It’s going to be a long, brutal high school football season in Central Texas.

The 8-5A nondistrict slate is complete.

And what we have learned from it is that there are few, if any, elite teams in the district. In fact, there are only a couple of teams that might be considered good.

Killeen is winless.

On fourth-and-1 at Stony Point’s 6-yard line in overtime, Garrett Gaskamp lowered his shoulders and pounded the right line, but fell inches short of the first-down marker. The Roos lost 36-33 to Round Rock Stony Point.

That’s heartbreaking.

Harker Heights is not only winless, but the Knights have given up more than 40 points in all three of their games. Of course, so has Belton.

Belton got hammered by Round Rock, 44-15 Friday, and is also 0-3.

Belton’s defense couldn’t stop the Dragons as they scored points on their first eight possessions, with the ninth ending because time ran out. The Dragons rushed for 325 yards, led by 99 yards and two touchdowns from DeAndre Story.

That’s ugly.

Ellison’s losing streak is still intact — 23 games and counting.

That’s uglier.

Temple lost its best player, Baylor-commit Chad President.

That’s flat-out disheartening.

But those are the exact reasons why it’s going to get interesting. Regardless of current records, it could be a promising season for those teams vying to make the playoffs in District 8-5A.

Usually, after the first three games of the season, you will know what teams should have a shot at the playoffs and which teams definitely will not.

This season, almost everything is up for grabs.

Waco Midway is, well, Waco Midway. If they handle Copperas Cove and Manny Harris, the Panthers will win the District 8-5A title going away, with a string of 40-point blowouts along the way.

Harris and the abundance of playmakers (wide receiver Phillip Baptiste and running back Vondareaz King) for the Bulldawgs, meanwhile, should win enough shootouts to coast into the playoffs as the No. 2 seed. But after that, it is just a guessing game.

There is no clear front-runner for the final two playoff spots in the district.

It could be any team.

And I expect it will be. No team is safe from the “upset,” because unless someone takes down Cove or Midway, there will be no upsets. If Ellison finally wins a game, it won’t be shocking. Or, really, even a mild surprise. It will be because they earned it, because they are good enough to knock off one or two of the other 8-5A teams.

The Eagles’ offense needs a ton of work, but the defense might be good enough to help knock off a team or two in this unimpressive district slate.

Currently, the team that looks like a playoff contender is Shoemaker.

The Grey Wolves are 2-1 and did not just beat the Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon Tigres, they also defeated a team (Stony Point) from the United States not named Ellison — a first for the program in more than four years.

Shoemaker is less than two years removed from losing 31 straight games. But that does not matter.

They have a pair of playmakers in Ziere Banner and Qwoy Blunt, and that, along with an OK defense, makes them contenders.

Heck, forget that, the Grey Wolves are favorites. Not THE favorite, but a favorite to make one of the two playoff spots that will not be eaten up by the Bulldawgs and Panthers.

For the first time since Jameill Showers started at quarterback, the Grey Wolves have a shot.

But then again, so does everyone else.

And that is a thing of beauty.

Contact Nick Talbot at or (254) 501-7569

(1) comment


Holy cow Nick! Are you a graduate of Copperas Cove High? Could you slobber on them and young Mr. Harris any harder?
Why don't we just hand Cove the State title right now and proclaim Mr. Harris the greatest 5A athlete EVER? No need to play out the string here. Cove is NEVER going to lose with ALL the PLAYMAKERs they have.
Oh wait Cove isn't undefeated? How did that happen? How could a team with so much offense and so many playmakers ever lose?
Oh that's right they don't know how to cover kickoffs or play defense either!!
How about a little analysis of who the other teams in the district lost to in non-district play. Bet you find more than a few playoff teams and a State Champion finalist from last year on 8-5A slates this year. Very few cupcakes on Ellison's, Temple, Belton, Killeen, Harker Heights and Killeen's non-district slate and defintiely no non-US teams that amount to nothing but a glorified scrimmage game either.
By the way, weren't you supposed to be leaving town? Can we help you pack/drive you to the bus station?
If you are going to stay in town, leave your supposition at the door and stick to reporting the games. You might just be surprised by the "talent" in the district.
Much like the composition of the district, most of the talent doesn't live in either Cove or Waco.

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