Perseverance Advances Aquilla into Playoffs over Rival Abbott by Garrett Ross

Abbott- Kadyn Johnson was able to break loose early in the fourth quarter and put Abbott
ahead of Aquilla 44-35 after a Maurizio Bauer PAT; it would be the last lead of the game the
Panthers would see.
“Once Abbott took the lead on us we kept our composure and told our kids to keep their heads,”
said Aquilla Head Coach Josh Ball. “We asked the kids to keep battling and lean on one another
and go get a score of our own.”
Aquilla looked towards their senior leader, Connor McCurdy, to elevate them past Abbott in his
final opportunity to play in this rivalry.
McCurdy helped close the gap to 44-43 on the Abbott lead, with his fourth touchdown of the
game from five yards out, but he wasn’t finished.
The Cougars put together a nice drive as the clock ticked under three minutes remaining in the
game.
Once again, McCurdy was able to capitalize on the moment, with a 29-yard touchdown run that
gave Aquilla a 49-44 lead with 2:25 remaining in the game.
“Connor is a difference maker for us in so many ways. It truly is a great feeling having a kid that
will give everything he has to make his team successful,” said Ball. “He is the one that wants the
ball in his hands when the game is on the line and he wants to carry the weight.”
Nothing ever comes easy when these two teams get together and when playoff implications are
on the line, that amplifies the atmosphere.
“It’s always a fight between Aquilla and Abbott, it’s the biggest game of the year, despite what
the records or anything else,” said Ball. “It’s truly a blast not only to have played in this rivalry,
but to coach in it as well.”
Coming into this game, Aquilla needed to win outright in order to claim runner-up in District 10
1A DI behind Blum. The Cougars have now claimed a playoff berth and will face Saint Jo in the
Bi-District round, with a date, time and location TBD.

Cowboy’s Sixshooter Six Weeks and Thousands of Miles

This has been a busy season for me. In six weeks I have logged 3500 miles and covered sixteen games.

I started my season at Jayton, and watched several top ranked teams. Weeks two and three I covered some of the little guys- teams that are largely ignored by the media. Mullin vs Trent and Morgan vs Three-Way were both fun games to watch. None of these teams are championship contenders, but they played hard and renewed my love for underdogs.

Week four Brandi and I traveled to Weskan Kansas and Kit Carson Colorado. We chose them because they are only 45 miles apart. Both towns made us feel extremely welcome.
I didn’t realize I would get to see a top ranked team from each state. Moscow, now at #2 in Kansas, used a strong running game to defeat Weskan. It was homecoming for Kit Carson , #1 in Colorado, and they destroyed rival Eads.

We followed underappreciated teams again week 5. Thursday night was Cranfills Gap at Bynum. Gap won by mercy rule, but Bynum put up a good fight. I think both of these teams have a good chance at winning their respective districts.
Friday we made the short trip to Gholson for the Wildcats homecoming game against Buckholts.

Week 6, Brandi and I continued our trend of following teams that don’t get much attention. We started our weekend at Prairie Lea. The Indians fell to Oglesby, but are showing a vast improvement over last season. Oglesby looks solid and should have a shot at second place in their district.
Saturday found us in Dime Box. This was one of the most interesting days I’ve had. When we arrived, the coaches were using sand to fill cracks in the baseball field. Yes, you read that correctly. Dime Box doesn’t have a football field so they painted lines on the baseball field.
A player arrived on a horse, then after I talked to the team, they got in a truck to be in the town parade.
There was no scoreboard or clock so both were kept by officials. During halftime I hung out at my truck with the officials, deputies, and Dime Box fans. The game ended with Dime Box winning 64-32.

For the first time this season, Brandi and I will be going to different games this week. I’ll be at the Evant vs Leakey game, and she will be at Milford’s homecoming. I’ll try to find time to recap the game I attend.

Johnson Looks to Change Culture at Prairie Lea

By Garrett Ross

A 2-2 record before the bye might not seem like much for some teams, but for Prairie Lea it shows signs of promise.

The Indians haven’t seen very many victories over the past two seasons, in fact, they have more wins in 2019 than the previous two seasons combined.

First year head coach Josh Johnson isn’t a stranger to turning programs around, in fact, he actually has a knack for it.

