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October 19, 2010
Greater Houston Games of The Week
Week 8 5A games to watch around Greater Houston
This may be one of the best games in the state this week.
The only losses for either of these schools were suffered in non-district games against teams that have become rivals. North Shore dropped their opener to Katy, who has become an annual pre-district opponent and rival due to the strong football traditions at both schools, and La Porte lost their final pre-district game to long-time natural rival Deer Park. The Bulldogs loss was a close one; the Mustangs were blown out by Katy.
But neither team has shown any negative residual effects from those losses and they come into this game sharing the district lead at 2-0. North Shore has had the tougher path to 2-0 in district, having to play-and defeat-Port Arthur Memorial and Beaumont West Brook, the two other projected playoff contenders in 21-5A. La Porte still has both those schools to play following this game.
Both teams have shown the ability to produce offensive firepower. North Shore averages a little more than 38 points per game and La Porte averages a little less than 36. But defensively, La Porte is holding opponents to less than ten points per game, which ranks as the best in Class 5A Region III.
This game may come down to whether or not the La Porte defense can hold the North Shore offense in check.
Kingwood has rebounded from a slow start to pick up wins in each of their first three district games. So, the Mustangs come into the game against the Highlanders with a share of the District 14-5A lead and an upset of a state-ranked team on their minds.
But, despite identical 3-0 district records, there is little doubt that The Woodlands will be the heavy favorite in this one.
Ranked No. 2 in Class 5A by TheOldCoach.com, the Highlanders have scored 101 points in their last two games, which coincides with the return of Daniel Lasco to the lineup following his recovery from injury. And, those point totals have been posted against Lufkin and Oak Ridge, who are a combined 11-4 this season.
Kingwood, on the other hand, has won three district games against the teams who are either already eliminated from playoff contention or are on the way down that road: Atascocita, Conroe and College Park. Two of those three victories were by a three-point margin.
The Woodlands should win this 'Battle of the Woods' but a win by Kingwood could turn it from bust to boom.
If this were a baseball game between these two schools, you might have to schedule it at Reckling Park or Cougar Field to fit everyone in. But this one will be played at Delmar Stadium on Saturday afternoon and the reality is that a Bellaire win would be a big upset.
But because the Cardinals have come alive after an 0-3 pre-district start, they find themselves tied for the district lead with Lamar and Madison, and in solid position to finish no worse than third place in the district and return to the Region III playoffs for the first time since 2004.
In reality, everything points toward a Lamar victory: they are averaging over 51 points per game in district play, their defense has held opponents to just 13 points per game this season and their only loss this year was to a very good Brenham Cub (17-4A) team.
On top of that, the last time Bellaire beat Lamar in football was in 1981. That Cardinal squad closed out that season-29 years ago-with a 35-7 win over the Redskins. Since that game, Lamar has won 26 meetings in a row (the two schools did not play in 1988 and 1989).
But, last season was the closest Bellaire has come to defeating Tom Nolen's squad, losing a one-point game, 24-23. And the natural rivalry between these two schools suggests that Bellaire will be fired up for the contest.
If only they could start their ace left-handed pitcher still, this one will be an entertaining affair.
The winner of this game will be the District 18-5A champion-perhaps not in a mathematic sense yet, but in an almost unavoidable way.
These are two pretty good teams who will both be looking for a 'statement' game that sends notice to future opponents-maybe, most specifically, the District 17-5A playoff contenders-that they are forces to be reckoned with when the second season gets underway in a few weeks.
Alief Taylor has averaged 42 points in its six victories this season, and has won its district games by an average margin of 33 points. The Lions' only loss was to Katy in Week 1.
The Eagles struggled early in the pre-district portion of their schedule, losing their first three games to very strong opponents. Eisenhower lost a shootout, 44-39, to Hightower in the opening week before losing to North Shore and Beaumont West Brook by 48 and 21 points respectively.
Eisenhower's offense has been more effective in recent weeks, as the Eagles have scored 94 points in their last two games, but the defense is allowing opponents to score at an average of 37.9 points per game for the season.
Taylor may finally be in position to pick up its first-ever district title. A win in this game will practically insure that it happens.
Okay, so this is actually a Saturday day-night doubleheader at Rhodes Stadium but it was impossible to decide which of the two contests would be the better district match-up. And you could go watch the early one, then make your way out to the parking lot to tailgate with the Katy boosters like it's a college weekend, before heading back in for the nightcap.
The early game is among many of the natural rivalry games this week. Taylor and Cinco Ranch are neighboring schools who always seem to battle for bragging rights, if nothing else. There is, however, a little more at stake than that in this game.
The Mustangs will be coming into the game off a big win over Memorial at Tully Stadium last week. They'd like to knock off co-leader Cinco Ranch. On the other hand, the Cougars have their sites set on a Week 10 showdown with the Katy Tigers and would like to head in to that contest undefeated and tied for the district lead.
The Cougars can be dominating on offense, thanks to the rushing tandem of KC Nlemchi and Jamel James. Last week, they racked up 353 rushing yards in a 41-22 victory over Strake Jesuit. The game may hinge on something as basic as Taylor's ability to stop the run.
This game will be the beginning of a tough final stretch for Taylor, who play Katy and Seven Lakes in their final two games after Cinco Ranch. If the Mustangs can't pull off an upset of either the Cougars or the Katy Tigers, then their season may come down to the final game.
Memorial, already fighting just to stay in the playoff picture, finds themselves looking for what would be the upset of the year. The Mustangs are currently tied with Seven Lakes for the fourth playoff seed in 19-5A and will play the Spartans next week at Tully Stadium. The loser might be done for the year.
Of course, the scenario could be completely different with a Memorial win.
But Katy has shown no evidence that they are ripe for an upset. The Tigers average 52 points per game and have scored 60 or more points in three of their four district wins. Their margin of victory in those district games has been 44 points.
Memorial would need an almost-perfect game and would have to control the tempo of the game by keeping the Katy offense off the field. That's a task that many opponents have found to be easier said than done.
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