We’ve already arrived at the midway point of the regular season, and the competition in district play already resembles playoff matchups. Case in point: Abilene will host Fossil Ridge this week — two programs favored for the District 3-6A crown. The schools joined Weatherford and Haltom in district realignment over the summer.
Both are practically mirrored images of each other, boasting high powered offenses and experienced defenses.
Keller Fossil Ridge has 40 returning lettermen on their roster including 15 starters; nine on a stout defensive front. Behind an experienced o-line (three returning starters), running back Anthony Smith and dual-threat quarterback Max Akin (who was featured for his efforts off the field in this story) have carved up open running lanes. In five games, Akin has tallied 513 total rushing yards and eight touchdowns, scoring a touchdown on the ground in each matchup this season. Smith did not play week three against Saginaw, and has totaled 570 total rushing yards and seven touchdowns.
After dropping their opener, Abilene (4-1) has cruised to four straight victories. The Eagles’ defense continue to improve each week, limiting Haltom to under 200 total yards of offense in a 44-18 victory last Friday night. The defensive front has allowed 12.5 points in their last two contests — a vast improvement from the 63 points they gave up in their first game against San Angelo Central.
On the other side of the ball, the offense has racked up 50 points per game in wins; talented running back Abram Smith leads the unit with 9.42 yards per carry and 12 TDs this season, behind a solid offensive line keen on giving their team running lanes. In four victories, the Eagles have scored a touchdown in their first possession. The Panthers are going up against a very dynamic rushing attack out of Abilene, and they’ll need to contain it well.
If Abilene is to win, they’ll have to contain dynamic Fossil Ridge DE Tyler Mitchell. Mitchell is very quick off the line of scrimmage throughout entire games, which will force the Eagles to pay him even greater attention as the game wears on.
With 3-6A looking how it is, this game could very well decide the district champion. Outside of Abilene, Keller Timber Creek, and Keller Fossil Ridge, the rest of the district has struggled. Timber Creek has already lost to Fossil Ridge, so a Fossil Ridge victory here would all but guarantee that the district crown went to the Panthers, provided that they win the games that they’re supposed to win. We’re only in Week Six, and this game is looking more and more like a de-facto district title game.
It’s hard to say from looking at the two teams on paper who will win. They’re similar in a lot of ways, from the way their offenses attack to the caliber of their defenses. Whoever comes out on top will likely be the team that plays with the most poise, the team that can wrangle their emotions and play disciplined football will take it home.