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Central Texas football previews and predictions: Week 3

Central Texas football previews and predictions: Week 3

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La Vega Connally (copy)

Connally and La Vega played a tough game last Friday, with La Vega winning, 13-10. Connally faces Springtown and La Vega plays Corpus Christi Calallen, both on Friday.

Here we go: Previewing this week’s high school football games.

Remember to check out for a live, constantly updated scoreboard and Twitter updates from around the area.

No. 2 La Vega (2-0) vs. No. 7 Corpus Christi Calallen (1-1)

Site, time: 7:30 p.m. at San Marcos High School

Radio: 94.5 FM The Beat

Streaming: Modoc Media on YouTube and Facebook

Breakdown: For the third time in their first three games, the La Vega Pirates will face a Top 10-ranked team in the state. These guys will play anyone, anywhere. And why not? It’s worked out well in recent years.

“You know by the time you enter into district play that you’ve been tested,” said La Vega coach Don Hyde, when asked about his scheduling philosophy. “And of course, every week you’re tested you can’t help but get better. So, we’re on to another tough opponent this week and we’ll see where we stand when it’s all over.”

La Vega’s 13-10, hard-hitting win over Connally last week reflected the Pirates’ toughness. But Hyde said that his biggest takeaway from the game was “that we’ve got to do more playing football and less talking. All that talking stuff gets you off what you’re trying to do and accomplish in order to be successful.”

They’ll need their lunch pails and hard hats for this one. Calallen is as potent as ever, and the Wildcats showed their claws in an impressive 56-35 win over Jourdanton last week. In that game, RB Jeremiah Earls rushed more than 300 yards and three touchdowns.

“They’re a great football team,” Hyde said. “Very well-coached — Coach (Phil) Danaher has won 473 games at Calallen. They’re very well-coached, their schemes are really good. … It’s going to be a huge challenge for the La Vega Pirates.”

And vice versa. La Vega’s defense has yielded only two touchdowns through the first two weeks against two ranked opponents. LBs La’Travis Johnson, Zamarion Johnson and Jordan Rogers have swooped around and finished off ball carries nicely, and the team’s burly line allows them to do so by occupying plenty of blockers. Vionte Robinson and RaeShawn Roberts both loomed large last week, combining for 15 tackles and a forced fumble.

La Vega will also play its second neutral site game in three weeks, but it’s not quite a playoff atmosphere yet, Hyde said.

“We’re not approaching it like that,” he said. “We’re just approaching it like another game. We’ve already played one neutral site game, so it’s nothing new to us. Our kids are used to stuff like that, so we’re going to load up the bus on Friday at 2 o’clock and go down there and see what happens.”

District 5-4A Div. I preview: La Vega

Springtown (1-1) at No. 7 Connally (1-1)

Radio: 106.7 FM;

Streaming: Centex Sports Network

Breakdown: Naturally, the Cadets wanted to win last week’s rivalry clash with La Vega. Yet even though they came up just shy on the scoreboard, falling 13-10, they walked away proud.

“It was two of the best teams in the state going at it in Week 2. It was a knock-down, drag-out. I think the difference in the game was that they had fewer kids going both ways,” Connally coach Shane Anderson said. “The main thing that our kids got from it is that we belong. We proved to people that we can play with the No. 1 team in the state.”

Anderson said a game like that could have lasting benefits, if Connally is fortunate enough to encounter other highly ranked teams, like Carthage, in the 4A Division II playoffs.

District 9-4A Div. II preview: China Spring, Connally, Gatesville, Robinson

First, though, the Cadets will fix their gaze on the Springtown Porcupines, and try to avoid getting poked. Springtown is working with a revamped offensive line from 2019, but still has an experienced signal caller in QB Camden Chesney. He passed for three touchdowns in the Porcupines’ 19-14 win over Graham last week, but also gave up two interceptions.

