darrian Hammonds and could make this a closer game than some may think.
EJ’s Pick: West Mesquite 31, Arlington Seguin 20
Complete Thursday night schedule is below.
Amarillo vs. Amarillo Palo Duro 7:30
Austin Anderson vs. Austin McCallum 7:30
Baytown Christian (at Bryan Allen) vs. Oakwood 6:30
Benjamin vs. Knox City JV 7:00
Boys Ranch vs. Amarrillo San Jacinto Christian 7:00
Brownsville Hanna vs. Edinburg Economedes 7:00
Brownsville Lopez vs. La Joya Palmview 7:00
Carrollton Turner vs. Dallas Molina 7:00
College Station vs. Rosenburg Terry 7:00
Conroe vs. Aldine Nimitz 7:00
Corpus Christi Carroll vs. Corpus Christi Miller 7:00
Cypress Springs vs. Katy Mayde Creek 7:00
Dallas Bishop Lynch vs. Dallas Carter 7:00
Dallas Conrad vs. FW Carter-Riverside 7:00
Dallas Lakehill Prep vs. Carrollton Christian Academy 7:30
Dallas Roosevelt vs. Dallas Adams 7:00
Dallas Samuell vs. Fort Worth Polytechnic 7:00
Denive vs. San Antonio Harlandale 7:00
Deweyville (at Beaumont) vs. East Chambers 7:30
El Paso Eastlake vs. El Paso El Dorado 7:30
El Paso Eastwood vs. El Paso Chapin (at Irvin) 7:30
El Paso Home School vs. Fort Davis 7:30
El Paso Montwood vs. Las Cruces, NM 8:00
Fort Bend Austin vs. Klein Forest 7:00
Freeport Brazosport vs. Fort Bend Willowridge 7:00
Galena Park vs. Houston Scarborough 7:00
Galveston Ball vs. La Marque 7:00
Garland Naaman Forest vs. North Mesquite 7:00
Gilmer (at Tyler Rose) vs. Texarkana Liberty Eylau 7:30
Hamshire-Fannett (at Lamar University) vs. Lumberton 7:30
Happy JV vs. Lefors 6:30
Haskell (at Sweetwater) vs. San Angelo Grape Creek 7:30
Hico (at TSU) vs. Dublin 7:30
Houston Austin vs. Houston Furr 7:00
Houston Emery-Weiner School vs. Apple Springs 6:30
Houston Lee vs. Pasadena 7:00
Houston Milby vs. Houston Worthing 7:00
Houston Spring Woods vs. Houston Northbrook 7:00
Houston Westbury vs. Houston Sharpstown 6:30
Humble Atascocita vs. Clear Falls 7:00
Iraan vs. Crane 7:30
Irving MacArthur vs. Garland 7:00
Irving vs. Lakeview Centennial 7:00
Jayton vs. Ropesville Ropes 6:00
Katy Seven Lakes vs. Fort Bend Travis 6:00
Keller vs. Midland Lee 4:30
La Joya Juarez-Lincoln vs. PSJA Memorial 7:00
Laredo Nixon vs. Laredo United South 7:00
Lexington (at Waco ISD) vs. Teague 7:30
Lubbock Kingdom Prep vs. Loop 7:30
Lucas Lovejoy vs. Mansfield Legacy 7:00
Manvel vs. Spring Westfield 7:00
Mart (at UMHB) vs. Goldthwaite 7:30
McKinney North vs. Carrollton Smith 7:00
Midland Greenwood (at Grande) vs. Seminole 8:00
Monte Alto vs. Corpus Christi London 7:30
Motley County (at Jayton) vs. Roscoe Highland 6:00
New Braunfels Canyon vs. RR Cedar Ridge 7:30
Oglesby (at Zephyr) vs. Lohn 8:00
Pasadena Memorial vs. Humble Summer Creek 7:00
Pasadena South Houston vs. Alief Elsik 7:00
Penelope vs. Gholson 7:30
Plainview vs. Canyon Randall 7:00
Port Arthur Memorial vs. Beaumont Ozen 7:00
San Antonio Central Catholic vs. San Antonio Lanier 7:00
San Antonio Clark vs. San Antonio Churchill 7:00
Sherman vs. Frisco Lone Star 7:00
Stephenville JV vs. Hamilton 7:00
Temple Centex H/School (at Bryan Allen) vs. Buckholts 8:30
Throckmorton (at Hermleigh) vs. Lenorah Grady 7:00
Tyler Grace Community (at Tyler All Saints) vs. Canton 7:00
Weslaco East vs. Brownsville Rivera 7:00
West Mesquite vs. Arlington Seguin 7:00
Wichita Falls Christian (at Knox City) vs. Afton Patton Springs 5:30
Wichita Falls Rider vs. Abilene Cooper 7:30
Winters (at Sanger) vs. El Dorado 7:30
Wollfforth Frenship vs. El Paso Burges (at Odessa) 7:00
Worthham JV vs. Waco Texas Wind 6:00
EJ Holland is the associate editor of Dave Campbell's Texas Football and TexasFootball.com.
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