Star-Telegram writers Travis L. Brown, left, and Josh Bowe of the High School Huddle sound off on the games of the week. To catch the weekly show, visit dfwvarsity.com, where you will also find photo galleries from the games.
Mansfield (5-3, 3-2) at Cedar Hill (5-3, 4-1)
7:30 p.m. Friday, Longhorn Stadium
Josh: A pivotal matchup in District 7-5A. Mansfield needs a win to stay ahead of Mansfield Timberview and South Grand Prairie for the final playoff spot. After starting 0-2 in district, the Tigers have ripped off three straight. Sophomore running back Julius Lewis has been spectacular in replacing the injured Kenneth Burks. The defense will be challenged against a Cedar Hill team with tons of playmakers on the perimeter. This will be a close game, but I like Mansfield on the road to continue its streak.
Travis: This is a must-win for Mansfield. Should it lose while Timberview and SGP win, Mansfield would drop three spots because of losses to both Timberview and South this season. On defense, Mansfield relies on senior DB and TCU commit George Baltimore to lock down the defensive secondary. With all Mansfield has to play for in this game, I think it will be tough to hold off the Tigers.
Azle (6-2, 3-2) vs. Trophy Club Nelson (6-2, 3-2)
7 p.m. Friday, Northwest ISD Stadium, Justin
Josh: Both these teams are part of the second tier of playoff contenders in District 5-4A, behind favorites Denton Guyer and Wichita Falls Rider. Both are also coming off nice wins, with Azle shutting out Denton High and Nelson dismantling White Settlement Brewer last week. I think that enormous win for Trophy Club will give the team the confidence to take down a good Azle squad. Watch out for Nelson running back Tylor Blake, who has 1,198 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns.
Travis: With both teams locked in a tie for third at 3-2, this game should decide who takes the higher seed. Nelson's momentum has been building since last season, especially for a school that has a football program only a few seasons old. Nelson relies heavily on its running back Blake to carry the offense, and he won't be stopped this Friday in a Nelson win.
Aledo (7-1, 5-0) at Granbury (6-2, 4-1)
7:30 p.m. Friday, Pirate Stadium, Granbury
Josh: Aledo wants to wrap up another district title on Friday night, but the Bearcats will get all they can handle from the Pirates. Granbury has a balanced offense with quarterback Ryan Suitt and running back Justice Love. But the Pirates will be hard-pressed to do damage against a dominant and elite Aledo defense. Aledo managed to put the clamps on the high-flying offense of Fort Worth Southwest, winning 24-8 last week. I expect that defense to keep up that effort and Aledo to take this one on the road.
Travis: This game sets up an interesting scenario for the District 7-4A championship. If Aledo wins, it clinches yet another championship. If Granbury wins, it will come down to the final game of the season to determine positioning for the top three district spots. That being said, it's hard to go against Aledo coach Tim Buchanan and his run of success at Aledo. He has a team that also is driven to prove the program's success is much more than just Johnathan Gray. Aledo's defense shuts down Granbury to stay on top of the district.
Saginaw (7-1, 5-1) vs. Saginaw Boswell (6-2, 5-1)
7:30 p.m. Friday, Pioneer Stadium, Fort Worth
Josh: Pioneer Stadium should be rocking on Friday night. Boswell should have a huge home-field advantage in this rivalry game that finally has some playoff implications. Both schools are tied at 5-1 in District 6-4A and the winner will have a clearer path to second place. Saginaw has an elite ground game behind running back Russell Murphy (859 rushing yards, 17 touchdowns) and a host of other quality runners, but I like Boswell and quarterback Zach Files. Files will be the most dynamic playmaker on the field (26 combined touchdowns) and I think he and the Pioneers' crowd lead Boswell to a win.
Travis: Birdville is far-and-away the best team in this district, but Saginaw played the Hawks very well despite the 35-14 Birdville win. Saginaw uses a powerful rushing attack that can be good for first down after first down when it gets rolling. The read option style offense begins with quarterback Dalton Wachel, who has 324 rushing yards and two touchdowns, and is paired well with Murphy. It will be a slow, run-based game, but I see Saginaw taking the rivalry game on the road.
Red Oak (5-2, 4-1) at Waxahachie (5-3, 3-2)
7:30 p.m. Friday, Lumpkins Stadium, Waxahachie
Josh: A huge game that determines whether perennial playoff contender Mansfield Summit is able to sneak into the playoffs. Waxahachie holds the final playoff spot in District 15-4A with a 3-2 record and Summit sits on the outside at 2-3. A Waxahachie loss keeps the door open for Summit to sneak in while a win secures Waxahachie's spot. It won't be easy for the Indians, because Red Oak has been the darling of the district. After an upset win over Lancaster last week, Red Oak is a surprising 4-1 in 15-4A. Most of that success can be contributed to the Hawks' bruising duo of running backs, Cameron Bausley and Jeremiah Gaines (1,280 combined rushing yards, 14 combined rushing touchdowns).
Travis: Mansfield Summit has to be scoreboard-watching, hoping for a Red Oak win. Waxahachie certainly has the talent to take the game, but has been up and down throughout the season, unsure of which team will show up. If Red Oak's defense can control 'Hachie running back Treyvon Hughes, who has 960 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns, it should take the game, opening the door for Summit.
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