LAST WEEK: 33-7, .825
SEASON TOTAL: 285-71, .801
In a week that features four or perhaps five games that could easily qualify for our Big Country Preps Game of the Week, there is alas, a safe choice.
When in doubt, one can seldom go wrong with the annual Stephenville-Brownwood clash — a storied feud now in its 80th chapter dating back to 1937.
This year, the Lions (4-2, 1-0) play host to the Yellow Jackets (4-3, 1-1) in a game that will likely decide the No. 2 seed in District 5-4A Division I — perhaps the best overall 4A league in Texas.
Both enter Friday’s matchup averaging better than 30 points per game against solid schedules. Both can be explosive and both have played respectable defense (at times).
The computers like Stephenville by three scores here, but I think its going to be far closer than that.
Brownwood enters this week on a four-game winning streak and gave the Yellow Jackets all they wanted in a 28-21 loss last year.
Nonetheless, I do like SHS to win, based on slightly better numbers against a slightly tougher overall slate. In other words, this thing will be close.
Recent history is also on the Yellow Jackets’ side, with two straight wins and five victories in the last seven meetings.
PICK: Stephenville by 3
Stamford (7-1, 2-0) at Hawley (6-1, 1-0) — Last year, this matchup produced a 35-32 Stamford win in an epic shootout that had more twists and turns, more ‘what ifs’ and more blown calls than one could count.
Last year’s game could have ended with any of about a dozen different outcomes, but this year, I only see a few possibilities brought on by a radical change in style.
The Bearcats are a ball-control team in 2018, vastly different than the up-tempo spread attack we’ve seen from them in recent years. And this year’s game will come down to a couple of things: can Hawley keep the ball away from a Stamford offense averaging 50 points per game and win the turnover battle?
If both of HHS’ goals are achieved, Stamford still has the ability to win through firepower alone. If the Bearcats fail at either, it will be pushed into a shootout few 2A teams can win.
PICK: Stamford by 7
CRAWFORD (4-3, 2-0) AT DE LEON (4-3, 2-0) — Prior to the season, this was seen by most as the game of the year in District 7-2A DI.
That’s no longer the case.
The winner of this game will be facing a monstrous San Saba team (7-0, 2-0) for the district title. But in the meantime, the issue between these to rivals needs to be settled.
I’m giving De Leon a slight edge at home, but a Crawford defense allowing just 17 points per game will keep things close.
PICK: De Leon by 3
WALL (4-2, 2-0) AT EASTLAND (6-1, 2-0) — Wall remains the team to beat in District 3-3A DI, but Eastland might be the team best equipped to stop the Hawks.
EHS is 5-0 with quarterback Behren Morton in the lineup and has scored 93 points in the two district games since his return from a stress fracture.
The problem for the Mavericks will be in stopping a Wall flexbone attack that has begun to find a rhythm, scoring 149 points over its last four games.
The Hawks will get enough stops to win on the road, but not before Eastland puts a scare into them.
PICK: Wall by 10
COLORADO CITY (7-0, 2-0) AT ABERNATHY (6-1, 2-0) — I whiffed on an upset pick of Idalou over Colorado City last week in our Big Country Preps Game of the Week. So you’d think I’d learn my lesson.
C-City is now in the difficult position of having to stay up emotionally following last week’s crucial 21-7 win.
It’s never easy to win back-to-back games of this magnitude, especially when the second is on the road.
The Antelopes haven’t allowed more than nine points in a game since Sept. 14, they haven’t scored fewer than 34 and they’re at home.
PICK: Abernathy by 4
ALBANY (2-5, 2-0) AT CROSS PLAINS (6-1, 2-0) — If ever the Cross Plains Buffaloes had a shot at beating Albany, it’s in 2018.
That may sound blunt, but history backs my statement.
Cross Plains has lost 19 straight to the Lions dating back to 1934 and in that span, they’ve never come closer than three scores of topping the guys in red.
This year, however, has seen the planets align.
Cross Plains is off to its best start in 17 years while Albany is off to its worst start in 17. And a Buffalo defense holding the opposition to just nine points per game should keep this game competitive.
But here’s the problem: Albany’s schedule has been merciless, with all five losses coming to larger schools destined postseason runs at higher levels. In short, the 2-5 mark is totally misleading and the Lions still have an edge here.
Cross Plains will give Albany the toughest game the series has seen in 74 years, but it’s tough to pick against a trend like this.
PICK: Albany by 14
EVAN REN’S BIG COUNTRY PICKS
(Projected winners capitalized)
Weatherford at ABILENE HIGH
COOPER at Lubbock High
Wylie at CANYON RANDALL
ANDREWS at Big Spring
SNYDER at Sweetwater
San Angelo TLCA at ANSON
Merkel at BALLINGER
San Angelo Grape Creek at CISCO
Brady at BLANCO
BROCK at Ponder
COAHOMA at Stanton
Rio Vista at COMANCHE
Jacksboro at DUBLIN
Coleman at BANGS
BRECKENRIDGE at Early
CLYDE at Jim Ned
HAMLIN at Baird
Roscoe at HASKELL
Munday at QUANAH
HICO at Goldthwaite
Forsan at WINTERS
Spur at ASPERMONT
THROCKMORTON at Benjamin
Bluff Dale at GORDON
Lingleville at GORMAN
ABILENE CHRISTIAN at Granbury North Central Texas Academy
STRAWN at Gustine
Rotan at HERMLEIGH
STERLING CITY at Highland
Rule at JAYTON
Paducah at KNOX CITY
BLACKWELL at Moran
Rising Star at MULLIN
Rochelle at PANTHER CREEK
Bronte at ROBERT LEE
MAY at Santa Anna
Brookesmith at SIDNEY
LORAINE at Trent
GARDEN CITY at Westbrook
Evant at ZEPHYR
BCP THURSDAY NIGHT DRIVE TIME PODCAST
Evan & Dan break down this week’s top game