The Westwood and Alto High School football teams feature a pair of bright, young coaches with the Panthers' Richard Bishop and Yellowjackets' Ricky Meeks.
“I think, obviously, it's special,” said Bishop, who was most recently offensive coordinator at Conference 5A-Division I Grapevine. “But, it's about our kids, and seeing how they execute.”
Bishop said tackling running back Fred Thacker will be a challenge for a Westwood defense that allowed about 40 points per game last season.
Alto will run a 3-3 stack defense with linebacker Harmon West the lynch pin of the Yellowjackets’ fortress. West amassed 102 tackles last year.
Bishop said one key to victory will be the Panthers' ability to sustain drives in order to keep Alto's offense off the field.
It will come down to how well junior quarterback Dalton Books manages the Panthers' new spread offense, which was imported from Grapevine.
Alto has been one of the strongest programs in recent years here in the Pine Empire, with a record of 43-16 under now Frankston head coach Paul Gould from 2011-17.
Centerville at Elkhart
ELKHART — Elkhart faces a tall order tonight as Centerville, picked to win District 9-2A-I, visits Jerry Ives Memorial Stadium.
“They are ranked ninth in the state in Conference 2A in Dave Campbell's Texas Football (magazine),” said first-year Elkhart coach Jason Fiacco. “They have been, historically, a great program.”
Centerville running back Roland Davis may only be 5-foot-8 and 164 pounds; but, he's athletic and his professional comparison would be Darren Sproles. The Tigers run more than they pass, Fiacco reported.
Fiacco said he's also concerned with Tristan Rudell, who plays two ways for the Tigers as a tight end and defensive end.
Centerville uses primarily a 4-4 split defense.
Elkhart's skill positions are set with Landry Mays pulling the trigger at quarterback, with Jason McMahan and John Ashford as the running backs and J.J. Casal as the featured wide receiver.
Milano at Grapeland
GRAPELAND — Tonight's Grapeland-Milano match-up could very well come down to athlete versus athlete.
Grapeland will have sophomore B.J. Lamb, who produced more than 1,000 yards receiving a season ago, and Milano has a talented wide receiver of its own in Devonte Jones.
“They were 11-2 last year, and won the state track meet,” Grapeland head coach Wayne Mahaffey said. “They've got plenty of speed, and they will be challenge to play.”
The Eagles run a spread offense and a 3-4 defense.
Quarterback Rick Frauenberger will direct the Sandies' pass-happy offense, coming off a season in which he threw for a school-record 2,904 yards.
Frost at Cayuga
CAYUGA — The bad news for Cayuga in its season-opening game tonight at Scarborough Stadium is that Eli Lust will not play due to injury.
But, head coach Cody Mohan is confident quarterback Caden Mullican and cornerback Kirby Murray — both sophomores — can fill the bill until Lust returns.
Cayuga takes on a Frost team that employs a spread offense and an odd-man defense (with five on the line).
Mohan said the Wildcats must stop both aspects of the Polar Bears' offense, with running back Ramon Manriquez and quarterback Antoni Alvarado both putting up solid numbers in 2017.
“We're going to have our hands full (with their offense),” Mohan said. “We're going to have to stop the run and defend the pass.”
West Sabine at Frankston
FRANKSTON — Paul Gould makes his Frankston debut tonight at Jeff and Opal Austin Stadium as the Indians play host to Pineland West Sabine.
The Tigers are a Conference 2A-Division I school with a pair of notable stars in two-way player Dailon Smith and linebacker Hunter Muncrief.
“Dailon (Smith) is probably their best football player,” said Gould. “They've moved him to quarterback, so he's going to touch the ball every play. He's a threat because he's so quick and elusive.”
Gould said West Sabine runs an old-school Wing-T offense and the Tigers use an odd-man defensive front (50).
Frankston counters with Coy Elton as the primary running back, quarterback Brink Bizzell directing the offense and offensive lineman Jesse Owen, a first-team all-district player a year ago, blocking for them both.
Oakwood vs. Strawn JV
At Gorman Classic
GORMAN — Oakwood travels today to the Gorman Classic to take on Strawn's junior varsity team; but, the Greyhounds' JV isn't like most.
See, for a six-man program, most if not all of Strawn's boys participate in football. And that gives the school plenty of players to choose from.
“We have to be mentally prepared to face whoever lines up in front of us,” said Oakwood head coach Tommy Tritz. “Our boys are excited about getting out there and putting this product on the field for the state to see.”
Strawn's offense features a tight-T and tight diamond geared more towards the run while the defense is a classic 3-2-1.
Preseason all-state pick Key'undre Davis is a featured player to watch and Jerimiah Sargent takes over at spread back for the graduated Ethan Edgemon.