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Centex Top 10 games to watch: Week 4
GAMES OF THE WEEK

Centex Top 10 games to watch: Week 4

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Waxahachie (2-1) at Midway (0-3)

Radio: 106.7 FM, SicEm365 app

Streaming: 365 Sports on YouTube

Breakdown: After surrendering 69 and 57 points in losses to Round Rock and Permian, Midway’s defense made some strides in last week’s 27-16 road loss at South Grand Prairie.

“We’re getting better,” said first-year Panthers head coach Shane Anderson. “We go from giving up 10 big plays in Week 1 to six in Week 2 to three last week. There’s obviously signs of improvement.”

The Panthers have switched to a 3-4 alignment that worked well in Anderson’s previous incarnation at Midway. Linebacker Esrom Martinez leads the Panthers with 23 tackles through the first three games.

Offensively, Midway will try to get the ball in the hands of the area’s leading receiver, Junior Thornton, more this week. Thornton totaled more than 350 yards receiving in Midway’s first two games, but had just two catches for 30 yards against SGP.

The Panthers are dealing with their share of “bumps and bruises,” as Anderson labeled them. More serious, though, is the loss of a pair of offensive linemen to extended injuries. That’s forced some shuffling in the lineup, as Midway has shifted some defensive linemen back to the O-line.

Anderson said he’s been looking forward to this District 11-6A opener since the summer. Waxahachie is also breaking in a first-year head coach in Shane Tolleson, and the Indians feature a powerful running game led by Iverson Young (313 yards, 3 TDs) and Jayden Becks (213 yards, 2 TDs).

University (0-3) at Joshua (2-1)

Time and site: 7 p.m., Owl Stadium

Streaming: NFHS Network

Breakdown: The last two weeks, first-year University coach Kent Laster has seen his team lead in the first half and remain competitive only to lose at Granbury and at home against Terrell.

“We need to find a way to finish,” Laster said.

University’s running game has been fueled by Mekhi Sandolph (337 rushing yards, 6.9 per carry) and Jaylon Marshall (211 rushing yards, 4 TDs). But the Trojans are looking for consistency and balance.

Joshua also has a new head coach in Danny DeArman, who came to the Owls from Arlington Bowie. DeArman appears to have injected good energy into the Joshua program as they opened the season with lopsided wins over Fort Worth Eastern Hills and Fort Worth South Hills. That’s one more win than the Owls had all of last season.

Joshua RBs Ayden Groce and Kolby Smith have produced similar numbers to University’s Sandolph and Marshall — 515 rushing yards, seven TDs.

No. 1 Argyle (3-0) at No. 7 La Vega (2-1)

Streaming: Modoc Media on YouTube

Radio: 94.5 FM, centexbeat.com

Breakdown: A top-10 matchup between the Argyle Eagles and La Vega Pirates is becoming a rite of fall around here. This will be the fourth straight year that they’ve played in the regular season and every previous time it was a prequel to another matchup in the playoffs.

The first two years followed the same script as Argyle won in September and La Vega got retribution in the playoffs on the Pirates’ journey to the state championship game. However, Argyle won both meetings in 2020 on its way to an undefeated season and the Class 4A Division I state title. Now La Vega will try to flip the script by notching a regular-season win over the Eagles.

The Pirates have a tough task on defense. Argyle has scored 130 points in a trio of wins to start the season against Fort Worth Nolan Catholic, Pleasant Grove and Celina, none of which are slouches.

New Argyle QB Jacob Robinson has been very efficient so far, completing 28 of 42 passes for 494 yards and seven touchdowns with just one interception. The Eagles, as per usual, have good balance on offense as they have passed for 714 yards and rushed for 604 to this point.

La Vega is still trying to find the identity of a young team. The Pirates lost a road game at Austin LBJ last week, 28-7. That followed a couple of lopsided wins over undermanned teams from Katy Jordan and Dallas Bishop Dunne. RB Naje Drakes ran very well through the first two games. Can he and a young Pirates’ O-line control the tempo enough to give La Vega a chance against top-ranked Argyle?