Defensively, Springtown will base out of a 3-3 stack alignment, but will show Connally plenty of different looks. Honestly, Anderson likes it that way.

“Any time you can see multiple fronts throughout the nondistrict schedule, it’ll prepare you for down the road,” Anderson said. “You can always say, ‘Hey, remember, so-and-so ran this or so-and-so ran that.’ It just gives the kids something to relate to.”

RB/S Kavian Gaither continues to dazzle on both sides for the Cadets, as he’s coming off a game in which he rushed for 133 yards and a touchdown while making 11 tackles defensively.

Troy (1-1) at Robinson (1-1)

Radio: 99.3 FM

Streaming: (Troy); (Robinson)

TV: The CW (Spectrum 20, Grande 12, DirecTV 14, Dish 46, antenna 46.2)

Breakdown: Anyone who is having trouble getting hyped about the Troy-Robinson matchup needs only to look up the results of this series the last two seasons.

In 2019, Robinson pulled away for a 54-30 victory over the Trojans in Troy. It would turn out to be Troy’s only loss of the regular season as the Trojans went 12-2 and traveled to the regional final round of the playoffs. The Rockets’ victory a year ago avenged Troy’s 35-28 win in Robinson in 2018.

Troy coach Ronnie Porter has repeatedly pointed to the Robinson game as an important one on his program’s nondistrict schedule. It falls at a pivotal time as the Trojans will be attempting to build on their 55-37 victory over Mexia last week.

Robinson, meanwhile, is trying to bounce back from a 41-0 loss to Whitney. To do so, they’ll have to solve what has become a familiar problem: stopping Troy running back Zach Hrbacek.

“He’s probably the best running back we faced last year,” Robinson coach Robert Rubel said. “There are so many things he can do. He can go from zero to full speed in a few steps and now they’re big and strong up front.”

The Rockets, who are playing their first home game of the season, will counter with experienced QB Joseph McHenry. Rubel said the Robinson offense has to do a better job of capitalizing on opportunities this week.

District 9-4A Div. II preview: China Spring, Connally, Gatesville, Robinson
District 11-3A Div. I preview: Cameron Yoe, Lorena, McGregor, Troy

No. 10 China Spring (2-0) at Brownwood (1-1)


Breakdown: China Spring has looked highly impressive in its first two games. After opening with a 74-35 win over Benbrook, the Cougars’ defense delivered a strong performance in last week’s 42-13 win over Lorena.

China Spring’s defense was so dominating that the Leopards didn’t score until late in the third quarter. Fumble recoveries by Blake Barrett and Dawson Exline and Tre Hafford’s interception led to touchdowns.

“Our defense played with a lot of effort,” said China Spring coach Brian Bell. “There’s become more of a trust factor among them and they executed really well and did their assignments.”

China Spring is familiar with Brownwood since the two teams played in District 5-4A Division I the last two years before realignment. Following an opening 55-23 loss to Lampasas, the Lions bounced back with a 35-15 win over Midland Greenwood.

Royshad Henderson sparked the Lions’ win with 124 yards rushing and three touchdowns while the defense forced three turnovers that led to three touchdowns.

“They’ve got a good running back and their offensive line is really dominant,” Bell said. “Their defense is good, so that’s a recipe for success.”

District 9-4A Div. II preview: China Spring, Connally, Gatesville, Robinson

Lorena (1-1) at Gatesville (0-2)

Streaming: NFHS Network

Breakdown: Looking back at last weekend’s 42-13 loss to China Spring, Lorena coach Ray Biles quickly assessed where the most improvement needs to be made to bounce back against Gatesville.

“We’re going to have to do a better job up front,” Biles said. “They did a great job on both sides of line. They had a good scheme and Coach (Brian) Bell had them ready to play.”

The Leopards trailed 35-0 before Cayden Madkins broke loose for a 79-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter.

