Cowboy’s Sixshooter Reviewing My Preseason Top Ten

It’s almost time for the Texas UIL championship games, so I decided to look back at my preseason top ten in each division. Some finished outside of the top, while teams I had “on the outside looking in” climbed the ladder. Overall, I didn’t do too bad.
The preseason rankings listed are my own, not official Sixmania rankings. The current rankings listed are Sixmania rankings.

Division I

McLean Tigers
Preseason #1, currently #1
The Tigers graduated loads of talented players last year, but others stepped up and filled the positions well. They haven’t been as dominant this season, but winning by one point or forty five earns the same trophy.

Milford Bulldogs
Preseason #2, currently #19
Milford finished the season at 7-4. A district loss to Avalon, a bi-district loss to Union Hill, and not covering the spread in other games nearly pushed the Bulldogs out of the top twenty.

White Deer Bucks
Preseason #3, currently #4
The Bucks finished the season at 9-3. Two of those losses came at the hands of district foe McLean- once in district, the other in the quarter-finals.

Balmorhea Bears
Preseason #4, currently #5
The Bears were on a roll until a district loss to Rankin. They earned a solid win over Garden City in the first round, but fell hard to Borden County in the second round.

Ira Bulldogs
Preseason #5, currently #10
Ira finished the season at 11-1, falling to White Deer in the second round of the playoffs.

Leakey Eagles
Preseason #6, currently #13
Leakey lost a close game to Nueces Canyon in district, giving them a tougher playoff road. Bi-district was another tough week for them- falling to Jonesboro 40-36.

Sterling City Eagles
Preseason #7, currently #8
The Eagles went 9-2 this season. Their first loss was to rival Garden City. The last was a bi-district loss to Rankin- a team the beat earlier in the year.

Borden County Coyotes
Preseason #8, currently #3
Borden County had an outstanding season. They defeated Balmorhea in round two, and finished the season at 12-1 after a heartbreaking loss to Rankin in the quarter-finals.

Blum Bobcats
Preseason #9, currently #7
The Bobcats started a little slowly this season, losing to McLean week one and Jonesboro week two. Since then, they haven’t lost a game. In the semi-finals, they got some retribution for the loss to Jonesboro. Now they have the chance to redeem themselves for the week one loss.

Garden City Bearkats
Preseason #10, currently #9
Garden City only had three loses this season. Two of those were to Balmorhea, the other to Rankin.

Rankin Red Devils
Preseason- outside looking in, currently #2
This was one of my biggest oversights this year. How did I not have them in my preseason top ten? I don’t have an answer for that, but I can say congratulations to the Red Devils. A two score semi-final loss to McLean is nothing to be ashamed of.

Spur Bulldogs
Preseason- Dark horse, currently #6
Having my dark horse team finish in the top ten helps me look like I somewhat know what I’m talking about. Unfortunately, their season came to a brutal end- with a mercy rule loss to McLean.

Jonesboro Eagles
Preseason- overlooked, currently #12
Jonesboro may have finished outside the top ten, but a semi-final team still deserves a mention.


Division II

Strawn Greyhounds
Preseason #1, currently #8
The 9-5 Greyhounds struggled a little during the season, but that didn’t stop them. They fought through adversity and made it to the semi-finals.

Jayton Jaybirds
Preseason #2, currently #4
Jayton dominated nearly every opponent this season. Blackwell gave them their only loss- 62-54 in the quarter-finals.

Richland Springs Coyotes
Preseason #3, currently #1
The Coyotes have had some close games this year, but nobody has beaten them. They punched their ticket to AT&T with a 62-14 win over Strawn.

Oakwood Panthers
Preseason #4, currently #10
Oakwood struggled with injuries throughout the season, but still managed to make it to the quarter-finals.

Grandfalls-Royalty Cowboys
Preseason #5, currently #5
The Cowboys only lost two games this year- the first to Balmorhea, and the other to Jayton in the second round.

Motley County Matadors
Preseason #6, currently #2
In my preseason write-up I said I didn’t see anyone keeping the Matadors out of the semi-finals. They proved me right and then some. Nobody could keep them out of the finals.

