Here we go: Previewing this week’s high school football games.
Remember to check out wacotrib.com/tribfridaynight for a live, constantly updated scoreboard and Twitter updates from around the area.
West Mesquite (2-8 in 2019) at Waco High (1-9)
TV: WISD-TV Channel 17
Breakdown: Though West Mesquite won just twice in 2019, Waco High coach Kwame Cavil is familiar with the caliber of talent in that area and says that the Wranglers will give the Lions a tussle right out of the gate. “Coach (Johnny) Tusa used to say this, when you play good teams early, you bare your naked soul. Because you get exposed,” Cavil said. “You say, ‘Oh, I thought I was good here, but maybe I’m not that good.’ But we’re going to line up and see how good we can be and go from there.”
The Wranglers feature a Central Texas connection in new coach Frank Sandoval, who led Mexia from 2017-19. Sandoval had the Blackcats on an upward trajectory during his tenure there, and Cavil expects he’ll do the same at West Mesquite. “We’ve got a lot of respect for Coach Sandoval and his track record,” he said.
Waco High will count on an experienced defense to try to snuff out the Wranglers’ attack, led by LB Tyron Minnitt Jr. and DE Ja’Marcus Carprew. One guy to watch as the season unfolds is DT King Mosley, a freshman who boasts some of the most eye-popping size (6-3, 300) on the Lions’ roster.
Mexia (1-3) at No. 7 China Spring (3-0)
Breakdown: On the surface, this looks like a rebuilding Mexia team under first-year coach Triston Abron being served up as fodder for the state-ranked Cougars.
But it could be much more competitive than that.
China Spring coach Brian Bell knows what kind of players the Blackcats have on both sides of the ball.
“(Mexia QB Le’Marion Miller) throws the mess out of the ball and he does a fantastic job of running with the football,” Bell said. “(Running back Jarrell Wiley) is an outstanding talent. And both of those guys play defense, so you’ve got to deal with them the entire game.”
On the flip side, Abron has seen how China Spring can spread the field and put defenses in a bind. That strategy combined with how hard and fast Cougars RB Emmanuel Abdallah hits the holes makes the Cougars running game difficult to defend.
But the Mexia coach believes his defense is getting better each week. If the Blackcats can slow down China Spring, this could be a fantastic nondistrict showdown.
Academy (4-0) at Lorena (2-1)
Streaming: NFHS Network
Breakdown: Lorena showed excellent adaptability last week as the Leopards suited up 28 players (fewer than usual due to COVID-19 contact tracing), installed a freshman at running back and stomped Madisonville, 56-25.
Freshman Kasen Taylor carried nine times for 107 yards and two touchdowns last week and starting RB Reed Michna produced 114 rushing yards and 4 TDs. That run-game production gives Lorena plenty of momentum headed into its 11-3A D-I opener.
But it looks like the Leopards will need it as Academy enters on a four-game winning streak that includes back-to-back shutouts against Groesbeck and Lago Vista.
Lorena coach Ray Biles said he has great respect for Academy coach Chris Lancaster. Additionally, Biles is wary of Bumblebees QB Jerry Cephus, who has passed for more than 600 yards so far this season.
Rockdale (2-2) at McGregor (2-2)
Breakdown: The McGregor Bulldogs set up a strategically clever nondistrict schedule as they battled 4A Lake Worth and area superpower Mart in their first two games. They lost those two, but them came back and defeated Jarrell and Arlington Oakridge.
Now to find out if the Bulldogs' prelude to a tough district slate will pay off. Rockdale, which was tabbed as the 11-3A D-I favorite by Texas Football, comes in for the loop opener.
“They’re picked to win it and it’s one of those games that we have nothing to lose,” McGregor coach Mike Shields said. “We told the kids, we scheduled Mart so that, when we get into the game against Rockdale, we’ve seen that kind of speed and it’s not new to us.”
The Tigers feature a good running passing combo in RB Cam’ron Valdez and QB Kobe Mitchell. Fortunately for McGregor, the Bulldogs are back to 100 % healthy in the secondary with the expected return of Dayton Threadgill this week from a concussion that kept him out last week.
McGregor QB VeAndre McDaniel leads all Central Texas passers with 809 passing yards and 12 TDs so far this season.
Fairfield (0-3) at Groesbeck (2-2)
Breakdown: Did Fairfield really leave Class 4A? The Eagles’ first game against someone other than a Class 4A opponent in 2020 will be their District 8-3A opener against the Goats.
