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Big Country Game of the Week: Bangs, Ballinger battle for district championship

Stephen Garcia
Abilene Reporter-News

THE BEARD'S PICKS LAST WEEK: 34-2 (.944); 11-man: 18-1; Six-man: 16-1

OVERALL: 260-71 (.785); 11-man: 131-30; Six-man: 129-41

The top teams in District 2-3A Division II collide Friday when Bangs travels to Bearcat Stadium to face Ballinger. The winner will secure at least a share of the district title.

The Dragons also have a spotless record at 7-0. Bangs improved to 3-0 in district with last week's 48-14 win at Sonora.

Big Country Game of the Week: Ballinger vs. Bangs

The Dragons were balanced on offense, with 258 rushing yards and 243 through the air. Ethan Cortez was 12 of 15 passing for 243 yards and three scores, while running for 97 yards and two TDs. Standout running back Ethan Sanchez had 141 yards and two TDs on 13 carries and caught a 68-yard TD pass.

"We're excited about playing," Ballinger coach Chuck Lipsey said. "We're going to have to play well. They've got a very good football team. They've got good skill kids. The quarterback and tailback both do a great job, and they've got four wideouts that are dangerous. Our defense is definitely going to be tested."

Bangs coach Kyle Maxfield said defense got the team rolling against Sonora, and it's an area he's been pleased with all season.

Ballinger (7-1, 3-0) had its highest scoring output of the year in last week's 47-6 victory at Ingram Moore. The Bearcats defense continued its stout play, too. The team allows 10.3 points per game.

"They're very sound and they've got a lot of size," Maxfield said of the Bearcats. "They've got some really good players up front. That's probably the strength of their defense, not that there's any weaknesses, really. Their down linemen really are the foundation of their defense. They're going to be tough to block."

Garrett Dixon, Ballinger's leading rusher, ran for 73 yards and three TDs last week. The team utilizes Carter Arrott and Tyler Vaughn at quarterback. Arrott was 6 of 8 for 109 yards and two TDs against Moore.

"They're balanced as well," Maxfield said. "They can throw it as well as run it. They're pretty multiple on offense, a lot like us. They've scored a lot of points this year. And a lot of it is the way their defense plays, getting them the ball in good situations."

The Pick

Maxfield said his team's size can't match Ballinger in the trenches, but it's an issue the Dragons have overcome. The team was in a similar situation against Hawley, a game Bangs won 39-15.

As for the keys in Lipsey's eyes?

"Be physical on both sides of the ball for 48 minutes and don't give up the big play," he said. "That's our deal this week."

I really like both of these teams and think they could each win multiple playoff games. It's just hard for me to pick against a team that hasn't shown any major flaws this season. Expect a close one, either way.

PICK: Bangs 28, Ballinger 20

Stephen Garcia

If there were two Stephens

Cross Plains (7-1, 3-0) at Albany (7-1, 4-0)

It's the regular season finale for Albany, and the team is looking to wrap up a district title.

The Lions allowed their first points in five games in last week's 34-14 win over Santo. Albany's lone loss is to No. 2 Hamlin.

Cross Plains has district championship aspirations as well after a 3-0 start. The Buffaloes were off Friday after a Ranger forfeit. The team closes the district slate Nov. 6 against Meridian (3-4, 1-2).

Albany has been balanced on offense, and its defense is playing lights out. I think the Lions slow the running game of Cross Plains to clinch an outright title.

PICK: Albany 30, Cross Plains 14

Keep your eyes on:

Midlothian Heritage (7-2, 3-0) at Stephenville (5-4, 3-1); PICK: Heritage by 10

Hermleigh (9-0, 3-0) at Ira (6-2, 2-0); PICK: Ira by 6

Comanche (7-1, 2-1) at Jacksboro (5-3, 2-1); PICK: Comanche by 7

Big Country power rankings

Class 3A/4A

1. Jim Ned (6-1); Last week: No. 1—W, 75-0 at San Angelo TLCA

2. Eastland (5-3); Last week: No. 2—W, 55-20 vs. Jacksboro

3. Bangs (7-0); Last week: No. 3—W, 48-14 at Sonora

4. Sweetwater (6-1); Last week: No. 4—Idle

5. Ballinger (7-1); Last week: No. 5—W, 47-6 at Ingram Moore

Class 2A

1. Hamlin (8-0); Last week: No. 1—W, Crosbyton forfeit

2. Albany (7-1); Last week: No. 2—W, 34-14 at Santo

3. Hawley (6-2); Last week: No. 4—W, 21-20 at Anson

4. Cisco (5-3); Last week: No. 5—W, 27-0 vs. Coleman

5. Anson (5-2); Last week: No. 3—L, 21-20 vs. Hawley

Class 1A

1. Westbrook (7-1); Last week: No. 1—L, 38-28 vs. Sterling City

2. May (8-1); Last week: No. 2—W, 66-16 at Baird

3. Jayton (7-1); Last week: No. 3—W, 46-0 vs. Guthrie

4. Strawn (7-2); Last week: No. 4—W, 64-0 at Gustine

5. Knox City (5-2); Last week: No. 5—W, 55-4 vs. Vernon Northside

The Beard's picks

Wednesday:

CLASS 4A

BROWNWOOD at Waxahachie Life

CLASS 2A

LOCKNEY at Roscoe

Friday:

CLASS 4A

San Angelo Lake View at BIG SPRING

Monahans at SWEETWATER

Snyder at PECOS

CLASS 3A

EASTLAND at Merkel

MILLSAP at Dublin

LUBBOCK ROOSEVELT at Coahoma

San Angelo TLCA at EARLY

WALL at Clyde

CLASS 2A

ELECTRA at Munday

Goldthwaite at CISCO

SAN SABA at Coleman

WINTERS at De Leon

ANSON at Haskell

HAWLEY at Colorado City

STAMFORD at Forsan

CLASS 1A

Abilene TLCA at LORAINE

Aspermont at ROTAN

Afton Patton Springs at JAYTON

BAIRD at Lingleville

Benjamin at RULE

Blanket at BROOKESMITH

Gustine at GORDON

KNOX CITY at Spur

LUEDERS-AVOCA at Woodson

MULLIN at Lohn

RISING STAR at Panther Creek

Santa Anna at GORMAN

THROCKMORTON at Moran

Trent at BLACKWELL

WESTBROOK at Robert Lee

Zephyr at EVANT

Saturday:

Highland at STERLING CITY