“I would consider myself a strong motivator and really relatable to student athletes, just in my experiences in different walks of life. The hardest part of turning a program around is getting the athletes to buy in. Once you get them bought in, the job becomes much easier,” said Johnson. “The kids here at Prairie Lea are some of the hardest working kids that I have coached. Our job as a staff now is to make sure that continue to change the culture and mindset of a program that has struggled in years past.

Johnson took the job at Prairie Lea after guiding Wichita Christian to a 6-4 record in 2018. Wichita Christian was very similar to Prairie Lea prior to the arrival of Johnson.

From 2009-2013, Wichita Christian won a total of ten games. Johnson took over the program in 2015 and immediately made an impact. The Stars opened the 2015 season with back-to-back 50-0 victories over Benjamin and Gold-Burg and finished the season 7-5.

During his tenure at Wichita Christian, Johnson had an overall record of 25-19. Johnson had similar success at Heath Fulton from 2010-2014.

Heath Fulton, like Prairie Lea, had just one victory in two seasons prior before Johnson took over. In 2010, Johnson guided Heath Fulton to a 5-6 record, then in his second season Heath Fulton went 9-3.

Johnson turned the Heath Fulton program around and finished with an overall record of 32-15 as their head coach. Prior to his arrival, Heath Fulton was 1-39 in four seasons of play.

Johnson also coached one season at Clovis Christian in New Mexico and he won a state championship in 2009 at Duncan Life Christway as the OC.

“Every time I step into a program, I plan for and treat that program like I’m going to have a long future there. With that being said, I’m always open to the call of the Lord and where he might need me or my family,” said Johnson. “ My wife also coaches so decisions to move are never just based on just my job. We have a son that is in 4th grade and as he approaches JH and HS, we would like for him, and our older daughter, to have stability at one school for his jh/Hs career.”

Every coach seems to have a calling to the profession and most have been inspired by fellow coaches along the way. Johnson is no different and he has had two people in particular who have provided that inspiration.

“I have two coaches that have had the biggest influence on me. My two offensive coordinators in college, Robert Clyde (from 2003-2005) and Alexander Wright (2006), at Southwestern AG,” said Johnson. “Coach Wright was actually one of my idols growing up as he is a former Cowboys, Raiders and Rams WR. They both very high character coaches that held me extremely accountable on and off the football field.”

The numbers don’t lie, Johnson knows what it takes to create a winning culture. Johnson is currently in his 13th season as a head coach and his overall record is 61-39.

Prairie Lea seems to be the perfect place for Johnson to try his magic in the public school setting. The Indians are no strangers to adversity and if Johnson can turn this program around then the possibilities are endless.

“I consider myself a builder and a rebuilder. Prairie Lea seemed like the perfect opportunity for this. I really felt the Lord placing me in a school like Prairie Lea for this season in my life. Football for me is more than x’s and o’s and I felt/feel like I could really make an impact here,” said Johnson. “I had known the AD at Prairie Lea for a few years now and she was a big part of me wanting to join this community. We also really like the Hill Country Area as we vacation in New Braunfels a lot.”

Prairie Lea will resume play on October 4, 2019 as they host an Oglesby team who is reeling. The Indians play four of their next six games at home and are looking to end their playoff drought.

Johnson is confident that playing at home will help provide a boost of energy for Prairie Lea.

“Playing at home probably gives us a little bit more confidence as we know we will have more community when we are playing in town.”

Changing the culture of a program is something that takes time and it doesn’t begin at the varsity level.

When you look at the programs across the state who have consistent success, it’s because the kids in elementary and junior high have bought in and understand what’s expected of them before they enter high school.

Johnson is fully aware of this concept and believes that with time he can implement that mindset at Prairie Lea and turn the Indians into playoff contenders.

“Coaching staff stability, continuous buy in and improvement of our JH programs across the board are what it’s going to take to get Prairie Lea in playoffs.”

Cowboy’s Sixshooter 2019 Dark Horse

Last year, I picked Leakey as my dark horse team, and it proved to be a wise decision. Hopefully I’ll do as well this time.

