BCP GAME OF THE WEEK: Loboes, Bearcats clash in our spotlight game (w/ Evan Ren’s Big Country Picks)

LAST WEEK: 43-7, .860

OVERALL: 173-34, .835

While the Cisco Loboes have been in countless big games over the last two decades, the last few years have been a bit lean for Ballinger. 

In fact, the general consensus is, when the Bearcats (3-0) play host to the Loboes (2-1) on Friday, this will be the biggest regular season game played in Ballinger in several years. 

At the very least, it’s our Big Country Preps Game of the Week, and deservedly so. 

As for who to pick, I’m big on experience when it comes to high-profile games that garner a high degree of media attention. 

The Loboes are in their element in this sort of matchup, while virtually no one on the Ballinger sideline with the exception of coach Chuck Lipsey has had a taste of it. 

My personal belief is that Ballinger’s Edgar Nunez-led offense will be troublesome for Cisco and keep the Bearcats competitive. But two or three mistakes — penalties, turnovers or mental blunders — brought on by nerves, will likely make the difference. 

Cisco has been here before. Ballinger is in uncharted territory. 

PICK: Cisco by 7

OTHER TOP MATCHUPS

WINDTHORST (3-1) AT HAWLEY (4-0)

This is a dangerous game for Hawley, which is now coming off back-to-back emotional wins over Hamlin and Albany.

Windthorst has already knocked off respectable 3A teams from Henrietta and Jacksboro, so the Trojans will arrive at HHS with the attitude that they can win this thing. And frankly, they can, if the Bearcats suffer a letdown. 

I don’t believe that’s going to happen. 

I like the Bearcats to take care of business behind one of the Big Country’s best offensive lines. And if the turnovers break even, I like Hawley to win with some degree of comfort. 

PICK: Hawley by 17

CHRISTOVAL (4-0) AT WINTERS (3-1)

I believe we’re looking at one of the most exciting games of the week with this matchup and if weren’t for the epic Cisco/Ballinger district opener, this would be a strong candidate for Game of the Week. 

The computers like Christoval in this matchup, but I’m getting an itch on the back my neck that says “upset.” 

My reasoning: This will be the most difficult opponent CHS has faced to date. Winters has won three of the last four meetings between the two schools. And finally, the Blizzards were a scant four-point favorite to beat Christoval last year and shattered the spread with a 40-14 win. 

Add the fact that Winters is at home for the first time in three weeks, and I like the Blizzards to win what should be a great game.

PICK: Winters by 3

BROCK (3-1) AT PILOT POINT (3-1)

Every key game on Brock’s schedule this year is on the road. Every single one of them. 

At this stage, I see the Eagles meeting the challenge — largely through a defense that is allowing just 11 points per game. 

Pilot Point, despite its edge in speed, will be at a disadvantage in the physicality department — something that cost the Bearcats in a 35-0 loss to Gunter last week. 

Pilot Point will arrive fired up, but the Eagles will prevail. 

PICK: Brock by 17

HAMLIN (3-1) VS. STRATFORD (3-1) AT ABERNATHY

A difficult matchup for both teams, at the end of which, the most important thing will be to learn from whatever lessons are available and stay healthy in the process. 

Both clubs are better than they were a year ago, especially Stratford, which has been playing lights out defensively. So look for things to be closer than last year’s 28-14 Hamlin win. 

Nonetheless, I’ll go with the Pipers, who were good enough to play unbeaten 2A DI Hawley within two points, despite four turnovers. 

If the mistakes break even here, the Pipers will have a slight edge. 

PICK: Hamlin by 3

ANSON (1-2) AT BANGS (2-1)

When I look at this matchup, I immediately think “offense,” and I believe that’s what we’ll get here. 

Both of these clubs are capable of scoring in a hurry and Anson is better than a 1-2 record with losses to Hamlin and Jim Ned would indicate.

I’m giving the edge to Anson, based on the belief that the Tigers have been in more games of this magnitude over the past four years and that experience will pay off. 

Make no mistake: Kyle Maxfield’s Dragons have turned a corner. Their next step will be in learning to win crucial district matchups. 

PICK: Anson by 7

EVAN REN’S BIG COUNTRY PICKS

(Projected winners capitalized)

INTERCLASS

BROWNWOOD at Abilene Wylie

STEPHENVILLE at Georgetown

WALL at Big Spring

COAHOMA at Iraan

Haskell at LUBBOCK CHRISTIAN

HAMILTON at Goldthwaite

Hico at EARLY

MASON at Comanche

Peaster at ALBANY

Reagan County at FORSAN

CLASS 5A-6A

ABILENE HIGH at North Richland Hills Richland

Lubbock Monterey at COOPER

CLASS 4A

MIDLAND GREENWOOD at Sweetwater

CLASS 3A

BRECKENRIDGE at Dublin

Colorado City at CLYDE

JIM NED at Brady

San Angelo Grape Creek at COLEMAN

San Angelo TLCA at MERKEL

Jacksboro at EASTLAND

CLASS 2A

STAMFORD at De Leon

SAN SABA at Ingram Moore

Munday at MILES

Ranger at DAWSON

CROSS PLAINS vs. Plains (at Snyder)

CLASS 1A

KNOX CITY at Bryson

Roby at ASPERMONT

Hermleigh at BLACKWELL

El Paso Immanuel Baptist at IRA

WESTBROOK at Lenorah Grady

HIGHLAND at Robert Lee

Bronte at STERLING CITY

Paint Rock at BROOKESMITH

MAY at Zephyr

Lometa at GORMAN

JAYTON at Petersburg 

Lueders-Avoca at ROTAN

Throckmorton at CHILLICOTHE

WOODSON at Rule

GORDON at Blanket

Strawn at MILFORD

Kopperl at GUSTINE

Mullin at SANTA ANNA

SIDNEY at Three Way

Cherokee at LINGLEVILLE

ROCHELLE at Rising Star

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