It is that great time of year when the records are theoretically wiped clean and everyone starts 0-0 again. Ballinger, along with Reagan County, Texas Leadership Charter Academy, Sonora and Alpine will all be vying for the 3A Division 2 Region 1 District 3 title. In order to have a chance Reagan County and Ballinger both need a win this week.

The winner of this week’s game has an opportunity to run the table, upset district favorite Sonora and set themselves up for a good playoff run. The loser will most likely be struggling between finishing 3rd or 4th within district and likely facing one of Cisco or Eastland again in the first round of the playoffs. As you can imagine this is a big week with many implications for the rest of the season.

Luckily for the Bearcats, Reagan County is not close to the same team they were a season ago. After marching through non-district undefeated last year they have struggled mightily against a very average schedule. They have proved to be a decent team, but one that is very beatable.

Reagan County was dominated to open the year against McCamey before going on a three game win streak. In Week 2 the Owls dominated Irion County 58-8 . This is probably their most impressive win. Irion County though only has wins over hapless Christoval, Bronte and Miles in what is proving to be a down year.

Win #2 came against a Coahoma squad whose biggest win has been against Forsan. Coahoma has dominated winless Bangs, Grape Creek and 1 win TLCA, but not so against better competition. Coahoma looks good at 4-2, but three of their wins have come against extremely subpar opponents.

Win #3 for the Owls came against previously mentioned Forsan. Of their wins the most impressive was against Eldorado, who sports wins over only Miles and Irion County.

The last 2 weeks have been a much different story for Reagan County, however as they have now lost 2 games in a row. Both loses have been shocking for different reasons. In week 5 the Owls were dominated by an Ozona squad that has been far from impressive on the year as their first win of the season was in week 4 against winless Grape Creek. That their second win was then against Reagan County and that they won by 13 points is even more surprising.

Last week the Owls were defeated by a 5-1 Colorado City squad that might go undefeated in their district. After losing 28-0 to Albany in the season opener the Wolves have been on an absolute tear posting wins against Crane and Iraan before shutting out the Owls last Friday.

This has the same feel that the Junction game did for the Bearcats. While not an easy game it is one that the Bearcats could and should win. Even with the loss to Mason last week the Bearcats have more momentum. They won previously against Junction in a game that took a lot of guts and grit. Mason is a good team and would quite possibly beat every team on the Ballinger and Reagan County schedule. Colorado City is a good team, but not on the level of Mason. Ballinger has played the toughest teams they will face this year, outside of possibly Sonora. Sonora would be hard pressed to get a win against Mason, however given their defensive limitations and the grind it out mentality of the Punchers.

This game feels like a Bearcat win. Ballinger should have their biggest home crowd of the season this week for Homecoming and that crowd could be the difference.

Comanche (4-1):

Comanche is seconds away or a missed 2-point attempt against Cisco from being undefeated on the year. Comanche went undefeated in district play last season and will be looking to do so again. They will host 4-1 Jim Ned and look for whoever the winner of this game is to run the table and win the district. Jim Ned almost came into this game undefeated as well until a 4th quarter meltdown against Sonora lost the game for them. This game will be in Comanche where the Indians always play tough and have good crowd support. Look for that to be the difference for Coach Hermesmeyer.

Pick: Comanche

Grape Creek (0-6):

Grape Creek is looking for answers. They won’t find them this week against Wall. In a battle of undefeated teams last season Wall put up 80. It would not be surprising to see them put up 100 this time around.

Pick: Wall

Clyde (3-2)- Merkel (3-2):

Clyde continues to do well against subpar opponents while struggling against others. Merkel has not wowed anyone at this point in the year. They are large, but aside from a few players their athleticism does not shock you. Merkel will struggle to stop the balanced attack of the Bulldogs.

Pick: Clyde

Junction (1-5):

Junction has to get lucky eventually. They were able to put up some points the last three week’s while the defense let them down. This week they will play both sides of football and get a win over Brackett.

Pick: Junction

Mason (6-0):

Last week against Ballinger, Mason did what Mason does. Facing probably their best remaining opponent this week in 5-1 Harper it would be extremely shocking to see that change. Having scored only 26 points combined the last 2 weeks and coming off a loss Mason will be confident and ready. If 3-3 La Pryor and 2-4 D’hanis can hold the Longhorns to 12 and 14 points respectively then don’t expect it to get much better against the Punchers. Harper will struggle to score and Mason will continue to roll.

Pick: Mason

TLCA (3-3) vs Alpine(4-2):

After not winning a game a season ago it is difficult to be too hard on the Eagles. They have 3 wins on the year, but with conference play having begun that number quite possibly will not change for the season. All three wins have come against teams without much of a postseason chance, if any chance at all. Bronte(0-5), Grape Creek(0-6) and Winters (1-4) make up the good side of TLCA’s resume. Three wins is three wins, but that is not a very impressive list. Grape Creek might not win another game this year. Winters @ Bronte will probably determine which one of those two finishes the season with another win. TLCA will host Alpine this week. TLCA gives up 30PPG and Alpine scores 40PPG. Three times on the year Alpine has scored 50+. This should be the fourth.

Pick: Alpine

Sonora (6-0):

Sonora will start off the district schedule on a bye week after dominating Iraan 39-7 last Friday. Sonora will be looking to finish undefeated in district for the second year in a row. Next week against Alpine could quite possibly be for the district title as they have been the two most impressive and consistent teams throughout non-district play.

Wrap-up

Ballinger has to get off to a strong start this week. A win this week could change the entire season for the Bearcats.

For some scenarios a win this week would at worst give Ballinger the inside track at 2nd place in district. Projections of a win over TLCA and a loss to Sonora would have the season ending contest with Alpine be for 2nd or 3rd place. An upset win over Sonora could make the Alpine game for all the marbles and a district championship.

A loss this week would make winning against Alpine a must. Losses against both Reagan County and Alpine would doom the Bearcats to 4th place, likely matching them up with one of Cisco or Eastland in the first round of the playoffs. A 2nd place finish would provide a much better matchup and would give the Bearcats a much easier path to multiple weeks of post-season play. The journey to the post-season begins this Friday at Bearcat Stadium.

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