Blackwell Hornets
Preseason #7, currently #3
Blackwell surprised me a little. I knew they would be good, but I didn’t realize how good. They were 13-0 going into the semi-finals- where Motley County gave them their only loss of the season.

Calvert Trojans
Preseason #8, currently #7
Calvert had a slow start to the season, losing three of their first six games. They pulled things together after that, and didn’t lose again until the second round of the playoffs- a 34-29 final against Richland Springs.

Blanket Tigers
Preseason #9, currently #13
After a couple of regular season losses, the Tigers got things under control and won six in a row before losing to Oakwood in round two.

Groom Tigers
Preseason #10, currently #6
In my preseason predictions, I said the Tigers “could easily be a quarter-final team”. I was correct about that, but Motley County ended Groom’s season there.

Gordon Longhorns
Preseason- overlooked, currently #9
The division II surprise team of the year, the Longhorns defeated rival Strawn in district play. Unfortunately, Strawn returned the favor in the third round.

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.

On the outside looking in

About this time of year I start looking at numbers and start evaluating things. Sometimes it is something that would make sense to others, and sometimes it is just my mind rambling and I get to wondering how things would look by the numbers. Just a warning to anyone who reads this……. I’m not sure where this fits in that.

Ideally, in a perfect world, the districts throughout the state would all be evenly matched and the best teams would go to the playoffs with the best teams winning state, the teams would all be ranked properly and the games would match the spreads. However, in the actual world we live in, this is not the case. The top 32 is not the 32 teams that make the playoffs, its not the top 16 in the second round, or the top 8 in the quarterfinals. Rarely do we see the top four in the semis, and every once in a while we get to see the top 2 ranked teams make it to state. I’ve put together a table, based on Sixmania’s current ratings (rankings) of UIL Division I that shows just where we are as far as who we are sending to the playoffs.

A little explanation about the table. I put in 5 categories, and the first 2 coincide with each other. #1 is the average rank of teams and #2 is the average rating of teams. Those 2 things tend to follow each other, although there could be a case where a higher average ranked district could possibly have a lower average rating. In fact, there is a case like that in my table. District 16 has a better average rank (lower is better) than district 9, but district 9 has the better average rating (higher is better). Moving on….. Category 3 just shows the rank of the highest ranked team and category 4 shows the lowest. Category 5 shows the # of teams in the top 32. For state, that number will be 32. for East and West, ideally should be 16, for each region it should be 8 and for each district it should be 2.

State:

avg rankavg ratingHighestLowest# in top 32
State37.0306.4317332

How did I get those numbers? First off, this is UIL Division I rankings, not overall or national. There are 73 teams in UIL division 1 and so the rating will be exactly half of 74 which is 37. The average rating is just that, the average rating of all 73 teams. The Highest rank is obviously 1 and the lowest is 73, the number of teams. # of teams in the top 32 in state……… 32.

East vs West

avg rankavg ratingHighestLowest# in top 32
West31.3323.0217020
East43.1288.4197312

The west seems to be dominant this year. I’m sure that there are people that will disagree, but I’m going by the numbers, not opinion. The West has a much higher everything, average Rank, Rating, the top 8 teams are all in the West, even their worst team is ranked higher than the east’s worst team. The biggest thing here however is the west has 20 of the top 32 teams in the state. Only 15 of those can make it to the playoffs. Leaving at least 5 top 32 teams (based on this weeks rankings) on the basketball court when the playoffs start. How does 20 – 16 = 5? There are 4 districts in the west with more than 2 top 32 teams in it. One of those districts has 4. So 3 districts will leave a top 32 team at home and one district will leave TWO top 32 teams at home. So, if the ranking did not change, (they will) that is 5 teams in the top 32 that will not be playing a playoff game this year in football from the west half of the bracket. There is also a district in the west with has only 1 team in the top 32, so they will be for sure sending at least 1 non-top ranked team to the playoffs. (I guess that team is on the inside looking out?). The east is just the opposite. They have 3 districts with only 1 top 32 team, and 1 district with none. One district with 3. So the district with 3 will be leaving a top 32 team out of the playoffs, whereas the districts with 1 will be sending someone not in the top to the playoffs, and the district with none will be sending both playoff teams out of the top 32.

