MISSOURI CITY – Rarely does the most critical football game of the season occur in September, but defending champion Fort Bend Marshall and the once-perennial kings of whatever district they've been in, the Manvel Mavericks, compete in 11-5A (Div. II). It's a most unusual district, because frankly, they're the only teams who can compete with each other.
The Buffs and the Mavs (both 3-0 and 1-0 in district play) meet tonight in Hall Stadium, and the game will be broadcast on VYPE Sports Radio at vypefortbend.com starting at 6:45 PM, with Roger Smith providing the play-by-play.
Most coaches would say sincerely that, most of the time, revenge is not the wisest motive to carry into a football game. However, the elephant in the room is Manvel's 364-day wait to play Marshall again.
Back on Sept. 21, 2018, at Alvin ISD's Freedom Stadium, the Buffs' Devon Achane scored seven touchdowns and the winning two-point conversion in overtime. Marshall beat Manvel for the first time, 52-51, and the Buffs stampeded undefeated all the way to the 5A Div. II title game 13 weeks later at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, where they lost to Aledo.
Manvel didn't lose again in 2018 until the second round of the playoffs, but for the Mavericks, that was their earliest playoff exit since… well, ever. Manvel had played at least 13 games each year since 2009, when the program was in its infancy and went 5-5. But in 2018, Huntsville eliminated them in the second round, 34-10, at NRG Stadium.
Manvel had reached state championship games in 2011, when they lost the 4A Div. II final to Aledo, 49-28, and when Dallas Highland Park edged them 53-49 in the 2017 5A Div. I title game – an all-time classic. In several other postseasons since 2010, it has taken the likes of Katy to knock Manvel out.
The Buffs have Achane back for his senior year. In limited use to save him for an expected Buffalo run deep into December, Achane has scored eight TDs in three games (four rushing, four receiving) and averages 8.6 yards per carry. The Buffs' quarterback, Malik Hornsby, wasn't even in uniform for the last Marshall-Manvel meeting because his transfer wasn't yet processed. So the Mavs haven't faced Hornsby, but he has thrown six touchdown passes with no interceptions, and scored two rushing TDs while averaging 14.5 yards per carry.
More than likely, this is for the district title, because both teams will be heavy favorites to "run the table" of remaining district games. In 2018, a Marshall-Manvel playoff rematch didn't happen, but 2019 might have one in store after Thanksgiving, in the Region III final.