While Lorena split its two games against Franklin and China Spring, Gatesville has dropped a 45-16 decision to Llano and last week’s 48-29 decision to Glen Rose. Trailing 23-21 at halftime, Glen Rose outscored the Hornets in the second half, 27-6.

“They’ve got a senior quarterback (Wesley Brown) and an outstanding running back in Jason Delong,” Biles said. “They’re an extremely aggressive bunch that is always tough to play there.”

District 9-4A Div. II preview: China Spring, Connally, Gatesville, Robinson
District 11-3A Div. I preview: Cameron Yoe, Lorena, McGregor, Troy

Hillsboro (2-0) at Bridgeport (1-1)

Radio: KHBR-AM 1560

Streaming: Hillsboro High School (Texas) Facebook Live

Breakdown: Hillsboro goes on the road for the first time this season and will play probably its toughest nondistrict opponent yet.

Eagles coach Steve Hale said containing Bridgeport running back Michael Marschall will be a big key for his team.

When Hillsboro has the ball, QB Thomas Pratt has been making things happen. Pratt passed for 103 yards and touchdown in a win over Krum last week after he rushed for 140 and two scores in the season opener. Eagles running back Da’shon Heiskell produced 127 rushing yards and a pair of TDs against Krum, broadening Hillsboro’s arsenal.

“We’re multiple and we’ve done a good job of seeing what the defense is giving us,” Hale said. “Last week they played a goal-line defense against us all over the field and we were able to make some plays through the air.”

Hale added they were a foot away from several more big plays in the passing game as that part of the Eagles’ game continues to improve.

District 5-4A Div. II preview: Hillsboro

West (1-1) at Blooming Grove (2-0)

Breakdown: The Trojans are rolling downhill a bit now after last week’s resounding 59-7 rout of Fort Worth Western Hills.

“I thought we played with more confidence with what we wanted to do,” West coach David Woodard said. “Defensively, we caused some turnovers and gave them some short fields, and offensively we just did some things better than we did the first week. Hopefully we can take another step.”

West’s running game ran wild against Western Hills, led by Lawson Kendrick and Trey Janek, who combined for 241 yards and four touchdowns. Woodard said he was especially pleased with how the backs blocked for one another. Defensively, DL Billy Gann gunned his way through the line relentlessly, finishing with seven tackles, three tackles for losses, a forced fumble, fumble recovery, a sack and a defensive touchdown.

They’ll look to keep it up against a Blooming Grove team that pitched a shutout in a 20-0 win over Kerens a week ago.

“Offensively, they come right at you,” Woodard said. “Their kids play with confidence, they play hard defensively, and they kind of dictate what they want to you. Our kids understand that we’re going to have to step it up in terms of the speed of the game this week. … We need to be a week better than we were last week.”

District 7-3A Div. I preview: West, Whitney

Cameron Yoe (1-1) at No. 9 Franklin (0-1)

Radio: 105.1 FM


Breakdown: The temptation for the Yoe defense might be to limp into this battle with Franklin. After all, Class 4A Bellville ran all over Cameron last week behind running back Richard Reese, who went for a school-record 345 yards and seven touchdowns. Yoe coach Tommy Brashear called Reese “an absolute stud.”

Despite that 54-41 loss for the Yoemen, Brashear has liked how his team has responded in practice this week. “We enjoy playing people like that, because we think it only makes us better in the long run,” the coach said.

Cameron made some rapid-fire strides offensively in the Bellville game. Quarterback Zane Zeinert and receiver Za’korien Spikes are strengthening their connection as a big-play threat. But Brashear said that the offense may need to take a different approach against the Lions, who like to sell out to prevent the deep ball. “We may have to have some more methodical drives,” Brashear said.

Franklin didn’t play its game with Hearne last week because of a COVID-19 outbreak. Brashear said “they’re still Franklin” — meaning they’re strong, physical, well-coached and effective with their slot-T attack.

“They actually remind me of us in a lot of ways, in their personnel and their youth,” Brashear said.