By Region

avg rankavg ratingHighestLowest# in top 32
Region 129.8326.7116211
Region 232.9319.322709
Region 341.3293.9815697
Region 445.1282.519735

Hopefully what I’m doing with these tables is starting to make sense, so I’m not going to go into long detail as I did on East vs West. Region 1, 3 top 32 don’t go, nobody outside of top 32 should go. Region 2, 2 top 32 miss out, 1 team outside top 32 should make the playoffs. Region 3, 1 top team is out, 2 lower ranked teams should go. Region 4, none of the teams in the top 32 should have to miss, but at least 3 non-top 32 teams should make it.

By District

avg rankavg ratingHighestLowest# in top 32
District 125.5341.731613
District 237.8304.6617582
District 331.8318.9412623
District 423.2344.524413
District 544.8284.1824631
District 635.0315.202642
District 729.5331.763702
District 821.6348.645454
District 941.4294.2726652
District 1042.6289.4420661
District 1130.8321.9016553
District 1250.0271.3815691
District 1355.2259.1634710
District 1444.3285.9711722
District 1539.8299.0718541
District 1638.8291.699732

This is where I’m going to get into the detail of who in the top 32 miss the playoffs and who outside of the top 32 get in.

District 1 has 3 teams in the top 32, McLean (#1), White Deer (10) and Valley (30). McLean has already beaten White Deer and should win out to take District Champions (DC for the rest of the post). White Deer and Valley play in week 11 for what should be the runner-up position, with White Deer being the heavy favorite. Which would leave Valley out.

District 2 has 2 in the top 32 (I’m going to just say the top (and bottom) from now on…… the 32 will just be implied.) Happy (17) and Nazareth (29). Petersburg is just outside at #33 and could take the runner-up away from Nazareth in week 11. Of course if that happens, Petersburg would then be a top rated team.

District 3 has 3 in the top. Knox City (12), Paducah (13), and Crowell (19), Knox City has already beaten both Paducah and Crowell, and should win this week against Chillicothe. Crowell and Paducah play this week for the runner-up position. Winner will go to the playoffs, loser will start basketball after week 11.

District 4 has 3 in the top. Ira (4), Spur (8) and Aspermont (25). Ira has already beaten Spur, Spur has already beaten Aspermont. Aspermont and Ira play this week and Aspermont can force a 3 way tie with a win, otherwise Ira and Spur will be filling the playoff positions leaving a #25 out in the cold.

District 5 only has 1 top ranked team. Ropes (24). They will be taking bottom team into the dance and it will most likely be #42 ranked Morton.

District 6 has 2 and has a good shot at taking those two teams into the playoffs. Borden County (2) and Klondike (22) are in the drivers seat to take 1st and 2nd respectively. (No O’Donnell and Grady, I’m not counting you out…. I know neither of you will roll over and not try to bust my spreads and try to beat Klondike for the runner-up position.)

District 7 is pretty solid as far as which two teams are most likely to go. They have 2 teams in the top 10 and the next best team is at 39. Balmorhea (3) and Rankin (6) will play next week for the DC.

District 8. Poor poor district 8. Or maybe I should say rich rich district 8. The only district in the state that can claim having 4 top teams featuring powerhouses Sterling City (5) and Garden City (7) as well as Westbrook (23) and Highland (28). Sterling City has won all 3 district games thus far with only Garden City left in week 11. Garden City has Highland this week and SC next week. Odds are definitely for Sterling City and Garden City to take first and second in the district which will leave Westbrook and Highland as two of the top ranked teams in division I that misses the playoffs.

District 9. 2 top teams Saint Jo (26) and Newcastle (32) will battle it out this week, and the funny thing is, Newcastle isn’t in a very good position to make the playoffs. They will need to win this week to force a 3 way tie IF Saint Jo beats Perrin-Whitt in week 11. Otherwise there is a possibility of a top team staying home and a lower ranked team going to the playoffs. Of course the rankings can all change depending on scores and spreads.

District 10. Blum (20) is the lone top team in this district and have pretty much sealed the DC. They play Abbott this week to make it official. Aquilla seems to be in the best position for the runner-up ranked at 36.

