It’s the start of the district football season this week, and area fans have to like the immediate matchups.
The most intriguing game will be played at Keller ISD Stadium on Friday at 7:30 p.m. when Fossil Ridge hosts Timber Creek.
No doubt, every other game, such as Keller’s visit to Weatherford, is just as important, regardless of the teams’ overall record.
But it’s Fossil Ridge and Timber Creek that are coming off strong starts although both having just suffered heartbreaking losses to end non-district play.
Both Panthers and Falcons are 3-1, but 0-0 in the new District 3-6A standings. With each team having its own strengths, the matchup should prove interesting.
Ridge is known for a stingy and physical defense, while Timber Creek has shown to have an electric and tough-to-stop offense.
Last week, Fossil Ridge lost to undefeated Rowlett, 28-23, after staging a comeback attempt which fell short. The game was played at Dragon Stadium in Southlake.
Maybe it was a bad omen when the Carroll scoreboard continued to feature a graphic of an outdated Fossil Ridge helmet on the screen.
But this week, the Panthers will be ready to start the season that truly matters.
“These are the ones you look forward to,” Fossil Ridge head coach Tony Baccarini said. “These are why you play.”
With each team having their own strengths, the matchup should prove interesting.
“We’re not exactly alike,” Baccarini said. “They’re extremely explosive on offense and we’re strong on defense.”
Timber Creek’s offense, led by Cade Schrader at QB, is the top offense in the area, racking up 513.5 yards per game, including 355 yards per game passing.
Schrader is hitting almost 74 percent of his passes and has 12 TD strikes and no interceptions.
“He can make all the throws,” said Timber Creek head coach Kevin Golden of Schrader. “He has a good mind and understands the offense. He was a backup last year and watched how games went. He’s a good decision-maker.”
Most of the scoring is going to Falcons receiver Erik Ezukanma. He has eight scores and 728 receiving yards.
The Panthers defense is giving up just 267 yards per game, though.
Ridge is one the best in the area in stopping the run, yielding 67.8 yards per game.
The Panthers offense might have enough of its own firepower to make the difference.
Max Akin has a 66 percent completion rate and 921 yards with six scores and two picks for Ridge. He also has 352 rushing yards and six scoring runs.
Running back Anthony Smith has 404 yards and four TDs.
The key for Timber Creek was easily the top thing on Golden’s mind.
“Our defense has to play better,” he said. “That’s all there is to it. We have to limit their running and passing game and play sound, fundamental football.
“Our offense still hasn’t hit our stride,” Golden added about the Schrader-led unit. “We’re an explosive group. When we’re hitting on all cylinders, it’s hard for other teams to do anything against us.”
Even though the Falcons dropped a 37-28 OT loss to undefeated Denton, Golden said there were revelations arising which should be beneficial.
“We got some things that came up during the game which forced us to deal with them this week. It should make us better this week,” Golden said. “We just couldn’t get our wheels back on.”
Golden acknowledged it will be a big district opener for both teams with each team playing well and having effective quarterbacks.
“They’re one of the frontrunners for the district title, and hopefully we’ll be in there, too,” Golden said.
Keller, 0-4, lost 24-21 to Midland on a last-minute attempt at the win inside the one yard line. The Indians will open district at Weatherford, 1-3, on Friday.
Central picked up its first win, 41-7 over Garland. Zion Purvis and D’antaven Blackshear led the Chargers with 154 and 127 yards rushing respectively. They’ll host Weatherford on Thursday Sept. 29.
Northwest, 3-0, will take on Eaton, 1-2, to being district and a new rivalry. Many of the Eaton players were at Northwest in their freshman year.
Byron Nelson, 0-3, will be at Lewisville Hebron on Friday.