With the standout play of the Justin Northwest football team this season in 5A, many have been anticipating the measuring-stick game with Aledo in a few more weeks.
But before the Bearcats come to town, Northwest will have to face the third District 6-5A undefeated team in Saginaw Boswell this Thursday at Northwest ISD Stadium.
Thursday will also be the renewal of a key district game in 3-6A when Central and Keller take to the field.
While many are penciling in both Northwest and Boswell for the playoffs, a key issue may also be at stake other than a continued unblemished mark and momentum.
“Every district game has huge implications for the playoffs,” said Northwest head coach Bill Poe. “But the bigger scope may be in the seedings. It’s a pivotal game to determine seedings.”
Boswell, which escaped White Settlement Brewer last week in a come-from-behind win, has proven they can make the most of every possible tool.
The Pioneers – due to injury – are winning with their sixth-level quarterback in freshman Brayden Thomas.
“Without a doubt it will be a very good test and challenge for us on both sides of the ball,” Poe said, noting the short week will make being ready even more of a challenge. “Their young quarterback has done a tremendous job and put the ball in the hands of the right player. We just need to play our game and we feel good about the opportunity.”
The key, Poe said, will be the battle of turnovers.
Poe also said he’s been proud of his 6-0 Texans for being able to finish games.
“I’m proud of the attitude and mental toughness from beginning to end,” he said. “I’m proud of what they’ve shown so far.”
The other big Thursday spotlight will be at Keller ISD Stadium, where Keller will be the home team against Central.
Both teams are 1-1 in district play and a win keeps strong playoff hopes alive.
“It’s Keller week,” said Central head coach Bart Helsley, “and it’s always a big game.”
With Central coming off a loss to Abilene, and Keller, a bye week, the teams are ready to get back on track.
Indeed, the game has historically been a tightly contested affair.
Keller head coach Carl Stralow noted how closely matched the teams have been recently.
“It’s easy to get up for Central,” he said. “The last four games have been decided by one, three, five and three points. We’ve split those games and after having a bye week, we hope that we are ready to respond. It’s always a great environment.”
The environment on Thursday will be tinted pink, as the two schools are hosting the traditional Pink Out game to enhance breast cancer awareness and generate funds for local non-profit organizations.
The game, though, will be a traditional hard-fought affair with the defensive and offensive front lines being the key battleground.
“The success of our offensive and defensive line up front is where it’s won and lost,” Helsley said. “That’s going to be the challenge where we’ll have to play well.”
The players on both sidelines know each other well after having grown up together. That always adds emotion to the competition.
“It’s easy to get up for,” Stralow said of the rivalry. “We expect it to be a hard-fought game.
“With a bye week, we hope to take advantage of the quality work we got in. We had a lot of ‘best-on-best’ so we don’t get any rust. We worked to improve, and I think we did,” Stralow said.
Timber Creek is also a 1-1 team which will test Haltom this Friday at home.
The Falcons will help determine which team will take an upper hand in the district race for a playoff spot.
“They’re one of the best teams they’ve had in a while,” Timber Creek head coach Kevin Golden said of Haltom. “They have good skill position players at running back and a few good receivers and their quarterback is playing well,” he said.
The key to the game’s outcome was easily summarized by Golden.
“They’ve got to stop us from passing the ball and we have to stop their running game,” Golden said.
The Falcons will look to start faster than in their win over Weatherford and pick up where they left off in that game’s second half.
“We need to keep that going and not sputter and put a whole game together,” Golden said.
Other games this week have Haslet Eaton, 1-5, 0-3, hosting Aledo on Saturday and Trophy Club Nelson hosting Lewisville on Friday.
Nelson is coming off an upset 21-20 win over Trinity and will look to build on that momentum.
“We are encouraged and glad to be back in the playoff hunt,” said Nelson head coach Travis Pride.
“As everyone knows, one game doesn’t make a season, but it was well-earned by my players and we are ready to get back to work (this week).”
Lewisville will present a stiff test but the Bobcats hope to be ready.
“We will have to bring the same energy and execution as we did last Friday,” Pride said. “We are looking forward to the challenge.”
Fossil Ridge, a winner over Haltom last week, will have a bye week.