Now the games matter.

District 11-6A play begins this weekend and eight teams from across northeast Texas will be competing for playoff spots and the all-important golden ball.

League play kicks off Friday with Robert E. Lee, John Tyler, Longview, Mesquite, North Mesquite, Mesquite Horn, Rockwall and Rockwall-Heath all beginning their quests for a district crown.

Non-district games, now in the past, are significant, but only insomuch as they get you ready for district play.

Results, as John Tyler and Rockwall showed last year, are negligible, as long as you get it done against league foes.

Both the Lions and Yellowjackets went 0-3 in non-district play in 2015 before going 7-0 in their respective districts.

This year Rockwall would love to continue that trend. The Yellowjackets are the only winless team in District 11-6A.

John Tyler, on the other hand, is the only undefeated team left in 11-6A and will be eager to keep that winning feeling alive against none other than Rockwall.

Robert E. Lee is one of five 2-1 teams looking to open district play with a statement win. The Red Raiders take on Rockwall-Heath (2-1) on the road Friday.

Longview (2-1) is the highest scoring team in the league thus far and, like John Tyler, has moved up from Class 5A and is one of three reigning district champions in 11-6A.

Despite being the two smallest schools, Longview and John Tyler aren't going to sneak up on anyone.

"I don't think anybody is going to underestimate us, especially with the type of team that we have, the tradition we have and the preseason that we've had," JT coach Ricklan Holmes said.

The Lobos host Horn, yet another 2-1 squad, while 2-1 Mesquite hosts 1-2 North Mesquite in the final district clash.

League play continues until Nov. 4, the final day of the regular season. Every team will take its bye week Oct. 7 after three of seven district games.

The race for the 11-6A title begins Friday and with key clashes early, there's little room for a slow start.

"It's going to come down to who executes," Holmes said. "All the teams in our district are good and it's not about who has the best talent on the field, it's about who plays the best when it comes to Friday."

Now the games matter.

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District 11-6A Preview Capsules

John Tyler Lions

Coach: Ricklan Holmes

Record: 3-0

Results: John Tyler 45, Plano West 14; John Tyler 30, Ennis 14; John Tyler 41, New Orleans Warren Easton 6.

2015 Record: 8-4 (7-0 District 16-5A)

Players to Watch: QB Bryson Smith, DE Dekalen Goodson, WR Damion Miller

Quick Slant: The Lions are the only unbeaten team left in the district and have put up impressive scores, but JT's opposition is a combined 2-7 this year. John Tyler's defense has been the start through three weeks, holding opponents to a league-best 11.3 points per game while racking up 15 sacks (six by Goodson), two interceptions, four fumble recoveries and a blocked punt. Smith and Miller have combined for three touchdowns of 76 or more yards and lead the league in passing (722) and receiving (307), respectively. The offense has yet to full stride but is still averaging 410.3 yards per game.

 

Robert E. Lee Red Raiders

Coach: Clayton George

Record: 2-1

Results: Robert E. Lee 34, Marshall 7; Robert E. Lee 34, Corsicana 20; Nacogdoches 24, Robert E. Lee 17

2015 Record: 5-5 (4-3 in District 11-6A)

Players to Watch: QB Chance Amie, DE Campbell Miller, CB Makyle Sanders

Quick Slant: The Red Raiders dominated their first two opponents before being stopped last week by Nacogdoches, thanks to a long kickoff return. Thus far special teams have been a work in progress for REL, but everything else is working fine. The offense is averaging 418 yards per game while the defense is giving up 232 per contest. Prior to last week the Red Raiders were flying, but it showed how tough it is each week. Amie has completed 21 of 43 passes for 302 yards and 3 TDs, but also leads the Red Raiders in rushing (467, 6 TDs).

 

Longview Lobos

Coach: John King

Record: 2-1

Results: Lufkin 35, Longview 24; Longview 56, Marshall 7; Longview 62, South Oak Cliff 14

2015 Record: 11-3 (6-1 District 17-5A)

Players to Watch: RB Kendrevian White, RB D'Crayvan Polk, S Traveion Webster

Quick Slant: Longview may have started a little slowly in season-opening loss at Lufkin, but the Lobos' power rushing machine is alive and well, just ask Marshall and SOC. Longview rushed for 315 yards against Marshall and 307 against SOC. White leads the team with 350 yards and seven touchdowns with Polk also doing damage with 164 yards and two scores. That is not to say Longview cannot beat teams throwing the ball. Against SOC, quarterback Gaylon Wiley passed for 207 yards. The Lobos are also forcing turnovers. Against SOC, the Lobos had two interceptions and recovered a fumble while scoring on a fumble and making an interception against Marshall.

