Blanket welcomes Cherokee in opener, Zephyr clashes with No. 8 Coolidge Saturday night in Gorman

The two most successful local six-man programs over the past decade-plus square off in Friday night’s season opener for both squads. The May Tigers, ranked No. 9 among all Class A schools by sixmanfootball.com, and No. 6 in Division I, will host the Richland Springs Coyotes — ranked 16th overall and No. 3 in Division II.

Over the course of the last 15 years, the Tigers and Coyotes have combined for 10 state championship game appearances — eight wins for Richland Springs and a pair of losses for May.

The Tigers are beginning their 15th campaign under head coach Craig Steele, while Thomas Tipton takes over the Coyotes after a 15-year run by Jerry Burkhart — who is now head coach at 11-man Stanton.

May is expected to be led offensively by Austin McAbee, and defensively by Daniel Salinas, as the Tigers graduated the majority of skill players from last season’s 12-1 squad. May returns three starters on each side of the ball overall.

For Richland Springs, Cameron Parham is the most experienced player on the roster and will likely be the focal point of the offense and leader of the defense in the early stages of the season. The Coyotes bring back just one offensive and two defensive starters — and a total of four lettermen — from last season’s 10-2 squad.

According to sixmanfootball.com, May is an 11-point favorite.

 

CHEROKEE at BLANKET

7:30 p.m. Friday

 

The second Tyler Tabor coaching era at Blanket begins after a one-year hiatus, as the Tigers host Cherokee in the season opener for both squads.

Tabor is back at Blanket after a one-year retirement, taking over a 5-5 program that posted an 0-3 district record a year ago. The Tigers have moved down from Class A Division I to Division II for the next two seasons.

Blanket will be led on the field by Logan Wheeler, the 2017 Class A 200 meters state champion and 100 meters state runner-up. Other Tigers to keep an eye on include John John Alexander, Trenten Varner, Kameron Spivey, Tyler Simpson and Adan Lopez.

Cherokee, a member of District 16-A Division II, is coming off a 4-7 playoff season. Players to watch include running back Blaize Lopez, Zach Moyambo, Kagen Hernandez and Damon Campbell.

According to sixmanfootball.com, Blanket is a 45-point favorite.

 

ZEPHYR vs. #8 COOLIDGE

8 p.m. Saturday at Gorman

 

The Zephyr Bulldogs open the Brent Williamson coaching era against a Top 10 opponent, the No. 8 Coolidge Yellow Jackets, in neutral site action at Gorman Saturday night.

Williamson, who returns to his alma mater, inherits a 10-2 playoff squad with three offensive and two defensive starters back.

All-state receiver Devin Williams returns after amassing 46 receptions for 1,088 yards and 26 touchdowns as a junior. Sophomore Mason Rogers, the Bulldogs’ leading ground gainer a year ago, is also back and will be joined by varsity newcomer Jerrick Woodcock. Michael Seider will take over the quarterback duties.

Coolidge, picked to finish second to Milford in District 11-A Division I by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, returns five offensive and six defensive starters from last year’s 9-3 playoff team.

Players to watch include Torrey Hoover (1,901 yards, 25 TDs rushing; 1,036 yards, 23 TDs passing) and Skylar Hayes (987 yards, 16 TDs rushing; 960 yards, 22 TDs passing; 88 tackles), a transfer from Crowell.

According to sixmanfootball.com, Zephyr is an 18-point underdog.

 

COMANCHE at EASTLAND

7:30 p.m. Friday

 

Coming off back-to-back district championship seasons, the Comanche Indians are eyeing another lengthy postseason run. First things first, however, as the Indians begin their pre-district campaign on the road against the Eastland Mavericks Friday night.

Comanche returns just two offensive starters, five defensive starters and 11 lettermen from last year’s 12-2 playoff team, but the Indians are making the move to Class 3A Division II, down from Division I. The Indians are favored by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football to claim the District 6 crown.

Players to watch for Comanche include Kade Mercer (1,052 yards, 9 TDs rushing; 85 tackles, four interceptions) Trendon Morin (53 tackles, two interceptions), and Dakota Moreno (55 tackles, six sacks).

Eastland, an 8-4 playoff team last season, is picked to finish fourth in District 3-3A Division I behind Wall, Breckenridge and Jim Ned — all playoff teams a year ago.

Mavericks to keep an eye on include quarterback Behren Morton (1,031 yards, 10 TDs passing), running back Brandon Fielding (575 yards, 11 TDs), receiver David Vasqeuz (383 yards, 3 TDs rushing; 332 yards, 4 TDs receiving), linebacker Alex Gonzales (70 tackles, 2 sacks) and defensive backs Anthony Bonilla (75 tackles, 2 INTs) and Zach Brown (16 tackles, 2 INTs).

According to Harris Ratings Weekly, Comanche is a 3-point favorite.

 

COLEMAN at JIM NED

7:30 p.m. Friday

 

A youthful Coleman Bluecats squad opens the season on the road against the Jim Ned Indians in a battle of playoff teams from a year ago.

Coleman brings back just two offensive and two defensive starters from last year’s 3-8 team, and a grand total 10 lettermen.

Bluecats to keep an eye on include running back Moussio Sanchez and linemen Robbie Berry and Kayden Castleberry. A late summer coaching change has put Matt Fanning in charge at Jim Ned, where the Indians went 9-3 last year and welcome back seven offensive and eight defensive starters from that crew.

