50 Must-See High School Games: 50-41
Counting down Texas high school football's 50 must-see games.
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This week, Dave Campbell’s Texas Football is counting down the top 50 must-see Texas high school football games in 2014. Keep in mind: this is not necessarily a ranking of the top 50 games, but rather the 50 games you won’t want to miss. One rule to remember: each game must feature two Texas teams. We will take a look at the best Texas vs. out of state games later this month.
Today: Nos. 50-41
Tuesday: Nos. 40-31
Wednesday: Nos. 30-21
Thursday: Nos. 20-11
Friday: Nos. 10-1
50. Plano East at Plano (Week 7)
Unlike many of the games on this list, chances are this one won’t have any real district championship or state championship implications. Instead, this has the loftiest implications of all: bragging rights. Not only is this for city supremacy (along with these two teams’ tilts with Plano West), but it will be the first McCullough Bowl, as new Plano East coach Joey McCullough takes on his brother, Plano coach Jaydon McCullough. That will add an extra bit of spice to an already heated rivalry, and we can’t wait to hear which team Mama McCullough will be pulling for.
49. Port Neches-Groves at Nederland (Week 8)
One of the most heated rivalries in the state, Mid-County Madness is back for another year. But the 2014 version of this game is a little more special. Why? It’s slated to become the Bum Phillips Bowl. The winner of this matchup will take home a trophy created with Phillips’ likeness. The Texas icon coached at both schools, which are separated by a mere eight miles, before going on to coach for the Houston Oilers.
48. Dallas Covenant at Abilene Christian (Week 7)
It may not have the sizzle of a Katy-Cedar Hill or an Allen-Cibolo Steele, but there is no bigger game in the private school six-man ranks than this. Abilene Christian begins the year No. 1 in our rankings, and Covenant begins the year No. 3, but that only tells half the story. Covenant has played in each of the last five TAPPS six-man DI title games, winning the last two. The last team to beat the Knights in a title game? You guessed it: Abilene Christian, back in 2011. And who knocked Abilene Christian out of the playoffs the last two seasons? Yep: Covenant. There is no love lost between these teams, and you can fully expect the playmakers — like Abilene Christian’s Jonathan Gressett and Covenant’s Gunner Teaster — to be ready for the game of the year.
47. EP Franklin vs. San Angelo Central (Week 3)
Yes, one of the rules for ranking these games was it had to feature two Texas teams. But we didn’t say anything about a game having to be in Texas. That’s right, this clash between EP Franklin and San Angelo Central goes beyond state borders — Hobbs, New Mexico to be exact. It’s actually about halfway, which makes sense given Texas’ massive size. The game itself should be a dandy as it features two teams we have very high expectations for in their respective regions.
46. May at Strawn (Week 8)
If it’s taking you a while to get used to calling six-man football “Class 1A”, join the club. But while you’re getting used to it, go ahead and circle 10/17 on your calendar as can’t-miss action, when May — the surprising runner-up from last season — travels to perennial power Strawn for what will almost certainly be for the District 10-1A DI title. A strong returning cast for Strawn, including QB Harrison Nowak and DL Grayson Brandenburg, makes the Greyhounds the early favorites, but we’ve learned better than to doubt Craig Steele’s Tigers, especially with stud DE Brant Harris back to lead the defensive charge. Expect fireworks.
45. Harlingen at San Antonio Reagan (Week 2)
The tradition of ‘Valley Week,’ where San Antonio teams knock out RGV teams in the third round of the playoffs has been a staple in South Texas for years. Valley squads very rarely get through to the fourth round of the postseason and winning in the Alamo City is, well, nearly impossible. But if there is any team that can do it, it’s Harlingen. Just three years ago, the Cardinals took down SA Warren en route to a state quarterfinal berth. There is plenty of pride on the line in this non-district game, and it will give us a taste of what’s to come once this year’s ‘Valley Week’ rolls around.
44. Houston Kinkaid at Houston St. Thomas (Week 1)
How’s this for an opening week game to wet your whistle in the private school ranks? Two of H-Town’s finest in what is always a loaded private school scene will strap it up in a tantalizing season opener. Kinkaid, at least a co-favorite to win another SPC title, is loaded thanks to QB J.T. Granato and WR Sam Mays, not to mention a sorely underrated offensive line led by Tyler Higby. But St. Thomas, which should challenge for a TAPPS DI title, has plenty of reason to think they can take them down, most notably bruising RB Wendell Champion and NG Laurenzo Neal. In many ways, it’s speed (Kinkaid) versus power (St. Thomas).
43. Teague at Malakoff (Week 9)
Thanks to this year’s realignment, we get to see one heck of a matchup that should decide the 11-3A DI district champion. Both teams enter the year ranked in the top 20 and return explosive offenses. Teague running back John Love rushed for over 2,000 yards and 24 touchdowns last season while quarterback Austin Skinner passed for 2,865 yards and 33 touchdowns. The star for Malakoff is 1,000-yard rusher Marcus Dowell. The Tigers should also benefit from the return of quarterback Stephen Wolfe, who was lost to injury a year ago. Expect fireworks in this one.
42. Port Lavaca Calhoun at George Ranch (Week 11)
There are about a dozen different reasons this game has us salivating. For one, there is a very good chance that this final-week tilt will decide the 24-5A championship, and while the schools can’t go to the same playoff bracket (Calhoun would be DII, George Ranch DI), the district title still means something to us. Secondly, it’s a fascinating clash of strength on strength — George Ranch’s devastating defensive front, led by Kingsley Keke, against Calhoun’s legendary rushing attack, with the road plowed by OL Jorge Rios. And finally, there’s the historical nature of it: Calhoun is an established power, while George Ranch is the up-and-comer. If George Ranch wants to get to the level of statewide respect that Calhoun has, beating the Sandcrabs to win the district title would be a good start. But don’t think Calhoun coach Richard Whitaker is going to let that happen quietly.
41. Liberty Hill at La Grange (Week 1)
These two 4A powers will collide in one of the state’s premier non-district tilts. Liberty Hill’s stingy defense led by defensive end Jacob Covington, our preseason Defensive MVP in 14-4A DI, won’t be giving up many points this year. But Covington and company will have the daunting task of stopping La Grange do-it-all athlete Bralon Hutchinson, who can play everything from wide receiver to running back to safety and was named our 11-4A DII Offensive MVP. This one has classic written all over it.
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