My dark horse this year is from the West, and their overall team speed is impressive. In fact, the coach decided to use F.A.S.T. as their team slogan. Not only does it describe their athletic strong point, it also stands for
Family, Attitude, Sacrifice, Toughness.
Some of you will have figured out who I’m talking about. For those that haven’t, it’s the Spur Bulldogs. They finished last season with a 7-3 record- a ten point loss to Aspermont ended their chances of a playoff spot. This year, it looks like team chemistry has improved and I think that, combined with their talent and drive, will give them the potential to be giant slayers.
I spoke with Coach Clark about his team. “We barely missed out on a playoff spot in a tough district last year. This season, we are hoping to get better each week and prove to ourselves we are capable of being an elite group.”

Keep an eye on this team, I they may shake things up a bit.

Cowboy’s Sixshooter UIL Division I Top Teams

I could be way off, but here’s my thoughts on the preseason top 10.
I have 11 teams listed because I believe there is a tie for the number ten spot.

1. McLean Tigers
In 2018, the Tigers were the single most dominant team in six-man. Graduation removed a lot of top-notch talent from their roster, but that doesn’t mean they’re done. Ben Crockett will be back for another season, and he has proven that he can’t be easily stopped. McLean also has several players ready to step into starting positions and prove themselves.
Before two-a-days began, Coach Linman told me “we’ll have six good kids on the field”. A knowledgeable friend attended McLean’s second scrimmage and verified it. In his words “they are scary this year. I don’t think there’s anyone in D1 that is going to challenge them.”

2. Milford Bulldogs
Milford finished last season in the number two spot, losing the championship game to McLean. The loss of Smith and Schrotke will have an impact on the Bulldogs, but there are still enough talented players who can fill their spots. If this team can become fundamentally disciplined, they’ll have a shot at winning it all this year.

3. White Deer Bucks
The Bucks had a good season in 2018, unfortunately district foe McLean had a better season. White Deer lost twice to McLean- once in district and again in the quarter-finals.
White Deer returns the bulk of a very talented squad, and will be looking to redeem themselves. This is definitely a team to keep an eye on.

4. Balmorhea Bears
If you follow Texas six-man, you know Vance Jones has turned Balmorhea into a perennial powerhouse. The Bears have been a quarter-final, or better, team since 2015. Every year they lose high end talent to graduation, but someone always seems to step up and fill the spot. I don’t expect this year to be any different.

5. Ira Bulldogs
Ira is consistently a playoff team, but they don’t seem to be able to get past the quarter-finals. Coach Goodwin hopes he can lead his team over that hump this season, and with five returning starters on both sides of the ball he may be able to do it. The Bulldogs’ experience will help, but they’ll need to be fundamentally sound to get where they want to be.

6. Leakey Eagles
Leakey was my dark horse team last year, and they didn’t disappoint me. The players bought into Coach Williams program, and were rewarded with a trip to the semi-finals their first year in six-man. The Eagles will be returning enough experienced players to give them a good shot at returning to the semis, but don’t expect them to be satisfied with stopping there. They will be hoping for a trip to AT&T Stadium.

7. Sterling City Eagles
Sterling City finished 2018 at 9-2. They return five offensive and four defensive starters. If they can stay healthy, and improve every week, they should be able to win a district title- and make a good playoff run.

8. Borden County Coyotes
The Coyotes only made it two rounds deep last year, and will have just three starters returning. I’m including them in the top ten because of tradition and coaching, but they will have to really step up if they hope to make a deep run this year.
Coach Richey sounded optimistic about his team. In his words “I really like our team chemistry and work ethic. This has been a very good preseason working group.”

9. Blum Bobcats
I asked Coach Thornhill if there was anything he wanted to say about the upcoming season, and he outdid himself. “We have five starters returning on both sides of the ball. This group has worked extremely hard from Nov 23 of last year. When you have a group that comes in the Monday after a loss and genuinely asks what they need to do to not have to ride the bus home as a loser, you know it is step in he right direction. After the first step comes the work, and we were 96 percent attendance this summer. These kids work and they work hard. We have as much talent as anyone in the state and work as hard than any of them. The only problems will be can we stay healthy and continue to our work people during the week? Can we keep this train on the track through the storms that develop through the year with 16 year old young men? We will be noticed but I’m not sure if they will be worried about us- we will see Saturday on the largest stage of the week.

