6A/5A Preview: Week 1
Preparing for the first Friday night of high school football season in Class 6A and 5A.
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It’s Friday night in Texas, which means tonight belongs to high school football! DCTF’s Greg Tepper previews the 10 biggest games in 6A and 5A this weekend (plus some games that just missed the cut). That way, you’ll know which ones you should really have your eye on.
Just Missed The Cut…
Cedar Hill at South Oak Cliff, 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Dallas’ Kincaide Stadium
Tepper’s pick: Cedar Hill 55, South Oak Cliff 31
Leander Rouse at San Antonio Brennan, 7:30 p.m. Friday at Gustafson Stadium
Tepper’s pick: San Antonio Brennan 34, Leander Rouse 28
Houston Stratford at Houston Memorial, 7 p.m. Friday at Tully Stadium
Tepper’s pick: Houston Stratford 28, Houston Memorial 21
Odessa Permian vs. McAllen, 1 p.m. Saturday at San Antonio’s Rutledge Stadium
Tepper’s pick: McAllen 35, Odessa Permian 28
10. EP Franklin at Canutillo, 8 p.m. Friday at Eagle Stadium
Tonight, way way out west, we’ve got a fantastic tilt between two of the Sun City’s best. Canutillo has a legitimate claim as “best team in El Paso” (though Del Valle may have something to say about that), but they’ll get a huge test against 6A Franklin, a team looking for a bounceback year. QB Javier Gomez is a fantastic dual-threat for Canutillo, and the defense of DB Bo Brooks and LB Josh Gutierrez should be solid. We’re pretty sure that Franklin’s offense will hum, thanks to RB Nicholas Bingham (a name to remember) and QB Baylor Romney, plus WR Gustavo Mendosa-Dorsett, but we need to see something from a defense that returns just three starters. If DE Jose Alvarado can put pressure on Gomez, Franklin’s in business; otherwise, Canutillo looks like the stronger side.
Tepper’s pick: El Paso Franklin 39, Canutillo 28
9. McAllen Memorial at Sharyland, 7;30 p.m. Friday at Rattler Stadium
Looking for some Valley flavor? You have your choice of two games: McAllen’s jaunt to San Antonio to take on fabled power Odessa Permian or this one. And this one will probably be the better game. Why? Well, Sharyland really may be the best team in the Valley after dropping down to 5A, especially with ATH Sean Landez and their choice of QBs in Diego Chrysler and Lance Madden. And McAllen Memorial has this guy, maybe you’ve heard of him: RB Trevor Speights, who is somehow still only a junior. There is plenty of firepower here, but it’ll be the defenses that determine the outcome. Is Sharyland’s young defense up to the challenge? Can LB Lucas Rios and DT Ricky Miner turn Memorial from “a team with a really good running back” to “a really good team that also happens to have a really good running back”? We’ll start to get that answer tonight.
Tepper’s pick: Sharyland 35, McAllen Memorial 32
8. Austin Westlake at Southlake Carroll, 7:30 p.m. Friday at Southlake’s Dragon Stadium
If we were ranking games based solely on storyline, this would be No. 1 and it wouldn’t even be particularly close. It’s the debut of Todd Dodge, Westlake Coach — in a roundabout way, he’s ended up at a situation very similar to the one he was in when he was winning titles at (ta da!) Southlake Carroll. And so it’s the return of the Prodigal Son With A Headset, and the atmosphere around Dragon Stadium will be some mix of sentimental and electric. But once the game starts, we’ve got a pretty fantastic contest on our hands. Southlake is loaded, per usual, especially with QB Ryan Agnew and his new favorite target, WR Parker Fentriss. In an irony of all ironies, offensive guru Dodge has inherited an absolutely stellar defense, thanks to LBs Breckyn Hager, Gabe Duran and Hudson Hall. The offense, even with do-it-all ATH Sean Rollings, is a bit of an unknown, while SLC’s defense of DL King Newton and company should impose their will on what will be a fun game.