Connally (1-1) at Palestine (1-2)

Streaming: centexsportsnetwork.com

Radio: 107.9 FM, SicEm365 app

Breakdown: The Connally Cadets have been road warriors so far this fall. The Cadets only scheduled home game in the first four weeks of the season — against rival La Vega — was canceled because COVID-19 was hitting the Lacy Lakeview community hard.

Last week, Connally took a one-point loss at Springtown. The win vaulted the Porcupines to a No. 10 ranking in 4A DI. Cadets coach Terry Gerik reinforced the idea that his team wasn’t going to collect moral victories. Even so, a close game at Springtown, after sitting out the previous week, provided some encouraging signs.

“After watching the film, I was proud of our kids,” Gerik said. “They understand what it takes to compete at that level.”

Gerik said his team is healthy and ready to get back on the field. Look for another week of progression from QB Jelani McDonald and big stats from Tre Wisner.

Palestine is big and disruptive up front on defense, according to Gerik. The Wildcats lost a close game against Rusk last week, 21-18.

Connally is set to play its first home game of this campaign next week when the Cadets will host No. 6-ranked Stephenville.

No. 4 Crawford (3-0) at Holland (2-1)

Streaming: NFHS Network

Breakdown: A year ago, Crawford defensive back Breck Chambers deflected a pass that Luke Torbert intercepted, thus preserving the Pirates’ 13-8 victory over state-ranked Holland.

It was a momentum-creating win for Crawford, which went on to a 13-2 season that ended in the state semifinals.

With Chambers and Torbert back for another round as two of the Pirates’ leaders, the script has flipped for this game. Or least that’s how it looks from the outside.

“They’re very physical, very well coached,” Crawford coach Greg Jacobs said. “They beat Bosqueville and that says a lot right there.”

One thing hasn’t changed: Holland will try to control the game with the misdirection machinations of its running game in the slot-T. Jacobs said one way to disarm the Hornets is to get an early lead and force them to shift out of their preferred style. But Crawford has been lacking in consistent reps for a rebuilt offensive line and that has slowed the group’s progression.

The Pirates’ strength is experience at the skill positions. That could be a major factor in helping Crawford get a road win.

No. 5 China Spring (3-0) at Lampasas (1-2)

Streaming: looklivestreams.com/cougars

Breakdown: China Spring is looking like a more complete team every time it steps on the field.

In last week’s 57-21 thrashing of Brownwood, Kyle Barton rushed for 142 yards and three touchdowns while Major Bowden threw two touchdown passes to Tre Hafford.

China Spring’s defense set the tone early by pinning the Lions deep in their own territory.

“We’re getting better offensively,” said China Spring coach Brian Bell. “We ran the ball well and threw efficiently, and spread the love around by getting the ball to our big-time playmakers.”

The Cougars’ defense will be tested by a dynamic Lampasas attack that’s surpassed 50 points twice this year in a season-opening 58-55 loss to Brownwood and a 56-13 win over Elgin.

Dylan Sanchez has completed 65.5 percent of his passes for 836 yards and 13 touchdowns. Nate Borchardt has been Sanchez’s top receiver with 23 catches for 346 yards and four scores while Ethan Moreno has caught 20 passes for 347 yards and five touchdowns.

Case Brister has balanced the attack by rushing for 403 yards and three scores.

“Their quarterback is a good athlete and they’ve got an explosive offense,” Bell said. “They’ve got some key playmakers and they’re big up front.”

Gatesville (1-2) at Hillsboro (2-1)

Radio: 1560 AM, khbr.streamon.fm

Breakdown: The change from one Steve (Hale) to another (Almuete) in Hillsboro has gone smoothly. Almuete took over as head coach for Hale in February after the latter decided to shift into an athletic director-only role.

“We’re really played how the kids have adjusted to the change,” said Almuete, whose Eagles defeated Bridgeport, 33-10, last week. “Offensively and defensively, because I brought in two new coordinators when I was hired. The kids are adapting well.’

Almuete has been especially pleased with the leadership shown by Francisco Montoya and Deaundre Sanders, both of whom have received more snaps at quarterback than they expected. Hillsboro tends to shoot down the field in a hurry rather than long, plodding drives, and has already produced a 77-yard pass, a 90-yard TD run and a 103-yard kickoff return for touchdowns this season.