Groesbeck’s two-game losing slide coincided with the loss of sophomore dual-threat QB Allen Lewis to injury. Lewis was hurt on the fifth play of the Goats’ 45-0 loss to Academy two weeks ago, prompting some lineup shuffling that had effects both offensively and defensively.
“When you’re in a rebuilding mode, like we are, that really upsets the apple cart,” Groesbeck coach Jerry Bomar said.
The good news for the Goats is that Lewis should return for this game against Fairfield. Despite the Eagles’ winless record, Bomar views them as an athletic team that poses a “unique challenge” because of the aggressiveness they show defensively.
“With the pressure they put on you, it’s going to be a different ball game,” Bomar said. “These kids have never played that kind of pressure. … Hopefully we play well.”
Fairfield coach John Bachtel agreed that the Eagles have been at their best when they’ve made the quarterback “uncomfortable.”
“If you can make the other guy not set his feet, that’s good for us,” Bachtel said.
Riesel (2-2) at Clifton (1-3)
Breakdown: Reverse! Watch the reverse!
The Indians and Cubs have seen a reversal of fortunes in recent weeks. After getting out to a 2-0 start, Riesel has stubbed its toe the past two weeks against Clyde and Bosqueville, losing by a combined score of 104-40. Clifton, meanwhile, broke into the win column for the first time in 2020 with last week’s 43-26 romp over Tenaha.
Wipe the whiteboard squeaky clean, though, because it all starts anew with this District 13-3A Div. II opener.
“We look at our nondistrict games the way NFL teams view preseason games,” said Riesel coach Keith Stifflemire. “We want to do well, we’ve had our fun, but now when we get into district it’s time to really get serious.”
Stifflemire said that last week’s Bosqueville blowout did Riesel some favors, by exposing areas of concern. They’ll try to shape those up as they prepare for a Clifton team that might still be the district favorite, even after opening at 1-3.
Clifton coach Chuck Caniford said that he’s just happy that his team is improving week to week and that it picked up a little momentum with last week’s victory.
“It’s definitely better than the alternative, but what was more important that we played well. That was something we talked about all week, that it was our last opportunity in nondistrict to put it all together and if that was good enough to win, then great,” Caniford said.
Chilton (2-2) at Kerens (1-3)
Breakdown: The Pirates snapped back like a rubber band following a two-game losing slide, as they plowed Axtell last week, 58-14.
UT Daylon Ford was the catalyst for Chilton, rushing for four touchdowns in the win. QB McKellar Cook has also shown a nice ability to get out in the open field and make tacklers miss.
In Kerens, Chilton draws a team that has lost three straight games since a season-opening win over Meridian. The Bobcats will undoubtedly be hungry to change that trend, but Chilton wants to keep its winning ways going in its last tuneup before opening up District 10-2A action against powerhouse Mart on Oct. 2.
Burnet (2-2) at Robinson (2-2)
Radio: 99.3 FM
Breakdown: The Rockets delivered a superb all-around performance in a 35-21 win over Fairfield as they showed offensive explosiveness when Brady Kay broke off a 72-yard touchdown run while the defense came up big with interceptions by Cooper Petty, Slade McCloud and Trey Stout.
“We improved in the areas we needed to improve,” said Robinson coach Robert Rubel. “The biggest thing we did was overcoming adversity, which is something we hadn’t been doing the past year or two. Hopefully we’re turning a corner.”
After opening with a pair of wins, Burnet dropped a 30-7 decision to Boerne and a 36-22 loss to Brownwood in the past two games. Marcus Escamilla rushed for 117 yards and Ethan Wolfe picked up 73 yards rushing against Brownwood.
“Burnet’s got a bunch of good looking kids,” Rubel said. “They run a pretty multiple offense and are aggressive on defense. They’ll load the box, so it will be a good test for our running game.”
Bosqueville (1-2) at Rio Vista (4-0)
Breakdown: Bosqueville has had a couple of weeks to mull over its 27-26 double-overtime loss to Palmer.
The Bulldogs tied the game on Hunter Henexson’s one-yard run, but their two-point conversion attempt failed.
They’ll need to play a complete game to have a shot against powerful Rio Vista, which improved to 4-0 with a 62-0 win over Tioga.
The Eagles are averaging 42 points per game behind dual-threat quarterback Taylor Pritchett, who has completed 69.9 percent for 678 yards and seven touchdowns while rushing for 289 yards and six touchdowns.
Wyatt Johnson has rushed for 277 yards and four touchdowns while Anthony Perez is the Eagles’ top receiver with 16 catches for 337 yards and four scores.
