La Marque (No. 1 in 4A TPI rankings) at Friendswood (No. 5): This is the one game the Mustangs have been waiting for, as Steve Van Meter's squad seeks just its second win over the Cougars. To do that, QB Jacob Karam must shake off last week's sloppy performance at Dickinson and his WR corps must overcome the disabling drops that helped lead to their 21-17 loss. The Cougar offense still has yet to really embrace head coach Chris Jones' system; they'd better step it up against a fundamentally sound Mustang defense that forced six turnovers last week. Still, few programs know how to turn it on for a big game like La Marque, which means the Cougars will rise to the occasion and hand Friendswood a loss that could really cripple their playoff hopes. La Marque 19, Friendswood 14.
Dickinson (No. 3) at Texas City (No. 13): Coming off an emotional win against Friendswood, the Gators have to avoid a letdown against a Stings team that appears to finding its balance with three straight wins. Dickinson leads 23-4A in both offense and defense, a sign that Warren Trahan's squad is no longer one-dimensional. While the Stings are wise to brace for a possible air assault from QB Clay Honeycutt, they must also be wary of a Gator ground game led backs Colbert Archie and Corey Thomas. TC begins a three-game gauntlet that includes La Marque and Friendswood, leaving their postseason fate squarely in their hands. It's a fate the Gators will begin snatching away. Dickinson 31, Texas City 20.
Brazosport (No.25) at Santa Fe (No. 41): Don't count the Exporters quite out of the 23-4A chase. At the least, head coach Brian Welch's squad will have a say on who makes into the postseason. The loss to El Campo helped bring them further down to earth, though, but a trip to Santa Fe comes at the right time. The Indians were totally overmatched against Texas City; the defense has allowed 100 points in the last two weeks, and while Brazosport may not drop a 50-spot, they could come close. Brazosport 35, Santa Fe 7.
Player of the Week: Dickinson DB Tyler Magilolo made perhaps the play of the 23-4A season when he ripped the ball out of the hands of Friendswood RB Austin Beaty at the Gator 1-yard line. The stop kept the Mustangs from taking the lead and set the stage for the Gators to eat nearly six of the final eight minutes of a 21-17 win that has them firmly in control of the 23-4A chase.
One to Watch For: La Marque RB Alvin Taylor rushed for 92 yards and two touchdowns in the Cougars' 31-14 win over Angleton. Taylor -- who also plays cornerback -- has given some life to an offense that ranks fifth in the district. Head coach Chris Jones plans to increase his touches, which would give the Cougars a speed element in the backfield.
Looking Ahead: Texas City travels to La Marque in what could be a battle of 3-0 teams in district. Dickinson welcomes Santa Fe to Sam Vitanza Stadium, while Friendswood visits Brazosport that -- depending on the outcome of Friday's game against La Marque -- could see the Mustangs fighting for their playoff lives.
College Watch: Don't be surprised if at least two -- if not three -- kickers in the district receive scholarships. Texas City's Mitch Russo appears to be a lock for one, while Friendswood's Nathan Harvey (who also is an outstanding soccer prospect) also should be kicking on Saturdays next fall. La Marque's Denroy VanHorne has a rocket leg and has also attracted the attention of scouts.