District 11-3A Div. I preview: Cameron Yoe, Lorena, McGregor, Troy

Jarrell (0-2) at McGregor (0-2)


Breakdown: The McGregor Bulldogs are hungry for a win after close losses against 4A Lake Worth and top-ranked 2A power Mart the last two weeks.

Bulldogs coach Mike Shields knows a slow start against Mart cost his team a week ago. McGregor actually won the final three quarters, but it wasn’t enough after the Panthers jumped to a 14-0 advantage in the first quarter.

QB VeAndre McDaniel has been a legitimate dual threat through the first two contests. He passed for 238 yards and three touchdowns with 78 yards and a score on the ground.

The key for McGregor will be to get their running backs going and open up another dimension of the offense.

The Bulldogs defense will be tasked with corralling Jarrell running back Derrick Warren, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards as a sophomore in 2019.

District 11-3A Div. I preview: Cameron Yoe, Lorena, McGregor, Troy

Clyde (0-2) vs. Riesel (2-0)

Site, time: 1 p.m. Saturday at Cervetto Stadium in Dublin

Breakdown: Riesel coach Keith Stifflemire had to cast a wide net to fill his nondistrict schedule and ended up with this neutral site contest. The Indians were originally set to face Clyde in Hico on Friday night, but weather conditions moved it to Dublin on Saturday.

The Riesel offense has been led by QB Dakota Davis, who already has almost 400 combined passing and rushing yards this season. Last week he connected with WR Will McClintock five times for 90 yards.

Clyde has challenged some tough nondistrict opponents, opening the season against No. 4 Cisco and following that by hosting traditional 3A D-II power Idalou last week. The Bulldogs got thumped on both occasions.

Riesel will be trying to improve to 3-0 for just the second time in the last 10 years. The Indians won their first three games in 2018, but hadn’t done so before that since 2010 when they started 4-0.

District 13-3A Div. II preview: Clifton, Riesel

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

Streaming: YouTube

Breakdown: By the time the Bosqueville Bulldogs knew what hit them in last weekend’s season opener, they were already behind 30-0 in the first quarter against Holland.

The rest of the game was much more evenly played as Holland went on to a 62-33 win. But Bosqueville coach Clint Zander knows his team can’t afford another rough start against Palmer, which has opened with two straight wins.

“The last three quarters we played a lot better, but we’re going to have to be ready from the get-go,” Zander said. “Palmer is big and experienced with five seniors starting on their offensive line. We’re playing better opponents now to prepare for teams down the road.”

Palmer opened with a 35-7 win over Kemp before following up with last week’s 46-20 win over Grand Saline. Damian Gonzales keys both the offensive and defensive lines for Palmer while linebackers Gabe Bolden and Arturo Gonzales are talented defenders.

District 7-2A Div. I preview: Bosqueville, Crawford, Hamilton, Itasca, Valley Mills

Valley Mills (0-2) at Marlin (1-1)

Breakdown: Breaking into the winner’s circle, Marlin looks to build on that moment as it hosts the Eagles. While he was excited for the win, Bulldogs head coach David Haynes, Jr. thought his team focused on itself last week, getting the small things right. He was particularly proud of the defense, citing TyDarren Harris, Derion Gullette and David Haynes III for their stellar play.

Valley Mills will be another challenge. “They’re going to come out and play hard,” Haynes said. He expects a physical game for all four quarters.

Eagles head coach Sam Moody thinks his team is getting better each week, but needs to do a better job of executing on both sides of the ball. Regarding Marlin, Moody highlighted the Bulldogs’ speed. The emphasis for Valley Mills defensively will be to try to stretch out plays, using the sideline as another defender.