Brentwood Christian (8-3 in 2019) at Bishop Reicher (4-7)
Streaming: NFHS Network
Breakdown: Reicher has been champing at the bit to play football, so the excitement level will be high when the Cougars open the season against Brentwood Christian.
“It (the excitement level) is a 10 like Varsity Blues,” said Reicher coach Tyler Holcomb. “We can’t wait to start.”
The Cougars will be dynamic offensively with the addition of transfer running back Eli Cummings, who rushed for 1,517 yards and 24 touchdowns last season for La Vega. Quarterback Jake Boozer is back after passing for 1,428 yards and 10 touchdowns and rushing for 1,023 yards and 21 scores in a 4-7 season for the Cougars in 2019.
Reicher’s only returning starting offensive lineman is Maverick Plsek, but Holcomb likes the development he’s seen from the juniors who will fill the other four spots up front.
“We’re very lucky to have those two good players (Cummings and Boozer), but we’ve got a lot of good players,” Holcomb said. “We’ve got all juniors on our offensive line, and we think we’ll be faster there and can do more with our screen game.”
Coming off an 8-3 season, Brentwood will rebuild behind wide receiver-defensive back Zack Billante and running back Connor Rohlack, who rushed for 529 yards and seven touchdowns last season.
Trib staff’s Week 5 high school football predictions
|CHAD CONINE||BRICE CHERRY||GLYNN BEATY|
|West Mesquite at Waco High||W. Mesquite||W. Mesquite||W. Mesquite|
|Temple vs. Longview
(8 p.m. at AT&T Stadium)
|Georgetown at Belton||Georgetown||Belton||Belton|
|Mexia at China Spring||CS||CS||CS|
|Burnet at Robinson||Robinson||Burnet||Robinson|
|Whitney at Dallas Life Oak Cliff*||Whitney||Whitney||Whitney|
|Fairfield at Groesbeck*||Fairfield||Fairfield||Fairfield|
|Kemp at Teague*||Teague||Teague||Teague|
|Rockdale at McGregor*||Rockdale||Rockdale||McGregor|
|Academy at Lorena*||Lorena||Lorena||Lorena|
|Caldwell at Cameron Yoe*||Yoe||Yoe||Yoe|
|Riesel at Clifton*||Clifton||Clifton||Clifton|
|Bosqueville at Rio Vista* (7 p.m.)||Bosqueville||Rio Vista||Bosqueville|
|Itasca at Hamilton* (7 p.m.)||Hamilton||Hamilton||Hamilton|
|Valley Mills at Tolar* (7 p.m.)||Valley Mills||Tolar||Valley Mills|
|Hubbard at Dawson||Dawson||Dawson||Dawson|
|Wortham at Marlin||Marlin||Marlin||Marlin|
|Moody at Thorndale*||Thorndale||Thorndale||Thorndale|
|Rosebud-Lott at Thrall*||R-Lott||R-Lott||R-Lott|
|Italy at Meridian||Italy||Italy||Italy|
|Centerville at Bremond||Bremond||Bremond||Bremond|
|Chilton at Kerens||Chilton||Chilton||Chilton|
|Frost at Evadale (7 p.m. at Crockett)||Frost||Evadale||Frost|
|Austin Brentwood Christian at Bishop Reicher||Reicher||Reicher||Reicher|
|Cumby at Texas Wind||Cumby||Cumby||Cumby|
|Milford at Jonesboro||Jonesboro||Jonesboro||Jonesboro|
|May at Blum||May||May||May|
|Walnut Springs at Covington||WS||WS||WS|
|Bynum at Mount Calm||Bynum||Bynum||Bynum|
|Abbott at Iredell||Abbott||Abbott||Abbott|
|Penelope at Evant||Penelope||Penelope||Penelope|
|Gholson at Blanket||Blanket||Blanket||Blanket|
|Morgan at Eden (6:30 p.m.)||Morgan||Eden||Eden|
|Oglesby at Eagle Christian (Paul Tyson)||Oglesby||ECA||Oglesby|
|Parkview Christian at Coolidge||Coolidge||Coolidge||Coolidge|
|RR Concordia at Vanguard||Vanguard||Vanguard||Vanguard|
|Westlake Acad. at Methodist Home*||MCH||Westlake||Westlake|
|Aquilla at Dallas UME Prep (1 p.m. Sat.)||Aquilla||Aquilla||Aquilla|
|Live Oak vs. Huntsville Alpha Omega
(6 p.m. Sat. at Bryan Allen Academy)
|Live Oak||Alpha Omega||Live Oak|
|* District games|
|Season to date||97-42||88-51||89-50|
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