Now they’re playing for real: Our picks for district openers

Posted Wednesday, Sep. 25, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Now everybody is playing for keeps. Each of our nine coverage teams has had all of August and nearly all of September to work through issues, refine what they do well and make personnel changes where needed.

With the district season now upon them, the postseason drive begins. Each week, everybody is going to have to play at their best. Hopefully, these picks will equal the preparation that the teams went through in last week’s bye. District 4-5A, 6-5A and 5-4A are ready to begin.

We are 18-6 following the break. So here we go:

Richland (1-2) at Keller Fossil Ridge (2-1), 7 p.m. Thursday, Keller ISD Athletic Complex, Keller: The 4-5A opener for both teams. Tony Bacarrini should like what he’s seen from his Panthers ballclub. Two impressive wins followed by a respectable performance in a loss at Hebron gave Fossil Ridge the edge it really need. Quarterback Jacob Gnacinski is off to a good start. But this team has to get its running game going. Richland’s win is over winless Weatherford and the loss to Birdville isn’t looking too good, since the Hawks are 0-2 in their district. But the Panthers shouldn’t have a problem here.

Prediction: Keller Fossil Ridge 38, Richland 14

Keller Central (1-2) at Southlake Carroll (2-1), 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dragon Stadium, Southlake: Credit Bart Helsley’s kids for playing a really good game at Arlington Lamar. They just fell short. Unfortunately, they get the Dragons to begin 4-5A play. The Chargers are a grind-it-out type of team. The Dragons used the bye week to get some of their banged-up players healthy and should be close to full strength.

Prediction: Carroll 49, Keller Central 7

Hurst L.D. Bell (2-1) at Grapevine ( 0-3), 7:30 p.m. Friday, Mustang-Panther Stadium, Grapevine: The District 6-5A opener for both teams. By now, you know the Mustangs are trying to get the most of the positives they've seen to this point of a tough start. While the Blue Raiders committed four turnovers in a 20-0 loss to Keller, they can move the football. Grapevine hasn't score more than 14 points in any of its first three games.

Prediction: L.D. Bell 38, Grapevine 10

Keller Timber Creek (1-2) at Haltom (2-1), 7:30 p.m. Friday, Birdville Fine Arts & Athletics Complex, North Richland Hills: The 4-5A opener for both teams. This is one where you aren’t wrong if you pick either team because they are so close. But if you look at the non-district schedules, the Falcons definitely got more out of theirs. And I think the overtime win over Carrollton Creekview changed their spirits. Running back Amon Lindsay could bust out.

Prediction: Keller Timber Creek 21, Haltom 18

Colleyville Heritage (2-1) at Euless Trinity (1-2), 7:30 p.m. Friday, Pennington Field, Bedford: The 6-5A opener for both teams. To be sure, this is not a vintage Trinity squad, but they played a really tough non-district schedule. To surrender 61 points to DeSoto is stunning. Colleyville Heritage should feel good with its great win over Flower Mound – and yes, it got the gift win over Denton Guyer. But each time the Panthers have played the Trojans, they just haven’t hung in there physically.

Prediction: Euless Trinity 34, Colleyville Heritage 17

Wichita Falls Rider (2-1) at Byron Nelson (3-0), 7 p.m. Friday, Northwest ISD Stadium, Justin: The 5-4A opener for both teams. Thus, the second swing of the gauntlet begins for the Bobcats against the Raiders, who pretty much humbled them in the opener last year. Payback would be nice here. I think there is more teeth behind this Nelson 3-0 start than last year. Esteban Ortega is settling in nicely at quarterback. But Rider’s athleticism still might be a couple of notches better.

Prediction: WF Rider 29, Northwest Bryon Nelson 23

Justin Northwest (3-0) at Keller (3-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday, Keller ISD Athletic Complex, Keller: The 4-5A opener for both teams. This is the best game on the card and the toughest game to pick. Both of these teams are going to make the playoffs. I’ve gone back and forth on this, and I am really struggling. Keller running back Dalton Mills is arguably the second-best running back in the district behind Carroll’s A.J. Ezzard. Northwest quarterback Jesse Dummer is the second-best signal caller in the district behind Carroll Ryan Agnew. Normally, I would defer to the home team here. Keller’s non-district schedule is a little more impressive than Northwest’s. But I think that win at Midlothian told us a little something about the Texans and their mental toughness. This should be a great game.

Prediction: Justin Northwest 27, Keller 24

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