Tepper’s pick: Southlake Carroll 38, Austin Westlake 26
7. Longview at Lufkin, 7:30 p.m. Friday at Lufkin’s Abe Martin Stadium
Let’s put aside, for a moment, Longview’s tough loss of RB JaMycal Hasty, reportedly out indefinitely due to injury. That kind of changes everything. Longview’s still loaded, especially with QB Desmond Chumley and OL Broderick Washington, but the loss of Hasty is a big one. And it’s not like it was going to be easy against Lufkin, a Piney Woods juggernaut with one of the best passing attacks in the state with QB Trey Cumbie and WRs KeKe Coutee and Terry Mark. This one was going to come down to the defenses (neither are particularly proven, but Longview’s looks better), but now it comes down to how well Longview shakes off the loss of their best player.
Tepper’s pick: Longview 44, Lufkin 41
6. Hewitt Midway at Lake Travis, 7:30 p.m. Friday at Lake Travis ISD Stadium
Did this game sneak up on you? It’s OK if it did; it kind of snuck up on us, too. Maybe it’s because that’s what Hewitt Midway is this year: sneaky. They’re probably a little underrated, but boy howdy, can they bring the fire on offense thanks to QB Ben Hicks and WR Devontre Stricklin. But before you think they’re some all-offense-no-defense side, there’s tons of speed on the D, including DB Khalil Haughton and LB Lenoy Jones. Is that enough to knock off what looks like the latest, greatest installment of the Lake Travis Machine? QB Dominic De Lira is the headliner, but this team will be great if the defense is its usual dominant self. And with guys like DB James Bailey, LB John Brewer and DE Tevin Paul, there’s a high likelihood that it will be. So think of it like this: Hewitt Midway’s explosive offense against Lake Travis’ terrific defense. I can’t wait.
Tepper’s pick: Lake Travis 35, Hewitt Midway 31
5. Brenham at Houston Lamar, 7 p.m. Friday at Delmar Stadium
The Houston area never fails to bring the awesome in the opening week, and here’s one of two really heavy hitters tonight (not counting last night’s Manvel-Spring Westfield game). Brenham is fresh off a run to the state championship game, but while the headliner of the team (star RB Earnest Patterson) returns, this is a largely new squad, especially on defense. They’ll get tested in this one with by a Lamar team that went from pretty good to title contender with a pair of impact transfers, QB J.W. Ketchum and RB Tyreik Gray. They’ll give the Texans (remember: no more Redskins) some pop while the defense, anchored by all-everything DB Holton Hill, does its thing. This is much more about two teams finding out exactly what it is they have, because one has lost a lot of parts and the other has suddenly gained them.
Tepper’s pick: Houston Lamar 29, Brenham 24
4. Richmond George Ranch at Pearland Dawson, 7 p.m. Friday at The Rig
It’s hard to believe, but both of these programs are still relatively young. Dawson started playing varsity in 2008, while George Ranch started in 2011. But they’ve already made a big impact on the Houston area football scene. So when they lock horns at The Rig tonight, it’ll be a really interesting matchup of new vs…new! George Ranch may be ready for the next step after last year’s 13-a campaign, and with playmakers like ATH Xavier Marks, QB Timon Nolan and dynamite DL Kingsley Keke, they can absolutely do it. Dawson is rebuilding a bit, but they’re still very sturdy thanks to RB Brett Winnegan and a massive offensive line anchored by Cameron Wilson. LB Travonte Moody will lead a talented but raw Dawson defense, and that’s really the whole core of the game. Can Dawson’s defense gel in time to slow down George Ranch? We’re about to find out. One thing to remember: The Rig is a notoriously hostile place for visitors. Expect a good one.
