The preamble of the Texas high school football season comes to a close in Week 4 as the 5A/6A schools get going next week. Not to diminish the the 4A schools (and lower), but a lot of attention across the state will shift.
But let's focus on what's in front of us now. Terrell and Aubrey. For Terrell, this is the last warmup game before district play. For Aubrey, it is still in the middle of the pre-district schedule.
Terrell (1-2) is coming off its second straight loss after a 9-point loss on the road to Tyler Chapel Hill. It will be the Tigers' fourth straight road game to open the season, and they have another next week. It's a tough start for Terrell, to say the least.
In its last two games, Terrell has struggled protecting the ball with a combined seven turnovers to just three takeaways. A minus-4 turnover difference will not win you a lot of games, so this will need to be turned around.
This all starts with the quarterback play. Quarterback Kayne Nix has struggled a bit in the first three games, completing just 48.7 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and four interceptions.
In Terrell's only win, it dominated on the ground by racking up 491 rushing yards and completely stifled Wills Point, holding it to 82 yards of offense.
Aubrey (3-0) is off to a hot start in 2020, opening the season with three dominating wins - the lowest margin of victory being 23 points in Week 2 against Whitesboro.
Twice, Aubrey has eclipsed the 50-point mark and have held its opponents to 31 total points this year. With that point production has also come with a lot of yards - to the tune of 542 yards per game. The bulk of the offense this year has come from the ground attack as the Chaparrals are averaging nearly 400 yards rushing.
Like Terrell, though, Aubrey has been hit with the turnover bug with four in three games. Against Whitesboro in Week 2, Aubrey forced six turnovers, which shows the defense's ability to completely shut down opponents.
Previewing the Game
The last time I previewed a game, I went against what the computers at TexasFootball said. This time around, the computers see what I see, having Aubrey as 16-point favorites. Here are the stats entering this game.
Terrell is +25 in points in 2020, but taking away Week 1 that number flips to -28, and the big reason is the uneven play at QB and the turnovers. For Terrell to have a shot against Aubrey, it has to take care of the ball while also getting Aubrey to commit turnovers.
When Aubrey gets the ball, it scores, and then it shuts down opponents. It can win in a shootout and it can win in a defensive struggle, so this is where Terrell has to keep the game. Getting into a track meet with Aubrey can be a recipe for disaster.
Prediction: Aubrey 45, Terrell 24
Follow @iamspeters for live updates of this game.
Week two is a showcase of two very different teams entering the 2020 season. On one side, you have a team that is looking to break out and finally put some wins together to get back into the playoffs. The other, a team that is trying keep the improve on just getting to the playoffs and finally make a deeper run. One team won last week finding balance on offense between its passing and rushing games while the other relied heavily on its passing attack to eek out a win.
But both won Week 1 in comeback fashion, which should make this Week 2 matchup highly interesting.
Previewing Lake Worth
Lake Worth (1-0) has been a perennial playoff team since 2012 but have been one-and-done in each of those seasons with not particularly great showings losing by an average of 65.5 to 3 over the last four years. The last two playoff appearances have come against a very good Waco La Vega team, which shutout Lake Worth in both first round matchups.
Lake Worth had a tough opener with 3A McGregor last week, going back and forth all game with four ties and four lead changes and erasing a 9-point fourth quarter deficit to win by four.
And Lake Worth did it all through the air as the run game was non-existent. Caleb Welch completed 60 percent of his 35 passes for 351 yards and threw for six of the team's seven total touchdowns to lead the way. Welch connected with six different receivers, but relied mainly only Damirion Polty, who hauled in seven catches for 166 yards and three scores.
The running game was completely stifled the team finished with 24 rushing yards on 16 attempts (1.5 yards/carry). Kam Kimble had 33 yards and one score.
On defense, Lake Worth gave up 477 total yards but were able to force two takeaways, which proved pivotal for the Bullfrogs to stay within striking distance and mount the comeback.
Sanger in the two years before the 2020 season has been in a rut after being a perennial playoff contender. In those two years, Sanger went a combined 1-19 and had lost its last six games. Enter the new year and Sanger has already matched that two-year win total.
Like Lake Worth, Sanger needed a fourth-quarter rally to beat 3A Clifton. After taking a 6-2 lead into the half, Sanger surrendered 12 points in the third only to score 19 straight with three rushing touchdowns in the fourth take the win.
Balance was key for Sanger, as it got 186 passing yards from Rylan Smart and a combined 184 yards rushing out of Tallyn Welborn and Smart.
And like Lake Worth, takeaways proved key in mounting the comeback and earning the win as the Indians (1-0) had two interceptions and a fumble recovery while not having any turnovers.
Previewing the Game
Considering each team's recent history, it's striking to note that Sanger is projected as a touchdown favorite over Lake Worth, according to the TexasFootball.com computers. Both teams are tabbed to finish next-to-last in their respective districts, but in Sanger's case, that would make it a playoff team for the first time since 2017 while Lake Worth would miss it for the fist time since 2011.
On that 2011 note, it is the last time these two schools have met with Sanger winning on the road 49-13. Considering that game was nine years ago, it will have no bearing on how the 2020 game plays out.
It's hard to align with the DCTF computers on this one. Yes, Sanger's defense was better in Week 1 against a lesser opponent than what Lake Worth faced. And yes, Sanger's offense was more balanced than Lake Worth. However, it's hard to ignore the immediate historical context as Sanger is now 2-19 in two-plus seasons and Lake Worth on an eight-year playoff streak.
For all we know, Sanger could win district this season and make it a few rounds deep into the playoffs and Lake Worth could go winless, but from a pragmatic standpoint, Lake Worth seems to be better positioned to win.
Lake Worth has already proven it can score a lot of points when needed, and Sanger has shown a shutdown ability. Both teams take care of the ball and can get crucial takeaways.
Prediction: Lake Worth 34, Sanger 27
Follow @iamspeters for live updates of this game.