50 Must-See High School Games: 30-21
Continuing our countdown Texas high school football's 50 must-see games.
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This week, Dave Campbell’s Texas Football is counting down the top 50 must-see Texas high school football games in 2014. Keep in mind: this is not necessarily a ranking of the top 50 games, but rather the 50 games you won’t want to miss. One rule to remember: each game must feature two Texas teams. We will take a look at the best Texas vs. out of state games later this month.
30. West Orange-Stark at Jasper (Week 3)
Though they’re separated by just 65 miles, West Orange-Stark and Jasper find themselves in different regions of the state (the Golden Triangle and the Piney Woods, respectively), and seem to subscribe to their region’s native style of play. For Jasper, there’s plenty of speedy weapons offensively, especially WR Chris Spikes and do-it-all athlete Randy Spikes. For West Orange-Stark, it’s crushing defense, led by all-everything DB Deionte Thompson. So when they go at it in Week 3, it won’t just be a clash in styles; it’ll be a clash in geography.
29. Arp at Waskom (Week 7)
Want to know a ridiculous fact? Of course you do. Well, here it is: Waskom brings back four 1,000-yard rushers. That’s right, four! The Wildcats have an embarrassment of riches in the backfield headlined by our 3A cover boy Kevin Johnson and his just as dangerous cousin June Bug Johnson. Both told us earlier this offseason that Waskom is ready to take the next step after reaching the state semifinals a year ago. But a very good Arp team stands in their way in 8-3A DII. The Tigers have a couple of solid defenders in Tyrone Hunt and Kalik Hunt as a well as an explosive playmaker of their own in Marcalas Johnson. All we can say is what a matchup out in #bEASTtexas.
28. Coldspring-Oakhurst at Navasota (Week 3)
You have to hand it to Coldspring head coach Bryan Barbay and Navasota head coach Lee Fedora: they aren’t afraid to take on anyone. That’s exactly how you get a non-district matchup between our No. 2 team in 4A DI (Navasota) and our No. 6 team in 4A DII (Coldspring-Oakhurst). But aside from the rankings, this is as tantalizing a matchup as you’ll find in 4A, simply because of the firepower. From Navasota’s WR Jerbrell Lipscomb and RB Derrion Randle, to Coldspring’s RB Daylon Giddens, there are offensive stars everywhere. The difference may be the defenses, where Coldspring has an ace in the hole in LB Alec Dunham. It may not have the sizzle of a district or playoff game, but this one will be electric.
27. CC Flour Bluff at CC Calallen (Week 9)
We wrote yesterday that Cuero vs. Sinton was the most anticipated small-school matchup in South Texas. So what about big schools? You’re looking at it. Flour Bluff vs. Calallen is not only going to be a battle for the 30-5A district championship but Coastal Bend supremacy. On one side, you have Calallen, a regional powerhouse with unmatched tradition in the area. On the other, you have an upstart Flour Bluff team with high expectations and arguably the Coastal Bend’s most talented player in Jalen Campbell, who missed all of last year with a torn ACL. This one will go down to the wire, but here is a key stat: Flour Bluff returns 10 starters on offense and Calallen returns zero on defense.
26. Gilmer at Tatum (Week 3)
Ho-hum, another non-district match, you’re thinking to yourself. Well, besides the fact that this showdown of East Texas small-school powers is about as good as they come, and putting aside the tremendous athletes that will be on display like Gilmer’s two-way star Kris Boyd and Tatum’s crushing linebackers in Devon Boyd and Kyshaun Smith, consider this: as unlikely as it may be, there is a greater-than-zero chance that this is a first-round playoff preview. That’s right: Gilmer’s 5-4A DI takes on Tatum’s 6-4A DI in the first round of the playoffs. Will they line up to do it again come Week 12? Maybe not. But just in case you thought non-district games were meaningless, this could be a playoff preview, either in the first round or in the regional final.
25. Rogers at Franklin (Week 1)
How about this for an opening week matchup? These two 3A DII powers will meet in one of the most intriguing non-district games in the state. Watching both relentless Slot-T attacks should be fun to say the least. Franklin opens up the year ranked No. 4 thanks to its experience — 15 total returning starters — and massive offensive line that will simply wear down opponents. Rogers comes in right behind Franklin at No. 5 and also has a mammoth line as well as the top offensive player in 10-3A DII in fullback Brady Malovets, who rushed for over 1,700 yards a year ago. Both teams are going run the ball, be physical on defense and at the end of the day, the strongest will survive.
24. Katy at The Woodlands (Week 3)
You know Katy. You know the state championships, you know the legend Gary Joseph, you know the give-you-nothing defense and take-it-all running game. But if you take a step back, isn’t The Woodlands a carbon copy of the Tigers? Fearsome running game? Well, yeah, with RB Patrick Carr, you know that’s the case. Terrific defense? As always, especially this year with LB Corey Sanders and S Geoff Keating back. Fantastic coach? Mark Schmid’s one of the best in the business. When the Tigers and the Highlanders meet on September 12, it’ll be like looking in a mirror. And we can’t wait to see it.
23. FW Nolan Catholic at Plano Prestonwood (Week 9)
This might be the fiercest private school rivalry in the state tight now. Not only are these two squads district foes, but they competed in the TAAPS Division I final a year ago. FW Nolan avenged a two-point regular season loss to Prestonwood with a thrilling 24-21 win in title game — it was FW Nolan’s third straight title. The Vikings enter the year ranked No. 2 in our preseason private schools poll and should be strong again despite losing a bevvy of starters. But this might finally be Prestonwood’s year. The Lions are our preseason favorite to win it all. Prestonwood's two-quarterback system features talented signal-callers Ryan Cash and Twayne Blackwell. They’ll be throwing early and often to Michael Irvin Jr. — son of ‘The Playmaker.’
22. Abilene Wylie at Stephenville (Week 11)
Nobody likes playing The Waiting Game, but we’ll have to do it to decide the champion of District 3-4A DI. That’s when Hugh Sandifer’s Abilene Wylie squad will travel to Stephenville to take on Joseph Gillespie’s Yellow Jackets. The rankings make it a must-see game right now — Stephenville is our No. 1 team, and Wylie ranks No. 10 — but what’ll be most interesting will be seeing what these teams look like once November rolls around. Neither team has a particular depth of experience, and though Stephenville has one of the state’s best players in QB Jarrett Stidham, teams grow and expand and change over the course of a season. Wylie’s defense, led by LB Clay Johnston, will be a mature unit by then, and they should provide Stidham and company with all they can handle in what should be the district title game.
21. Celina at Argyle (Week 3)
This is very much a ‘Clash of the Titans’ game down in 4A. Both teams have plenty of hardware in their respective trophy cases and are poised to be in the title conversation this season. Argyle, which hoisted a trophy at AT&T Stadium last year, has the daunting task of replacing a slew of key contributors from last year’s squad including guys like Ian Sadler and Connor Wilson. But the game plan for the No. 5 Eagles (4A Division I) will remain the same — pound the ball with Arizona State commit Nick Ralston and play defense. No. 3 Celina (4A Division II) also likes to run the football, but expect the Bobcats to air out more this year. Why? Quarterback Nathan Elliott, a North Carolina pledge, is one of the top signal-callers in the state and his go-to receiver, Cash Conder, isn’t too shabby either.
Coming tomorrow: Nos. 20-11 on DCTF's countdown of the 50 can't miss high school games of 2014!
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