Tepper’s pick: George Ranch 42, Pearland Dawson 28
3. Cibolo Steele at SA Madison, 7 p.m. Saturday at Heroes Stadium
To whomever makes the decisions about scheduling games for Steele and Madison: thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. This is an absolute gift from the high school football gods, as we get to watch two perennial powers square off for Alamo City bragging rights. Steele’s coming off a strong campaign and looking for more thanks to QB L.G. Williams, one of San Antonio’s brightest stars. The defense will be stout again tahnks to CB Anthony Johnson and DT Zach Edwards, and it’ll test Madison’s formidable firepower in RB Dominique Daniels and WR Ja’Michael Brown. As if the idea of Ja’Michael Brown vs. Anthony Thomas wasn’t tantalizing enough, consider the fact that this is Madison’s first game with Mark Smith at the helm, after he made the leap from Converse Judson in the offseason. The question I have (and maybe it’s misguided): who is the next great Cibolo Steel running back? We just got done with the Justin Stockton (now at Texas Tech) and he followed Malcolm Brown (now at Texas). Who’s next? I have a feeling that even with Judson’s tough front seven (hello, DE Daniel Vancey), we’ll know a RB’s name Sunday morning…maybe junior Bryson Denley’s.
Tepper’s pick: Cibolo Steele 32, San Antonio Madison 27
2. Aledo vs. Cedar Park, 7:30 p.m. Friday at Baylor’s McLane Stadium
Look, if you want anything else from a high school football game than this, you are asking too much. Not only is it Aledo — the No. 1 team in the state in 5A with superstars offensively like WR Ryan Newsome, QB Luke Bishop and RB Jess Anderson; not only is it Cedar Park — the No. 5 team in the state in 5A with superstarts defensively like LB Thomas Hutchings and DE Myles Cheatum; but, oh yeah, it’s the grand opening of McLane Stadium! So, yeah, this is a pretty historic matchup. But for all the talk about Aledo’s offense (rightfully so) and Cedar Park’s defense (ditto), this game almost certainly comes down to the other side of the ball, which is much more unknown. Aledo has tons of questions on defense (aside from DB Johnny Durham) and Cedar Park has tons of questions on offense, like who will step in to carry the load. Will we see a big game from RB Joey Carter or QB Amir Alzer? Oh, and let’s not forget that this is Aledo’s first game under new interim coach Steve Wood, who took over when Tim Buchanan stunningly stepped down. This is one of those games that’s so rich with intrigue that you wish you could box up half of it and take it home for later.
Tepper’s pick: Aledo 34, Cedar Park 31
1. Denton Guyer vs. Allen, 7:30 p.m. Friday at UNT’s Apogee Stadium
The only scheduled matchup of defending state champions, it goes even further: this is the first game in Texas high school football history between two-time defending state champs. How’s about that for a tidbit? And really, it’s hard to know where to start with this one. Denton Guyer is playing its first game as a 6A program, and they’ll also be playing their first game in the post-Jerrod Heard era. We’ve heard tons of good things about new sophomore QB Shawn Robinson — a transfer from FW Chisholm Trail — and he’s got RB Anthony Taylor as one heck of a security blanket. Beyond that, Guyer’s defense looks just as menacing as last year’s unit, with the return of DT Carl Thompson and DE Derek Watson holding down the front. And then there is Allen, the largest school in the UIL with unmatched depth and nearly unmatched resources…that will suddenly be homeless this season, playing all their games on the road (or neutral sites) thanks to problems with Allen Eagle Stadium. And there are big questions on defense, with just one starter returning from last year’s state champ. But — and boy, is this the king of all buts— they have one thing that no other team has: the best player in the state in QB Kyler Murray, the reigning Mr. Texas Football. He’ll once again be at the controls of a ludicrous offense, flanked by WR Jalen Guyton and protected by a fantastic offensive line featuring Bobby Evans, Greg Little and Brian Cornell. So, what do we have in this one? Probably the game of the year. It wouldn’t raise my eyebrow one bit if Guyer wins this one (especially with questions on Allen’s D), but when in doubt, go with the team with the best player. That’s Murray, and that’s Allen.
Tepper’s pick: Allen 36, Denton Guyer 33
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