50 Must-See High School Games: The Top 10
Our countdown of Texas high school football's 50 must-see games comes to an end.
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This week, Dave Campbell’s Texas Football is counting down the top 50 must-see Texas high school football games in 2014. Keep in mind: this is not necessarily a ranking of the top 50 games, but rather the 50 games you won’t want to miss. One rule to remember: each game must feature two Texas teams. We will take a look at the best Texas vs. out of state games later this month.
10. Cisco at Wall (Week 2)
There’s so much to love about this 3A non-district game that it’s hard to know where to start. From a purely rankings standpoint, it’s hard to beat — Cisco is No. 2 in 3A DII, and Wall is No. 5 in 3A DI. From a “what happened last year” standpoint, it’s hard to beat — Cisco won the 2A DII state title, while Wall got edged out by Cameron Yoe in the 2A DI title game. From a “what’s coming back” standpoint, it’s hard to beat — Wall’s got two-way star Kris Gutierrez and a scintillating defensive core, while Cisco’s bringing back RB Landen Lewis and its own motley crew of defensive stalwarts. If you’re looking for a small-school game better than this, anywhere in the state, at any time, you’re really going to have to look really hard.
9. Daingerfield at New Boston (Week 11)
Look, there are a lot of quality teams in 3A Division I Region II. But it’s safe to say that at the end of the day, Daingerfield and New Boston will meet for the regional championship. After all, it’s been that way for the past five or so years. But before we starting thinking about a potential playoff game, Daingerfield and New Boston will duke it out for the 7-3A DI district championship on Week 11. No. 3 New Boston comes in with the higher ranking and home field advantage, which might just be enough to give the Lions the slight edge. New Boston will also have arguably the two most talented individuals on the field that night in running back Quinn Dedmon, our preseason district Offensive MVP, and defensive back Jeff Gladney, our preseason district Defensive MVP. Daingerfield also has talented playmakers like quarterback Malik Higgins and wide receiver Denzel Mims, but the name of the game for the Tigers under Aric Sardinea has always been team football. The fact that this game will take place on the last week of the regular season makes it that much more enticing.
8. Cameron Yoe at Refugio (Week 5)
We’re pretty big into history around here, if you couldn’t tell, which is why when teams like Cameron Yoe and Refugio mix it up, we can’t help but find some historical perspective to confirm our giddiness. So, how’s this: in the last four seasons, these two teams have combined to play in five state championship games, winning three of them. And the two powerhouses are careening toward one another as relative unknowns — but highly touted ones. Yoe, coming off a title, has RB Traion Smith back but a whole lot of question marks, too. Refugio loses its record-smashing signal-caller Travis Quintanilla, but the word is they’ve got an even better one waiting in the wings. By midseason, we should have a better feel for both of these teams, which will make their Week 5 matchup even more must-see.
7. Euless Trinity at Southlake Carroll (Week 8)
Sure, the UIL messed with our minds a little bit with its latest realignment — we’re still trying to get used to saying Class 6A. But it did give us some very interesting districts like the monster that is 7-6A, which features contenders Coppell, Colleyville Heritage, L.D. Bell and of course, the two teams squaring off in this contest. Southlake Carroll enters the year ranked No. 5 and brings back quarterback Ryan Agnew, who is now part of a long line of successful Dragon quarterbacks after an eye-popping junior year. Agnew and the offense should be firing on all cylinders, and the defense should be just as strong with defensive tackle King Newton and safety Andy Chelf leading the charge. No. 6 Euless Trinity is going to run the ball up the gut and dominate in the trenches no matter whom they’re playing. So expect running back Ja’Ron Wilson, offensive guard Patrick Vahe and defensive end Tipa Galeai to all make big impacts in this one. This playoff rivalry is now a district rivalry, and we love it.
6. Kilgore at Carthage (Week 8)
Feel familiar? It should. The last time we saw these two teams, it was on the turf at AT&T Stadium, as Carthage took down Kilgore, 34-23, to take home the 3A Division I state championship. And now, because the UIL loves us very much and wants us to be happy, these two teams are shoehorned into District 9-4A DI, which means — yes, that’s right — the state title game rematch is a district game. Holy smokes. Carthage has some rebuilding to do, but the defense, led by DB Bryian Bolton and DE Chris Howard, should be sturdy while the offense finds its way. Meanwhile, Kilgore must be bent on revenge, and they have the playmakers — RB Kevrin Justice, WR Nick Orange, LB Kris Haynes — to exact it. It’s another East Texas Super Bowl, and if you don’t have your tickets now, it may be too late.
