Waco Midway: After making the first eight 7 on 7 State Tournaments, the Panthers have missed the last two although they narrowly missed a spot last year falling to Stephenville in the semi-finals of the Burnet SQT. Midway is still in the baseball playoffs so they may be missing some key players but there is still plenty of talent available. RB John Hubert and WR Levi Norwood are the top offensive weapons and keep an eye on DB Ahmad Dixon. Midway is a very strong 7 on 7 team and I expect them to fare very well in their own SQT. They are the clear favorites to win this pool.
Joshua: The Owls are making their SQT debut this week as JHS has never participated in a SQT. Joshua lacks speed and athletes at the skill positions and they graduated their QB. They have two solid offensive weapons in TE Riley Hickerson and RB Jon Blair but other than that Joshua will lack the athletes to keep up.
Cleburne: Another team playing in their first SQT this week is Cleburne. The Yellow Jackets are led on defense by LB Robert White, they also have a potential two way star in DB/WR DeMontre Davison. CHS does have some solid young talent with QB Ty Taylor and WR's Semaj Holderness and Broderick Martin. If Midway slips up Cleburne has the athletes to make things happen, but I think a lack of SQT experience comes back to haunt CHS.
Lampasas: The Badgers will be using SQT play to try and get some of their young guys some much needed experience. LHS doesn't feature a ton of offensive talent and they lack depth so it will likely be a long day but they should have enough to at least avoid a winless day as I think they've got enough to take out Joshua.
Little Matt's Pool Pick: Waco Midway
Big Matt's Pool Pick: Cleburne
Copperas Cove: The Bulldawgs who before last year had qualified for every State Tournament, missed out despite having Robert Griffen at QB. This year Cove has more experience at the skill positions and that may make the difference in earning a spot at A&M. WR Josh Boyce is at times uncoverable, and he can contribute on defense. Brandin Byrd is an explosive back with speed, but they key for Cove will be their defense led by LB Tanner Brock and DB's Rashad Hardy and Chris Miller. Pool B is tough on paper but Cove will be considered one of the favorites.
Georgetown: The Eagles got off to a slow start last week at Round Rock going 2-2 and being held to only 7 points in a semi-final loss to Round Rock Westwood. The Eagles did not have a full group with them last week due to the baseball playoffs in progress. I look for the Eagles to once again be solid, but without the depth they will fade in late games and that will do them in once again this week.
Belton: The Tigers have only made the State Tournament once and that was back in 2000, although they did advance to the semi-finals at Burnet. Belton has a strong sophomore group that could really make noise in a couple of years but this year the Tigers will simply be trying to get work in.
Corsicana: Another group of Tigers rounds this pool out. Corsicana has not played SQTs the past few years as they last advanced to the State Tournament in 2004. Corsicana is extremely young at just about every position but they do feature two talented WR's in Javonte Hines and Taylor Simpson. CHS will be athletic but their youth much like Belton will be their downfall.
Little Matt's Pool Pick: Copperas Cove
Big Matt's Pool Pick: Georgetown
Arlington: The Colts had a strong performance last week at the Colleyville Heritage SQT despite not being at full strength as they were missing WR Brandon Lewis and LB Bradley Onyegbule. AHS posted a 2-1 pool record falling only to Denton Guyer who qualified for state. Keep an eye on WR Jamal Nero who has big play ability.
Austin Westlake: Westlake missed out on the State Tournament in 2007, but as always the Chapparals are dangerous. RB Ryan Swope is one of the most dangerous backs in the tournament because of his ability to catch the ball. WHS won't blow you away with big time athletes but they execute well and will have a QB who can hit spots, along with Arlington High they are a favorite to win the pool.
Midlothian: The Panthers are back in SQT play after not participating in 2007, MHS did qualify for the 2006 State Tournament. Midlothian has the top QB in the pool in Bryce Petty and behind his arm he'll make the Panthers a dangerous team. He doesn't have big time skill talent on offense but as long he plays mistake free Midlothian should be able to put some points up. DB Dante Floyd is the top cover corner but after him there is a lack of speed.
Killeen: The Kangaroos made their third State Tournament last year by going to Paris and winning their SQT. KHS won't have to travel nearly as far as there are several SQTs in Central Texas this year. Killeen will also play at Temple on June 14 and Brownwood on June 21. Keep an eye on RB Marcus Tillman, the ‘Roos don't have a lot of big name skill talent but as always look for KHS to have a lot of speed and athletes which makes them dangerous, however this is a very tough pool and it'll be tough for Killeen to make it out.
Little Matt's Pool Pick: Arlington
Big Matt's Pool Pick: Austin Westlake
Arlington Lamar: The Vikings qualified for their tenth straight State Tournament by rolling through the Colleyville Heritage SQT field. Lamar has a stable of tall and fast receivers and several quality young DB's along with a QB in Michael Poynter who executes the offense to near perfection. Look for the Vikings to work in young players in the next couple of SQTs as they solidify depth for the State Tournament.
Cedar Park Vista Ridge: The Rangers were a pleasant surprise last week at the Round Rock SQT posting a 2-1 record in pool play. Vista Ridge took Georgetown to overtime and save for a tipped pass caught by a GHS receiever in the end zone, the Rangers could have advanced to the semi-finals. What is even more impressive is they were missing a couple of key players. With their athletes Vista Ridge is a threat to advance out of pool play.
Stephenville: The Yellow Jackets have qualified for the last 3 State Tournaments, but there are a few questions surrounding the ‘Jackets this season. Replacing Kody Spano is the main question but SHS also graduated their entire secondary and that will be key for 7 on 7 play. RB Brad Mills is a threat on offense, the ‘Jackets have a good crop of receivers but no one who will make big plays. Look for SHS to execute and run precise routes and as always they'll be a threat to win their pool.
Hutto: Hutto finished 1-2 in pool play last week at the Round Rock SQT, but the one win for the Hippos came against State Qualifier Round Rock Westwood. That win should give HHS some confidence, but pool play this week will be much tougher. It'll be a struggle for Hutto to escape with even one win this week.
Little Matt's Pool Pick: Cedar Park Vista Ridge
Big Matt's Pool Pick: Cedar Park Vista Ridge
Little Matt's Picks: Waco Midway over Copperas Cove and Arlington over Cedar Park Vista Ridge
Big Matt's Picks: Georgetown over Cleburne and Austin Westlake over Cedar Park Vista Ridge
Little Matt's Pick: Waco Midway over Arlington
Big Matt's Pick: Georgetown over Austin Westlake