Here’s a look at the previews for this week’s games in the Golden Circle:
Mildred Eagles vs.
7:30 pm Friday,
Cougar Stadium, Jewett
2019 Records: Class 3A DII Mildred 0-0, 0-0 .Class 2A Div I Leon 0-0.
Players to watch: Mildred: WR/DB Bishop Harris, QB Creed Baker, OL/DL Kain Holliman; Leon: RB/LB Curtis Stanford, Ath Harris Sharrod
Update: The Mildred Eagles are looking for a fresh start with the new season. Last season forced many younger players to be thrown into the fire due to injuries. This year, they are a year older, a year stronger, and hungry to prove themselves.
Mildred opens the season traveling to Leon to face the Cougars, who they opened with last season. Last year, the Cougars squeaked by the Eagles 35-33, staking up an early lead.
The Eagles came soaring back only to fall short after missing two extra points.
The Eagles have a talented, athletic core of skill players including Bishop Harris who is coming off of an 11-touchdown campaign despite missing half the year due to an injury. Daniel Ayers and Cody Hayes are changing positions to wide receiver after splitting time at quarterback last year. Trey Atkeisson and Preston Kindle could surprise at running back being a change of pace to Harris.
Creed Baker, who led the Eagles to the playoffs as a sophomore and missed last season, returns at quarterback.
The defense is led by Kain Holleman and Preston Kindle at linebacker and Logan Hancock and Cooper Wham on the defensive line. They are big in the trenches and athletic at linebacker and in the backfield and could surprise teams.
The Cougars are led on both sides of the ball by Curtis Stanford who was an All-State player last year and paced the Cougars with 152 tackles. Harris Sharrod is a playmaker who found the end zone 14 times last year.
Both teams will be looking to start the season on a positive note. Leon lost several players off a playoff team last year while the Eagles are looking for the culmination of the hard work they put in last year and the offseason.
Cayuga at Frost
At Joe Parum Field
Records: Class 2A DI Cayuga 0-0, Class 2A DII Frost 0-0.
Players to watch: Cayuga: DE/RB Casen Grasch, LB/RB Kaden Joyce, OL/DL Dalton Fritzpatrick, OL/DL B.J. Scruggs. Frost: QB/DB Anthony Alvarado, RB/DB Ramon Manrriquez, OL/DL Leopoldo Perez, OL/DL Jeffrey Watson.
Update: Last year Frost’s Polar Bears opened their playoff berth season with a 34-28 win at Cayuga. After a scoreless first quarter, it became a nail-biter to the end. Alvarado threw three touchdown passes – including two to Manrriquez – and the Polar Bears recovered three on-side kicks in the contest.
Alvarado threw for 1,092 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2018.
Meanwhile, Manrriquez ran for 1,485 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also caught 20 passes for 482 yards and eight touchdowns, and he gained 416 yards and three touchdowns on special teams returns.
Controlling the line of scrimmage will be a key factor for both teams. Watson and Perez are experienced linemen who know a good block could spring Manrriquez on his way to the end zone – Manrriquez had 14 plays of 50-plus yards last year.
Cayuga earned a playoff berth in 2018. Joyce gained 805 yards and scored seven touchdowns to lead the Wildcats’ ground game.
In last year’s game, he gashed the Polar Bears for 103 yards. The Grasch twins key the Cayuga defense – Casen tallied 10 sacks and Carter piled up 98 tackles last season.
Blooming Grove vs.
7:30 p.m., Friday
Bobcat Stadium, Cross Roads
Records: Class 3A DII Blooming Grove 0-o, Class 2A DI Cross Roads 0-0
Players to watch: Blooming Grove: Carson Rucks QB, Josh Glasco WR/DB, Colton Nicholson LB/TE, Mathew Beacom WR/DB. Cross Roads: Kaden Mattinglly OL/DL, Alex Marsten RB, Hayden Cook LB.
Update: The Blooming Grove Lions will get their 2019 football season started Friday night on the road as they travel to Cross Roads to do battle with the Bobcats in a 7:30 kickoff at Bobcat Stadium. The Lions are coming off a 5-5 2018 season and the Bobcats finished with a mark of 0-10.
The Lions are led by new head coach and athletic director Ervin Chandler. Chandler brings very high energy to the program and looks to improve on that 5-5 record of last year.
A trip to the post-season is his goal for the Lions. The Lions received a big hit due to graduation last year but they do return seven offensive starters and six defensive starters from the 2018 squad.