Leading the way for Jim Ned are quarterback Josh Kelso, running back/defensive back Cooper Castro (889 yards rushing, 301 receiving yards), wide receiver Casey Hall (328 receiving yards), and wide receiver Brady Montgomery (228 receiving yards).

According to Harris Ratings Weekly, Coleman is a 35-point underdog.

 

GOLDTHWAITE at WINTERS

7:30 p.m. Friday

 

The Goldthwaite Eagles, returning just 11 lettermen from last season’s 4-7 playoff squad, hit the road for their season opener against the Winters Blizzards, who are coming off a playoff campaign in 2017 with eight starters back on offense and defense.

Goldthwaite will likely feature more of a passing-based offense this season behind returning quarterback Drew Hermesmeyer, who threw for more than 1,400 yards with nine touchdowns. Isaac Chavez is back after collecting 706 receiving yards and four touchdowns.

Other Eagles to watch include T.J. Watson, Zabreigh Odom, Dalton Goodman, Devon Ardnt, Gonzalo Gallegos and Trey Patterson.

Winters was 5-6 last year and 4-1 in district, and is picked to place fourth in the new District 3-2A Division I behind Stamford, Hawley and Ozona.

Players to watch for the Blizzards include Jovan Young (273 yards, 2 TDs), Patrick Reyes (84 tackles) and Nick Brown (five sacks).

According to Harris Ratings Weekly, Goldthwaite is a 25-point favorite.

 

SAN SABA at JOHNSON CITY

7:30 p.m. Friday

 

The San Saba Armadillos start their second season under head coach Jerod Fikac on the road against the Johnson City Friday night.

The Armadillos posted a 3-7 record last season, and just one of those wins came in District 7-2A Division I action. However, San Saba returns nine starters on each side of the ball from that squad, and welcomes the additions from a 9-0 JV team a year ago.

Players to watch for San Saba include quarterback Sean O’Keefe, tight end/defensive lineman Joseph Watson, running back Eli Salinas, receiver/defensive back Logan Glover and linebacker Risien Shahan.

The Johnson City Eagles, members of District 13-3A Division II, bring back four offensive and six defensive starters from last year’s 7-4 playoff squad.

Players to watch include new quarterback Walker Sine, Logan Ledger (497 yards, 6 TDs), Jaron Pearce (78 tackles, six sacks), Ethan Heinen (87 tackles, two interceptions), Colton Hurlbutt (89 tackles, three interceptions), and Hunter Barrientes (64 tackles).

According to Harris Ratings Weekly, San Saba is a 14-point underdog.

 

MULLIN at EVANT

7:30 p.m. Friday

 

The Mullin Bulldogs begin the Regis Idemudia coaching era on the road against the Evant Elks Friday night.

Idemudia — a former assistant coach at Class 6A De Soto, his alma mater — takes over a Mullin program seeking its first playoff berth since 2014. The Bulldogs posted a 5-5 record last year, 2-2 in district, but finished third and missed the postseason.

Players to watch for Mullin include seniors Bobby Salinas and Dontrell Dale, junior Skyler Smith and sophomore Cody Knight. Also, Alex Porter is back with the program after last playing for Mullin in 2016. The Bulldogs have just four other players – all varsity newcomers, including three freshmen.

Evant is coming off a 7-3 season but missed the playoffs, finishing behind state-ranked Jonesboro and Zephyr — who are again paired with the Elks in District 15-A Division I this season.

Elks to keep an eye on include Jeremiah Marwitz, who rushed for 980 yards and passed for 723 last year, as well as Ethan Hightower, who picked up 516 yards on the ground.

According to sixmanfootball.com, Mullin is a 45-point underdog.

 

BRONTE at RISING STAR

7:30 p.m. Friday

 

The Rising Star Wildcats will play their first game under new head coach Adrian Greenfield against the Bronte Longhorns, who are dropping down from the 11-man ranks.

The Wildcats are looking to improve upon last season’s 2-8 record, as Rising Star returns three starters on each side of the ball. Depth is thin behind the starting line up, however, so health and conditioning will be imperative to Rising Star’s success.

Wildcats to keep an eye on include Johnny Sanchez, Korbin Bass and Jarrison Taylor, among others.

Bronte is picked to finish third in District 13-A Division I, behind Robert Lee and Veribest, according to Dave Campbell’s Texas Football.

The Longhorns were 1-9 last year in 11-man action, and return three starters on each side of the ball from that squad. Players to watch include Riley McIntyre, Garrett Knight and Colton McIntyre.

According to sixmanfootball.com, Rising Star is a 45-point underdog.

 

WALNUT SPRINGS at SIDNEY

7:30 p.m. Friday

 

Sidney graduate Waylon Salinas takes over the Eagles program, which kicks off its season at home with a visit from the Walnut Springs Hornets.

The Eagles return two offensive and three defensive starters from last year’s 1-8 squad, but 16 players reported for preseason practice.

Players to watch for Sidney include Dennis Morales, Joshua Kinnard and Triston Kelly, among others.

Walnut Springs went 2-8 last year but brings back four starters on each side of the ball and is projected to finish second in District 11-1A Division II behind Iredell.

The Hornets are led by Seth Schilling (22-378, 3 TDs receiving), Cruz Chavez (828 yards, 9 TDs passing) and Julian Zamora (73 tackles).

According to sixmanfootball.com, Sidney is a 23-point underdog.