Photo by Paige Mathes
By Nick Alvarado @theroyreport
Everyone in Texas wants to talk about and get predictions on the big dogs in 6A football but I want to talk about the little towns with six-man football that make Texas unique. The first six-man football game was played between Prairie Lea vs. Martindale in 1938. Since then they have kept the storied history of six-man football alive. Even some of the big dogs like Katy and Friendswood used to play six-man football back in the day. Here is an overview of all the shakeups from the realignment with reemerging rivalries to the dark horses of the districts.
Nazareth leaves District 1 that showcased the state semifinalist, Happy. The Swifts enter in a district with Anton, Hart and Whiteface. In my view, the Swifts could potentially see a district title. Anton, however, are also looking to make a deep run in the playoffs. Borden County halted the Bulldog’s playoff runs the past three years. I expect Nazareth and Anton to battle it out for the district title.
District 4 completely changes with all the teams in last year’s district move to Region II. Paducah move up to Division I from teams that were in Region III last season, Knox City and Rotan. The Dragons could see a playoff sport coming this season, but will have to compete against a tough Knox City and Spur team. The Bulldogs move from a tough District 2 that included Turkey Valley, Petersburg and Lorenzo. Spur will be playoff contenders, after coming off their first winning season in four years.
District 5 features the state finalists, Borden County along with other tough teams making it one of the toughest districts in Class 1A. Borden County, Hermleigh and Ira had a combined record of 32-5. Ira and Hermleigh were in the same district last season and will be for another two years. Lamesa Klondike and O’Donnell round out the district field. Klondike finished with a 7-4 record, losing out in the bi-district round. O’Donnell struggled against Borden County and Klondike last season. With this being a tough district, every team will neeed to bring their ‘A’ game every week. The darkhorse, Lamesa Klondike could stun either three teams in the district race.
Garden City will face less travel in their district. Last season, serious miles have been put in after traveling to Marfa, Rankin and Fort Davis.. The Bearkats will be in District 6 with Robert Lee, Sterling City and Westbrook. District 6 is also a tough district to predict. Garden City should come up with the title but their rival down the road, Sterling City will have something to say since they lost 38-37 last season. Both teams have not been in the same district since 2009. In my opinion, this should be the game that decides the district.
Rankin and state semifinalist Imperial Buena Vista will be the main teams to watch to contend for the title in District 7. They will renew their rivalry, with the last game being in 2009. Rankin will be looking to rebuild after a 4-7 season and eliminated from the first round in the playoffs last year. Fort Davis and Marfa will look to battle for a playoff spot. With Rankin’s down year in mind I expect Buena Vista to come away with the district hardware this season.
Regional finalists Jonesboro have grouped with Blanket, Evant and Zephyr in District 10. The Eagles are coming off their third straight 10-win season under Coach Eddie Gallegos. But yet, the change from Division 2 to Division 1 could be a tough task. Zephyr bowed out of the playoffs last season falling to the state champions, Abbott. The Eagles took the regular season meeting from Zephyr last season as well. Blanket is a clear dark horse in the district. The series between Blanket and Zephyr is a back-and-forth one that could always go either way. Blanket will face Evant for the first time since 2011. The always-tough Zephyr team will test Jonesboro for the district championship.
The defending state champions Abbott are the main team to watch in Region IV. In District 14, Abbott and Gholson are the only teams that made playoff appearances. Without any doubt, Abbott is the clear favorite in District 14. The main question will be the second seed for the playoffs. The other teams in the district are Aquilla, Coolidge and Penelope. Gholson should take the number two spot but Coolidge and Aquilla will be seeking a playoff spot and maybe sneak a win to get into the playoffs.
When we talk a lot about million dollar stadiums, uniform sponsorship deals, college scholarships, and big time recruits sometimes it is nice to go back to the small towns in Texas. It helps us remember it doesn’t matter what kind of uniform you have on or if your field is turf or dead grass, all you need is a football and six men on the field to play this great game.