50 Must-See High School Games: 40-31
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.
Monday: Nos. 50-41
TODAY: Nos. 40-31
Wednesday: Nos. 30-21
Thursday: Nos. 20-11
Friday: Nos. 10-1
40. Cibolo Steele at Converse Judson (Week 9)
There are any number of games you can choose from District 25-6A — a who’s who of San Antonio powers — but we chose this late-season matchup for a couple of reasons. For one, we think these are the two best teams in the district, and this will go a long way toward determining the district title. For another, it’s dripping with coaching intrigue: Steele enters its second season under coach Scott Lehnoff, while Judson begins the Sean McAuliffe era after Mark Smith bolted for San Antonio Madison. Expect a stellar Judson defense, led by DB Keivon Ramsey, to go up against the always explosive L.G. Williams-led Steele offense. In one of the best seasons in recent memory in the Alamo City, this game stands out.
39. Brenham at Houston Stratford (Week 7)
One of the major surprises from last year’s playoffs was Houston Stratford. The unranked Spartans caught fire in the postseason and rolled all the way to the state semifinals. For Brenham, it was business as usual as the Cubs reached the 4A Division II state final for the second time in four years. Both teams are poised for deep runs in 2014 and will meet in the defacto 19-5A district title game. Brenham brings back our 5A coverboy Earnest Patterson, who rushed for over 2,400 yards a year ago while Stratford returns our district Defensive MVP Mikal Pruitt. We can’t wait for those two and their teams to collide.
38. Anson at Stamford (Week 9)
Last year, Anson hosted Stamford in what many around the Tigers called the biggest game in program history. And Stamford beat the Tigers en route to a state championship. But things have changed since then. Stamford has lost a boatload of starters and their coach, Wayne Hutchinson, who took off for Lubbock Monterey. Longtime assistant Ronnie Casey takes over, and he’ll have his hands full when they meet Anson, as RB Dustin Moore leads a resurgent Anson squad out for revenge. This is a fun small-school budding rivalry, and the next chapter could be even more intriguing than the last.
37. Cedar Hill at South Oak Cliff (Week 1)
A recruiting nut’s dream, this highly anticipated Dallas-area matchup will feature close to 30 FBS-caliber recruits. That’s right, 30! You won’t find more college-ready talent anywhere else during Texas high school football’s opening weekend. Six of South Oak Cliff’s defensive backs hold FBS offers and will have the daunting task of slowing down arguably the nation’s No. 1 wide receiver in Texas A&M commit DaMarkus Lodge. But that’s just one of many intriguing matchups in this contest. Keep in mind: these two squads are more than just recruiting factories. Cedar Hill won the 5A Division II state title last season, and South Oak Cliff enters the year ranked No. 13 in the new 5A.
36. Houston Lamar at Fort Bend Elkins (Week 2)
Boy howdy, Lamar coach Tom Nolen isn’t afraid of a non-district challenge. The Texans (formerly the Redskins) take on, in consecutive weeks: Brenham, Elkins and Port Arthur Memorial. Whoa. But it’s the Elkins game that has us most giddy, and it’s because of the potential strength-on-strength matchup involved. Elkins’ team speed is nearly unmatched, with QB Johnathan Giles and DE Leroy Godfrey leading the charge. But Lamar got a coup of a transfer late in the game with Fort Bend Marshall QB J.W. Ketchum transferred to Lamar. Now, the Texans look like a Houston-area threat again. But we keep hearing all about Elkins, and how they’re a threat to win it all. This early test will serve as a barometer for both teams.
35. Hubbard at Chilton (Week 6)
A rematch of last year’s area round showdown, this game will likely be for the district championship in the monster 8-team league that is 10-2A DII. Chilton got the better of Hubbard last year in a 28-6 victory, but gone is running back Charles Simpson, who was responsible for all of the Pirates’ scores in that game. Instead, Chilton will lean on veteran quarterback Norvell Austin. But he’ll have a tough time putting up big numbers on a Hubbard defense that returns eight starters and is hungry for revenge.
34. Hallettsville at Goliad (Week 7)
On its face, this may look like a mistake on this list. I mean, c’mon: Hallettsville is, in our view, the best team in 3A DI, while Goliad is coming off a 7-5 season. But look a little deeper and you will find one of the best storylines in Texas: QB Nate Kowalik, who transferred from Hallettsville to district rival Goliad late in the spring. That’s what we in the business call a game-changer. Kowalik is the best player in the district, and he’ll be out to prove it – and give the Tigers an edge in District 15-3A DI. But don’t think the Brahmas, who have state title aspirations, will treat their old teammate with kid gloves.
33. Newton at Corrigan-Camden (Week 9)
It seems every year Newton is the favorite to win its district. And for good reason — the Eagles are 25-2 over the last two seasons and have had decades of postseason success. But winning district 11-3A DII won’t exactly be a cakewalk. Corrigan-Camden reached the regional semifinals a year ago and enters the year ranked No. 6. The Bulldogs bring back numerous key starters including stud 2,000-yard rusher Keegan Mitchell. Still, Newton is ranked No. 3 and features seven returning starters on each side of the ball. And we haven’t even mentioned do-it-all athlete Roney Elam, one of the state’s premier small-school players.
32. Rockdale at Lago Vista (Week 8)
Bet we can sell you on this game in four bullet points. Ready? Here goes.
-It’s No. 4 on the road against No. 7 in our preseason 3A DI rankings.
-Depending on what Cameron Yoe (No. 2) does, this will be for critical playoff positioning.-It’s Rockdale’s explosive offense (remember the name: WR Pearce Loth) against Lago’s never-easy defense (remember the name: LB Chayseland Taylor).
-This is great example of what could be a budding rivalry created by realignment: Rockdale and Lago Vista are 72 miles apart, and yet have never played one another. So there’s a bit of a blank slate feel here as well.
31. Sinton at Cuero (Week 9)
This might very well be the biggest small-school game of the year down in South Texas. Sinton is simply loaded. The Pirates bring back 14 starters from last year’s state semifinalist team including one of the most underrated dual-threat quarterbacks in the Lone Star State in Tyler Handson, who amassed over 4,000 yards of total offense and scored 50 touchdowns in 2013. Cuero, a traditional Region IV powerhouse, is coming off an appearance in the regional semifinals and has a star of its own — UTSA commit and 1,800-yard rusher D’Anthony Hopkins. You won’t want to miss this battle for the District 15-4A DII title.
Coming tomorrow: Nos. 30-21 on DCTF's countdown of the 50 can't miss high school games of 2014!
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