The landscape has completely shifted.
Going into Week 7, District 12-6A was divided with defending champion Temple, Shoemaker and Belton established at the top of the standings, while Copperas Cove, Killeen and Bryan were anchored to the bottom.
Thanks to a week filled with upsets and blowouts, however, that is no longer the case.
With four weeks remaining in the regular season, six teams are now within one game of each other, setting the stage for a slate of critical encounters, including the Killeen ISD rivalry between Harker Heights and Shoemaker – the district’s top two offenses based on yardage per game.
While the District 12-6A race is in full swing, the smaller schools are just getting started, making Friday an optimal opportunity for a team’s momentum to majorly swing one way or another, especially with a pair of state-ranked programs on the schedule.
Bryan (1-5, 1-2) at Killeen (2-4, 0-3)
The Vikings probably saved their postseason chances last week by stunning Shoemaker 35-15 to capture their lone victory, and now, they can build on the success against the struggling Kangaroos, who are coming off a loss to previously winless Copperas Cove. Killeen’s playoff odds are beginning to become bleak, but Bryan just proved exactly how dangerous a desperate team can be.
Harker Heights (5-1, 2-1) at Shoemaker (3-2, 2-1)
Talent will be all over the field during this matchup as KISD's heavyweight programs collide, but perhaps no aspect will be more entertaining than the ground game. Knights junior Re’Shaun Sanford has been unstoppable, averaging 197.2 yards, but the Grey Wolves possess three of the district’s other top-five rushers in Jerrod Hicks, Omari Evans and Jamarious Stewart. Together, the quartet has a combined 29 rushing touchdowns.
Ellison (2-4, 1-2) at Copperas Cove (1-5, 1-2)
The Bulldawgs emphatically snapped their 12-game losing skid by crushing Killeen 56-33 in Week 7, but the Eagles might not fall as easily after beginning to discover their offense. Ellison scored just 41 points during its first four games before tallying 55 points over its last two contests, including using a 21-point first quarter to keep pace with high-scoring Temple for a half last week.
Temple (4-2, 3-0) at Belton (3-3, 2-1)
The Wildcats bring an 11-game district winning streak into the contest and have not lost to the Tigers since 2010, when quarterback David Ash guided Belton to a 42-24 victory. But records, including one-sided ones, are inconsequential in a rivalry dating back to 1907. Extra layers of drama drape the contest due to its cancellation last year and Belton’s possible classification drop during the upcoming UIL realignment.
Burnet (2-4, 0-1) at Lampasas (3-3, 1-0)
After starting the season with a 1-3 record, the Badgers are back to their high-scoring ways of old, posting a combined 111 points in two victories, including a 70-point outburst highlighted by seven rushing touchdowns last week against Taylor. Averaging just 20.3 points with a season high of 31 points, statistics indicate the Bulldogs could struggle to keep pace offensively.
Waco Connally (2-3, 1-0) at Salado (4-2, 1-0)
The Eagles have been untouchable in three consecutive games now, winning by a combined score of 158-12, and the Cadets could be added to the statistic after being limited to just 148 points all season. With a matchup against state-ranked China Spring looming next week, however, Salado cannot afford to look ahead and allow Connally to derail its momentum toward a district championship.
4A-D2 No. 5 China Spring (6-0, 1-0) at Gatesville (2-4, 0-1)
The Hornets must reverse the trends of history to emerge with their second home victory of the season.
Recently, the Cougars posted four wins with point totals of 57, 47, 56 and 74 points and allowed 35 points over the same span, while Gatesville is averaging just 19.3 points this season. Long term, China Spring has won 14 of the last 16 encounters in the series.
Florence (4-2, 1-1) at 3A-D2 No. 1 Franklin (7-0, 3-0)
The Buffaloes’ bounce-back season reached new heights last week as they ended a 17-game district losing streak dating back to 2017 by beating Clifton 39-30, but it will take a monumental effort to earn the biggest win in school history. The top-ranked Lions have yet to allow more than 21 points in a game while averaging 52.6 points highlighted by 65- and 75-point showings.
Lake Belton (6-0) at Katy Jordan (1-5)
The area’s only Saturday game during the regular season could be a new pinnacle for the Broncos as the program continues its quest toward an undefeated season, but the Warriors, who enter the game on a four-game losing skid, want revenge. Three weeks ago, Lake Belton defeated Jordan 35-28 at home, scoring the go-ahead touchdown with approximately five minutes remaining in regulation.