DAD
Disciplined
Aggressive
Domination”


10. Garden City Bearkats
Garden City only has one returning starter, but they have ten seniors who have been waiting for their chance to shine. Like many of the other teams in this list, coaching and tradition keep them among the top teams. Coach Jones verified my thoughts. “We are confident that a few of these seniors will step in and fill those spots.”

10. Gorman Panthers
The Panthers will have three returning players on each side of the ball- including an All-state player on both sides. Coach Dixon put things into fewer words than I would have. “Both of my All-staters will have to have big years, and some young guys have to step up for us. We will learn a lot the first two weeks- we start the season with Milford and Strawn.”

Cowboy’s Sixshooter

Top Teams in Texas UIL Division II


The season is drawing closer, so I decided it was time to dust off the sixshooter. As always, these are my opinions.

1. Strawn Greyhounds
The Greyhounds lost a load of talented players to graduation, but that doesn’t mean they’re done. They still have several battle tested young men who are ready to prove themselves. They also have some other attributes of a number one team- tradition, program, and top-notch coaching. I will keep the back-to-back defending champions at number one until they give me a reason to move them down the list.

2. Jayton Jaybirds
Last season didn’t start well for Jayton, but they obviously learned from their mistakes. They turned things around and made it to the semi-finals.
The Jaybirds return the majority of their starters so I expect them to have a better start this year. They will face some tough tests along the way, but I expect to see them at AT&T Stadium in December.

3. Richland Springs Coyotes
The Coyotes made it to the quarter-finals last season, and they are loaded once again. This team will be hungry for a ninth championship win. Tradition, talent, and the return of a proven coaching staff will make them contenders. They won’t have an easy playoff run, but a trip to the big dance is possible.

4. Oakwood Panthers
Coach Tritz summed it up well when I asked about Oakwood’s returning starters and their expectations for the upcoming season. ” We only return three starters from last season, but they are talented, dependable on-field leaders. (Davis, Sargent, and Edgemon) Our expectations are to return to the semi-finals and give ourselves a chance at winning a State Championship. We know it won’t be easy, we’ll have to face quality teams, but I have faith in my boys.”
There’s really not much I can add to that.

5. Grandfalls-Royalty Cowboys
The Cowboys finished 10-3 last season, losing to Jayton in the quarter-finals. They return a host of good players who will remember that heartbreaking loss. They have the potential to get some upset victories this season, and a rematch against Jayton is possible.

6. Motley County Matadors
Any discussion about perennial powerhouses has to include the Matadors. 2006 was the last time they weren’t in the playoffs. Coach Bigham led his team to the quarter-finals last season, but lost to state runner-up Follett.
Coach Bigham’s take on the upcoming season- “Expectations are high as usual here at Motley County!! We will be young another year but we will have the kids playing hard for their school!”
I don’t see anyone stopping this team before the semi-finals.

7. Blackwell Hornets
In 2018 I predicted that Blackwell would face Strawn for the Division II title, but Jayton took them out in the second round. The Hornets will still be a very good team, but they won’t have an easy time in the playoffs.

8. Calvert Trojans
The Trojans always seem to be loaded with talent, but lack the fundamentals to win the tough playoff games. Coach Ashley has been trying to change that, and if he can Calvert will likely start working their way up in the rankings.

9. Blanket Tigers
Blanket was reasonably strong last season, but a key player was recovering from an injury. This year, everyone looks to be healthy. It’s hard to predict how far they will go without seeing how they do with all starters playing, but I’m expecting a top ten performance.

10. Groom Tigers
Groom should take the district title this year, which will give them a much better road in the playoffs. This could easily be a quarter-final team, but they’ll need to play mistake free to go farther than that.

Cowboy’s Sixshooter Texas Finals

Other states, and the Texas private school leagues, have crowned their champions.  That leaves us with only two games this year- UIL Texas.  Both games will be played at AT&T Stadium in Arlington on Wednesday December 19.  Division II will kick off at 11:00 AM, Division I at 2:00 PM.

