1. Follett: Moving up from Division II can be a rough move for some teams but don’t expect the Panthers to be intimidated. New head coach Kyle Timmons has 2 nd team all-state RB Shayne Franks back to lead the charge to a district title.
2. White Deer: After a 3-7 season last year the Bucks will look to get back to the winning ways this program has grown accustomed to at the six-man level. How quickly their younger players step up will determine if the Bucks just miss the playoffs or grab a seat at the dance.
3. McLean: No one in this district brings back more starters on both sides of the ball than the Tigers. David Donnell replaces Brad Rainer on the sidelines. If McLean can adjust on the fly to a new scheme, they might surprise the other teams in this district.
4. Miami: A youthful Warriors team made the playoffs last year and has high hopes to build on that this year. Haiden Thompson will look to spearhead a second straight berth for DJ Howell’s team, but the road will not be easy as they move up to Division I.
White Deer at McLean, 7 p.m. Oct. 21
1. Happy: The Cowboys have five players back who grabbed All-State honors a year ago on a team that made the Class 1A Division I state semfinals. Happy has made at least the quarters in seven of the last nine years and is hungry to get past the semifinals for the first time in school history.
2. Nazareth: A year ago the Swifts had a first-year coach in Tyler Goodwin and inexperienced football team. However, Nazareth surprised the Amarillo-area by racking up seven wins and a playoff berth. Senior Luke Schulte will once again be the workhorse for a team looking to gain respect in Region I.
3. Wildorado: Rance Barnett takes over a Mustangs team looking to grab a spot in the playoffs once again. A move up in divisions may not treat the dreams of Wildorado fans very nicely in a district that is top heavy in talent.
4. Claude: Five starters return on both sides of the ball as the youthful Mustangs hope that another year of experience yields dividends in the win column.
Happy at Nazareth, 7:30 p.m. Oct 21
Whether it’s football, basketball or chess any matchup of these two rivals will be intense. That won’t be any different in this game that will likely decide the district title. If the Swifts can handle the physicality of Happy and grind the game out, they could pull off an upset.
1. Valley: Despite the loss of Blake Beard to a severe leg injury this is still a team that is loaded with talent, speed and athleticism. In a competitive district, the Patriots are simply the best team and view a district title as simply the first step in a deep playoff run.
2. Knox City: Most prognosticators give this spot to Spur but the Greyhounds were really young last year and played Borden County to within10 points in the playoffs. A year of experience and the return of speedster Devin Guillory should have other teams in the district nervous.
3. Spur: A really good team could be rolling out the basketballs earlier than they want in this tough district. The Bulldogs will be hard to pick against if Cory Hamilton is healthy all season.
4. Vernon Northside: A team bringing back five starters on both sides of the ball is usually looked upon favorably, but the Indians will find this district more than they want.
Knox City at Spur, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 4
The Winner of this contest will be in the playoffs while the loser is likely out. Expect the final game of the regular season to go the distance to decide a winner.
1. Groom: Tory Peet takes over for Tony Dodson looking to extend the Tigers winning ways. Stephen Kuehler will make coach Peet look good as one of the Texas Panhandle’s best Six-Man players tries to propel Groom to another district title.
2. Silverton: Sawyer Francis and Kooper Cox make for a formidable 1-2 punch. Can the Owls find enough beyond that to make noise this year? If they do, then second place and the playoffs is possible.
3. Hedley: Could this be the year that the Owls make the playoffs? In a race for the second spot Hedley may just make that happen with Josh Booth leading the way but the road won’t be easy.
4. Lefors: Only three starters return for a team that finished with two wins. It may be another tough season on the Pirate ship if they don’t have others step up.
5. Darrouzett: The Longhorns would love to make the playoffs but right now they are focusing on being more competitive. A win over Lefors to end the season could point them in the right direction.
Groom at Silverton, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 14
Groom has held the top spot district spot for years but could get a serious challenge from Silverton. Stephen Kuehler and Sawyer Francis will battle it out for first place in the district.