The high school football season begins Aug. 29 and 30 all over the state of Texas, and that means this is the final week for teams to fine tune their lineups to prepare for the real thing next week.
And that means all eight team in the Golden Circle will hold scrimmages this week to get ready.
No team in the Golden Circle needs a scrimmage as much as Corsicana’s Tigers, who didn’t start summer workouts until Aug. 12, and open their season with a new coach a new offense and defensive scheme — and a brand new backfield.
Legendary coach Hal Wasson has come to Corsicana to begin a new era for the Tigers, who lost more than 90 percent of their offense to graduation.
Not only will the Tigers have a new look when they open the season Aug. 30 at Burleson against No. 13-ranked Centennial, but they will face the team that knocked them off in the playoffs (28-20) last year.
The Tigers lost to Centennial twice, dropping the season opener at Tiger Stadium and the Class 5A DII Area round playoff game in Burleson.
Unlike the smaller schools in the Golden Circle, the Tigers have just one scrimmage to prepare for the real season and that will take place at 7:30 Thursday night at Tiger Stadium, where the Tigers face Class 6A powerhouse Hewitt Midway, one of the top 6A program ins in Texas.
Midway is ranked No. 20 in Texas Football’s 6A preseason poll, and the Panthers bring back 10 starters (five on each side of the ball) from last year’s Region finalist, that was one step away from going back to the state semifinals.
To say the least, Midway will pose a huge test for the Tigers, who will find a lot about themselves against a big, powerful opponent like Midway.
Sophomore Solomon James, who joined the Tigers in June with his father, Texas high school legend Odell James, was hired as the Tigers assistant head coach, will be at quarterback.
Wasson knows he has to find a way to replace more than 90 percent of a Tigers offense that won the 8-5A district title, and Midway should push the Tigers in the scrimmage. James will be one of the team's biggest weapons along with Drew Denbow, the Tigers' top returning receiver who can run the ball and also play quarterback.
The Tigers defense will be led by Tyler Farmer, a three-year starter at linebacker, who has had back-to-back monster seasons on defense.
The beauty of a scrimmage is that teams can learn more about where they are to start the season than in a dozen practices, because of the competition, and the Tigers couldn’t have picked a much more formidable opponent to find out where they are.
Kerens-Eustace hold fundraiser
All of the Golden Circle teams will hold scrimmages this week, and Kerens and Eustace will be holding a fundraiser in Eustace that will benefit the Texas High School Coaches Education Foundation. Donations will be collected at the gate and all the proceeds will go to the THSCEF Benevolent Fund.
The two teams will meet at 6 p.m. Thursday at Bulldog Stadium in Eustace.
Kerens is coming off a tough season in which the Bobcats went 2-8 and missed the playoffs for the first time in years, but coach Terrell Harris is confident the Bobcats will be in the playoff hunt again. Kerens is led by linebacker Jason Burleson, who led the Bobcats with 104 tackles last season.
Mildred hosts Cayuga
Mildred has a new coach in Duke Dalton, who brings a lot of experience and confidence to a program that is coming back from a tough season. The return of some familiar faces such as QB Creed Baker, and FB/LB Preston Kindill have the Eagles looking forward to a big season and making a playoff run.
Bishop Harris is back at tailback and could have a breakout season for the Eagles. He’s explosive and can run and catch the football.
Mildred will be at home at 6 p.m. Thursday to face a big test from rival Cayuga in a scrimmage that should help both teams prepare for their openers.
The Eagles and Dalton open their real season on Sept. 30 at Leon. The Eagles lost a heartbreaker in their opener to Leon a year ago, 36-33.
In one of the most intriguing scrimmages of the week, Frost’s Polar Bears will travel to Blooming grove for a 6 p.m. scrimmage on Thursday.
Both teams have new coaches, and both coaches have brought a lot of new energy to their programs.
Randy Fulton, who has been Frost’s defensive coordinator the last three years, takes over a Polar Bear team that is picked to make the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.
Fulton has plenty of offense to work with as Tony Alvarado returns at quarterback and Ramon Manrriquez is back at tailback. Alvarado threw for 1,092 yards and 14 touchdowns and Manrriquez ran for 1,485 yards and 16 touchdowns and caught 20 passes for 482 yards and eight TDs.
Frost opens on the road at Cayuga Sept. 30.
BG’s new coach is Ervin Chandler, who brings a ton of energy and excitement to a Lions team that went 5-5 a year ago and is looking to make th next step and return to the playoffs. Chandler played for Sam Harrell at Ennis and knows all about winning, and he has his kids fired up for a new season and new era at the Grove.
QB Carson Rucks returns to lead the Lions, who open their season Sept. 30 at Cross Roads.
Rice vs. Academy at Chilton
Rice, which will open at home on Aug. 30 against powerhouse Groesbeck, will get its final tuneup at 6 p.m. Thursday against Academy at Chilton.
The Bulldogs will be trying to reach the playoffs for the fifth year in a row under coach Andy Mills, who has led the Dawgs to the postseason every year since arriving at Rice four years ago.
But this year Mills' kids will have to get there without Dee Robinson, who rushed for more than 5,000 yards in his career at Rice.
Look for Rice to keep on winning and look for Mills to put the ball in the air a lot more this season with QB Tanner Carlisle leading the way.
Rice will get one last chance to air out its new offense and put the final touches on its new offense this week.
Hico at Dawson
Dawson had a breakthrough season a year ago and coach Ronnie Striplin says he fully “expects” to be back in the playoffs again.
QB Brendan Horner, FB Zane Guerra and tailback Jakoby Moore all return — and all three are key two-way starters — to lead a bigger and more experienced Dawson team that turned the corner a year ago.
The Bulldogs host Hico in a scrimmage on Thursday and will kick off the season early when they play Axtell at Waco ISD Stadium on Sept. 29.
Hubbard at Axtell
Hubbard returns 19 upperclassmen, including 17 starters and the Jaguars can’t wait to get their season started for Russell Anderson, who says this is his best team since 2015.
Anderson’s Jags have made the playoffs all four years he has been at Hubbard, and these Jags look ready to make noise in the playoffs.
They’re not only loaded with experience, but return a ton of talent in QB Logan Morris, tailback Cooper Martin and all-district linemen Chance Hasse and Sebastian Olvera.
The Jags open the regular season on September 30 at Bartlett.