 

Division II
#1 Strawn vs #3 Follett

Saying that the Strawn Greyhounds are battle tested would be an understatement.  They are the defending Division II champions, and they haven’t had an easy road this year.  Six of the teams they played are in the top fifteen in Texas, and two of them will be facing off for the Division I title.
The Greyhounds have a multi-threat offense.  Follett will have trouble deciding who to key on when Villanueva, Fraga, Hodgkins, Ruiz, and several others are capable of making big plays.  Strawn is strong on the defensive side as well.  No team outside of the top ten has scored more than one touchdown against them.

Follett is the surprise team this year.  Not many people considered the Panthers to be a contender, but they proved us wrong.  Their quiet advancement to the finals has been impressive.
Barber is obviously the stud of the team, but Follett has several other weapons in their arsenal.  All six offensive starters have scored this year.  Barber, Howard, Loya and Stuart tend to stand out, but Rohan and Gregory play vital roles.

There is no doubt that Follett is a quality team, but I feel Strawn is on another level.  The Panthers won’t give up, but Strawn will be more than they can handle.  I’m predicting that the Greyhounds win by 45.

 

Division I
#1 McLean vs #3 Milford

This one has the potential to be great, but I’m not sure that it will be.
Ta’ron Smith is the first name fans think of when talking about Milford, but he isn’t the only stud on the team.  The Bulldogs are loaded with raw talent.  Ricky Pendleton stepped up big in the semi-final game against Leakey, but he is the only Milford player that did.  The Bulldogs’ lackluster performance last week has me doubting their desire to do what will be needed to compete with McLean.

McLean is Milford’s polar opposite.  The Tigers don’t have as much natural athleticism, but they have something better.  They have Ben Crockett and a group of above average athletes who are driven and willing to work to reach their goals.  The Tigers’ intensity may be more than Milford can handle.

I’m taking McLean by 30, but if Milford shows up hungry for the win, they can make it a battle.

Cowboy’s Sixshooter 12/5/18

As usual, it’s Wednesday and I’m just getting this out.  All season, I’ve aimed for Monday, hopes for Tuesday, and actually finished on Wednesday.  Maybe I’ll do better next season.  Anyway, let’s get on with it.

Last week, I was correct on seven of the eight games.  Not bad for a man that can’t tell the difference in a gut feeling and indigestion.  I’m going out on a limb this week and picking the TAPPS games as well.  With my limited knowledge of the private school teams, I’m running the risk of having a terrible percentage.

#1 Strawn vs #4 Oakwood
6:00 PM Thursday at Alvarado

Oakwood has been playing well, and they kept me from going 100% last week.  They defeated Richland Springs 65-55, but appeared winded late in the game.  They’ll have to dig deep to have a chance to win this week because Strawn is on another level.
Most expect this game to be over at halftime.  Personally, I think Strawn wins, probably by the mercy rule, but I’m giving Oakwood a little credit- I think they can take it into the second half.

#3 Follett vs #7 Jayton
6:00 PM Thursday at Amarillo Highland Park

I’ve known Follett was good, but I didn’t realize how good.  Follett’s scores have been deceiving because of Coach Copley’s plan for building a program.  Instead of fortyfiving opponents, he gave younger players game time.  They’ll be depending heavily on Barber, but he won’t be the only player Jayton will need to worry about.
As I said in a previous article, Jayton destroyed my playoff bracket with their domination of Blackwell.  I said I wouldn’t pick against them because of that, but I’m doing it anyway.  I think Jayton will go down swinging, but their season ends here.

#3 Milford vs #17 Leakey
7:30 PM Friday at Burnet

Leakey was hesitant to make the switch to sixman, but this season has them wishing they had done it sooner.  Their 12-1 record is the best in school history.  (They won the 8-man championship in 1975 with an 11-1 record)  Sadly, the clock is about to strike midnight on the Eagles’ Cinderella season.  Coach Williams will have them as ready as he can, but their schedule hasn’t prepared them for a game like this.
Milford is loaded on offense, and has one of the best defensive players I’ve seen in six-man.  Corbin Schrotke seems to feed on contact, and will likely be in on over half of the tackles.
I expect Milford be the victor at the half.

