Howe is Central Texas: a wet-n-wild Week 0

Central Texas Editor Jeff Howe recaps the Week 0 action in the area with his thoughts on all that went on during the opening weekend of the 2007 season.

Usually in Central Texas weather is not a factor this early in the season, but Week 0 saw several games that were suspended, started late, or cancelled due to thunderstorms all across the area.

That was just one of the many factors that made the first week of the 2007 season a wild one.

Last week my game of the week was the Class 3A clash between Giddings and Wimberley as Texans Stadium. The Buffaloes 55-21 romp left me feeling reassured that they are legit state title contenders yet again this season. In the words of TCU head coach Gary Patterson, speed baby, speed. That word best describes the Buffaloes on both sides of the ball. Not only does their fly option offense feature Texas-bound quarterback Brock Fitzhenry, who had 147 yards and three touchdowns on Friday, but a backfield platoon of Alan Dock, C.J. Brooks, David Bradshaw, and Shane Jenke, all four of whom are very capable of doing damage when they have the football in their hands. On the defensive side the ball, Dock leads a defense that swarms to the football every play while Brooks and Bradshaw do an excellent job of filling the alley in run support from the secondary, as is evident by their holding the Texans to 63 yards rushing on Friday. It will be tough for anybody to stop Giddings this season and the Buffaloes appear to me to be on a collision course to meet Liberty Hill in a rematch of their state quarterfinal duel last season.

As for Wimberley, the Texans went on to win 12 straight games after their loss to the Buffaloes last season but this year that could be a tall order. The Texans have an extremely tough non-district schedule the rest of the way with rival Dripping Springs this week, followed by defending District 26-3A champion Luling, reigning Division I state champion Texarkana Liberty-Eylau, and rival and Class 3A No. 1 Liberty Hill. The Texans defense does have strong leadership with Chad Skunda, a player that the team really seems to rally around, and the offense has a fine looking junior quarterback in Barron Scudder, who showed great awareness and poise in the pocket in his first start.

Since Liberty Hill has been mentioned so much already this week, the Panthers got their season started off on the right foot defeating Waco Connally 33-13 at home behind Doug Allman's 182 yard, three touchdown performance. Central Texas' other 2006 state champion Mart was also victorious, topping defending Class 1A Division II state champ Chilton 31-12 at a muddy Chambless Field in Mart despite and off night passing by Lee McClendon (4-for-12 for 34 yards) and receiving by North Texas pledge Kenny Barrett (two catches for munus-2 yards). These two have great shots to repeat and Mart, I feel, as the best shot at repeating as they clearly look like the top dog in Division II simply because in games like this when McClendon's arm isn't on par, he can do damage with his legs (98 yards rushing and two scores) and carry the offense. The Panthers face one of their toughest challenges this season as they face rival Burnet, a 45-14 winner over Taylor last week.

Many folks say District 16-4A is the toughest in the state in any classification. The league's top two teams from last season, state finalists Waco High and Copperas Cove, won their season openers with little resistance. The Lions won their game of the H-E-B Heart-O-Texas Kickoff Classic at Waco I.S.D. Stadium with a 35-15 drubbing of Wylie. Running back Jarred Salubi led the way offensively with 237 yards and three touchdowns while the defense got a pair of sacks from blue chip junior Andrew Weaver and held Wylie to 199 yards of total offense. Cove posted a 33-0 shutout of San Angelo Central thanks to Troy Vital's 135 yards and two touchdown showing on just 13 carries and a defense that gave up just 88 yards. The Lions have a much tougher non-district schedule than the Dawgs and Johnny Tusa's club begins a very tough three game stretch against Ennis, Corsicana, Euless Trinity, and Tyler Lee. But I still feel as though it is Waco High and then everyone else in District 16-4A.

Speaking of District 16-4A, Killeen pulled one of the biggest upsets of the week with their 42-41 victory over Central Texas' preseason No. 1 in Class 5A, Ellison. Ellison lost quarterback Ivan Delgado early in the game due to an injury and star receiver Jaron Turner was forced to take over. One can only hope that Delgado will not be gone for an extended period because the Eagles need him for his playmaking ability and for his senior leadership.

One has to admire the week that the teams in District 14-5A had last week. Westwood made a huge statement by defeating Austin High 27-7 with quarterback Tyler Grabarkewitz picked up where Chase Rich left off last season. It certainly looks like Coach Anthony Wood has established a solid program, Winning breeds success and the Warriors are showing that their 9-3 campaign in 2006 was no fluke. Georgetown was impressive in their 41-6 win over defending 4A-I state champion Alamo Heights. Pflugerville looks to have put their 3-7 record from last season behind them as George Herrmann's club got a huge road win at A&M Consolidated, and that showing is a big reason why I made the Panthers the new No. 1 5A team in Central Texas. Despite Leander's 32-26 loss to Converse Judson remember these two things about that game. One, Judson is much improved from last season and 2009 top recruit Chris McAllister made a huge difference in the ball game, including a 90-yard interception return for a touchdown. Two, the Lions have to replace many key players from their 10-3 team of a year ago. Running back Reggie Hodges had 124 yards and a touchdown in his debut and if he can give the Lions that kind of effort every week, it will take a lot of pressure off of quarterback Eric Massoni, who was solid in his first start against a tough defense. One thing is for sure, Steve Gideon will have a battle-tested team entering district play as the Lions will face two area top ten 5A clubs in A&M Consolidated and Bryan in their next two games.

In Class 3A, Waco La Vega might be one of the best teams in the state that nobody is talking about. Not only did the Pirates score a 20-12 win over Marlin on the road, they did it without the explosive backfield sibling duo of Kourtney and Chris Parr, who were sitting out due to "internal issues," as was reported in the Waco Tribune-Herald. At Hutto, Coach Lee Penland is showing that his program will be fine in the post-Jeremy Kerely era, at least they were during Week 0 as the Hippos posted an impressive 36-14 win over Dripping Springs.

If Week 0 is any indication then 2007 will be another great year of high school football in Central Texas, hopefully with the sloppy weather staying at a minimum. Things will really get cranked up in Week 1 with several top teams in the area, like Pflugerville Connally and Cedar Park, top players, Round Rock McNeil defensive back and five-star prospect Aaron Williams among them, and new coaches, most notably Ron Schroeder making his debut at Bastrop, taking the field for the first time in 2007.

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