District 7-2A Div. I preview: Bosqueville, Crawford, Hamilton, Itasca, Valley Mills
District 8-2A Div. I preview: Axtell, Dawson, Marlin
Bruceville-Eddy Crawford (copy)

Bruceville-Eddy's Cameron Fouts (right) tries to bring down Crawford's Breck Chambers in the first half. The Pirates play Axtell on Friday, while Bruceville-Eddy goes up against Florence.

Crawford (2-0) at Axtell (0-2)

Breakdown: In a game of two halves against Bruceville-Eddy, the Crawford Pirates learned to regroup and focus. Scoring 25 points in the second half to take the win, head coach Greg Jacobs was encouraged to see his team fight through the struggles of the first half. He was pleased with the play of QB Tanner Merenda and RB Brett Chambers.

He sees a lot in common with the Longhorns, noting that both teams like to run the ball and control the clock. He also is wary about Axtell’s attacking defense. “We’ll have to manage the ball against that attack,” said Jacobs.

While Axtell is still looking for its first win, head coach Rusty Reynolds believes his team improved a lot from the first game to the second, which came against state-ranked Bremond. He said RB Jamie Wooley had a really good game, and noted that his team played well the first half. The Longhorns will need to block effectively against the Pirates, whom Reynolds calls a team that is always disciplined and fundamentally sound.

District 7-2A Div. I preview: Bosqueville, Crawford, Hamilton, Itasca, Valley Mills
District 8-2A Div. I preview: Axtell, Dawson, Marlin

Trib staff’s Week 3 high school football predictions

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

La Vega vs. CC Calallen
(at San Marcos)
La Vega La Vega La Vega
Springtown at Connally (7 p.m.) Connally Connally Connally
China Spring at Brownwood China Spring Brownwood China Spring
Lorena at Gatesville Lorena Lorena Lorena
Troy at Robinson Troy Troy Robinson
West at Blooming Grove West West West
Whitney at Rogers Whitney Whitney Whitney
Hillsboro at Bridgeport Hillsboro Bridgeport Hillsboro
Mexia at Navasota Navasota Navasota Navasota
Athens at Fairfield Athens Athens Fairfield
Groesbeck at Academy Academy Groesbeck Groesbeck
Teague at Madisonville Madisonville Madisonville Madisonville
Jarrell at McGregor McGregor McGregor McGregor
Cameron Yoe at Franklin Yoe Yoe Yoe
Crawford at Axtell Crawford Crawford Crawford
Palmer at Bosqueville Palmer Palmer Palmer
Hico at Hamilton (7 p.m.) Hamilton Hamilton Hamilton
Valley Mills at Marlin Marlin Marlin Marlin
Florence at Bruceville-Eddy B-Eddy B-Eddy B-Eddy
Riesel at Clyde (1 p.m. Sat. at Dublin) Riesel Riesel Riesel
Clifton at Maypearl Maypearl Clifton Clifton
Frost at Granger (7 p.m.) Granger Granger Granger
Hubbard at Moody Moody Hubbard Moody
Dawson at Wortham Dawson Dawson Dawson
Normangee at Chilton Normangee Normangee Normangee
Milano at Bremond Bremond Bremond Bremond
Bartlett at Meridian Meridian Bartlett Meridian
Rosebud-Lott at Texas Wind
(at Paul Tyson Field)
R-Lott R-Lott R-Lott
Abbott at Covington Abbott Abbott Abbott
Aquilla at Parkview Christian Aquilla Aquilla Aquilla
Blum at Gorman Blum Blum Blum
Penelope at Avalon Penelope Penelope Penelope
Morgan at Bynum Bynum Bynum Bynum
Walnut Springs at Gholson WS WS WS
Jonesboro at Johnson Co. Home Sch. Jonesboro Jonesboro Jonesboro
Cranfills Gap at Gustine Gap Gap Gap
Oglesby at Iredell Oglesby Oglesby Oglesby
Lantana Harvest Chr. at Mount Calm LHC LHC LHC
Last week 22-11 19-14 17-16
Season to date 46-24 45-25 40-30

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