#1 McLean vs #2 Garden City
2:00 PM Saturday at Levelland

I predicted this game long before the season started. Garden City is good, really good, but McLean is in a league of their own.  I think Garden City can make this game go the distance, but I doubt their ability to stop Ben Crockett and company.  McLean wins and earns the right to play for the big trophy.
With snow and ice predicted for this weekend, this game may get rescheduled to Monday at 6:00 PM.

TAPPS Championship games
Instead of saying “limited knowledge of the private school teams”, I should have said “no knowledge of private school teams”.  I’m going to predict the games, but my picks will be purely guesswork.

Division II
#1 Bulverde Bracken vs #3 Huntsville Alpha Omega
11:00 AM Thursday at Waco Midway

Bracken by 45+

Division I
#1 Austin Veritas vs #4 Gainesville Lone Star North
3:00 PM Thursday at Waco Midway

Lone Star North by 10

Division III
#1 Baytown Christian vs #3 Weatherford Christian
7:00 PM Thursday at Waco Midway

Baytown by 45

Cowboy’s Sixshooter 2018 Texas Quarter-finals

I usually give six games that I think will be worth watching, but I’m changing things up a bit. There are only eight public school games this week, and I can’t decide which ones to cut so I’ll mention them all. Private school folks, I haven’t talked about your games because I don’t have enough information about the teams. Maybe the coaches will send me some stats next season.

I have to mention some of last week’s games because UIL division II West was crazy.
Grandfalls-Royalty mounted an epic comeback to defeat Lueders-Avoca in the final seconds of the game. The anguish in the faces of some of the L-A players was heartbreaking, but those boys need to hold their heads up because they left it all on the field.
I said I was beginning to wonder if Jayton would be the team to mess up my division II bracket. I don’t need to wonder anymore. They destroyed it with their huge upset win over Blackwell- forcing me to rethink a few things.

Let’s get into this week’s games. The # is the ranking in their division.

#3 Follett vs #8 Motley County
7:00 PM Thursday, Nov 29 in White Deer

This is a tough game to pick. Motley County has beaten the spreads several times this year- proving what an established program can do for a team. Coaching, hard work, and grit have gotten the Matadors here, but will that be enough to get another win?
Coach Copley hasn’t been at Follett long enough to truly establish his own program, but the Panthers have a rich tradition in six-man.
My gut tells me to pick Motley, but those gut feelings haven’t been working out for me this year. I’m going with the numbers and taking Follett.

#21 Leakey vs #25 Gorman
7:00 PM Friday, Nov 30 in Brady

You can tell by the rankings that this wasn’t the hardest region in Texas, but these teams won the games they needed to win.
Leakey was my dark horse team this year, and they have proven why. The Eagles have done a great job transitioning to six-man, and have only lost one game this year. They have good speed and decent size, and use both to their advantage.
Gorman has had a good season offensively. They are averaging 57 points per game. Their defense isn’t doing as well. The Panthers are allowing an average of 44 points per game. They’ll need to find a way to improve defensively to have a shot of moving on.
I think Leakey wins this one.

#4 Richland Springs vs #7 Oakwood
6:30 PM Friday, Nov 30 in Gatesville

Perennial powerhouse Richland Springs is in the mix once again. The Coyotes aren’t as dominant as they have been in years past, but that doesn’t mean you can count them out. This is a young & hungry team with a strong tradition of winning.
Oakwood is loaded with talent, and they’re riding the momentum of five straight wins. However, their lack of deep playoff experience could be a huge obstacle.
I would like to see Oakwood pull of an upset, because everyone knows I love the underdog, but I don’t see it happening. Richland Springs comes out of this one as the victor.

#1 Strawn vs #2 Iredell
7:00 PM Friday, Nov 30 in Hico

Some people are calling this the “true state game”.
Strawn is the defending division II champion and they’ve had a wickedly tough schedule this season. The only teams able to compete with, or defeat, them are in the division I top five.
Iredell is undefeated, but they haven’t played the same caliber of competition that Strawn has. They will be depending heavily on Whitfield, but it will take a mistake-free team effort to have a chance at victory.
The Dragons will put up a fight, but I think Strawn will be a little more than they can handle.