 

Rockwall-Heath

Coach: Mickey Moss

Record: 2-1

Results: Wylie East 24, Rockwall-Heath 21; Rockwall-Heath 29, West Mesquite 7; Rockwall-Heath 63, Irving MacArthur 7

2015 Record: 8-4 (5-2 District 12-5A)

Players to Watch: QB Grant Buckholt, WB J'Corian Jimmerson, LB Desmon Williams

Quick Slant: The Hawks enter league play off back-to-back wins while outscoring those opponents to 92-14 and holding their offenses to 284 and 201 total yards. Heath has been able to achieve success this season by completely abandoning its spread offensive scheme for a power running formation out of a single-wing. While others are spreading it out, Heath is tightening it up with Jimmerson leading the team with 358 yards and seven touchdowns. Buckholt has rushed for 189 yards and scored five touchdowns. As a team, Heath has attempted nine passes in three games. Williams leads the defense with 24 tackles.

 

Mesquite Horn Jaguars

Coach: Mike Overton

Record: 2-1

Results: Horn 46, McKinney Boyd 31; Horn 44, Dallas Skyline 6; Cedar Hill 59, Horn 21.

2015 Record: 6-5 (5-2 District 10-6A)

Players to Watch: QB Jermaine Givens, DB Micah Rogers, LB Chika Nwabuko

Quick Slant: The Jaguars were dealt a blow when Oklahoma QB commit Chris Robison was injured in the first week of the season. Sophomore Jermaine Givens has filled in admirably, completing 34 of 62 passes for 502 yards a little more than two games. He's been aided by senior Reggie Roberson, one of the top receivers in the district with 15 catches for 291 yards and two scores. Micah Rogers has already picked off two passes while linebacker Chika Nwabuko has one interception to go with a team-high 31 tackles.

 

Mesquite Skeeters

Coach: Robbie Robinson

Record: 2-1

Results: Mesquite 31, Lake Highlands 26; Mesquite 41, Garland 34; Garland Sachse 41, Mesquite 32

2015 Record: 5-5 (4-3 District 10-6A)

Players to Watch: RB Lazarus Fisher, OLB Robert Presley, QB Jonathan Garza

Quick Slant: The Skeeters just missed out on the playoffs in a competitive district last year and will be eager to end a two-year playoff drought. Robinson has one of the most balanced teams in the district. The Skeeters have thrown for 647 yards and run for 636. Fisher accounts for many of those yards, leading the team in rushing (53-384, 2 TDs) and receiving (10-217, 2 TDs). Garza has been efficient completing 60 percent of his throws, with three of his receivers having caught 10 passes. Presley powers the stop unit with a team-high 13 tackles per game.

 

North Mesquite Stallions

Coach: Mike Robinson

Record: 1-2

Results: North 35, Arlington Sam Houston 10; Garland Lakeview Centennial 34, North 27; Arlington Bowie 35, North 30.

2015 Record: 10-3 (5-2 District 10-6A)

Players to Watch: QB Ja'Quez Gooch, RB Dreshawn Minnieweather, LB Dillon Owens

Quick Slant: The Stallions had their best season since 1996 last year, reaching 10 wins for the seventh time in program history. The 10 wins were four more than any other season in Robinson's nine-year tenure. After going three rounds deep in the playoffs a year ago, North Mesquite will be eager to get another shot at the postseason and having a three-year starter at QB in Gooch (386 pass, 185 rush) will help. Minnieweather has been the go-to player for offense, leading the team with 301 yards. Ja'marzeyea Arvie and Donte Howell both have 128 yards receiving.

 

Rockwall Yellowjackets

Coach: Rodney Webb

Record: 0-3

Results: Highland Park 43, Rockwall 21; Rowlett 34, Rockwall 32; Southlake Carroll 30, Rockwall 23.

2015 Record: 10-4 (7-0 District 11-6A)

Players to Watch: WR Sam Crawford, LB Blake Barron, QB Matt Jones

Quick Slant: The Yellowjackets were the class of the district last year, reaching the Class 6A Division II state quarterfinals before falling to Lake Travis. This year they're off to the only 0-3 start in the district, but those losses have come against strong competition (a combined 7-2 record). The star for Rockwall is undoubtedly Crawford, a 6-1, 190-pound receiver who last year put up 1,459 yards. This year he has 10 catches for 299 yards and three TDs to go with 97 yards and two scores rushing. Barron, a junior, leads the defense with more than 10 tackles per game.

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