Bishop Gorman and Bullard Brook Hill tangle in a TAPPS Division II District 2 opener today at Herrington Stadium (7:30 p.m.).
What's at stake?
Well, the matchup pits Smith County rivals – meaning, a year's worth of bragging rights – and a 1-0 start to district. Both being the case, Brook Hill (1-2) coach Bobby Brasher had little to say to his players about the game's importance.
"Our kids were focused and pretty intense from the scouting report and film [study] on Monday afternoon all through practices this week," Brasher said. "It's kind of a rival game for us and for them. Our kids know each other and a lot of them work out together at APEC; some of them go to church together.
"We have great respect for them and what they do."
In the meantime, Crusaders (2-1) coach Coby Gipson took the same approach.
"Being 1-0 in district is obviously important, but there have been many teams who have had succesful seasons starting off 0-1," Gipson said. "Obviously going on the road with a district victory would be a huge step for us."
The Guard rolled past Gorman, 62-28, last season to start district play in dominant fashion.
But this time around, Gorman enters with the better record after outscoring its non-district opponents 143-80.
"We don't even consider last year," Gipson said. "We put in our best effort and our players played extremely hard last year. It's a new year with a new philosophy and a new mindset."
The Guard's 1-2 mark is a little misleading considering they took on Frankston, Garrison and Spring Hill, all UIL schools with larger enrollments. Brasher believes the difficult non-district slate has prepared his team for the games that matter most.
"It was a tough two-week stretch for us. We played Garrison and they are ranked in a lot of polls and it was 34-34 with three minutes to go," Brasher continued. "We then played 3A Spring Hill and it was 14-14 and our kids just ran out of gas.
"It has been really challenging and we think we have gotten better."
Brook Hill's passing game has been its main offensive threat with the Guard throwing for 693 yards in their three games, but held to 205 rushing. Brasher said the running game woes are a continued point of emphasis.
"We just have to do a better job of running the football. We have had to throw it more because of that," Brasher said. "We've worked hard to make improvement [with our running game].
Gorman quarterback Tristan Saint has completed 51 of 75 passes for 1,105 yards and 11 touchdowns with two interceptions. His top targets have been receivers Collin Parks and Connor Hobbs, who have 20 receptions for 439 yards and two TDs and 16 catches for 377 yards and five scores, respectively.
Gorman running back Taylor Hurst has carried the ball 28 times for 298 yards and four scores.
DALLAS CHRISTIAN AT GRACE COMMUNITY
Grace Community opens up league play against the defending champs Dallas Christian, which is again a favorite to win the district.
Both the Cougars and Chargers enter 3-0 despite graduating large senior classes from last year's squads. The difference: Dallas Christian has 16 seniors; Grace has six, down to five after Kade Clayton's season-ending injury.
"They've done a good job reloading and they're good, tough physical team," Grace coach Mike Maddox said.
Offensively, Grace enters with slightly better numbers (2.0 more points per game, 34 more yards per game). Defensively, Dallas Christian has been stouter, allowing 13 points fewer per game.
Last year, the Chargers won 49-7 before the Cougars reeled off five straight victories to clinch a playoff spot.
After graduating receiver Justis Nelson (Texas Tech), running back D'Andre Cannon (Arkansas Tech) and quarterback Alex Craig, Dallas Christian is now relying on two quarterbacks: Preston Nix (187 yards passing, 316 rushing) and Brody Frazier (277 passing).
— Travis Yoesting
ALL SAINTS AT UNION HILL
Luke Lee continues to star on both sides of the ball for the All Saints Trojans.
Last week, Lee rushed for 106 yards on just 10 carries against Bishop Gorman. Also, All Saints coach Mike Hall said Lee is covering the field from his defense position.
"Luke continues to do a good job," Hall said. "On defense at Mike (middle) linebacker he is always around the ball."
The Trojans take on the Union Hill Bulldogs in Bettie tonight. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Billy Bass Stadium. All Saints enters with an 0-4 mark, while UH is 0-2. It is also homecoming for the Bulldogs.
On Oct. 4, the Trojans play host to Garland Christian at Mewbourne Field. Kickoff is 7 p.m.
Union Hill next plays Oct. 11 when the Bulldogs travel to Detroit. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.
— Phil Hicks