District 11. The 3 top ranked teams are Milford (16), Avalon (21) and Coolidge (31). I believe Milford will finally be playing at full strength and should be able to walk away with wins over Coolidge this week and Avalon in week 11 for the DC. Avalon beat Coolidge last week in what was effectively the runner-up game. Coolidge takes their top 32 ranking and starts basketball.

District 12. Union Hill (15). That’s all. High Island at 56 and Leverett’s Chapel at 60 will face off this week to see which teams gets into the runner-up playoff position.

District 13. Nobody in this district cracked the top 32 this week. Eden is the closest at 34 and Robert Lee is next at 46. Veribest at 57 however is in a better position to make the playoffs as they and Eden are both undefeated in district play. That will change this week as they play each other and Eden still has to get past Robert Lee. This district will have a higher chance of a 3 way tie than most if Eden beats Veribest this week.

District 14. 2 top teams, May (11) and Gorman (27). The other 2 teams in this District are ranked 67 and 72 and shouldn’t be a factor in the district race of 2. May and Gorman play this week for the DC.

District 15. Jonesboro (18) is the front runner and the only team in the top. Zephyr beat Evant so should end up in second. Evant could challenge Jonesboro though and cause a 3 way tie for first, or if Lometa does something crazy, it could end up being a 3 way tie for second. And then there is always the possibility of lots of crazy and then who knows what could happen in this district. However it turns out, someone outside of the top 32 gets in.

District 16. Leakey (9) and Nueces Canyon (14) are the two top ranked teams. Some people disagree with my order of ranking on these two as NC just beat Leakey this last week. Both teams should win out the rest of the season making Nueces Canyon the DC and Leakey taking Runner-up.

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.

Top Teams movement, Week 7

by Shad Kline

Lets take a look at the top teams and see how they moved in the rankings this week.

Texas UIL Division I

Week 7 Rank (Week 6 rank in parenthesis)

  1. Borden County (1)
  2. Ira (2)
  3. Balmorhea (3)
  4. McLean (4)
  5. Leakey (6)
  6. Garden City (12)
  7. Sterling City (5)
  8. Paducah (7)
  9. Rankin (9)
  10. White Deer (8)

As you can see, the top 4 all maintained the status quo and made no movement.  Borden County had a bye and the other 3 were all favored by 45 and won by 45.  Leakey moved up to #5 but kept the same rating for the same reason.  It’s not until we get to #6 Garden City that we need any explanation.  Garden City jumped all the way from #12 to #6 after beating Strawn by 45, a game in which they started as 11 point underdogs.  The big question is did they actually earn the jump or do they just get the benefit of catching the Greyhounds right in the middle of an injury bug?  Sterling City made a slight drop to #7 after not covering the spread in their win against #9 Rankin.  Paducah, maintained their rating, but dropped 1 spot because Garden City moved up.  Rankin grabbed some rating points and wasn’t affected by the Garden City jump because they slid just ahead of White Deer.  White Deer dropped just 2 rating points after almost covering the spread against Milford, but slipped to #10.  Last weeks #10, May fell out of the top 10 to #14 after struggling a bit, only beating Newcastle by 12, a game in which they were a 45 point favorite.

This week

  1. Bordon County – 45 point favorite over UIL DI #37 O’Donnell
  2. Ira – 45 point favorite over UIL DI #45 Rotan
  3. Balmorhea – 45 point favorite over Independent #1 Midland Trinity
  4. McLean – 45 point favorite over UIL Outlaw #2 Baird
  5. Leakey – 45 point favorite over UIL DI #46 Evant
  6. Garden City – BYE
  7. Sterling City – 45 point favorite over UIL DI #48 Water Valley
  8. Paducah – BYE
  9. Rankin – BYE
  10. White Deer – 45 point favorite over UIL Outlaw #3 Claude

I don’t see a lot of changes happening after week 7.  Everyone is a 45 point favorite against their opponent, or they are on their BYE week.  Someone is going to have to slip pretty hard against a team that shouldn’t give them any trouble if there are to be any changes.  Of course that’s not looking at what may happen just outside the top 10 that could give a team just enough of a jump to get in the mix.  #11 Valley, #12 Milford and #14 May, all play top DII teams and could move up by winning more than the spread is giving them.

