LAST WEEK: 37-5, .860
SEASON TOTAL: 252-64, .797
Before the season, many viewed Colorado City (6-0, 1-0) as the odds-on favorite to take District 2-3A Division II, and I agreed with them.
But as each new season evolves, surprises typically emerge and that’s certainly the case in this league where Idalou (5-1, 1-0) and Abernathy (5-1, 1-0) have shown themselves as too good to simply label as No. 2 or 3 seeds.
Make no mistake, this is a three-horse race for first and the opening salvo will be fired Friday night at Wolf Stadium when C-City hosts Idalou in our Big Country Preps Game of the Week.
Right off the bat, this game has one very key matchup: a C-City offense averaging 40 points per game with standout quarterback Markis Monroe (56 of 94, 1,204 yards, 18 TDs, 2 INTs) facing an Idalou defense that has pitched three shutouts and allowed just eight points per game.
The winner of that matchup and the turnover battle, will likely be your winner.
A month ago, I didn’t believe I’d say this, but I’ll go with the Wildcats, by virtue of their defensive performance against a slightly tougher schedule.
PICK: Idalou by 3
Eastland (5-1, 1-0) at Breckenridge (2-4, 0-1) — Coming off last week’s loss at Jim Ned, the Buckaroos will be trying to avoid an 0-2 league start against one of the most explosive offenses in the area.
Defensively, I believe the Bucks can contain Eastland. But Breck has scored 14 points or less in five of its last six games. It will need top that to beat this team.
PICK: Eastland by 4
Midland Greenwood (5-2, 3-0) at Snyder (5-1, 2-0) — If Snyder wins this game, the Tigers will, in all probability, win District 4-1A DII.
The Rangers were the preseason pick (by some) to win this league and they’ve won four straight games coming into this week. But to date, they’ve only played two teams with winning records — Hereford and Shallowater — and lost to both of them.
Snyder, in the meantime, has topped Brownwood (4-2), Fort Stockton (5-1) and most recently Monahans (4-3) with a solid show of defense that is the best we’ve seen at SHS in more than five years.
I like the Tigers at home.
PICK: Snyder by 7
Stephenville (4-2, 0-0) at Waco La Vega (4-2, 0-0) — The Yellow Jackets are the one team in District 4-5A DI that I would give a shot at beating La Vega.
But there are two problems with this — La Vega is not only at home but it’s had two weeks to prep for Stephenville, coming off a bye week.
The ‘Jackets needed some late heroics by Krece Nowak to top China Spring last week and La Vega is far less forgiving.
PICK: La Vega by 9
Jim Ned (5-1, 1-0) at Wall (3-2, 1-0) — By virtue of its 10-7 win over Breckenridge last week, Jim Ned can approach this game with the league favorite without pressure.
Another thing working in the Indians’ favor is the fact that they’ve played an assortment of run-first teams — Merkel, Mason, Coleman, Breck and Brady — and have demonstrated an ability be successful in the trenches.
Nonetheless, Wall is the team to beat here, despite a misleading 3-2 record that includes an overtime loss to powerhouse Mason and a one-point loss to private school power Midland Christian.
Pick: Wall by 12
Cross Plains (5-1, 1-0) at Baird (4-2, 0-1) — This rivalry has often been overlooked, due to the fact that both programs have gone through lengthy stretches when they were struggling.
In terms of intensity, however, this ranks right up there with the most intense turf wars in the Big Country.
These area neighbors aren’t fond of one another and this goes back for decades.
Superior defensive play gives the Buffaloes an edge here. But this is an important game for Baird, which seeks to avoid an 0-2 district start, so it’s going to be close.
PICK: Cross Plains by 7
EVAN REN’S BIG COUNTRY PICKS
(Projected Winners Capitalized)
Abilene High at HALTOM CITY HALTOM
Amarillo Caprock at COOPER
WICHITA FALLS HIGH at Wylie
Sweetwater at PECOS
COMANCHE at Millsap
DUBLIN at Rio Vista
Whitesboro at BROCK
Early at CLYDE
ANSON at Coleman
Bangs at MERKEL
ABERNATHY at Coahoma
BALLINGER at San Angelo Grape Creek
CISCO at San Angelo TLCA
Johnson City at BRADY
Haskell at HAMLIN
ALBANY at Roscoe
WELLINGTON at Munday
De Leon at VALLEY MILLS
Ozona at FORSAN
SAN SABA at Hico
Goldthwaite at CRAWFORD
Winters at STAMFORD
VERIBEST at Bronte
Mullin at BROOKESMITH
EP FAITH at Fort Hancock
Throckmorton at BOWIE GOLD-BURG
Moran at GUSTINE
KLONDIKE at Loraine
KNOX CITY at Northside
Panther Creek at RICHLAND SPRINGS
BLANKET at Rising Star
ASPERMONT at Rotan
GUTHRIE at Rule
IRA at Spur
Longview Christian Heritage at ABILENE CHRISTIAN
BCP THURSDAY DRIVE-TIME PODCAST
Evan Ren and Dan Youngblood break down this week’s top games