#15 Breckenridge Vs. #4 DII Cisco
The 7-6 record for Breckenridge last year does not pop out to you as impressive. However, it was how the Buckaroos finished the season that has earned them a top 15 pre-season ranking. Breckenridge defeated Clyde and Muleshoe before falling to Shallowater, the regional champ, in a close 17-6 contest. What is even more exciting for the community is the 13 returning starters. Max Palacios (128 tackles) and Quinton Ellis (100 tackles) are two potent linebackers returning from a unit that gave up just 17 points a contest in 2014. Cisco is a perennial power that is a threat to go all the way year in and year out. The Loboes only return 7 starters from their regional finalist team, but reloading instead of rebuilding is the theme in Cisco, Tx. QB Taylor Massey will return to lead the offense. Massey threw for over 1,500 yards and rushed for nearly another 800 in 2014.
Josh's Pick: Cisco by 13
#2 Mineola Vs. #3 DII Elysian Fields
This could be the top match-up to watch in the area for the opening week of the season. Mineola, after beginning the season 0-3, reeled off 12 straight wins to reach the state championship game. Mineola will have plenty of firepower returning as QB Jeremiah Crawford and RB Chantz Perkins return what was most of the offense from a year ago. It does not stop there as A&M commits Austin and Riley Anderson will provide running lanes on the offensive line. The expectations for Elysian Fields have been taken up a notch here in 2015. The Yellowjackets were 8-4 a year ago and finished their season with a tight 28-27 loss to S&S Consolidated in the area round. Sr running-back Kyree Ratliff did a little bit of everything last year with 1,500 yards rushing and 300 yards receiving. In the game a year ago, it was a low scoring affair as Elysian Fields won the contest, 6-3. Will we see an offensive or defensive struggle in 2015?
Josh's Pick: Mineola by 7
#2 Newton Vs. #16 4A DII Tatum
This opening week contest will feature two of the top football programs out of the East Texas region. After many deep playoff runs, Newton finally broke through in 2014 and made it all the way to Arlington for the state championship. Things did not turn out all that well for the Eagles, but there is plenty to be excited about here in 2015. Newton has a total of 14 starters returning. Leading the wing-t power rushing attack will be speedy backs Gabe Foster and Jaron Hanks. For Tatum, it was a disappointing end to the season, falling to Atlanta 55-21 in the 3rd round of the playoffs. However, a new season for the Eagles always brings excitement as the talent level is as high as ever. There are holes to fill, but team speed should be a key strength for this team.
Josh's Pick: Tatum by 10
#1 East Bernard Vs. 4A DI Stafford
#1 East Bernard Vs. 4A DI Stafford
Rankings are not what makes this contest interesting. It was the fact that Stafford won this game, 41-15 a year ago. This year, most people seem to believe that the Brahmas may have a shot to win it all, but defeating a 4A DI in Stafford, which has been solid, will not be an easy task. The ranking for East Bernard is deserved, as a 3rd round playoff appearance and 19 returning starters would normally turn some heads. There will few holes and the only major loss was MVP Korren Robinson. The Spartans return a total of 9 starters here in 2015 as Ron Counter has done a spectacular job of turning this football program around. Returning for Stafford will be running-back Jalen Pitre, which rushed for around 1,000 yards, earning him newcomer of the year a season ago. Will we see a repeat of last year or will East Bernard be able to flip the script?
Josh's Pick: East Bernard by 7