UIL Division II

Week 7 rank (week 6 in parenthesis)

  1. Jayton (1)
  2. Grandfalls-Royalty (2)
  3. Blackwell (5)
  4. Gordon (6)
  5. Richland Springs (7)
  6. Strawn (3)
  7. Groom (9)
  8. Motley County (8)
  9. Calvert (4)
  10. Anton (11)

No changes at 1 and 2 as both Jayton and Grandfalls-Royalty did exactly what they were expected to do, 45 their opponent.  #3 Blackwell and #4 Gordon, did that too, but benefited by significant drops by both Strawn and Calvert.  #5 Richland Springs actually dropped a couple of rating points as they were about 6 points shy of the spread in their win, but they moved up 2 spots as well being a benefactor of the Strawn and Calvert drop.  #6 Strawn is where the major shifts start.  They dropped to #6 from #3 after getting 45’d by Garden City after being an 11 point favorite.  Now I know first hand that they had 2 major players sidelined due to injury on this game, and I feel like they will slide up quickly in rating points and rank upon the return of even 1 of those players, and definitely when they get them both back.  But in the meantime, looks like they will have to settle in at a slightly lower rank.  #7 Groom had no change in rating, but moved up 2 spots because of Motley County and Calvert both dropping.  Motley County dropped in rating points but maintained their rank at #8 after losing by 22 to Knox City.  They were the underdog, but only by 3.  Calvert made a significant drop all the way from 4 to 9 after getting strummed by Coolidge by 45.  But as we discussed last week, Calvert made a huge jump last week after beating an injury riddled Oakwood team, and may have very well been slightly overrated coming into the Coolidge game.  Anton slipped into the #10 spot despite losing 4 rating points as they were a touchdown shy of covering the spread against Morton.  Anton can thank Oakwood for the spot as they slipped out of the top 10 to #13 after getting beat much worse by Union Hill than the spread allowed for.  Oakwood’s slip can likely be attested to the injury bug as well as one or more of their top players are out, but expected to return soon.

This week

  1. Jayton – 45 point favorite over UIL DII #63 Guthrie
  2. Grandfalls-Royalty – 45 point favorite over UIL DII #16 Sanderson
  3. Blackwell – 45 point favorite over UIL DI #71 Santa Anna
  4. Gordon – 45 point favorite over UIL DII #40 Morgan
  5. Richland Springs – 45 point favorite over UIL DI #57 Medina
  6. Strawn – 6 point underdog to UIL DI #14 May
  7. Groom – 45 point favorite over UIL DI #70
  8. Motley County – 27 point underdog to UIL DI #11 Valley
  9. Calvert – 26 point underdog to UIL DI #12 Milford
  10. Anton – 45 point favorite to UIL DII #36 Lazbuddie

Should see some changes this week as there are a trio of schools that play top DI teams this week.  The question is, which way will they move, if at all?

Outside of Texas, Kit Carson held onto the #1 spot for Colorado as did Cheylin for Kansas, and Elida for New Mexico.  Inside of Texas, in the private school ranks, every #1 team from last week remained at #1 this week.  The only change at any #1 was in the UIL outlaw ranks where Irion County slid to #1 moving Baird to the #2 spot.

Texas top 10 explained (kind of).

By Shad Kline, 10/1/2019

The Texas top 10 public schools has had some pretty good changes most weeks.  Here is a look at which teams have moved into and out of the top 10, which teams have moved within the top 10 and why.

We will start with Division I, I didn’t do a preaseason ranking so we will go with the first ranking after week 1.

Week 1

  1. McLean
  2. Borden County
  3. Balmorhea
  4. White Deer
  5. Sterling City
  6. Leakey
  7. Blum
  8. Milford
  9. Ira
  10. Garden City

McLean, having won state last year, was given the benefit of the doubt and started at #1.  That would turn out to be short lived though as Balmorhea would take over after week 2.