On the other side, this game should rekindle some warm vibes for the Hornets. Last year they knocked off Hillsboro, 22-16, for their first win of the Luke Howard era as coach, snapping a 14-game losing streak for the program.

Gatesville has the edge in sheer numbers. But the Hornets must find their footing offensively, as they’ve scored only 10 points the past two games following a 27-7 season-opening win over Llano.

The Hillsboro Eagles have reasons to be optimistic with new head coach Stephen Almuete in place for the 2021 season.

Coming off a 9-3 season, a veteran West Trojans squad appears to be Grandview’s biggest challenger in this rough-and-tumble district.

No. 10 West (3-0) at Rogers (2-1)

Streaming: NFHS Network

Breakdown: West has been highly impressive in its first three games as the Trojans have averaged 45.7 points and allowed only 12.3.

Linebacker Brandon Vanek ranks among the Central Texas leaders with 36 tackles and three sacks while linebacker Joseph Pendleton has recorded 26 tackles and three sacks.

“We’ve come out playing really well in the first half and have been able to put teams on the ropes a little bit,” said West coach David Woodard. “We’ve contained the run up front and have created turnovers on the back side.”

Rogers bounced back from a 38-28 opening loss to Academy by recording a 46-14 win over San Saba and a 48-13 win over Whitney in the last two games. Quarterback Riley Dolgener and running back Christian Riley have been offensive leaders. “Their quarterback can throw and run well, and (Riley) is an unbelievable runner,” Woodard said. “Rogers has a really good offensive team. They do a lot with formations that can put you in a bind defensively.”

Bosqueville (1-2) at Riesel (2-0)

Streaming: NFHS Network

Breakdown: Playing for the first time in two weeks, the Indians are banking on their defense to deliver another great performance after allowing just 18 points in wins over Marlin and Hamilton.

Defensive lineman Wyatt Drews and linebacker Kyson Dieterich are off to a good start for the Riesel defense while quarterback Dakota Davis and running back Cade Amber are keys to the offense.

“Our kids are playing hard and they have a good concept of what we’re trying to do defensively,” said Riesel coach Tyler Crow. “We’re doing a good job running the ball and we’ve come up with big pass plays.” Riesel will try to stop a Bosqueville team that opened the season with a 14-6 win over Clifton but has dropped the last two, including a 20-14 loss to Holland and a 48-37 loss to Palmer.

“Bosqueville is well-coached and they do good things on both sides of the ball,” Crow said. “Coach (Clint) Zander has been there a while and has an established program, so he’s used to expectations.”

No. 1 Mart (3-0) at Whitney (1-2)

Radio: mixlr.com/mart-panthers-radio

Breakdown: Halloween is still six weeks away, but here’s a scary thought for you: Mart can still play better.

The Panthers have allowed only seven points through the first three weeks, but head coach Kevin Hoffman said there are areas he’d like to see cleaner and brighter.

“We’re playing well, but we’re also making our share of mistakes,” Hoffman said. “But that’s the best part of our team, is our defense.”

Da’Marion Medlock leads Central Texas, averaging 17 tackles per game, for that stingy Panther unit. Mart has also bagged nine quarterback sacks, led by four from DL Ayden Lane. Hoffman said the team’s pass rush will need to be big this week against Whitney’s gunslinging quarterback Garrett Peacock. “He’s probably the best quarterback we’ve seen this year, can make all the throws,” Hoffman said. “It’ll be a good test for our defense to see where we’re at.”

Whitney moves mostly by air travel, which makes sense, given Peacock’s talents. He has thrown for 678 yards, 11 TDs and only one interception thus far this season, and has some capable targets in the likes of Jaxon Montgomery (204 yards, 2 TDs) and Kyler Cryns (193 yards, 3 TDs).

A rebuilding Whitney Wildcats team is ready to return to the playoffs with a more experienced roster.

