Gilmer (3-1) at Nacogdoches (3-1); 7:30 p.m., Friday; Dragon Stadium
This marks the first time the Buckeyes are coming off a regular-season loss since the 2013 regular-season finale. A 34-29 Kilgore victory snapped a 23-game regular-season Buckeyes’ win streak then. Gilmer responded shellacking Mineola in the first-round of the Division II playoffs. … Previously ranked as high as No. 3 in The Associated Press Class 4A weekly poll, last week’s loss to Carthage, drops the Bux to 7th in this week’s rankings. Gilmer QB Poppy Brown went 34 of 61 for 361 yards and three touchdowns with one interception against Carthage. Brown threw a couple of scoring strikes to Dimitri Fort (5-96) and another to Red Jones (6-80). Brown, who will make only his fifth varsity start, is 111 of 166 for 1,565 yards and 16 touchdowns thus far this season. His primary receiver is Oklahoma State verbal commit LaMarcus Morton (25-484, 5 TDs). Jones follows Morton with 17 receptions for 209 yards and three scores. Three other Buckeye receivers have 12 or more catches. … Gilmer has rushed for 743 yards and 15 touchdowns. The two leading rushers have been Rashaad Ward, a jr., (33-195, 3) and Brown (23-93, 2). … The Dragon defense is led by Texas commit CB Josh Thompson, who has a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown already this season, and DEs De’vaunte Johnson, who has four sacks, and Brad Phillips, who has three. … Nacogdoches QB Noah Hildebrand leads a capable offense that can hurt you through the air or on the ground. Hildebrand, an Arkansas-Monticello commit, is 49 of 79 passing for 690 yards and seven touchdowns with only two interceptions. He has capable receivers in Jaylon Maxie and Jed Morgan. Phillip Jones is the go-to RB with 759 yards and six touchdowns in just four games. He rushed for 272 and three touchdowns last week against Class 5A Hallsville. … Gilmer’s Black Flag defense is anchored by LB Jeremy Kelly with 34 tackles, 4 TFL, 1 Int., ILB Myles Chumley (33, 5) and La. Tech commit SAF Kollin Hurt (31, 1, 1).
JOE’S PICK: Gilmer by 10
Chapel Hill (1-3) at Henderson (4-0); 7:30 p.m., Friday; Lion Stadium
Chapel Hill opened with a season-opening win against Wills Point, but has struggled since, losing three in a row, while Henderson enters district play (9-4A, DI) unbeaten with a 4-0 record and ranked eighth in this week’s The Associated Press Class 4A football poll. That’s up two places from last week. … Chapel Hill is averaging 10 ppg., but hasn’t scored more than seven since its 26-9 victory over Wills Point a month ago. QB Jaxson Heckel is 40 of 83 passing for 544 yards and two touchdowns. Other key offensive personnel for the Bulldogs are RB Andrian Minor and OL Jose Arreguin. … LB Keaton Hand is the Lions’ leading tackler with 48 and a TFL. LB Ty Blanton follows with 40 tackles, seven TFL, a sack, three pressures and a forced fumble. Henderson is allowing just 15.2 ppg. … The Lions’ offense has scored 41 or more points in all four games, and averages 50.25 a contest, scoring as many as 71 against Pittsburg two weeks ago, and 41 against Pine Tree. … Henderson QB Trae Hall is 34 of 49 passing for 436 yards and 10 touchdowns. He has also rushed for 216 yards and three other scores. The Lions’ leading rusher is TCU commit Lakendrick Vanzandt (39-369, 4). Another TCU verbal commit Trestan Ebner leads a talented receiving corps with 18 catches for 391 yards and seven touchdowns. Matthew Childers follows Ebner with 13 receptions for 127 yards and two TDs. … Top defenders for the Bulldogs include FS Ladarian Hudson and OLB Kaleb Golden.
JOE’S PICK: Henderson by 28
Bullard (3-1) at Center (2-2); at 7:30 p.m., Friday; Roughriders Stadium
Center opens play in the ‘District of Doom’ (9-4A, DI), averaging 279.7 yards per game. Coming off a playoff appearance a year ago in Coach Barry Bowman’s first season at the school, the ’Riders opened with a victory, then suffered back-to-back losses against Gilmer and Gladewater, before getting back on track, defeating Diboll last week. … QB Kyle Parks is 62 of 96 for 788 yards passing with six touchdowns. His leading receiver is Octavius Evans (28-321, 1). Jaterius Evans and Caleb Parks each have nine receptions. Something Bullard should be aware of: five of Parks’ receivers average 10 or more yards per catch. … Center mixes its passing game with the run, having rushed for just 331 yards and seven touchdowns. The leading rusher is Parks (56-85), although Jacarious Hall has the most yardage (124, 1). … Bullard QB Cleet Bowman has thrown for 707 yards and six touchdowns. Among his leading receivers are WR Nic Costas and Ty Crayton, and TE Major Tennison, who scored on a 94-yard completion from Bowman against Brownsboro earlier this season. The Panthers leading rusher is D’Juan Martin. … Panthers’ ILB Donovan Yeley and DE Derek Landrum will be asked to pressure Parks, while Bullard’s DBs Crayton and Martin will be asked to cover the ’Riders’ talented receiving corps. … The Panthers are averaging 29.0 points per game with wins over Groesbeck, Brownsboro and Commerce, following a season-opening loss to Malakoff.
JOE’S PICK: Center by 6
Palestine (3-1) at Kilgore (1-3); 7:30 p.m., Friday; R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium
The Bulldogs are off to their worst start since a 1-4 beginning in 2014. … Kilgore has won its last four games, though, against the Wildcats. … The Bulldogs, coming off a shutout loss at Texas High, look to get back in the win column as district begins. Kilgore enters the contest, averaging 23.5 ppg., while allowing 33.5. … The last couple of weeks, the Bulldogs have stayed with last year’s QB Buddy Jackson as their starter, but given backup Jay Copeland, more time at the position. … RB Melek Hamilton leads the Ragin’ Red rushing attack with 430 yards and five touchdowns. He is averaging 7.5 yards per carry. … Jackson, who is 18 of 31 passing for 220 yards and one touchdown, has rushed for 236 yards and two touchdowns. His leading receiver is Cole Wood with 14 catches for 144 yards. … In limited playing time, Copeland is 4 of 6 passing for 47 yards and a touchdown. … Leading the Wildcats’ opportunistic defense, which is allowing 23.7 ppg., will be LB Edward Reese (30, 10 TFL, 1 sack), and a secondary featuring soph. DBs Josh Williams (7 TFL), Karnelius Hamilton and Jhamonte Milton. … The Wildcats enter this week’s contest, averaging 29.5 ppg. … Sr. Claude Rogers returns at QB. He is 31 of 71 passing for 653 yards and seven touchdowns with two picks. His favorite target has been Milton with 12 receptions for 300 yards and two touchdowns. The ’Cats top rusher has been Irric Deyon. … Kilgore’s leading tacklers are LBs Jamal Nobles (38, 1 TFL) and Sebastian Mumphrey (25). Anchoring the secondary will be CB A.J. Henson (10, 1 int.) and S Mateo Meraz (17). DL Dimontray Sibley led all tacklers last week against Texas High with eight. … Kilgore is 21-10 all-time against Palestine.
JOE’S PICK: Kilgore by 14