Week 2

  1. Balmorhea
  2. McLean
  3. Borden County
  4. Sterling City
  5. Leakey
  6. Ira
  7. White Deer
  8. Milford
  9. Garden City
  10. Paducah

The only other major moves in week 2 would be that Blum would drop out of the top 10 allowing Paducah to slide into the #10 spot.  Everyone else in the top 10 would make small shifts, but would relatively stay the same.  Remember that I was still tweaking the system trying to get teams moved into the correct spots, which was still widely unknown after only 2 games.  A lot of the ratings were largely based on last years final ratings.  Week 3 wouldn’t be much different.

Week 3

  1. Balmorhea
  2. Borden County
  3. Ira
  4. McLean
  5. Sterling City
  6. Leakey
  7. White Deer
  8. Crowell
  9. Milford
  10. Paducah

Ira was the big mover jumping from 6 to 3 largely due to 3 teams ahead of them dropping rating points.  Crowell made their debut in the top 10 at #8 while Garden City slid just out of the list.

Week 4

  1. Balmorhea
  2. Borden County
  3. Ira
  4. McLean
  5. Sterling City
  6. Leakey
  7. White Deer
  8. Rankin
  9. Garden City
  10. May

Some pretty significant changes in the lower half of the top 10 as Rankin finds their way into the top for the first time this year, Garden City moving back in from #11 and May also coming in at #10, making the list for the first time this year.  Of course anytime someone breaks into the top 10, someone has to drop out and those teams were Crowell, Milford and Paducah.  Milford has had some injuries and it has cost them in rating points.  Don’t be surprised when they show back up in the list as players start getting healthy.

Week 5

  1. Borden County – moving into the #1 spot for the first time this year after beating #7 White Deer.
  2. Ira – One of the most consistent teams this year, has slid up to #2.
  3. Balmorhea – Not covering the spread against Grandfalls-Royalty cost the bears the #1 spot.  Is Grandfalls that good? Or did Balmorhea just have an off game?
  4. McLean – Still holding onto the #4 spot.  Ben Crocket will keep them as a contender as long as he stays healthy.  Not a one man team by any means, but with a talent like Crocket, it sometimes can seem that way.
  5. Sterling City – Pretty much more of the same from SC, good solid wins and taking care of business. 
  6. Leakey – No talk about Leakey, and I think they like it that way.  They are the top rated team on the East half of the playoff bracket.  AT&T?  Maybe!
  7. Paducah – Sliding from outside all the way to #7 after dominating Motley County 88-46, a game in which they went in as a 13 point dog.  Beware the Dragon.
  8. White Deer – Having trouble with the best of the best, but still lurking around.  We will find out if they can be a contender when they face off with district foe McLean for the DC and the better playoff slot.
  9. Rankin – A rare occasion in which a team gains rating points and still drops in the rankings.  They moved from #8 to #9 after beating Garden City by a couple of TD’s, when they were favored by an extra point.  Blame Paducah for the drop in ranking, as they just slid the scale.
  10.  May – Holds the #10 spot for the second week in a row.  In the west I would say they were on the outside looking in, but in the East, a very significant contender for the title game.

Coming up in week 6

  1. Borden County –  BYE
  2. Ira – 45 point favorite over DI #25 Ropes
  3. Balmorhea – 45 point favorite over TCAL #3 El Paso Faith
  4. McLean – 45 point favorite over DI #20 Happy
  5. Sterling City – 21 point favorite over DI #9 Rankin
  6. Leakey – 45 point favorite over DI #32 Eden
  7. Paducah – 45 point favorite over DII #13 Whitharral
  8. White Deer – 26 point favorite over DI #13 Milford
  9. Rankin – 21 point underdog to DI #5 Sterling City
  10. May – 45 point favorite over DI #37 Newcastle

Division II seems to be a little down this year all the way across the board.  Most years the top DI and top DII schools end the year pretty close in rating, and flip flop for the #1 overall spot.  This year it doesn’t seem to be the case.