Chandler will rely heavily on returning starting quarterback Carson Rucks to lead this offense. Receiver Matthew Beacom and linemen Carlos Flores and Taylor Cochran will all be counted on heavily by Chandler as well.
Jordan Kincaid will anchor a defense that will also have Colton Nicholson, Flores, and Beacom each playing integral parts for the Lions.
Bobcats coach Daniel Pierce has no where to go but up from that 2018 winless season. He has eight offensive and nine defensive starters to count on, so all is definitely not lost.
One of their key returning offensive starters is running back Alex Marsten. Offensive linemen Kaden Mattingly and Trevor Marquez are key to the success of the offensive efforts of the Bobcats. The defense will rely on linebacker Blaine Hendry and defensive lineman Ethan Martin.
Kerens at Reicher Catholic
7:30 p.m. Friday
At J.J. Kearns Stadium
Records: 2A DI Kerens 0-0, TAPPS 3A Reicher 0-0..
Players to watch: Kerens: Jason Burleson LB, Koby Phelps OL, Josh Brown QB, Reicher: OL/DL Noah Plsek, QB/DB Jake Boozer, WR/DB Eric Ochoa, RB/LB Max Aucoln.
Update: This is the second meeting between the Bobcats and Waco Reicher from TAPPS Div. III, with the Cougars winning last season, 34-33, in a nail-biting, back-and-forth affair in Kerens in last season’s opener.
Kerens didn’t make the playoffs last year so the main goal for the Bobcats is to get to the postseason, and Burleson, who made 140 tackles will be a leader on and off the field for a yuong team that is hungry to improve.
Getting off to a fast start could help build confidence at Kerens, where all the teams n the athletic program are used to winning. more
For Reicher, the Cougars made the playoffs last season, but ended the year with a 4-7 record.
Former assistant Tyler Holcomb returns to Reicher after a stint as the offensive coordinator in Bosqueville.
The Cougars started pre-season workouts with 32 players, including only 14 juniors and seniors, so Reicher will rely on several sophomores to play big roles this season, including WR Eric Ochoa. One senior Holcomb can count on is Noah Plsek, a 6-foot-5, 300-pound lineman.
Rice vs. Groesbeck
7:30 p.m., Friday
Records: 3A DII Rice 0-0, 3A DI Groesbeck 0-0.
Players to watch: Rice: Tanner Carlisle QB, Elizhah Nezar WR/DB, Baylor Burkett RB, Saul Diaz OL/DL, Angel Banda OL/DL. Groesbeck: Jordan Jones DB, Beau Pagel WR/DB, Terrell Conn RB/DB.
Outlook: Rice has to find a way to replace Dee Robinson, who rushed for more than 5,000 yards in his career with the Bulldogs, who will adjust by putting the ball in the air more this season. That means that Carlisle will be counted on to move the offense, which includes Nezar, who can make an impact at receiver and in the secondary.
The Bulldogs will have a different look but they plan on making the playoffs for their fifth consecutive season — every year since Andy Mills took over the program.
Diaz and Banda were all-state power-lifters and will lead both sides of the line.
Groesbeck lost a ton from last year’s team and returns only two starters on offense.
Hubbard vs. Bartlett
7:30 p.m., Friday
Bulldog Stadium. Bartlett
Records: 2A DII Hubbard 0-0, 2A DII Bartlett 0-0
Players to watch: Hubbard: Logan Morris QB/DB, Cooper Martin RB/LB, Chance Hasse OL/DL, Sebastian Olvera OL/DL. Bartlett: Daniel Juarez QB/DB, Marcus Belcher WR/DB, Miles Buchhorn OL/DL.
Update: Hubbard has 19 upperclassmen and almost as many returning starters for a team that went to the playoffs and wants to make a bigger run in 2019. Morris is one of the top quarterbacks in the Golden Circle and Martin can and does do everything for the Jags and is dangerous as a tailback or catching the football. Hasse and Olvera are All-District linemen for a Hubbard offense that can be explosive.
The Jags beat Bartlett 406 a year ago to star their six-win season, and will be looking for another big win. Morris threw for 1,065 yards and ran for 518 and Martin ran for 713 yards and caught 25 passes for 456 yards.
Jaurez threw for 291 yards and ran for 133 yards last year and is expected to have a better year this season after last year’s 0-10 campaign.