5. Euless Trinity at Galena Park North Shore (Week 4)
Oh hey, Euless Trinity. Didn’t we just read about you? Yes, but the Trojans have another epic matchup this season when they travel down to H-Town to take on No. 10 Galena Park North Shore. This a true heavyweight battle that pits one of the Dallas-area’s finest programs up against a Houston-area power. Sure, it’s a non-district contest, but this game should have a playoff atmosphere around it. After all, there is tons of pride on the line considering the Dallas-area swept the 5A and 4A state titles a year ago. We’ve talked about Euless Trinity’s smash mouth running game and the brute strength it has on both the defensive and offensive lines. But how do the Trojans match up with North Shore? Well, the Mustangs also love to run the ball with Texas commit Tristian Houston and have some studs of their own in the trenches in offensive lineman Tyler Moore and defensive end Dorrance Armstrong. Expect physical play, big hits and a Dallas vs. Houston game that is sure to be a classic.
4. Denton Guyer vs. Allen (Week 1)
The only regular season matchup of reigning state champions. Let us say that again: the only regular season matchup of reigning state champions. Is that enough to convince you that this matchup at Denton’s Apogee Stadium is one of the biggest games in the state? OK, we’ll go on. It’s Denton Guyer’s first game as a 6A program and their first game without QB Jerrod Heard (though we wouldn’t worry too much about that — sophomore Shawn Robinson looks like the real deal, and besides, they’ve got RB Anthony Taylor and a fabulous, seasoned defense). And boy howdy, Allen will provide one heck of a welcome to 6A, as QB Kyler Murray looks to repeat (or even improve on) his Mr. Texas Football campaign last season. It’ll also be the first look at the extremely young Allen defense, which may hold the key to their three-peat hopes. All told, it’s the only regular season matchup of reigning state champions. Did we mention that?
3. Austin Westlake at Southlake Carroll (Week 1)
You may be asking yourself how this game isn’t No. 1 on the list. Well, it definitely has a strong argument to be. After all, this is more than just a game. The off the field elements are just as if not more intriguing as the game itself. August 29 marks the return of the Todd Dodge to Southlake Carroll, where he led the Dragons to five 5A state finals and four championships from 2002-2006. An icon in Southlake, Dodge is sure to receive plenty of cheers from opposing fans. But that’s not the half of it. This will also be Dodge’s first game as head coach for Austin Westlake — a team he helped Southlake Carroll defeat in the 5A Division I title game in 2006 — after leaving Marble Falls this offseason. We spoke to Southlake Carroll head coach Hal Wasson, who was an assistant on Dodge’s staff during that ’06 title run, and he made it clear that his team was treating this game like any other. He put it best when he told us: “The team that plays the best is going to win.”
2. John Tyler at Ennis (Week 8)
When the UIL’s biennial realignment came around in February, there was significant hand-wringing over District 16-5A, and understandably so. The district covers a massive swath of Texas, stretching from the northwestern-most school (Ennis) to the southeastern-most school (Lufkin). That distance is 131 miles as the crow flies, but it’s a two-and-a-half hour drive. That’s far. But the district is the district, and one of the byproducts of the district is this absolutely heart-stopping collision for what will likely be the district title. It’s No. 4 vs. No. 8 for the district title. It’s Ennis’ monstrous defense, anchored by DE James Lockhart, against John Tyler’s blistering offense, starring QB Geo McCollister and WR Nick Cain. It’ll be a 90-minute drive for JT to Ennis, and that’s probably not ideal in the eyes of the UIL. But once they pull up to the stadium, all hell is going to break loose, and you’d best be there to watch it.
1. Cedar Hill at DeSoto (Week 9)
Here is what you’ve been waiting for — the granddaddy of them all! It doesn’t get any bigger than two district rivals squaring off on a Thursday night on national television. But these aren’t just any district rivals. This is No. 3 vs. No. 4, defending state champion vs. state finalist, TTHL vs. DeSotoU. It’s Texas high school football at its finest, gosh durn it. Last season’s clash saw DeSoto pound Cedar Hill, 47-20. But it was the Longhorns that got the last laugh as they went on to win the 5A Division II state championship while the Eagles were bounced by Allen in the 5A Division I state semifinals. Both teams are out for revenge in different ways, and we can’t wait to see how it all transpires. By the way, if you’re a neutral fan, you should watch just to witness the future stars of college football. Cedar Hill wide receiver DaMarkus Lodge and linebacker Richard Moore are both committed to Texas A&M, quarterback Justin McMillan is an LSU pledge, running back Aca’Cedric Ware picked USC and the list goes on and on. The same can be said about DeSoto, which also features a bevvy of FBS talent including defensive tackle Bryce English (UCLA), linebacker Chris Orr (Wisconsin), Kevin Thomas (Kansas) and more. We're amped, and you should be, too!
Think we missed a 'must-see game' in our series? Leave your comment below telling us which games should have been included.
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