Week 1

  1. Strawn
  2. Jayton
  3. Richland Springs
  4. Motley County
  5. Grandfalls-Royalty
  6. Blanket
  7. Oakwood
  8. Blackwell
  9. Groom
  10. Whitharral

It shouldn’t be a surprise that I started off last years champions at #1.  They have won 2 in a row, so someone had to knock them back a couple of rating notches before I moved Jayton into the top spot.  Borden County did it in week 1, but it wasn’t until week 4 that Strawn slid out of the top spot.  Also, just like in division I, the power ratings after weeks 1, 2 & 3 is nothing more than an educated guess based on very limited information.  So lets take a look at weeks 2 and 3.

Week 2

  1. Strawn
  2. Jayton
  3. Richland Springs
  4. Motley County
  5. Grandfalls-Royalty
  6. Blanket
  7. Blackwell
  8. Oakwood
  9. Groom
  10. Calvert

Not much change, Blackwell and Oakwood switched spots as did Calvert and Whitharral.

Week 3

  1. Strawn
  2. Jayton
  3. Grandfalls-Royalty
  4. Blanket
  5. Groom
  6. Blackwell
  7. Oakwood
  8. Richland Springs
  9. Motley County
  10. Calvert

Same 10 teams, slightly different order.  (Once again, a result of the week 3 adjustments that I make every year.

Week 4

  1. Jayton
  2. Motley County
  3. Strawn
  4. Grandfalls-Royalty
  5. Blackwell
  6. Oakwood
  7. Richland Springs
  8. Groom
  9. Blanket
  10. Calvert

Same 10 teams, once again, different order.  Jayton moved into #1 after Strawn struggled with a very good private school team.  Motley County made a huge jump after a huge win over a top DI school, Crowell.  Blanket started sliding down the list after they lost to May.  Which brings us to this week, week 5.

Week 5

  1. Jayton – Holding steady at the top with consistency and well balanced on both sides of the ball.
  2. Grandfalls-Royalty – As mentioned in the DI article, GR played Balmorhea a lot closer than expected.  Was Balmorhea off or is GR that good?
  3. Strawn – Held their ground with a win over Milford and doing so within 1 point of the spread.  I’m actually a little surprised that it was even that close as the Bulldogs were without Pendleton and I expected Strawn to take advantage of that.
  4. Calvert – Where did they come from?  They’ve been lurking at the #10 spot all year and all of a sudden just blows up Oakwood 47-14 after being a 27 point underdog.  That’s a 60 point swing!  What happened that made that much of a difference?  No, seriously, I want to know!
  5. Blackwell – from 8 to 7 to 6 to 5.  Hmmmmmm, better watch ‘em.  Just Sayin.
  6. Gordon – Same exact question as the Calvert game.  Gordon has made huge strides since slipping to Waco Methodist in week 1.  Is Blanket missing players?  Is Gordon starting to come into their skin?  Who knows?  But it’s starting to make THE rivalry against Strawn in early November look a LOT more interesting.
  7. Richland Springs – Don’t be fooled.  RS is still waiting for the prodigal son to return to the field.  Landon Burkhart should return at the end of October.  I bet we see RS start sliding up this list when that happens.
  8. Motley County – I can’t figure out the Matadors this year.  The beat Crowell, but lose to Spur and Paducah?  All 3 good teams, but its not like they were all close games.  MC is kinda all over the place. 
  9. Groom – I’m sorry to say that I don’t know much about the Tigers this year.  But they have been right here in the bottom half of the top 10 all year, and I know that they are always a team that can grab a tiger by the tail.
  10. Oakwood – Well we already know why Oakwood dropped to #10, talk to the Trojans over at Calvert.

Coming up in week 6

  1. Jayton – 45 point favorite over DI #44 Rotan
  2. Grandfalls-Royalty – 45 point favorite over DI #40 Fort Davis
  3. Strawn – 11 point favorite over DI #12 Garden City
  4. Calvert – 45 point favorite over DI #31 Coolidge
  5. Blackwell – 45 point favorite over DI #68 Veribest
  6. Gordon – 45 point favorite over DI #39 Zephyr
  7. Richland Springs – 34 point favorite over TAIAO #2 San Antonio FEAST
  8. Motley County – 3 point underdog to DI #15 Knox City
  9. Groom – BYE
  10. Oakwood – 6 point underdog to DI #23 Union Hill

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.