The Best Week 1 Games In Central Texas

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Photo via Joseph Nguyen,


Tolar vs Crawford

Last season the Crawford Pirates went 14-2, eventually coming up short to Refugio 23-20 in the State Championship. The Pirates only regular season loss was their season opener at Tolar 34-20. Tolar finished the season 7-4 and was knocked out of the playoffs in bi-district by Sonora 53-35. Crawford will be returning a large portion of players on the offensive side of the ball including QB Gage Pearson (2,052 passing, 26 touchdowns), RB Garrett Dutschmann(1,321 rushing, 163 receiving, 21 touchdowns), and OL Koby Smith, Will Worrell, Derrick Shaw. Tolar will be returning RB Jacob Sparks(826 rushing, 5 touchdowns), WR/DB Clayton Deaver (93 tackles, 4 interceptions), RB/LB Mason King, and RB/LB James Henderson.

China Spring vs Lorena

China Spring scored early and often on Lorena in last season’s game, in route to a 49-12 victory. China Spring went 12-2 on the season making it to the semifinals before losing a close game to eventual State Champions Carthage 26-20. Lorena played a very tough non-district schedule that included China Spring, La Vega, and Franklin; going 2-3 before winning their district title.

Lorena made it to area round of the playoffs before being knocked out by Liberty 28-14. China Spring returns Tulane commit TE Tyrick James( 53 catches, 650 receiving, 11 touchdowns), and lead tackler LB Brayden Mathis(160 tackles). Lorena will return all-district RB Thor Hoffman(889 rushing, 376 receiving, 13 touchdowns), and versatile WR/QB Ben Johnston (481 total yards, 9 touchdowns) all-district DL Hunter Isham(78 tackles, 6 TFL’s, 4 sacks), all-district LB Colin Highfill( 99 tackles, 9 TFL’s) & all-district DB Cam Bryant( 64 tackles, 4 interceptions). It will be interesting to see if the defense can use the experience they gained last season to help slow down the China Spring offense this season.

Belton vs Temple

There is nothing like opening your season with a rivalry game and that is exactly what these teams are going to do; Belton vs Temple is one of the best rivalries in the Central Texas area. Last season Temple came away with the victory 28-20 and never looked back on their way to
the State finals game with Highland Park. The Wildcats are 37-7 in the past three seasons and 12-3 last season, after losing the Championship 16-7, they will be a very motivated group going into this game and season. Belton went 8-4 last season and made it to the area round of the playoffs before running into powerhouse Allen losing 24-7.

Belton will have new coach leading the team this season former assistant coach Sam Skidmore, Skidmore is taking over for Bob Shipley who joined Tom Herman at the University of Texas. Belton will have to find a replacement at QB this season, which means RB Bryce Julian (698 rushing) will need to help relieve some of the pressure new QB Cameron Davis will be receiving. Temple will rely on its defense to carry the team this season, but you know what they say, “defense wins championships”, and the Wildcats hope that saying is true. The defense will be anchored by DL Robert Jackson( 71 tackles, 11 sacks, 11 TFL’s), DB B.J. Sculark( 31 tackles, 17 PBU’s), DB Dalvin Filmore( 34 tackles, 10 PBU’s), LB Monto President( 59 tackles, 4 TFL’s, 5 PBU’s).

Cameron Yoe vs Bellville

The Yomen went 11-3 in the 2016 season, falling to Malakoff 37-34 in the quarterfinals, a season like that would be considered outstanding for most teams, but Cameron isn’t most teams. The Yoe made 4 consecutive State Championships from 2012-2015, winning a staggering 3 of 4. Bellville went 10-3 last season, winning district and making it to the regional round of the playoffs before losing to State Champions West Orange-Stark 49-7. The Brahmas came up short to Cameron 33-10 last season, but look to pull of the win this season with experience and returning players like DL/OL Diego Muniz, QB/DB Marcus Ward, CB/RB Chancellor Leaks-Gillum, and CB Stone Rowe. Cameron once again has reloaded and the Yoe will be looking for a W out of the gate again this season. The Yoe will be lead by QB Zack Andress (3,116 passing, 579 rushing, 56 total touchdowns), WR/DB Iverson Westbrook (525 receiving, 8 touchdowns; 55 tackles, 3 interceptions), and plenty of depth and speed across the roster.

Abbott vs Strawn

Abbott was 9-3 last season after winning the school’s first State Championship in 2015. The Panthers went 4-0 in district play and made it to the area round of the playoffs before falling to Union Hill 60-32. Abbott is returning RB/LB Matthew Urbanovsky( 597 rushing, 6 touchdowns;
90 tackles). Strawn went 11-1 last season, 3-0 in district and lost to Crowell 64-18 in the area round of the playoffs. The Greyhounds will be lead by RB Tanner Hodgkins, LB J.R. Cervantes, and sophomore stud DB J. W. Montgomery. The Panthers and Greyhounds will play in the first
game at the Hico Six-man Super Saturday and look to get the day started off with a bang.

Bryson vs Milford

Milford will be looking to send a message to everyone in 1a D2 that this year’s team has what it takes to make a run at State. The Bulldogs went 10-2 last season, 4-0 in district before falling to juggernaut Richland Springs in the area round 78-43. The Bulldogs will be lead by SB/CB Ta’ron Smith( 2,149 rushing, 1,123 passing, 53 total touchdowns). Bryson is coming into this game with something to prove as well, the Cowboys were 8-3 last season, 3-1 in district play. Bryson made it to the bi-district round before losing to May 55-48. Bryson will be lead by QB Brayden Houser (2,263 passing, 44 touchdowns), WR Paul Davidson (66 catches, 1,375 receiving, 30 touchdowns). This game will also be played in Hico, at the Six-man Super Saturday and has the potential to be a barn burner.


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