#5 Jayton vs #13 Grandfalls-Royalty
6:30 PM Friday, Nov 30 in Sterling City

Last week, Grandfalls-Royalty showed the kind of determination a team needs to succeed in tough games. Heart and determination are important, but they’ll only take you so far. The Cowboys will need to avoid mistakes and hold on to the ball if they want a chance to win this week.
Jayton took out my pick to come out of the West, so they took the spot. There really isn’t much else to say on this one because I’m not picking against the Jaybirds.

#4 Milford vs #6 Union Hill
7:30 PM Friday, Nov 30 in Kaufman

The winner of this game will likely play in the championship game. It’s an interesting matchup, and as with any big game, it is drawing a lot of attention. Milford is more athletic and they have an explosive offense. Union Hill is more physical and more disciplined.
Neither team can afford a slow start. They will have to execute well from start to finish. I expect this one to be so close that even one turnover can make the difference. I’ll take Milford in this one.

#1 McLean vs #5 White Deer
6:00 PM Saturday, Dec 1 at Amarillo Highland Park

These teams faced off in district play, with McLean coming out on top 56-18. I expect a similar result this time. Don’t get me wrong, the Bucks are good- but McLean is elite.
I attended the district game thinking White Deer’s speed would give them a chance, but I underestimated the speed of the Tigers. I won’t make the same mistake this time. McLean is big, strong, and fast. Expect them to use everything in their arsenal in an attempt to end this one early.

#2 Balmorhea vs #3 Garden City
6:00 PM Saturday, Dec 1 in Rankin

I have been predicting that Garden City would face McLean in the semi-finals, but now I’m questioning that. The Balmorhea Bears are peaking, while the Bearkats seem to have leveled off.
Garden City won the early season matchup, with Balmorhea, by 21. However, Balmorhea turned the ball over at crucial times. If the Bears can do a better job of controlling the ball, they have a shot.
The Bears may end up being a bracket-buster, but I’m staying with my earlier prediction and saying Garden City moves forward.

Cowboy’s Sixshooter

There have been some welcome surprises in the Texas playoffs.  My division I brackets were destroyed last week, and I love it.  I know that sounds strange, but upsets in round one keeps me on my toes.  It is a great reminder that no matter how much we think we know about the teams, the games are played on the field and anything can happen.  Personally, I don’t mind being wrong.  It means a team stepped up, or I overlooked something.  Either way, I gain knowledge.  With that said, here are six games that I’m guessing will be worth your time.

1. I have to start with Colorado because it’s their championship game.  Stratton-Liberty has been the team to beat all season, and looked to be the clear favorite to win it all.  However, Kit Carson has turned up the heat and is now a three point favorite by our system.  Colorado Preps still has Kit Carson as the underdog, so this one should be fun.

2. When I was looking through the schedules and spreads, this game really jumped out at me- Garden City vs Borden County.  Borden County is a 21 point dog according to Shad’s system, but I don’t see it.  Garden City is my pick to win, but they’ll have to earn it.  I’ll be more conservative and take GC by six.

3. Calvert will once again face Richland Springs in the playoffs.  Richland Springs has won six of the last nine meetings.  RS is a seven point favorite this time.  The underdog lover in me wants to pick Calvert, but the sensible side says not to.  I’m going with the sensible part of me this time, and taking RS by 18.

4. Motley County is a team based around an established program.  Even on down years they are tough.  This week they’ll be a six point favorite over Anton.  I think they can pull it off, but Anton won’t make it easy.  Expect to stay on the edge of your seat if you attend this one.

5. Nueces Canyon is one of the teams that crushed my bracket.  I didn’t expect them to win last week, but they proved me wrong.  This week they play Gorman, and I believe they will use the momentum to carry them into the quarterfinals.  If they do, they’ll make school history by being the first Nueces Canyon team to make the third round.

6. Blackwell vs Jayton intrigues me.  Blackwell has been my favorite to represent division II west at AT&T Stadium since before this season started.  Jayton wasn’t even on my radar, but the Jaybirds have come on strong in the last few weeks.  Jayton is a 15 point underdog, but I’m beginning to wonder if they will be the team to mess up my division II bracket.  I’m sticking with Blackwell to win, but won’t be surprised if I’m wrong.