Best of the Rest

Mansfield (2-1) at Waco High (0-3): With the arrival of 11-6A play, it’s a chance for the Lions to hit the reset button after a rough start to the season. … Mexia (1-2) at Salado (1-2): If the Blackcats can get some kinks ironed out defensively, they’ve got a shot to get back to .500 in this one. … Robinson (1-2) at Fairfield (0-3): The Rockets hope they’ve built some upward momentum after a wild, double-overtime win over Troy last week. … Blum (1-2) at Jonesboro (3-0): It’s rare to see the Bobcats under .500 at this point of the season. Can they muster up enough points to upset the seventh-ranked Eagles?

Trib staff’s Week 4 high school football predictions

All games start at 7:30 p.m. unless otherwise noted.

CHAD CONINE BRICE CHERRY JOHN WERNER
DISTRICT 11-6A
Waxahachie at Midway Waxahachie Midway Midway
Mansfield at Waco High (7 p.m.) Mansfield Mansfield Mansfield
DISTRICT 5-5A DIV. II
University at Joshua (7 p.m.) University Joshua Joshua
TAPPS DIST. 2-III
Bishop Reicher at Dal. Shelton (7 p.m.) Reicher Reicher Reicher
TAPPS 6M DIST. 3-II
McKinney C'stone at Live Oak (7 p.m.) Live Oak Live Oak Live Oak
TCAF 6M DIST. 1
Methodist Home at Parkview Chr. (7 p.m.) MCH MCH MCH
NON-DISTRICT
Argyle at La Vega Argyle Argyle Argyle
China Spring at Lampasas China Spring China Spring China Spring
Connally at Palestine Connally Connally Connally
Gatesville at Hillsboro Hillsboro Hillsboro Hillsboro
Robinson at Fairfield Fairfield Robinson Fairfield
Mexia at Salado Salado Salado Salado
West at Rogers West West West
Mart at Whitney Mart Mart Mart
Palmer at Groesbeck Groesbeck Groesbeck Groesbeck
Buffalo at Teague Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo
Lorena at Madisonville Lorena Lorena Lorena
Clifton at McGregor McGregor McGregor McGregor
Cameron Yoe at Lake Belton Lake Belton Lake Belton Lake Belton
Troy at Franklin Franklin Franklin Franklin
Bosqueville at Riesel Bosqueville Bosqueville Bosqueville
Crawford at Holland Crawford Crawford Crawford
Bangs at Hamilton (7 p.m.) Hamilton Hamilton Hamilton
Itasca at Bartlett (7 p.m.) Bartlett Bartlett Bartlett
Hubbard at Valley Mills V. Mills Hubbard V. Mills
Chilton at Axtell Chilton Chilton Chilton
Bremond at Dawson Bremond Bremond Bremond
Marlin at Lexington Lexington Marlin Marlin
Rosebud-Lott at Granger (7 p.m.) R-Lott R-Lott R-Lott
Bruceville-Eddy at Leon Leon Leon Leon
Meridian at Moody Moody Moody Moody
Wortham at Cayuga Wortham Wortham Wortham
Frost at Texas Wind (7 p.m.) Frost Frost Frost
SIX-MAN
Blum at Jonesboro (7 p.m.) Jonesboro Jonesboro Jonesboro
Bynum at Trinidad Bynum Bynum Bynum
Covington at Perrin-Whitt Covington Covington Covington
Abbott vs. Bellville Faith (7 p.m. Thu. at Bryan Allen Academy) Abbott Abbott Abbott
CANCELED: Bryan Allen Academy at Aquilla
Oakwood at Coolidge Oakwood Oakwood Oakwood
Milford at Penelope Milford Penelope Milford
May at Evant May May May
Lometa at Cranfills Gap (7 p.m.) Lometa Lometa Lometa
Buckholts at Iredell Iredell Iredell Iredell
Kopperl at Oglesby Oglesby Oglesby Oglesby
Morgan at Lingleville Morgan Lingleville Lingleville
Walnut Springs at Avalon Avalon Avalon Avalon
Aquilla JV at Mount Calm (7 p.m. Thu.) Mt. Calm Mt. Calm Mt. Calm
Vanguard at Gholson (7 p.m. Thu.) Vanguard Vanguard Vanguard
Dallas Fairhill at Eagle Christian ECA ECA ECA
RESULTS
Last week 32-18 38-12 33-17
Season to date 97-46 103-40 94-49

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