Killeen at Ellison Football

Ellison's Zy'Aire King (9) celebrates with teammates Armando Molina (72) and Dominick Allison (45) after catching a pass in the end zone for a touchdown against Killeen on Oct. 1 at Leo Buckley Stadium.

Football is back in full force.

After three byes and a cancellation slimmed last week’s area schedule down to just five games, every team is back in action, and the slate is saturated with critical contests.

Defending District 12-6A champion Temple, Belton and Shoemaker will each attempt to remain atop the standings, Lake Belton looks to keep its undefeated season intact, Lampasas begins District 13-4A, Division I competition, Gatesville and Salado kick off play in District 9-4A, Division II, and Florence can win its fourth game after entering the season riding a 14-game losing skid.

Equally exciting is the fact every game except Shoemaker’s contest at Bryan is within a short drive, including tonight’s matchup between the Wildcats and Ellison at Leo Buckley Stadium.

THURSDAY

Temple (3-2, 2-0) at Ellison (2-3, 1-1)

The Eagles finally generated some momentum last week, defeating Killeen 28-23 in double overtime after averaging a mere 10.3 points during their first four games of the season, but the production might not be enough to contend with the defending district champions, who are suddenly red hot. After starting 0-2, the Wildcats scored a total of 153 points in three consecutive wins, including last week’s 44-34 victory against previously undefeated Harker Heights.

FRIDAY

Belton (3-2, 2-0) at Harker Heights (4-1, 1-1)

The Knights were stunned last week by Temple after witnessing a 21-0 advantage completely evaporate en route to their first loss of the season. Still averaging 50.4 points, Harker Heights certainly possesses the talent to rebound and return to its high-scoring ways, but it will be challenging. The Tigers own the district’s stingiest passing defense and second best total defense, allowing 90 yards and 262.4 yards per game, respectively.

Killeen (2-3, 0-2) at Copperas Cove (0-5, 0-2)

Each of these teams desperately needs to earn a district victory in order to avoid watching their playoff hopes begin slipping away, but the Bulldawgs simply need to be competitive. Despite averaging 28.6 points, Copperas Cove has lost every game by at least 14 points and been blown out by at least 23 points four times. The Kangaroos have shown glimpses of their potential but have not put together a complete game during district.

Shoemaker (3-1, 2-0) at Bryan (0-5, 0-2)

The Vikings entered the week with the district’s second best rushing defense, allowing 120.2 yards, but they have not encountered a ground game like this before. Led by three of the district’s top five rushers in Jerrod Hicks (562 yards, 8 TDs), Jamarious Stewart (452, 3) and Omari Evans (433, 4), the Grey Wolves are averaging a whopping 402.5 running yards. The amount is more than six district teams’ total offensive averages.

Taylor (3-2) at Lampasas (2-3)

After an unceremonious start to the Badgers’ season saw the program suffer its first regular-season loss since September 2019 and experience its first two-game losing streak since 2018, Lampasas is ready to turn its attention toward capturing a third consecutive district championship. While the Ducks have the ability to win, they have been sporadic in their showings, leaving the Badgers to wonder exactly which team they will encounter.

Salado (3-2) at Gatesville (2-3)

Outside of consecutive losses to state-ranked teams, the Eagles have been dominant, outscoring opponents 178-6, including a 59-6 win against Taylor two weeks ago. The Hornets are beginning to gain traction offensively after an anemic start to the season saw them post a total of 37 points through the first three weeks, but Gatesville scored 40 points in a win at Hillsboro and had 33 in a loss to Lampasas to conclude nondistrict play.

Lamar Randle (NA) at Lake Belton (5-0)

The Broncos received an unexpected bye last week, when Llano canceled the contest, but as a result, they should be prepared to extend their undefeated start to the season against the Lions, who are in the midst of their debut campaign. Along with the additional week of preparation, Lake Belton possesses a strong home-field advantage, outscoring its three opponents by a combined 42 points at Tiger Field.

Clifton (0-6, 0-2) at Florence (3-2, 0-1)

During the previous three years, the Cubs dominated this series, earning a trio of lopsided victories by a combined score of 155-15. But these are not the same Buffaloes. Despite narrowly losing to Buffalo by three points, 40-37, last week, Florence already amassed as many wins this season as it had throughout the past three years. A victory would be the Buffaloes’ first district win since beating Comfort 22-21 on Oct. 27, 2017.

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